“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” – Withering Heights (Emily Bronte)
Tomorrow I am getting married. A whole year of planning, preparation, crafting and praying has lead up to this moment. People keep asking me if I am nervous and how I am feeling, the truth is I’m not really nervous at all. Whether the day goes exactly to plan or whether there is a huge hiccup doesn’t really matter to me, the only thing that matters is that I get to marry my best friend, the love of my life. Right from the beginning planning the wedding although fun, has been a chore to get through, something I had to do in order to marry this amazing man. I know the day will be lovely but I cannot wait to exchange our rings and become man and wife.
Never have I doubted that this wasn’t right, straight from the moment I met him at our church I felt something I couldn’t explain. It felt like a force pushing me towards him and I acted quicker and more confidently than I had ever done before. I just knew he was meant for me, when I look back now I think it must have been God pushing me in that direction, it took me three weeks to fall in love with him – both a shock to me and him. But I always knew our destination was here, marriage was always where we were headed and now I cannot wait to finally promise that I will love and cherish him for all eternity. He is the kindest, most loving, Godly, worthy man I have ever known. Our connection is so much deeper and stronger than I have ever felt with another human and the only way I can describe is by using this beautiful quote from one of my favourite books – Withering Heights “Whatever souls are made of his and mine are the same”. We are the same. And tomorrow we become one forever.
Todays post is one I have wanted to write for a while but it has taken quite a bit of courage to actually get round to it. I’ve been afraid that I would offend people, come across as really condescending and open myself up to criticism, I am also not sure that I really know enough to be giving any kind of advice and often think who I am to write these things? But this topic has stayed on my heart for a while now and I have found myself unintentionally talking to multiple women about it and so I feel like it is actually something I really want to say. Be warned – I am about to get onto the extremely messy and difficult topic that is christian relationships, feel free to click off now!
It was another lovely evening with a friend watching a film when, as is always the way with women, we got onto the topic of relationships and boys. She began to tell me about this boy she had liked and things had gone backwards and forwards and she just wasn’t sure what to do. She had started to lose hope of her dreams of finding her knight in shining armour, a prince who would sweep her off her feet and began to wonder if actually the best thing was to simply settle. She felt lonely and scared faced with the prospect of a future alone. What if she did wait for Mr Right and he never came along? What if those men she sees in films or reads in books are simply fiction and actually if you wait for that you will end up alone year after year? What if this was really the best should could get, should she just grab it like a life raft and not let go? As I listened my heart ached for her, I knew what she was feeling, I had felt it for years myself and although this may be hard to take from some one about to get married, I really did understand where she was coming from and she certainly wasn’t the first woman to speak like this to me. And so I told her what I’ve told lots of my friends and what I now want to tell you.
Firstly there is no shame in those feelings of loneliness and what you may perceive as desperateness, we as women were created by God to be in relationship with Him and with man. If we go back to Genesis 2:18 we see God says “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper for him”. God created us with the amazing capacity to love one another and no matter how introverted a person you are we need human contact, we need relationships be they friendship, family or romantic. As a woman the desire to love a man and be his wife is nothing to be ashamed of. Our culture today tells you to be a strong independent woman and to push people away in order to climb to the top but this is not how God created us. I believe God created us as equal partners in life, equal but different with different roles to play, and I also believe that a woman should have the chance to do anything she wants to, but loving a man as your husband doesn’t take any of that away. It is okay to want to have a husband and children because that is how God created us women to be. Now let me get this straight, some women are most certainly called to singleness and God uses them in amazing ways the same way he uses married women to do amazing things and have fantastic careers or to do amazing things as a stay at home wife and mother. God uses every woman differently as he made us uniquely but do not let yourself be taken in by the lie of our culture that being a strong, courageous woman means you can’t have a beautiful marriage and enjoy love with a man.
Secondly, because God created you to be His fantastic, beautiful, intelligent daughter it is so important that the man you choose is the one God has designed for you. God sees his daughters as princesses, daughters of the King and so only the best will do. All those fairytales you read as a little girl were most likely in the beginning of their creation based on the bible as every story in the world ever is and those fantastic Princes Charming’s your read about they really do exist. I had a lot of relationships during my teenage years, I was quite an unhappy little girl desperate to be loved and cared for, I know now that what I was actually searching for was God but I sought to fill the void with relationships with unsuitable guys who really didn’t deserve me. They didn’t treat me how I should have been treated, there was little interest in my intelligence, my thoughts, my dreams and a lot of disrespect of my body and feelings. After my 6th relationship ended, almost a year and a half after it began, I had finally had enough. I was left so broken, damaged and hurt that I vowed never again would I have another relationship. But I belong to a God of unmeasurable redeeming love and he found me in my pain, he held me in his arms and he nursed me back to health. I was nervous and terrified of men and their power but He took care of me, He showed me that love and relationships could be beautiful and that pain wasn’t the only outcome. He also showed me the importance of not settling as I had before but to take the time to wait for some one He had designed for me.
