All change

All change

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Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

All change

By Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

Somewhere in the memories tucked in the recesses of my mind I can hear the words “all change” as they ring out in a metallic voice in the train carriage. We have reached the end of the line.

I have many memories of travelling by train across the country with my mum as a child to visit my grandparents.

I remember very clearly asking my mum what those words meant as I was dragged off a comfortable warm train and out onto a cold platform.

As we were whisked up and down elevators and along train platforms at high speed, my brother and I fought to keep up with my mum and our luggage. I remember thinking how much I really would have rather stayed on the train!!

After jumping on and off the tubes running under London we were back into another warm train; our final destination the wonderful comfort of my grandparents flat.

I feel like I’ve reached a time in my life when I just keep hearing that voice from the train ringing in my ears again…and I find I still don’t like it, not one little bit.

I am a creature of habit, I do not like change. I like to know what I’m doing and when I’m going to be doing it. I am an organiser and when I lose control of the events unfolding around me I lose my peace. Not good!

When Andrew and I were first married we made the decision that I would take a break from my career as a primary school teacher and stay at home with our children. I have totally loved my role as wife and mum and would happily have continued to have children beyond the four we have!

Recently my life has included some changes. Some? Actually a whole load bucket load of changes and I feel like I’ve been dragged from the warm comfortable train carriage onto a cold and wet platform all over again.

Earlier this year my oldest daughter sat her GCSEs, my oldest son flew off to Africa for six months and my youngest son left primary school for the final time, ending 17 years of walking to the school at the end of our road.

In the summer we had our first holiday as a family of five and I felt Benjy’s absence almost tangibly.

Last week Lisby went by herself on the bus for the first time and stepped right out of her comfort zone, leaving her friends behind and starting at 6th form college. In the same week Eva went back to school to start her GCSE years and Sammy put on his ridiculously grown up uniform and headed to secondary school.

“All change…”

As when I was a child I struggle when life forces change. I lack peace in the journey. But fortunately, since meeting with Jesus I have a place to turn when events are taken out of my hands and I’m forced out of that warm train carriage. It’s a place that is never cold or daunting and that I can always trust in. So, during this time of many changes I will lean on Him because I know that God is the one constant in my life that I can completely trust will never change.

‘I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding,

In all my ways I will submit to him and he will make my paths straight.’

Proverbs 3:5-6

And when this time of change is over, and life settles down again, I’ll arrive in a new and wonderful destination!

Until the next time…

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

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Way maker, miracle worker…

Way maker, miracle worker…

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Way maker, miracle worker…

By Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

Way Maker
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light In The Darkness

These words are branded in my mind (and printed on the back of my phone case!) I repeat them over and over, sometimes in my head and other times out loud; very loud!

We sang this song (Way maker – originally by Nigerian gospel singer Sinach) recently in church and it speaks to me so clearly of God’s love for me, that no matter what obstacles I meet in my every day life, there will never be anything which stops me walking on the path that God has planned for me.

I make mistakes, lots of mistakes! Don’t we all? But since meeting with God in my mid 20s I’ve learned that even when I get it wrong He never does. His plans for me won’t be derailed, they may be diverted and sometimes I may even complete a total side wheelie and possibly lift from the tracks ever so slightly but I know that God will always bring me back. I regularly pray that God will align my heart with His will for me because it’s so important to me to be on the same page as Him!

In the very early days of being a Christian my life took a huge ‘falling off a cliff’ tumble and I couldn’t see a way through. Everything that I relied on here on earth had gone and the life I thought was all set out in front of me melted away.

I remember finding comfort in stories of people who were seemingly lost but for whom God clearly made a way. Sometimes these examples were ‘smack you round the head’ obvious; ‘Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.’ (Exodus 14:22) This amazing act followed a long period of waiting and suffering as the Israelites tried to escape captivity in Egypt.

God made a way for Daniel in the lion’s den: ‘My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me’ (Daniel 6:22)

And then we have Jonah, who really didn’t want to go God’s way and who, in fact, went in the opposite direction.  But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.’ (Jonah 1:4) God’s plans for the people of Nineveh were not derailed!

Sometimes the journeys are long and the waiting is hard. David waited more than 20 years to become King over all of Israel and similarly Joseph waited more than 20 years from when he was sold into slavery until he led Egypt out of famine and was reunited with the brothers who had sold him.

When Andrew and I felt called onto the mission field by God it was over two years before we headed to Zambia. The wait was painfully slow sometimes. But God made a way. When we eventually applied for our work permit it was granted in under 24 hours, the shortest time our host had ever heard of!

And my ‘falling off a cliff tumble’? Well, as you can imagine God made a way, in fact He ploughed a way and the path He put me on was far better than any I could have imagined for myself! He never once lost sight of where He wanted me and as I stayed close to Him I couldn’t go wrong.

I still have areas and people in my life that I have been praying about for years now and I can’t say I don’t get impatient in the wait! I also have situations where God makes a way miraculously quickly. Through it all I never lose hope; when I am broken and completely depleted of energy I cling onto the fact that my heavenly father never grows weary and He never stops working for me.

I know my God is a Way Maker, He is a Miracle Worker, He keeps His promises and He is the light in the darkness!

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

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Waiting

Waiting

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Waiting

By Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not very good at waiting!

