Shadow Of Victory

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sunday 22nd November F is for Family

F is for family and I am so incredibly blessed with family....both the natural and the spiritual families that are such a big part of my life.This last couple of days I have had the pleasure and joy of having almost every member of our little posse around me. Mike our eldest was here over weekend doing a fireworks display in Reading and he rang Thursday to say could he and Debs...(his partner) come and stay for the 2 nights.This prompted us into action and quick texts and calls to Cat..Nick..Andrew and Limara to see what everyone had planned and we ended up with a lovely combination of us all at various times over the weekend.

Mike and Debs live in Northampton with Mathilda (9) and Alfie the pooch (who is best friends with Oskar our pooch )and we aim to see them all every few weeks but like most families nowadays it can be difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time. As they all grow older and build their own lives and commitments and their own friendships and have other families to consider too in the case of in laws etc we always treasure the times when we get all of them together.

We couldnt get all 8 of us in the same place at the same this time we had a game of two halves....we had a lovely coffee and cake at Holme Grange and a muddy walk with both dogs at Heathlake with Debs, Cat and Nick whilst Mike was away all day setting up the fireworks. Then we had Andrew, Limara and Debs for our trip to Reading...with a look around the shops for Christmas ideas and a beer in The Slug and Lettuce before watching the display in the pouring rain.!! To top it all off ....a big night out for the gang at McDonalds at Mill Pond...Big Tastys and and chocolate milk shakes all round.!!..No expense spared for the Mooney gang.!!Such a simple great amount of money spent but a real richness in the laughing and interaction going on between us all.

F is for Family...I love my family...I love my kids
Let me count the ways.

I love the way in which they chatter and giggle amongst themselves.
I love the fact that Chris and I can just sit and watch them having time together and relax in knowing that they have grown into being friends as well as being siblings.
I love the way that they tease one another.
I love the way in which they allow us to tease them.
I love the way in which their partners have brought a new dimension to the family Mooney.
I love the way they walk ahead of us at times and I see them holding hands.
I love to see the way in which they whisper to one another a secret that they don't want us to know...especially at this time of year when pressies are being discussed.!!!
I love the way that they ask about what is going on in each others lives and show and interest in how they all are.
I love to watch the odd kiss and hand brushing their partners cheek.
I love the knowledge that their relationships are strong
I love sitting watching telly with them..reading magazines...eating McDonalds...drinking beer ..knowing that money cant buy what we share.
I love the knowledge that all of our own kids have their names written in the book of life along with our son in law Nick (and Debs and Limara are on our prayer list )and our constant plea is that God would call our sons back into a real and vibrant relationship with Him.
I love the way in which they still seem like little kids...Limara giving Andrew a piggy back in the Mall car park lets you know just how silly the Mooneys can be.!!
I love that despite all the mistakes Chris and I made as parents (and still make ) that out wee family is still intact.In today's culture when so many families have had fall outs and one half don't speak to the other and siblings don't speak to each other or kids don't visit their parents I feel especially blessed.
I love the scripture that says "her children will arise and call her blessed " Proverbs 31 verse 28 I always used to wonder what this scripture meant...and although I am no scholar I believe that when my kids get together with us and we have time as we have done this weekend that I feel "blessed"...and I think that this may express some of this verse in our lives. Many years ago we had a giggle in our family when we were sitting at our meal and talking about this scripture and without any prompting all three of them got up and bowed to me and kept saying " blessed " "blessed" " blessed" became a sort of family/mummy joke for a few months after.

F is for Family and I am thankful to God today for this last couple of days where we were able to be a family again and to know that warmth and ease that comes from just being able to be ourselves. Family is such an important part of my life and looking back on my own childhood and family I am constantly amazed that out of the wreckage of my own past.... Chris and I have created a relatively close and loving family and I can only say it is God and His and forgiveness that has enabled us to experience this.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Wednesday 18th November F is for Full and Final

Well.....after an exchange of emails with out IVAs IP/account manager there may be a glimmer of hope somewhere in the tunnel we seem to have been in for so long. IVAs can be finished early with what is called a "full and final" one off payment...we had worked out ours would need to be just under 15,000 but today after discussing it with him he informs us that it could be as little as 9,500....this is so much less than we thought and has brought a surge of hope into our almost depleted and defeated spirits.

