Friday, 31 July 2009

My gran

I couldn't blog yesterday due to a number of of them being that it was the 5 year anniversary of my gran's death.

I still miss her so much and was a bit out of sorts about it. She was a huge influence in my life especially when it came to God (she introduced me to Him at an early age with loads of bible stories and prayers). As my dad has been so ill over the years (need to read previous posts for the details) my gran looked after me quite a bit. I had lots of sleepovers at her house, we watched old black & white films while eating enormous slabs of her homemade fruit cake (the best btw, it was like Christmas on a plate!), she loved showing me her old photos and making sure I knew who all my distant relatives were, she was a pillar of the community and was loved by everyone (we couldn't go shopping without scores of people stopping us to speak to her), she totally adored CSI and quite fancied Grissom (pity she didn't see many episodes), she loved God with a passion that left an imprint on my heart, she smelt like roses and her skin was as soft as tissue paper...I really miss her.

I wish she could see Emily growing up and how much she reminds me of her. I wish she was there for me to call and chat to about all the mundane details of my life (she had a gift of reassuring you that God makes everything work together for our good). She was the best cook and baker and her cakes were simply amazing. I wish I had spent more time in her kitchen learning from her.

I'm so glad she is with her Beloved experiencing unspeakable joy!

It's weird but when I saw my mum yesterday, neither of us allowed ourselves to give a voice to our memories of her. I was too choked up and was afraid that once I 'started' I wouldn't be able to stop. I think it's still too painful for my mum. Hopefully we get to a place where we can share our stories of this wonderful woman without fear of going to pieces.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Such a cliché!

My dog is such a cliché! She buries her bones and chases her tail! She doesn't chase cats though - when they wonder in from next door, she licks them. Anyway on the topic of clichés...

A cliché is a "trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse." Clichés are those words and phrases that we say without thinking. As I seek to communicate the reality of God to others I have to be so careful that I don't spew out religious jargon or Christian clichés. I want to connect with people on their level and that means ditching the script and stepping into their story (and pain). I don't want my mouth to be filled with stock phrases. So I urge all Christians everywhere, let's think about what we say to people - some christianese phrases may be so embedded in us that we don't even notice how odd they sound.

Remember that clichéd bedtime prayer you were forced to say as a child? Watch the clip below and see if this rings true with you...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Today has not been one of my best...for those of you logged on to Facebook, you will already know my embarrassing moment when I was in Tesco after having my mouth numbed at the dentist. I bumped into an old friend and not only did I feel wick at having to speak with a tongue so swollen and fat that it kept flopping out of my mouth, but when I got back to my car, I realised I had drooled down my chin (because I had absolutely no feeling in my chin and right cheek, I didn't notice the river running from my mouth!!!) CRINGE!!!!

These kind of moments seem to pepper my life...I'm a fall artist and have fallen down in the most inappropriate places (middle of a bus, at a funeral, off the platform while preaching at church, in front of my class many, many times - in fact they don't even ask me if I'm ok anymore, it's such a common occurrence!), I'm the one with spinach in my teeth when speaking to someone I want to impress, I have clothing tucked into places it shouldn't be after visiting the bathroom before speaking at a conference...oh my the list could go on and on! (my face is red just remembering!)

Anyway, one good thing today was that when I went into Tesco, the shelves were filled with my very favourite things ever!!!!! Back to school supplies!!!!! I love them all!!!! Not so keen on actually getting back to school but I adore all the products that promote it! Funky notebooks, fruity smelling erasers, multi-coloured paper-clips, fluffy pencil cases, cool lunchboxes....oh I love it! I end up buying loads of stuff for Emily (aka ME!)

I intend to enjoy the last leg of my holidays (especially as David gets off work for 2 weeks on Friday! Yey!) but I might have to nip into a few shops to purchase a stapler or a novelty sharpener....

Monday, 27 July 2009

Hot Gossip

How do you feel about gossip? Harmless fun? Juicy details? Sensational news?

Maybe you don't ever gossip...Let’s begin by defining gossip. What is gossip? Here are a few definitions that I found: (1) Rumour or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature and (2) idle talk, usually about other people's private lives, especially of a disapproving or malicious nature.
Gossip isn’t defined very nicely, is it? It is destructive. Sometimes it is very subtle and hard to recognise.