Months turned to years and I began to have the feelings of what if, what if this was all there was? What if this guy who I went for a drink with and wasn’t that great was all I would ever get? I became a bit desperate and felt very alone but God said trust me, I have a plan for you and so I did. Two years of singleness, of rebuilding my strength and my capability to love again, I came to university and vowed that a year of singleness was best for a fresher. I think it was another way of protecting myself from rejection and so when I walked into church in my first week and met Russell (my fiance) it was a bit of a shock to say the least. I had dreams of my perfect guy as I know many of you girls will have done, where I created every last detail of him, I wanted him to be funny, Christian, kind, generous, Scottish and ginger, I wanted him to be intelligent and to respect me and want to talk to me about intellectual things as well as ridiculous ones. I wanted to travel with him, go to museums with him, cook with him, have children with him and love God with him. I felt this was all probably never going to happen but I dreamed him up anyway, and then there he was, right in front of me at my new church.
I don’t say this boast but to prove that your perfect guy isn’t just a fantasy. I had dreamed of this guy for so long but the person God gave was so much more than I ever could have imagined. He loved me more deeply then I thought could be possible and drew out all of the hidden secret depths of my heart. It was completely terrifying but unutterably beautiful and exactly what God had intended for me all along. I was finally “courted” in the way I always should have been, he took me on walks through the cobbled streets of Oxford at night so we could talk for hours on end about anything and everything, he was careful to respect me and my body and never make me feel like his interest was in anything other than me as a person, he was patient and kind not wanting to rush things and always conscious of my feelings and when we kissed it was always as an added extra to our relationship never the number one goal. He treated me and has continued to treat me like a princess.
And so my lovely sisters in Christ I ask that you trust our amazing father, do not lose hope, do not settle for second best. The husband God wants you to have should treasure you above everything else in this world, if you are wondering what husband material looks like look at Ephesians 5:25-30 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” That is how he should love you, he should be willing to lay down his life for you, he should always point you towards Christ, respect you and your body above anything else and put your purity before his own desires. Please do not give up hope, please don’t give your time and your heart to some one who will not look after it. If God wants you to be a wife he will give you some one so amazing that you will sit back and wonder how on earth you got so lucky. Trust him as it says in Isaiah “I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it” in His time He will make it happen. I know we have all probably been told the famous Song of Solomon verse a hundred times – I know I have – but it really is true and I am going to add it in here just as a reminder that love shouldn’t be forced but you should let it come in its own time.
“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” Song of Solomon 8:4
Always remember that God loves you no matter what you’ve done or who you’ve been with and that He knows you inside out so trust him to know when you are ready for the right guy to come along.
Finally some real real sunshine! Not in Oxford unfortunately but in Rutland where me and Russell have been enjoying a few days holiday with his family. We stayed in a lovely little cottage on a golf course surrounded by streams and woods and fields full of wild flowers, it was a nice change to busy Oxford for me and a chance to catch up with family. It was also a week of excitement in the Bearn household as Russell’s sister graduated from medical school!
This summer I’ve worn a lot of black and white but I feel like this is the time to be in bright colours and so have been trying to make more of an effort to brighten up my wardrobe. So when I saw this gorgeous blue skirt with bright yellow roses whilst at Spitalfields market in London the other day I knew I had to have it. Its a great length for me as I don’t like anything too short and it nips me in it at the waist which is always a plus. The sun was out in full force that day and whilst on our walk Russell and I decided it looked a little bit like Tuscany in the surrounding fields and the weather definitely made us feel like we could be sunning ourselves somewhere further afield.
Having a few days off away from Oxford has definitely been good for me and Russell, we are both trying to make big decisions particularly about my future and taking some time out from the stresses of daily life and the worries of decision making has been nice. I feel that since Mondays post, where I felt a bit lost, things have sort of begun to fall into place. There is still a lot to do and I am still doing a lot of soul searching but I feel God is teaching me through this time. I am reading, praying and learning so much more by seeking God rather than an answer to my questions. I am still worried and confused but I am trusting in him to lead me down the right path.
