Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Light in the Dark



Waking up in the dark has been unsettling, disorientating my heart and making me reluctant to start a new day.  Choosing joy has taken me more strength than I have, and I feel as though I've entered winter a little unprepared and forgetful.  Forgetful of how it can target my heart.  Unprepared for the sudden waves of anxiety.  Forgetful of how I am so easily consumed by the darkness that comes along with winter.

My eyes are being opened to the ways that God is holding me in this season; an unexpected friendship, a busy seasonal job, and time with family and friends to look forward to.  But placing my hope in these things is leaving me feeling empty and questioning my worth.  Finding the balance between thankfulness for these blessings and looking to them for satisfaction is a fine line that I'm shakily walking.

Trying to cling to these things for hope has been like catching smoke, it's consuming my energy and leaving me with empty hands and a disappointed heart.  When the darkness consumes from the inside out, I'm left sitting in my shame and struggling to lift my eyes.




In a season that is meant to be filled with joy, my heart is edged with fear over the seasonally affected disorder that is stealing me yet again.  I feel like a shell of who I want to be, disappointed that my fear is overtaking my faith, and slowly the bitterness becomes who I am.

Yet He's there, willing me to look to Him, to let go of the people and the things that so easily disappoint and to hold firmly to His grace instead.  My shame and my stubborn heart are holding me back.  But He is there, reaching out His hand and willing me to lean close, to press into Him and to place my hope in Him alone, my God and my Saviour, my Love and my Best Friend, my Light in the dark.

Carolyn 
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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Thankful // The November List



November has been a month filled with the unexpected; writing and receiving letters, last minute visits from friends, and times of tears, laughter and food with my church family.  God has really opened up me eyes and my heart this month to how He can do the impossible, even in the little things and in ways that I didn't even know that I needed Him to do so.
I'm thankful for the last four weeks and the beautiful happenings that have pieced it together.


1.  My Church Family
From going for coffee with my pastor, to tearfully sharing with my church God's plans for me next year, to having an afternoon of food, laughter and fellowship.  Sitting on a hardwood floor playing with children and their toy cars, learning the beauty of vulnerability, and hearing of how God wants to do His extraordinary in our ordinary.  I'm thankful for my church family and the time I've spent with them this month.


2.  Heather & Finlay
I am beyond blessed to have this couple in my life.  Not many people will drive a couple of hours so that they can take you out for a hot chocolate after work, make you feel like a best friend rather than a third wheel, and pray with you absolutely anywhere about absolutely anything, yet these two share God's love with me in the most wonderful ways.  I'm so thankful for them and the time I was able to spend with them this month.  It was a last minute plan yet God knew that I needed some time with them even though I didn't, and He made it possible in His perfect way.


3.  Lovely Letters
I love writing letters but I also love receiving letters.  There's something about receiving a handwritten letter that makes my heart so happy.  I received a few letters and cards in November, it's so lovely to be able to look back over the words written by people that I care about so dearly.


4.  Delight & Be
Delight & Be is a ministry that is so close to my heart.  This month I had the privilege and the blessing to spend some time in the city with two other Delight girls.  Since the ministry is based in America this was a dream of mine that always seemed impossible, yet God made the impossible possible in His time.  These two girls were just shining for Jesus and it was such a blessing to hear of the ways He's been working in their lives.  I'm so thankful for the beautiful way that God opened my eyes to how He can take my impossible dreams and make them a reality in His time. 


I'm thankful for November and the lessons I've learnt, for the hearts I'm getting to know, and for the unexpected upon the unexpected.  Let me know in the comments what you're thankful for from the month of November, I'd love to hear from you.

Carolyn 
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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins | Autumnal Baking



The colder weather has seen me spending more time indoors; reading books and looking through old recipe books.  We have a lot of apples from our garden that need used up so I decided to make apple and cinnamon muffins.  When I was in high school this was a recipe that I used a lot at this time of year so I thought I would share the recipe with you.




Ingredients:

250g of self raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
100g of granulated sugar
1 egg
150ml of milk
1 eating apple
100ml of Oil
75g of sultanas

Method:

1.  Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

2. Sieve the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.

3.  Stir the sugar and sultanas into the dry mixture.

4.  Wash and peel the apple.  Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core from each quarter.

5.  Chop the apple into small pieces then stir into the dry mixture.

6.  Measure the milk and the oil into a measuring jug.  Add the egg and beat well.

 7.  Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in the liquid.  Stir gently until all the ingredients are combined, be careful to not beat your mixture.