So, what does God’s word have to say about gossip? The book of Proverbs has some pretty specific things to say about gossip.
Proverbs 11:13 says: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
Proverbs 16:28 says: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Proverbs 20:19 says: “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”
Proverbs 26:20 says: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
Two different Hebrew words are used in these verses BUT they both mean the same thing – tale tellers. People who specialize in talking about other people’s lives.

The book of Psalms has a lot to say about the tongue as well. The language in the book of Psalms is really interesting - it uses language that typifies a violent scenario. It uses words like daggers, and swords, and poisonous tips, arrows, and death, and destruction, and things like that to describe the tongue. If you get a chance and you have a concordance take the time to look up how the word tongue is used in the book of Psalms – it is very eye opening. The tongue has the power to destroy lives.

As I was thinking about all the various ways that the tongue is described in the bible I began to wonder: “What kind of language would God use today to really explain the destruction that the tongue can bring?” Maybe He would say something like: “The tongue is like a suicide bomber walking into a shopping centre full of thousands of people and innocent children.” We all know the images of destruction that brings. Or maybe, “The tongue can be like a sniper who puts on a silencer and hides himself a safe distance away and then kills from long distance so that their victim never knows what hit them.” The reason that God uses such vivid description in imagery is because, rarely do we think about the destructive path that our tongue leaves behind.

Have people been hurt by your words – by your gossip? Maybe you are the one who’s been charred by someone else’s words, and I want you to know that God loves you so much. He knows how fragile your heart is and He cares about you.

The question we need to ask is: How do we move on from here? We know that the tongue can leave a path of destruction. We know that gossip hurts and maims. How do we change things? How do we raise the bar spiritually? How do we say, “Okay, I am not going to live my life like that anymore,” and, “I want to move forward and I want to change the way I live life.” How do you begin to do that? How do we overcome gossip? Maybe it's as simple as: Stop talking ABOUT people and start talking TO people.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” I love the last part of that verse. It says, “Building others up according to their needs.” We need to ask the question, “What are this person’s needs?” What is it that is going on in their life right now? What is the hurt? What’s the pain? What’s the joy? What’s the passion? What happened this morning at work before they even got here? What is it that’s going on in their life? And what we need to begin to do is to start asking these questions. And once we know and understand that, then we can intentionally begin to craft our words to speak into their life words that will build them up and not tear them down. Let’s stop talking about people and let’s start talking to people. That is one of the things we can do to start to move forward and say, “I’m going to live my life differently. I’m going to do things different.”

Let me finish by sharing this poem I found on gossip...
My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing.
I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion. I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip.
I make headlines and headaches.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

I don't beeeelieve it!!! (said in my best Victor Meldrew voice!) My tooth - you know the one that I broke and had terrible trouble with - has now crumbled even further! The temporary filling has given way and the pain is back with a vengeance! So instead of being at my lovely church, I slept the sleep of the dead due to the painkillers I had to take. Thankfully John the dentist is on hand and can fix me sometime soon.

I HATE missing church! Can't wait until David fills me in on all that happened. C.S. Lewis wrote, "Christ works on us in all sorts of ways, but above all, He works on us through each other." We need each other in the body of Christ for our walk. It's in the context of the church that our lives are supposed to be getting prepared for heaven, prepared for eternity. So as I think about the church, I'm thinking about the fact that we cannot function alone without the body of Christ. You are not complete without the other members. You need the spiritual gifts that God has given to others that you don't have. You need the Spiritual nourishment and encouragement and accountability and counsel and insight and practical help and comfort in your life that the rest of the members of the body can supply.

Dwight L. Moody was visiting with a prominent Chicago citizen one cold winter night when the subject of church membership and involvement came up. This man said to Moody, "I think I can be just as good of a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it." The story is told that without saying anything, Moody walked over to the fireplace, and he removed one burning piece of wood and just placed it on the hearth all by itself. Then the two men sat together and watched as the fire went out on that piece of wood; the embers died out.
The fact is you cannot survive. You cannot keep a hot heart and a fervent passion all by yourself.

I need you and you need me X

Saturday, 25 July 2009

No Line On The Horizon

Well I'm back from a few days in Dublin - David and I went to see U2 in concert at Croke Park. Every muscle in my body hurts at the moment due to excessive jumping, head banging, arm waving, shouting, singing, screaming(!) and generally rocking like there was no tomorrow! It was so amazing. Fortunately we got really close to the stage (about 10 rows from the front) and I promise you, at one point Bono looked right into my eyes and winked!!!
They sang all their classics and some new ones - the sound of 80,000 people singing along was incredible.

