Thursday, 31 January 2013

Some words I heard

Here are some quotes from things I have watched recently and really liked so wanted to remember.

From the first series of Call the Midwife (which I watched in 4 days so I could be up to date for the new series!)
 - Sometimes we need to deal with what the Lord has sent us.
 - We must see what love can do.
 - Health is God's greatest gift to us.
 - Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
 - There is not versions of love, only love.
 - I feel we are prompted to go in search of cake!

From Men in Black 3 (the Husbands choice!)
 - A miracle is what seems impossible but happens anyway.

And from Toy Story (I've seen this too many times since Christmas!)
 - That's not flying. That's falling with style!

I hope to get through each day searching for cake, falling with style and hoping for miracles!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Rich towards God, Generous towards Others

The New Year began at church with a great sermon about living rich lives towards God. A reminder that we are stewards, not owners, of all that God blesses us with. That we should hold everything with open hands ready to give to others, or back to God, where needed. This is how the early church lived. And many were added to their number daily!
We were challenged to live a life of simplicity, community and faith.

And I have been I do...what does it mean to be generous?
I think we have a tendency to think about it in one of two ways:
1. Generosity is about how much money I give, so I'll give some cash and that's my giving done.
2. Generosity isn't just about money, and I give in so many ways, I don't need to give, or give much, of my finances.

But I would suggest that generosity is about everything. All that we have. Finances, material belongings, gifts, skills, time and many other things. We should be challenged  to give in many ways, according to what the situation asks of us.

Welcoming someone into your family so that they are not lonely is generous.
Taking the time to teach someone a new skill is generous.
Baking delicious goodies to treat others or provide for someone else is generous.
Supporting someone financially so they can gain an education is generous.

Let's get creative and think outside the box when it comes to blessing others. It doesn't even have to be big things. Sometimes its the small things that mean most to someone. Just being remembered can be a gift to someone.

So let's remember that being generous is a privilege and a gift.
And let's amaze the world with God's generosity through us!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

It doesn't matter...

...if you're tiny or tall.
It doesn't matter if you're big or small.
If you want to have fun, it doesn't matter at all.

Thanks to CBeebies for the above snippet from a theme song (yes, I need to expand my telly viewing habits)!

How often do we put conditions on what we can or cannot do?
How many times have we avoided something because we think we're not 'qualified/experienced/old enough/young enough/etc etc'?
How many roles have we not taken up because we've decided we don't have the right qualities or skills?

And, especially in churches, how many times have we left things for those in 'official' leadership to do?

God calls us all to play our part. For church to be FUNctional...yes I believe church can be great fun (amen)...we all need to join in. And it doesn't matter whether you think you fit the mould or not.

Do you want to have fun?
Then join in!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Love this photo

Taken one evening this week...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

I'd rather be...honest

"I don't know how you do it!"

That's something I've heard a few times over the last few weeks.
And if I'm honest, I don't know either.
In fact, I don't think I do 'do it' or am 'doing it' at all!

I cry at least once a day. And not a cute emotional cry.
An 'oh my word, what am I doing? How am I even functioning? DON'T PUT THAT TOY IN MY DRINK!' pretty ugly, and usually selfish, cry.

I usually work out my tiredness and frustration on my four boys and they definitely do not get the best of me.
(I thank God daily for His grace in this area, and another day to grow better as a mum and wife)

And if I'm totally honest...I spend parts of my day thinking about all the things I don't get chance to do with three little ones around. All the things I would do if I had more time. If my time was 'mine'.

I saw some of these mugs a while ago, and actually bought a few for Christmas presents. They made me think, and I wondered how many hours I spend thinking about things I'd rather be doing.

Then I read this blog post and was very convicted.

While I may not be hoping to pastor a megachurch, I have been having an internal battle with the things that have been developing in my heart. My hopes and dreams. Dreams I believe God has placed on my heart, but that I'm struggling to 'see'.

If I'm honest, sometimes I struggle with the reality of my days in the here-and-now and can be found longing for something else, something more. And trying to figure out how I can make it happen.
If I'm honest, I've become one of those married women with kids who actually has moments of envying all the single ladies, when about 7 years ago all I did was the opposite.
If I'm honest, I know how stupid this sounds...please don't stone me...but I can't be the only one who struggles with this.

While reading Mark 9 this week I made a note of verse 24:
'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'

My prayer at the moment I think is, 'I am happy; help me overcome my discontent!'

How can I be faithful with where God has me right now? With what God has given me today?
How do I learn to leave it in God's hands and be happy with that? To not try and be in control and make things work out how I think they should?

How did Paul learn to be content...and how do we?
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:10-12

I believe it has something to do with Eucharisteo (thanksgiving, grace, joy) and hope to find out more this year.
2013 background with text

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Recent reads - end of 2012

Recent reads
After moving house in September last year, I faced a slight dilemma. How do I manage to read all the books that are on my ever growing reading wish list without adding to the masses of books we already own? Moving house and packing up many boxes really highlights things like an over abundance of books!