Its been a bit like the long haul up the Pepsi Max in Blackpool..(not speaking from experience I might add )...the hanging on tight ....and to some extent the shutting of our eyes and the not wanting to look in case we panic. Yet now....we are asking the end in sight....dare we begin to hope...dare we begin to ask...dare we begin to pray...dare we begin to believe?????

F is also for "freedom"...God gave His precious son so that we would be set free from sin...set free from guilt ...set free from shame...set free from this freedom within our grasp...??

Isaiah chapter 61 verse 1 says this

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has appointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners."

Being in debt is like being in prison.....when we entered the IVA it was a court ordained process and to some extent we were "sentenced" to 5 years hard labour to pay for our "sin" of getting into debt!! We are in many respects very grateful to have this as it provided us with an escape and also gave us the means in which we could pay back as much as we could......but the close supervision that the IP has over your finances and your lives is so very like being captive...Each year the review examines your income and expenditure and negotiations are required for every increase needed and we have to justify things like pet insurance and new tyres for car . It is a long and dark 5 years and the thought of being able to perhaps finish it early has given us a shred of hope.

The chapter quoted above is titled in my bible "The Year of the Lords Favour" and I wonder if 2010 will be a year for us to know Gods favour in this one aspect of our lives. We are so very aware of Gods favour in many ways and so aware He has placed us in this amazing community of believers where we can be open and honest and know acceptance and encouragement.

Thank you to those of you who have sent comments and emails ...your ongoing encouragement and love crosses any divide I may feel about being in debt.I am also incredibly humbled and grateful that some of you have shared your own personal situation which has allowed me to feel that I am not alone.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday 17th November F is for Finances and Future

Its me again .....and feel free to ignore these F word posts if they bore you...I cant switch off my you ever get like that?? "busy head " I call it when the thoughts go round and round and no matter what you do you cant switch it off. I have even resorted to going to bed to see if sleep would help but have only dozed and woken up with a splitting "busy head " Chris came home from work and I just cried into his shoulder and snotted on his I the only one who does this??

We talked over dinner about what we would do "if" many "ifs"...the "if " word is almost as worrying as the " f" word . We looked at each and every scenario and asked each other all the kinds of questions that are usually reserved for anyone else but us. I had coffee with FL today and we talked it all through and the whole issue of "its not fair" came up and why is that things happen. I know for us we are only following through on the biblical principle of "you reap what you sow"..we got ourselves into this mess over a long period of time and therefore its only right that we should take the time to honour the debt and pay off as much as we can . I understand and accept that 100%...I haven't for one second thought ...this isn't fair ....

My biggest struggle is the lack of control and not knowing what the future holds for us...The F word stands also for Future...add to that the "if " word...and the two of these combined is enough to throw me slipping and sliding off the "rock" and cause me to blink and wink and squeeze eyes tight shut thereby causing me to take my eyes off of God.

We have made some decisions as both of us find that the actual decision making process brings some element of control and even a smidgen of control is so much better when hanging on for dear life. We have contacted our IP and asked what are the circumstances needed for us to make a full and final payment and what kind of offer we would have to make to end the IVA early and depending on what he says we will look at whether this is a viable option for us. By our own calculations we think it may be around 14,000.

If you consider me your friend or even just that you read my blog..please can I ask you to pray for us...I may seem on the outside to be coping and you may even see me smiling and serving and working...but to quote a very old and favourite song ...

"behind a painted smile..the tears of a clown ..when theres no-one around"

I met with TM last night for mentoring and we had a revelation from one of the know when you read something and it just leaps out of the page and enters into your spirit? well has been settling into my heart most of the day.Take a look at 1 Corinthians chapter 6 ....the entire chapter seems to be constantly saying

"Do you not know"

and today its as if God has been saying to you not you not you not know..

I know that for me I need to hang on to the word of God...the Psalm I am meditating on is Psalm 25 and there is so much in there that I know God wants to use to speak strength to me and give me the ability to hang on in there...

verse 1 says...To you O Lord I lift up my soul in you I trust
verse 3 says .....No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame

It is in "His word" that I know I need to find rest and seek peace .....and for the moment I am "hiding in the shadow" of His wings....with nothing else to hang on to except His Word.......It is late and I am off back to bed in the hope that my busy head will slow down.......