8.  Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are well risen and golden brown.

9.  Leave to cool and enjoy!



These make great desserts for autumn along with some custard or warm with vanilla ice cream, or for a snack during the day with your preferred hot drink.  For me, these muffins are autumn in food form and I just love them.  Let me know in the comments what some of your favourite recipes are for this time of year.

Carolyn 
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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Autumnal Reading




The dark nights are drawing in and providing an unexpected solace as winter approaches.  Time is more available to me than it has been for what seems like forever, giving me the chance to write more and immerse myself in the writing of others.

Books have been a form of comfort for as long as I can remember, but at this time the words hold so much weight and I'm finding myself drawn into stories and writing my own.

The way that words can dance together to create new worlds, travel through time, and provide a depth of insight that was otherwise unreached; it's a form of beauty that is breath-taking and fierce.




Bookstores bring a maze of words and the familiar smell of new paper.  It's warm but quiet, the only company is that of others who are also seeking new adventures and knowledge in the form of a book. A place to get lost in with no intention of finding the way out, the kind of maze that you don't mind getting lost in if only for a little while.

To bring home new stories with a bubbling excitement, to feel my heart warming as I turn each page as my anticipation rises.  My fingerprints brushing the paper as I trace each word, poetry etching its way under my skin and onto my heart.

The dark nights are drawing in and providing an unexpected solace as winter approaches.  A solace of reading and writing, a solace of words that are familiar and new words that are my own, a solace of peace and time passing, a solace from the dark nights that are drawing in.



Carolyn 
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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Thankful // The October List



When I take a moment to reflect on the past 31 days my heart is so full; joy, heartache, and thankfulness all mixed together.  October was a month for appreciating the people that I am blessed to have in my life, for growing in my faith and relying on Gods strength, for appreciating the inward warmth of autumn, and in these past few days a time for change and transition.

October wasn't what I expected it to be but I am thankful for it none the less; it was busier than I had anticipated, there were more tears than I had thought, and it's made me realise the pain you can feel when you are blessed to love so deeply.  But nonetheless I am thankful for October and I am thankful for hindsight, here are some of the reasons why.


1.  Time with family & friends
Throughout October God provided me with so many chances to spend time with my family and friends.  I'm so thankful for the chance to spend time with the people I love before moving away for a year in January.


2.  The Scottish Highlands
Moving back to my parents a couple of days ago meant leaving the Scottish Highlands.  Although I was only living there for four months I felt so at home.  I loved the church I was attending, I've had the blessing of meeting some wonderful people, and I'm already counting down the days till I go back for new years eve.  I'm thankful for the past four months I spent there and the chance to go back soon.




3.  Choosing Joy & Grace
This month I started a Philippians Bible study through Love God Greatly along with some of the other ladies at my church.  I'm so thankful for the daily lessons that God is teaching me through this and the chance to study the Bible along with other women from my church in the Highlands.  I'm so thankful that through Jesus we can choose to live in joy and grace that only comes from Him.


4.  A Baptism
At the beginning of this month I had the opportunity to attend the baptism of my three friends.  It was so beautiful to see how God has been working in them and through them.  I'm so thankful I was able to share in this day with them and to celebrate in their joy in Christ.


5.  A Wedding
This month began with a baptism service and ended with my friends wedding.  To have these two God-honouring days bookending the month has been such a blessing.  To see two people come together through their love for one another and their love for God is so beautiful.  It was a wonderful day, I was able to help with the catering which was so fun, and the sunset was the most beautiful sky I've ever seen.


I am thankful for October, for how God is pushing me, challenging me, and growing me in my faith.  The past thirty one days have seen my heart go through all kinds of emotions but I am thankful for these thirty one days and preparing myself for what God has planned next.



Carolyn 
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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Single Track Art Gallery & Espresso Bar // The Isle of Skye





Freshly ground coffee is one of my favourite smells.  I don't why, but there's something about it that just makes me smile.  I find so much happiness in visiting coffee shops; the unique décor, the cosy atmosphere, the chance to read or study in a new environment, hot drinks and cake, and a space to meet up with friends.  But above all this is the constant aroma of freshly ground coffee.