Recently there seem to be several things I’m waiting for. Big, life-changing, things which I have no control over, so wait I must.

I’ve always struggled to wait for the small things. Waiting for things to arrive in the post or waiting for the traffic in front of me to move out of the way, but I’ve become better at using my time effectively, and usually I find myself chatting to God and praying which is always a positive. Big things I find harder. When Andrew and I have to make decisions about things which will affect our lives, we do all we can do in the matter and then it’s a case of handing it over to God and waiting. I find it really hard.

I wonder if I’m alone in this or if waiting is something most people find hard? I suspect it’s the latter, I hope so anyway! But this is most definitely an area of my life that I’d like to work at.

I have total faith that God is for me, that He has the best plans for me and I know that those plans won’t be derailed. Even when things are completely out of my control nothing ever happens which surprises Him! So why can’t I find peace in the waiting and stop being so impatient?

I realise that this is all down to me liking to be in control. That sounds awful but as I’ve spent time thinking, and chatting to God, about this, I find that my desire to control things has grown from a lack of confidence. If I can control a situation then I have the confidence that I can handle the outcome. When things are taken out of my hands and I have no control, my fear is that I won’t be able to deal with whatever is coming next.

Our move to Zambia was one of the biggest decisions we ever made and the wait to get there seemed to take forever. From the start of 2018 we knew God had called us to go, He had set up the most amazing chain of events that clearly told us His will for us. We wanted to get there as soon as possible and get on with God’s work. We knew (or at least thought we did!) the best timing for us and for our children in terms of schooling and we set to work aiming for a departure date at the start of 2019.

By June 2019 we were exhausted and feeling like we were going round in circles trying to sort paperwork with the Zambian Immigration Department. Every time we asked a question or submitted information it took weeks for us to hear back. In the meantime we weren’t able to plan anything for our move. It was the hardest wait ever. Then in July 2019 everything came together and we were able to submit our application for a work permit which was the only thing which stood in the way of booking our flights. We pressed send on the Tuesday afternoon and our acceptance certificate was emailed back less than 24 hours later!! This, as we are told by many Zambian people, was nothing short of a miracle. They had never known an application to be approved that quickly. We booked our flights and the rest, as they say, is history.

We could do nothing about the wait and that time taught me how my timing is often not God’s timing, but that God’s timing is always perfect. So many things fell in to place which wouldn’t have happened if we’d have gone sooner.

As it says in Isaiah 40:31: “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles,  they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

I’m still working on my ability to wait patiently but what I do know is that actually it’s not about the wait itself, it’s about the way I wait. My prayer now,  please Lord, is that I will develop the ability to wait well!

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Julie Greenhalgh with her husband Andrew

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Indecision, indecision, indecision

Indecision, indecision, indecision

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Indecision, indecision, indecision

By Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

I was most definitely an indecisive child.

A huge part of my inability to make a decision was lack of confidence. I wasn’t confident that I would make the right decision, I was fearful of what might happen if I got it wrong.

If the decision involved me answering a question, then my lack of confidence meant I often didn’t make a decision I was happy with!

When asked by a friend’s parent what I might like to drink I would say “I didn’t mind” or, worse still, that I didn’t want anything. I can’t tell you the number of times I kicked myself after I went thirsty or ate something I didn’t like, purely because I didn’t want to offend.

As I grew older I gained in confidence to actually accept people’s offers of hospitality and even made my own choices in beverages!

I realised it was actually annoying for people to hear “I don’t mind” as a regular response and I started to make a concerted effort to make choices quickly.

Big decisions, though, remained a challenge for me.

When I was young my parents helped me make decisions and I learned that I am a list person and lists of pros and cons helped me hugely and still do now.

Once I’d left home and had to go it alone I struggled. I knew I needed to make my own decisions, but often I tied myself in knots making them.

I became a Christian in my mid-20s and I was suddenly introduced to someone who could help me in my decision making.

God was there, living in my head and my heart. I didn’t have to wait for Him to come home or call Him on the phone, He was always available. I learned to ask Him each time I had to make a decision, from the huge to the tiny. I realised there wasn’t any part of my life which He wasn’t interested in.

Proverbs 2:6 says ‘For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding’

Don’t get me wrong, there were, and still are now, times I forget to ask, and I ran full pelt into a decision I later regret. But with maturity I have realised that if I stop and ask Him for help I turn the right way.

Sometimes, I’ll feel a peace about one thing more than the other; sometimes he gives me wisdom through the words of another person; or I’ll open my Bible or Word for Today and the answer will be staring me in the face!

When I have a big decision to make I talk to people and get their options, I ask them to pray and I pray…big time! I still write my lists of pros and cons. I still have books full of lists!

The main thing I’ve realised as I’ve walked with God, is that the more I am in relationship with Him the more easy it is to find His will for my life. I actually ask Him to align my heart with His will. The more time I spent in His company, chatting to Him, getting to know Him and reading His word, and the more I am open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, who I know lives in my heart, then the more confident I feel I am making the right decision.

Decision making involves taking my eyes off the problem or decision in front of me and lifting them to Him. Filling my mind with His word and thoughts of Him rather than what’s in front of me helps me to see more clearly.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says this: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’

I realise that the more I know God and the more I fill myself with Him, the more my decisions are less my decisions and more His!

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Julie Greenhalgh with her husband Andrew

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