I have struggled with the direction of the blog in the past few weeks becoming a little obsessed with numbers and I have found it necessary to take a step back, look at the big picture and remember why I started. I’m not going to be like every other fashion blogger with hundreds of outfits, a fabulous instagram account and millions of subscribers because thats not me. This blog is about sharing a love for a Christ filled life and all the beauty and wonder that brings. I love fashion, food, lifestyle photography and travel and I love to share those things on here but the most important thing to me is God. And so yes I could just share those things but then I wouldn’t be doing what I want to do, what I feel God has set me out to do. Maybe I won’t get as many followers or likes as other bloggers but thats okay, it’s important that I be who God designed me to be and not what the world tells me to be.
“Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
Something rather odd happened the other day. I was walking down a busy Oxford street, the bright sun shining down on my head when I heard God speak to me. Not in the way I feel I’ve heard before through others, through books, through songs – no this time I actually heard him speak. It was a little disconcerting to say the least and I did wonder if I had in fact gone mad or just imagined the whole thing, but then I remembered I believe in a God who moves mountains, creates rainbows and sacrificed himself so we can all live and so actually him talking to me first thing on a Monday morning wasn’t really that big of a deal. And yet just in that moment it was exactly what I needed to hear. But for you to understand I will have to go back a little and give a bit of a life update so bare with me whilst I explain.
For those of you who don’t know, after a long struggle I left university in November (you can read about that here) and decided I was going to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I decided to get myself a part time job earning enough money so that I could afford to live and spend every spare moment I could find to write. However after multiple job interviews, job offers and one false start I was left with a job working 40 hours a week, standing on my feet all day and absolutely no time or energy to do anything more than stick the tv on when I got home from work. I loved working with the girls in my team and I would have a lot of fun during the day but as it became increasingly obvious that I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to the things I actually wanted to do i started to get a little bit restless. All along I had been saying to myself that 2016 was going to be the year I tried to achieve my dreams and if I failed at least I tried but here I was getting comfortable in a job and to be honest just giving up. And so I started to pray. I asked God for a way out, I asked him to lead and to guide me, I asked him if he wanted me to stay in my job or to be a writer, I asked him if this dream in my head was something he wanted or something I wanted. I prayed so hard for weeks, I felt lost and confused but I kept on praying.
I am a great believer that pray is powerful but I also believe that you can’t just sit around waiting for God to drop it in your lap you have to get up and push some doors and pray he will open the right one. And so as well as praying I started to push a few doors. I applied for multiple part time jobs, I tried to get a part time position at my current work and I went to job interviews. But despite all these efforts nothing came back, every door I pushed was closed. And so I started to get angry and frustrated and I prayed harder asking him if he wanted me to stay in my job that he bring me joy there. But still I was left feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, I wasn’t doing what I had left university to do and instead I had just gotten myself into another trap. Why couldn’t I get another job? Why were the doors not opening?
I thought about it constantly until finally one day I sat down with my fiancé and we looked at my accounts. I wanted to see if I could leave my job without having another job to go to. I had been saving and paying off my rent earlier than I was supposed to and I knew soon the only things left to pay for would be my food and living costs. After a few calculations and carefully thinking I realised I had enough money to live off until the beginning of September. Although this was becoming a serious viable option I knew it was a dangerous one. What if I ran out of money? What if something major happened and I needed more money than I thought I did? And so I continued to apply for part time jobs but again I got nothing back, the door was always closed. But I started to feel God speak to me through different things, the book I was reading, the bible verse I was looking at or a talk on Sunday. He seemed to be saying you can sit where you are at the edge of the cliff comfortable but always wondering what is on the other side or you can jump and let me catch you. And so I decided to hand my notice in without having another job to go to. I jumped but there was the possibility of a part time job at my current work coming available later in the month and I still had an interview in a few weeks so I didn’t feel particularly worried but it was still quite scary.
My first day without a job I had an interview in a shop I loved, working 1-2 days a week with possible over time when people were on holidays. It was exactly what I was looking for. I would have time to write and try to make money that way but I would still have a safety net. I sat down to the interview feeling very confident that this was a door God would open and the first thing the interviewer said was “we need a Sunday girl” and I knew I couldn’t do it. I left the interview feeling disheartened, worried and scared. What was going on? Had God not spoken to me at all? Was I making a huge mistake? Should I run back to my old work and beg for my job back? And thats when I heard him speak to me “Trust me my love” he said. At first I thought I was just imagining it but then it repeated itself in my head and was soon followed by a verse from proverbs “do not lean on your own understand”. As I sat down to wait for the bus those words were ringing through my ears and I realised I needed to stop. I said I wanted to make this dream a reality with God at the centre and that was what I needed to do. I had to stop worrying and stressing and instead just follow this dream wherever it might lead me because God will always provide and look after those that are faithful to him and so I said “Okay, I trust you”.