Monday, 16 November 2009

Monday 16th F is for Finances

F is for Finances and F is for Faith....and we are on a journey that seems to be never-ending and at times resembles a roller coaster of immense proportions. To recap...we are in the 4th year of our IVA and for the last year or so Chris has his safe secure employment of 30 years turned upside down by Anacomp going into administration.We had months of not knowing what would happen and the threat of redundancy hanging over us to then find that Formscan had bought it over. We breathed deep and thanked God for continuing to care for us and sighed relief into our praises and reminded ourselves that God

"would never leave us or forsake us" and that "the plans He has for us are not to harm us but to prosper us ".

And so....6 months on we have just heard that Formscan has lost its major client and that cutbacks are on the cards and as the TUPE regulations under which Chris transferred all his conditions of employment etc has now run out we are once more faced with the possibility of redundancy. This in itself isn't the huge threat..but for our IVA it could the death knell and could bring us to the point of failing it and/or having to go bankrupt and/or losing our house. We are once again on the roller coaster and hurtling into the unknown..( just for the record...I don't do roller coasters of any description!)Add to this my own employment I am self employed I have to trust that the income I earn will always be there..but I have no guarantee that this will be the between the two of us we are once more hanging on tightly to a white knuckle ride.

I have long since stopped worrying about bankruptcy...God is God and whatever happens here in our lives .....He will never change and we can always trust that whatever happens to us will ultimately be in His hands.This is something we have learned this last 3 years... the F word for our Finances

One of the things I am struggling with isn't Faith for our Finances its the whole issue of being unable to be free to "give ". It has been highlighted more than usual this last few days as we have been to a CAP fundraiser..( CAP...Christians against Poverty ) and they were looking to raise 140,000 in one evening..there were approx 400 people there and I guess most of them were the big givers that are a huge part of CAPs fundraising . The guy who was speaking talked a bit about how much they wanted to raise etc and then he said..."some of you may only be able to give as little as 250.00 but some of you may be able to give 1000.00 and more "..Chris and I looked at each other and just thought "oh dear..the little bit of cash we had brought with us was so pitiful".....Then on Sunday at church we had a gift day for the work we are involved with in Serenje and the little we had to give seemed so small .

Ben Davies used to quote from

Proverbs 22 verse 7.." and the borrower is servant to the lender"

and it is at times like this that we realise just how true that verse is !!..We are unable to tithe and we have lost the freedom to use the little money we do have spare each month without a great deal of thought. Gone are the days when we could spontaneously go away for a weekend or buy an outfit and certainly as seen this last weekend we are severely hampered in our ability to respond to giving to the causes we are involved with. We have 680.00 going out each month to our IVA paying off debts and have done so for over three years with the prospect of a further two years still to go and this would more than cover our tithe as well as
"free" money with which we could engage more in the areas we would like to give to.

Ben Davies preached on Sunday and asked people who wanted to be "risky givers" to come forward for prayer..we went forward and Simon prayed for us .He prayed about the guilt we still sometimes feel about our situation and asked God to release us again from the feelings of shame and that we would know Gods peace.He also prayed that we would have money come in prayer at times has always been that God would provide us with enough money to offer what is called a "full and final" offer to the IVA to finish it off early. I am once again prompted to pray for this lump sum to come in but if not....then our prayer is that we remain in secure employment at least until we are able to be debt free in September 2011 ........
I am longing for that day when we have paid off all our debts and we are free !!

Two things to finish of this blog entry....

1)we did give to CAP and Serenje and actually felt really peaceful about it...we have learned over the years that God look at our hearts and our spirit and one major thing Ben Davies has taught us over the last 25 years is that we shouldn't feel under compulsion to give and that God wants us to be "cheerful " our small amount went into both the offering baskets with a smile !!
2)When Chris heard about what was happening at his work he talked to his boss and explained about the debt and IVA and his boss was incredibly sympathetic and said he would keep that in consideration over next few months as they seek to work through the cutbacks. He said he would do all he could even if it meant cutting him to a 3 or 4 day week etc... I am just so proud of my gorgeous hubby that he had the guts to admit to his boss our isn't easy to be so open and vulnerable outside in the big world of business. I go again...not knowing what the future holds ..I wish I was so mature to have that "what will be.....will be " attitude but to be honest I know I will have to hang on the F word tightly as we wait to hear what is going to happen in next few months. Please keep loving us encouraging us and praying for us...we are so grateful.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday November 13th The " F " Word

I am moving on to a different set of blog entries and they will all be focus-ed on

The " F " word.....