Last week two friends and I took a two hour drive to the top of Skye.  The scenery was stunning and it was so beautiful to drive across the island during autumn.  This roadtrip had one purpose for us - to go to the Single Track Coffee Shop in Kilmaluag.  The building of the coffee shop and the house beside it was featured in season twelve of Grand Designs, a show which I enjoy watching so much.



Both buildings have wooden exteriors and turf-top roofs.  Although they are different from the typical houses you would find on the island, they fit in well with the surrounding scenery.  The views from Single Track are absolutely stunning and well worth the drive.

Although the coffee shop is small, it has a cosy feel to it and they have made great use of the space that they do have; a long table accompanied with bar stools at the window facing the coastline, shelf spaces to display local produce for sale, a table in the middle surrounded by bright yellow chairs, a the coffee counter with home-baking, and small stools covered with old coffee bean bags seated under a wall filled with beautiful artwork.  With a building so small you would think that they would be limited with what they could achieve but they have turned it into a beautiful, creative space.



The selection of hot chocolates and home baking was wonderful, and it was made all the better that we were able to have some homemade soup before diving into the sweet stuff.  Between us we had the flourless chocolate brownie, the pear and almond cake, and the carrot cake.  For hot drinks I really was spoilt for choice but decided on the dark chocolate and Isle of Skye sea salt.  Although it was maybe a little more bitter than I'm used to, it complimented the brownie so well.



Altough it's a long drive to the Single Track Coffee Shop, it's a beautiful drive and worth it for the unique little café at the end.  You can find out more about the Singe Track Art Gallery and Espresso bar by visiting their Facebook page here.


Carolyn 
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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Born to Soar



What are you filling your heart with?  What is taking up your time?  What thoughts are the focus in your mind?  What are your eyes seeing?

These are questions that have been nudging at my heart recently.  God has gently been convicting me of my daily life, my daily routine, and whether or not I'm intentionally living for Him in the every day.

The truth is that I'm not.  My mind easily wanders, I become frustrated easily by little hiccups in my job, and I find myself spending far more time on social media than in His word.

But the main factor that's been hiding behind all of these bad habits is that I didn't think I was good enough.  I thought that a daily, thriving faith was for other girls, for Christians who have their life sorted out, for people who have a shiny-instagram faith.  But God has been making it very clear to me that the only thing standing between me and learning to walk closely with Jesus everyday is myself and the limitations I'm putting on myself and on God.

He isn't a God who is limited in anyway and He created us to live a life that not only believes this but puts it into practice.  We are called to be fearless in our Saviour and joyful in the salvation that we have in Him.  Every single day.  Whether you're washing the dishes, photographing a wedding, doing the school run, answering the phone in the office, making your morning coffee, or replying to countless emails.  We are called to invite Him into everything and to live for Him in everything.

So what does that actually look like?  Well, it's easier said than done because we are human, we have flaws and we mess up.  But that doesn't mean that we can't try, and by the grace of God we can try again every day.  Every morning, every afternoon, and every evening we can come back to Him with a sorry heart and be set free by His grace.

Jesus states in the gospel of Matthew that we are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37) and "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). 

Approach each day prayerfully and keep praying again and again and again.  Seeking His kingdom and His will in all things prayerfully and with an obedient heart.   Talk to God about the big things and the little things, but also seek Him in the big things and the little things.  Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, He doesn't care about the mess on the other side of the door, all that He cares about is you.  Open the door to Him.  He wants your heart and He wants a relationship with you.  Beautiful, broken you.

We're called every day to not just simply live, but to rejoice in our God and to soar in His grace. Don't put limitations on God but instead put into practice walking with Him everyday in the everyday.


"Here I remind myself what you said over me 
Here I remind my soul who You are 
You said you won't relent 
Won't let go, won't forget 
Every promise you have whispered to my heart 
As I wait, as I wait on you 
I'm gonna run and not grow weary 
I'm gonna walk and not grow faint 
Rise up on wings like eagles 
To soar" 
Soar 
Meredith Andrews



Carolyn 
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