Monday, 25 April 2016

Thankful For The Little Things

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Friday, 22 April 2016

Lochranza Castle

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Friday, 15 April 2016

Queen Of Scots

I love love love visiting National Trusts, being a complete history nerd it has been one of my favourite things to do for as long as I can remember. I think a holiday is never really complete without visiting at least one heritage site and seeing as I have my wonderful National Trust card Brodick castle seemed the place to go in Arran. Unfortunately the castle was in the middle of a bit of a refurb whilst we were there but we got to wander around the beautiful grounds and I was able to play at being Mary Queen of Scots (a slight obsession of mine since watching the tv series Reign!).

The grounds were covered in early spring flowers including hundreds of bright yellow daffodils and I couldn't help but stop to pose and get into some very interesting positions trying to get the right shot of the daffodils (first photo). The whole castle had an aura of history and magic about it and you could just imagine finding a Princess locked away in a tower somewhere or hiding in a summer house. We wandered through the formal gardens and found the amazing Bavarian summer house which is built entirely from wood and decorated with pinecones and bark all throughout the insides, it was a breath taking sight to see how intricately the little pinecones fitted together. We also found a 19th century ice house or a freezer as we would now call it and a recreation of a Bronze Age round house. 

I wish we could have gone inside as the pictures looked amazing but that will have to be another thing to add to my list when we return one day. But for now I enjoyed our day of wandering through the grounds, smelling flowers and imagining I was a Scottish Queen on her Island. 

What I wore...
Top - M&S | Skirt - Asos | Scarf - H&M | Wellies - Hunters | Sunglasses - Tribe
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Monday, 11 April 2016

Not Always The Way You Expected.....

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. 
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Friday, 8 April 2016

Ruins And Mountains And Trees Oh My!

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you will know I have a slightly worrying obsession with all things Scotland. My obsession is completely justified, I think, by the fact there really is no other place on earth like it, its a place where mountains, rivers, rolling hills, forests, seas and amazing cities all collide and it is definitely where I am happiest. Luckily for me the man I am marrying is from Scotland and so I get to visit his parents on the east coast very regularly. However this Easter we all ventured west to holiday for a week on the Isle of Arran. I was really looking forward to exploring this new part of Scotland and as usual it didn't disappoint. We saw forests and mountains and distilleries and castles and so much more which I will be putting into the next few blog posts. But for now here is a look at one of the lovely walks we went on.

One of the best parts of Arran has to be the hundreds of different trails and walks you can go on throughout the Island most of which are run by the Forestry Commission and range from very easy to strenuous. Due to it being an Island, most of the walks take in mountains, forests, sea views and ruins of some sort which to me is the best kind of walk you can find. These photos were taken on the Glenashdale Falls trail where we saw beautiful sea views, Goatfell mountain in the distance, an amazing iron age fort, a huge waterfall and a beautiful forest. If you are planning on going to Arran at some point this is a great walk for everyone, with only one steep section and a lot of views a long the way to keep small people entertained.

This was one of my favourite walks we went on this holiday (we went on quite a lot!) it was so unbelievably beautiful, and Scottish, and just reminded me of something out of a folk tale. I was even tempted to go searching for will-o-the-wisps in the forest as we walked around, it definitely made me feel a little bit like Merida. I'm really hoping to go back to Arran one day and I'd love to do this trail again, maybe next time I will have to wear a cape and carry a bow!

Look out for more Arran posts coming soon!

What I wore...
Jeans - F&F | Top - Fatface | Coat - Rydale | Boots - Hunters
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Monday, 4 April 2016

Read, Read, Read.....

"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! 
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