F stands for a variety of words that are affecting my life and possibly yours and so I hope you will continue to journey with me over the next few weeks.

My first word is FAITH and I guess this will underpin all the other F words I come up with as it is the solid rock formation of my Christian life.The bible says so much about Faith....I just checked the concordance and there are so many great Faith verses upon which I could base this blog entry. When I first started my blog (way back in January ) I quoted the chapter from Hebrews ... That amazing collection of faith verses that begins with verse 1

"Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" and yet this chapter is sandwiched in between this verse and one of the last verses which says this

"These were all commended for their faith yet none of them received what they had been promised."

I waver all the time between these two verses....and I guess this is why my blog is called " The Shadow of Victory"...I know all about living the life of faith...fighting the good fight ..believing the promises of God...and yet knowing that many of the promises have not yet been fulfilled. There is something comforting about living "in the shadows"...something peaceful...something safe...something secure.

Just to give you a taste of where I am going in the next few entries is a list of F words...if you can think of any more..let me know and I can blog away to my hearts content working my way down the list!!


So.....Faith..underpins is the basic solid foundation of all that I am and all that I would aspire to be...walk with me on this wonderful faithfilled adventure called LIFE.!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

November 5th ONE IN EVERY NINE

Its fireworks season and my gorgeous man is off for days and nights on end with the fireworks so I have lots of free time...for "free" read .....bored !!...Mike our eldest son is here too as he also does this and I believe that Cat and Nick are also doing a display this coming it becomes a real family affair...but NO..I have no plans to suit up in the red boiler suits and lug giant shells around for hours. It did come in very handy when the kids were little because we used to get free invites to all the best displays.

Last night I was involved in CAP WEDNESDAY....CAP is a national charity..."Christians Against Poverty " and one of the centres is based in our church...This is an organisation devoted to helping people get out of debt.(see for more details.) This evening was to highlight the work of CAP and to hopefully get new volunteers to come on board. I have been helping the team in the role of "blessings " This is an amazing role and I absolutely love doing it...we have a sum of money made available every month to simply bless I get to spend money that's not my own and give out lovely pressies in the form of vouchers or flowers or choccies...what fun it is .

AJ ..who is the centre manager gave out some statistics which really resonated with me...he states that "one in every nine households" has serious debt can google debt statistics and get some other quite frightening numbers about house repossessions and bankruptcy. AJ also quotes from the bible about how we should not neglect the poor and we saw a dvd about people who had worked with CAP and were now on their way to being debt free and also heard from someone in our own community who is working with CAP to get debt free.

As most of you who read my blog may know Chris and I are on our own journey to getting debt free and roll on August 2011...but the evening made me think .!!

CAP talks a lot about the "poor" and often the media gives out this stereotype of only "poor" people get into a mess.... I then think about the "one in nine " statistic that is quoted and if this is true then count the number in your street or road and think that behind every 9th door someone may be struggling or look around the church on a Sunday morning and count off every 9th person or family.....or check out the preschool mums or the cubs and brownie families you may know...every 9th family could already be in trouble.

I have had an 18mth involvement with a national debt forum and been involved in a couple of get togethers and shared stories of how we got into our messes with people in similar situations as us and I can honestly say that none of us would have been perceived as "poor"...Lets face it when you ask what is your perception of "poor" think of lower income...rented houses...not being able to eat regularly...children being cold ....hungry and ill clad.....and altho this is true that people who are unfortunate enough because of their life circumstances are actually "poor"...we also need to wake up to a whole new category of people who are in debt.!