There was no massive clatter of thunder or a streak of lightening across the sky following that decision but God carried on talking to me. As soon as I made that decision I got a text from my fiancé to say he had finally got himself a summer job after dropping his CV off with the manager. She hadn’t even interviewed him just given him the job straight away. I was then invited to my first event as an Oxfordshire blogger which I am super excited for and all the little things I had been worried about started to sort themselves out. I still don’t know what will happen at the end of summer, I am hoping to be published in one way or another and able to make some kind of money from my writing so I can survive but I’m praying about it. I trust that God has got this. Its the biggest step of faith I think I have ever taken and quite hard for some one with anxiety but I trust he will take care of us and so I am living day to day, writing, blogging, reading, baking and creating the slow, calming life I want to live. Ive given it all up to God and I know that in the end he will always be there to catch me if I fall but at the moment he wants me to try to fly.
“Happy are those who take life day by day, complain very little, and are thankful for the little things in life” – Unknown
As Christians we are told not to worry about tomorrow as today has enough troubles already (Matthew 6:34) and repeatedly through the bible it tells us to focus on the moment, to be present in that time trusting that God has everything under control and it will all be alright. As a person who suffers with depression and anxiety this is something I find very hard not to worry about the future, to not over think things and try to create a plan or strategy for everything. It is one of my many faults and I think is perhaps up there with my worst faults, for not only does it massively effect me and my mental health but it also has an effect on Russell.
I decided that 2016 was to be my year, the year where I stopped letting people push me down roads I don’t want to go down and started to take charge of my life. 2016 for has been all about starting to create the life I want and to explore the person I want to become. So far I feel I have done pretty well, I have left a university course that I really didn’t enjoy, I have become completely independent of my parents and I am making massive changes to my lifestyle including diet, exercise and most importantly mindfulness.
Mindfulness has become one of my biggest things this year, I am reading and absorbing as much as I can on the subject and trying to create a way of being mindful that is 100% Christian and focused on God. I have to say I am surprised by how well mindfulness and Christianity go hand in hand but I will talk about that in another post. For now my main focus is on learning to select my thoughts. Instead of worrying about the next day, week, month and year I am trying to become more present in the moment. To enjoy my time of reading, colouring, walking e.t.c and giving it all to God. At first it was very hard to shut off but as I do it more and more I am finding that you really can select your thoughts. You can wake up every day and choose to look at the good and the happy things rather than the bad. One way I have found works really well for me is to thank God for those blessings, to thank God for this time of peace, this time of walking, reading, cuddling a puppy or whatever it is that is making me happy. I focus myself into the present by thanking God for the moment I am in. Because really when I look around at my life I am so blessed and although there are worries and hard times God will always be there to strengthen me. He will always be there blessing me with the simple things in life, because really how could I not be happy when I have walks, dogs, the sea and a hand to hold.
These photos were taken in Arran (again! sorry can’t get enough of this place) on beautiful Sannox beach!
We all known the phrase “God moves in mysterious ways” but I think I would add the phrase “God speaks in mysterious ways”. One thing I have learnt over my few years of being a Christian is that God rarely answers you in the way you think he will, so much so that I often don’t realise my prayer has been answered until I really think about it. And normally his answer surpasses all my expectations and is much better than anything I could have perceived and once again I am amazed at God and his power.
Recently I found myself in one of these situations. I had a prayer answered long after I had prayed about it and I didn’t even realise it was being answered until afterwards. It all began with me reading a wonderful book by Francine Rivers called Redeeming Love, you can read my book review here, I didn’t think much about it at first. I was struck by how connected I immediately felt with the protagonist but never did I think that this book had been placed in my hands for a reason. As I read, however, I felt the words of this story reach down and touch the depths of my soul. It brought up feelings and memories that had been hidden away for years and although painful I began to feel God’s light reach into those places.
I’m not going to say what those things are as to be quite honest I am not quite brave enough yet. I feel that one day God will use my pain and hurt for good. I know he has already used my experiences to help others and has given me a heart for women mission. But I’m not quite ready yet, I know I will probably never be ready but I do feel one day God will give me the courage I need and I will share my story and my pain and hopefully help others through it.