I was very blessed to receive a kindle as a gift from my husband when the twins were born. Thus allowing me to download many books without requiring any shelf space. This gift, combined with the need to find 30 minutes of quiet, several times a day to express milk (not fun) gave me a nice amount of time to get through some interesting reads. In fact, I think I read more in the 6 weeks after the boys were born than in the previous 9 months!

So, here's what I read:
A Year of Biblical Womanhood - Rachel Held Evans
This book had been on my wish list since it came out. I read Rachel's blog as often as I can.
And I really enjoyed it. Serious and funny at the same time. Humbling but also empowering.
I was most impacted by the January chapter where Rachel tackles the Proverbs 31 woman and the list of tasks and achievements we have turned it into. The reclaiming of the meaning of Eshet chayil, 'woman of valour' has really challenged and changed my thinking, which is why I have made it one of my themes for this year. And it makes me want to make sure all women know they are Eshet chayil!

1000 Gifts - Ann Voskamp
I wasn't quite sure what had drawn me to this book other than another blogger who had referenced it. But now I know it was a total God thing. This book has literally stopped me in my tracks, messed with my head and set me off very slowly, probably in the same direction but with very different glasses on! I can't adequately put into words my thoughts on this book, other than to highly recommend it. I have already passed it onto 3 people! This is where the theme of Eucharisteo comes from and I will no doubt be sharing more from this book as I work that out this year.

Half the Church - Carolyn Custis James
This book was referenced in the Year of Biblical Womanhood and mentioned on some other blogs. I was really pleased that I read this and would recommend it to all women, in fact all men too, in church. It discusses God's vision for women across the globe and challenges the western idea that women are solely created by God to be wives and mothers. I've just started reading The Gospel of Ruth also by Carolyn Custis James and I'm really enjoying it.

Crazy Love - Francis Chan
This was a book that kept coming up on different blogs a while ago. I don't think that it highlighted anything new to me but it was good to refresh things. It challenges believers to a life of more than just church attendance. If God loves us as he does, how can we not long to do more?!

Creating Space - Ed Cyzewski
I downloaded this mostly because it was free! But it was a great read. A short but succinct book explaining the importance of allowing ourselves time to be creative in whichever way that works for us. We are all formed in the image of a creative God and therefore are each creative in some way. This will look different for each of us, but the importance is not really in what we create but in being part of a creative process. I enjoyed this book and will hopefully go back to it regularly to remind myself why I need to find time to be creative.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness - Timothy Keller
Again, I downloaded this because it was cheap, and I'd read other things by Tim Keller and liked them. Its a small book and a pretty quick read. It describes the importance of recognising the problem of thinking too much of ourselves and getting the right perspective on ourselves and God. Again, nothing completely new to me, but good to read and be challenged on.

The Great Gatsby - Scott F Fitzgerald
I decided that I should read something other than Christian books and that a 'classic' might be an idea. The film version of The Great Gatsby is due out this year I think and I was hearing (reading) the title mentioned quite a bit so thought I should read it. And it was 99p on Kindle!
I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it. I felt that the story just rambled along and then stopped. There were no interesting revelations or cliff hangers or twists. I won't be dashing out to see the film but at least when I do watch it I can compare it to the book!

Ruth - Elizabeth Gaskell
I love Elizabeth Gaskell stories, although I've watched more than I've read. Wives and Daughters is my all time favourite period drama series. I have vivid memories of watching it at my Nana's after a day at 6th form. And even though I know the story I cry every time I watch it!
Ruth was no different. A real glimpse into history and the social and cultural expectations on women. But there's also a wonderful theme of grace and a challenge to how we judge people and our preconceptions. The ending was unexpected and rather sad, which is probably why it hasn't been turned into a tv series. There's no riding off into the sunset. But still a lovely story.

So, those are my recent reads. I don't think I'll get through so many over the next few months.
Have you read anything recently that you've enjoyed?
Do you have any recommendations?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Miracle of Appreciation

I love it when things come together, when the ordinary stuff of life collides and God shines through. The God-incidences, as we call them.
Those moments in the everyday when we see God, His hand, His heart and His care.

I had an amazing text from my Auntie today that built up my faith and shows how amazing and awesome God is.
It seems that God is in the business of family the best way possible. The things that are mulling and stewing and kindling and igniting in me are also being stirred up inside my family - both my biological one and my church one! How good is that?! How good is God?! That he provides us with community and fellow travellers as we journey through all seasons of life!

I came across this video a short while ago and wanted to share it. It really resonates with some of the things going on in my head and heart at the moment and with a lot of what I've been reading and hearing.
I really believe God is wanting to do something in us around the area of thanksgiving - eucharisteo - appreciation, gratefulness, joy.

What are you thankful for today?
What can you be grateful for?

Find Steve's blog here.