You see...Chris and I have always owned our own home ..had good jobs ...driven two cars...had three children who never knew what it was to be hungry..cold or ill clad and from the outside looking in you would never have called us poor or thought we were in debt.As you cast your eyes over your friends or folk in your life..would you know if they were in debt..would you be able to spot the one in nine??? We...and I say this as the "royal collective we" must be open to those who we would least suspect of being in financial trouble being "safe" enough to admit it.For us..we had been in our IVA for almost 2 years before we told anyone. You may be able to spot a "poor person" but can you see past the exterior of those who still seem okay. I think I would be correct in saying that 17mths ago as we began to open up and tell people there was a fair amount of shock and surprise and in fact last night as I shared a little bit about our own situation with the group I could see puzzlement and surprise on several faces of those who know me.

At the end of the meeting I spoke to a lovely woman who had made her own journey with CAP and got debt free...losing her home in the process and she shared with me she had got back into debt again through no fault of her own and had experienced immense shame and embarrassment and didn't want to admit it to anyone . I could identify with her so much it felt like she was "talking my talk"....We hide behind our coping masks for fear that others may judge us and that is not only a debt feeling it is many things we struggle with..some of which I have talked about in previous blogs.

On the national forum there are daily posts from people who talk about their shame and their deep fear of people finding out about their situation..some who are in marriages where the partner doesn't even know about the debt..some who have lost everything..marriages wrecked...lost jobs....some who would never tell their friends or their families...and there is a community of people who function online and become virtual friends giving each other acceptance and support. For myself I used the support of the forum for almost a year ...sharing my deepest feelings with people I only knew from the Internet and occasional meetings. Many of these people never tell anyone and travel the road to debt freedom totally isolated and alone. However Simon ..our pastor began to create and encourage open-ness and a culture of vulnerability we felt able to begin to share with others our situation....and altho I still log on and occasionally post on the debt forum I have been able to get support and a level of acceptance from friends and family. I am eternally grateful to the experts on the forum and the friends I made who helped me to see that there was life beyond debt.

To be very honest....I still feel as if people wonder how on earth we ever got into this situation...and to be honest I wonder about that myself too. I spent a year blogging about it on the national forum and have actually downloaded it and maybe one day I will share some of it may think I have been open and vulnerable here...but you would need to read some of that years entries to really understand what it is like to be in debt....there is something amazingly secure about sharing with people who you will probably never "do life with "..but more than that it was the feeling that the ones who were able to access and read that blog were people who were in similar situations and could identify with me and certainly never would judge me.

One thing that also is becoming more and more prevalent is the actual amount of personal debt...with the advent of interest free credit cards and consolidation loans...gone are the days when it was few hundred pound on an fact some people I know have overdrafts and think nothing of it....some people I know have credit cards and don't always pay the balance of every month ...some people I know have cars on a bank loan and don't worry about it....Most of these people wouldn't even think of themselves as being "in debt"...lets face many actually add up the 8,000 car loan to the 2000.00 overdraft to the 5,000 credit limit...someone once said

"if you can service your loans etc you aren't in debt"...

Ha Ha Ha....We serviced our various loans for years until one day we realised we were paying more in interest every month than we were in balances...was it only then we were "in debt"....NO..we were in debt for years... and years..and years ..servicing and servicing the dratted things.!!

I am so sorry to go on and on about this...but I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in our community both in the church and outside in our local community and I can see that CAP and the work in our church centre will explode in the coming year as more and more people wake up to the realisation that their debt is debt.!! My challenge to us all...myself included is .....who are the "poor"...and is it only our preconceived stereotype we are looking to help..and is this label of "poor" acting as a barrier for folk like Chris and I to ask for help....or to admit to needing help... We actually set up our IVA before CAP was set up in our church but I have often asked myself if we would have approached the CAP centre if it had been open...Hhmmmnnnn...not sure .

If I have 20 plus people who subscribe to this blog then statistically speaking there could be 2 of you in debt.!!...If this is so..can I encourage you to share with me...or with someone you know and trust...God is in the business of setting people every aspect of their lives ....and finances are only one area we can be in chains and never know true freedom....I long for the day when we are debt free...I can see it in the not too distant future...I can feel it in my bones...I know deep down in the depths of my being that debt has shackled me in such subtle and hidden ways that I cant explain and that being debt free will bring a new dimension to my spirit and as such I long for it with all my heart.