For now however I will praise his name for his unfailing love and the ways he continues to speak to me. I know for some people they connect with God in the same way time and time again however for me I seem to see him in places I would never expect. This book was just one of those places, I found Gods love reaching out to me from the pages and speaking right into my soul. I felt the power of God’s redeeming love through this book and I could see his face in every page. It taught me about forgiveness, unselfish love, patience, the beauty of marriage and God’s unbelievable power to redeem and make some one new. I felt like I finally started to see that God had cleansed me of this sin that I had carried round with me and I was made new, sparklingly clean and white in his sight.
I know that a lot of people will read this book and have no clue what I’m on about. I would definitely recommend you read it but I know my experience of God speaking to me through this book will be completely individual. I’m not saying that this book won’t speak to others and that God won’t use it to his glory for others as well but I think whenever we have an encounter with God it will always be individual because we are made unique in his image and he will speak to us in a way only he knows how. He knows the depths of our hearts and he can speak right to them in a way he knows will be perfect.
So what I am trying to say is don’t always expect the answer you want in the most obvious way, God speaks to us in little ways all throughout our day. Sometimes small, sometimes big. If you feel God isn’t answering you it may be that now is not the right time or it could be he’s answering you in a completely different way to what you expected. I believe we can see his face in everything around us we need only listen.
“All the secrets of the world are contained in books…..” – Unknown
Reading has always been a big part of Christian life, to have a good relationship with God it is vital that you read the bible as through the bible we hear him speak to us and we learn more about him and ourselves. But not only has it been important to read the bible as a christian it is also important to read widely on as many different subjects within the christian faith as you can. According to older Christians than I, fifty or so years ago reading was encouraged as a big part of christian life, it was seen as a tool to help you grow closer to God and to grow in wisdom. However I find now in my generation of Christians it doesn’t seem to be encouraged as much. But not only has the reading of Christian literature gone out of fashion but also that of reading in general. In todays world we are bombarded with words from our phones, to our laptops, to our tablets. From the time we get up and check our phones, to the time we turn the tele off before bed most of us will have had very little time away from a screen. We are forever reading things on screens and it has meant the slow decline of picking up an actual book. People, myself included, are too tired when they get home to do anything other than stare mindlessly at a tv screen or a laptop.
People seem to have lost their love for reading and forgotten the enjoyment and relaxation it can bring never mind the knowledge. For me in particular reading is such a key part of my life now. I have always loved reading but as I got older and began getting interested in blogs and youtube and all sorts of things I found myself not making the time to read. At one point I went 8 months without picking up a real book. About a year ago I decided that a life of screens wasn’t all I wanted and since then have made a conscious effort to read a couple of books a month. However it wasn’t until this summer when I was at Keswick convention that I realised how important reading christian books was to my spiritual growth.
If you watch my youtube channel you have probably heard me ranting and raving about my love for the book Gods Smuggler by Brother Andrew (if you haven’t read it yet what are you doing with your life?!) but that book had a huge impact on me. I realised that all over the world people didn’t have access to bibles or christian literature and risked life and death to get a hold of some and I couldn’t even be bothered to read my bible sometimes due to the fact I was “too tired”. I realised I had so many useful and helpful books available at my fingertips and I wasn’t using them. So I made a pact with myself that I would try to read one Christian book a month.
Its been about 6 months since I made that decision and I have to admit that I have only managed to read three in that time (something I am trying to rectify) but the difference it has made to my life is still huge. I have learnt things about God, Christianity and myself that I had no idea about, I have changed my views and opinions, I have become interested in new topics and my relationship with God has improved with each book I read. Every time I read a Christian book be it fictional or nonfictional it points me to God and helps me learn more about him as well as giving me a hunger to learn even more. Nearly every time I finish a book I find myself opening the bible to find answers to the questions and topics buzzing around in my head and that in turn brings me into a deeper relationship with Him.
It has honestly been one of the best goals I’ve set myself and although I’ve only managed one every two months or so I feel the habit is starting to stick. A habit I know will make such a difference to my spiritual growth for the rest of my life. I cannot emphasise or encourage you enough to read read read. Go to your library or your church or the kindle store and find yourself some Christian books, even if you are not what people call a “reader” (whatever that means), even if you’ve never read any christian books in your life or you’ve read every one on the shelf in your library go and get some more. If you enjoy a certain book pass it on to friends and tell them to read it, if it has helped you in your growth I am sure it will help some one else. Get stuck in and see what God teaches you through it. I have already learnt things that have improved my mental health, my decision making process, my relationship and future marriage and I have dealt with some very difficult feelings from my past and all because I have read a book that makes me think and gives me new perspectives and insights into life.
Let me know in the comments below any book recommendations and if a book has changed your life!