My Little Duke

Brave

Motherhood, FaithSteph Duke2 Comments

If I were to sum up 2017, I would have to use the word 'brave' - especially in this latter part of the year. 2017 saw me stepping right out of my comfort zone and into the wilderness. I'm braving a new land, new territory and new freedom ... and I cannot flipping wait!

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The beginning of the year started in the usual way - the dread of diving headfirst into another crazy term at school, the inevitable 'diet' and 'I'm going to be a better person' resolutions. The hamster wheel began it's usual turning, getting faster and faster during that first quarter of the year.

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Then in April, my world, as I knew it, came crashing down around me and I was forced into a period of rest. I was off work for a number of months while I 'coped' with what had happened - you can read a little about it here. I returned to work before the summer under extremely strenuous circumstances and found myself facing big changes in my job. I pushed my anxiety as deep down as I possibly could and made it my priority to enjoy a glorious summer off with family. Which I did. It was probably one of our best summers yet. Little did I know what was ahead of me ...

 Bon Iver

Bon Iver

 My sister won tickets to see Jess Glynn!

My sister won tickets to see Jess Glynn!

 C O L D P L A Y

C O L D P L A Y

 BBQ, s'mores and G&T's on bonfire night at Cavehill

BBQ, s'mores and G&T's on bonfire night at Cavehill

 The hottest day of the summer at The Port

The hottest day of the summer at The Port

 Villa life in Mallorca

Villa life in Mallorca

 Mallorca coffee hangs

Mallorca coffee hangs

After a wonderful summer I genuinely felt good about getting back to work properly, even in a new campus, classroom and with new pupils. The perfectionist in me made sure I'd ticked all the boxes, dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's. I had spent 2 days in the summer clearing out my old classroom and re-doing up the new one. It was an emotional process, but I was confident that if all was 'aesthetically pleasing' to the eye, those niggling feelings gurgling in the pit of my stomach would go away. How wrong I was. 

 A happy yellow planner wasn't enough to stop what was about to come!

A happy yellow planner wasn't enough to stop what was about to come!

Just a few short weeks into September, something quite small and simple was enough to stop and catapult me right off the tracks. (I promise I'll give you more details soon, this is just a taster of the full story.) But, believe me when I say, I was face down. Worse than before. I couldn't comprehend the WHY. I began to wrestle. I wrestled and wrestled and wrestled furiously with God over a number of days/weeks, shouting at him, questioning why and crying out in my utter desperation. 

"God, why would you do this to me?!"

"Why can I not stop feeling this way?!"

I endured a period of time where all I felt was failure, shame and guilt. Yet, as I poured my whole self out to the Lord, he began to whisper right into my innermost being. I slowly began to realise where I'd been going wrong. Where I've always been going wrong. 

You see, I try to be in control ... always. My weight. My job. My emotions. Everything

This kind of lifestyle is exhausting. Completely, devastatingly exhausting. Especially as a full time working mum. I was running on empty, trying to look calm, cool and collected on the outside. Even before what happened in April, I was fraying at the edges, refusing to accept that the pace of life I was living, simply wasn't and isn't sustainable. 

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As I listened closely to the Lord, in my complete brokenness, I began to hear, very clearly, what he was saying to me. When I fully grasped a hold of what I was hearing - I could not believe it! (I intend on sharing the details very soon!) What I can say now, as I stand in the doorway of a new year, closing the door on 2017, I am closing it with complete assurance of who I am and what I am called to do as the door of 2018 begins to open. I quite literally closed one door career-wise (!) and am now stepping into an unknown territory of wide open space, creative freedom and ministry! 

 This print by lovely Lisa at @whitechalkstudio was kindly gifted to me, prophetically! 

This print by lovely Lisa at @whitechalkstudio was kindly gifted to me, prophetically! 

As I step into this unknown space, I step alongside so many wonderful women who have poured into my life over this last quarter of 2017. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the ways in which connections have been made, friendships forged and pathways have crossed. Truly, it is only with God, all these things and more are possible! I actually cannot wait to share all the details with you over the coming weeks! To show you how God's hand has protected me, guided me and pushed me forward into new and exciting things. How creative and inspiring women have spoke wisdom, encouragement and hope into my life. And how God's faithfulness is unwavering, never changing, solid as a rock through ALL things, ALL circumstances and ALL seasons. 

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So in the spirit of Disney's Frozen (which Phoebe absolutely adores) I welcome 2018, declaring boldly, with Christ who gives me strength:

Let it go

Let it go

No holding back any more.

Let it go

Let it go

Turn away and shut the door.

Here I stand

In the light of day

in front of an open door ...

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"For there is NOTHING I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives me strength."

- Phillipians 4 v 13