However, I was unprepared for what a spiritual experience it turned out to be - that was quite unexpected. Sorry I need to give you a little bit of history...David and I have had our hearts trampled over by a number of people (as does happen in life) - people who say one thing and yet do another...I won't say any more, I just wanted you to know that David and I still have some raw, wounded areas in our hearts. Well, we didn't focus on that this weekend (because it was all about U2 and Us - did ya like what I did there???) but obviously God knew we still needed some healing.

It didn't come through one of U2's big hits...Bono and The Edge started an acoustic version of 'Stuck In A Moment' and 80,000 people faded away as the lyrics made a bee-line for my heart. The peace and assurance of God wrapped itself round me like liquid love...

"And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass"

I looked at David and he had tears streaming down his face - God had been touching him deeply as well. We wept in the middle of that concert as Bono sang healing words and heaven witnessed another part of our hearts recovered and restored.

So sometimes my past catches up with me like a punch in the gut, nearly winding me...BUT GOD is so for me and my church that He will even use Bono to communicate it...just how awesome is that?!!!!!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Create in me a clean heart

Just a quick blog today as I'm sooo busy - organising my sermon for Sunday morning, cleaning, washing, ironing, packing for child and dog to go to their nanny's for a few days, packing for me and hubby to go to Dublin to see U2, food shopping, picking up poos from the garden (the joys of being a dog lover) AND trying to work in some romantic time for my lovely hubby.
I've been a bit snappy with him lately (sorry that's a huge understatement! I've been impatient, frustrated, naggy) and had to take some time with God this morning to do some inward examining and repenting. Once again God has to remind me that MY way is NOT the ONLY way!!! Sometimes when David and I talk, it gets lost in translation - marriage takes alot of work, but it's so worth it.

So I've been having alot of inner cleansing this morning - it's hard to face up to the ugliness of selfishness - but I want to grow and change, so as much as it's painful, I embrace the light that God is illuminating on those areas of my heart.

Ps 51 is a very passionate Psalm… one where David acknowledges his sin, AND takes full responsibility for his actions. His heart cries out to the tender mercy and loving-kindness of God, as David offers a broken spirit as a sacrifice for his sin. A God honouring life is one of dependence, not one of independence… DEPENDENCE on God is how we were designed to function. Confess any known sin to God daily (1John 1:7-9). The sacrifice you can read here that is desired by God, is that of a clean heart – one that is broken by sin, humbled by His presence, and willing to obey his will.
Whether or not you decide to repent, you simply CANNOT hide sin from God… or simply dismiss it in your life as insignificant. Sin left in the dark will eventually bring rot to your life one way of another… to your bones, to your heart, or to those you love.

Learn from David, how to deal with your own failure, how to go to God… how to deal with those things that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention… (and He will!!!), how to confess, how not to blame others… and how then to walk in the power of forgiveness…free from guilt and shame.

So I'm off Blogger friends, to get stuck in to my 'to do' list. Have a wonderful day X

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

WHAT I’M READING: Blogs, emails, the Bible, Facebook comments, Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite, a CSI style novel.

WHAT I’M WATCHING: The sky...seems I've a better chance of predicting the weather than the forecasters, Prison Break, Lost, Bear Grylls repeats (love that guy!!)

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: Rain on conservatory roof, washing machine, David snoring, God's whispers, Mia Fieldes, Kim Walker, David Ostby, U2 (only 3 more sleeps until I see them live!!!)

WHAT I’M WEARING: Jammies whenever possible - if I could preach in them I would!

WHAT I’M EATING: Lots of BBQ food when weather is good enough, fresh salads (fruit and veg), cereal (could live on it!), adult ice-cream.

WHAT I’M ENJOYING: Having time to work at church and be there for people - praying for 'strangers' who just walk in (amazing!), making new friends on fb, reading, camping, preparing for sermons, playing with my dog, sending Emily to summer scheme (for her sake of course!)

WHAT I’M SNIFFING: Dog!!!! new bath oil (quite expensive but so worth it!), burnt toast (I always forget about it), David's socks, Roy's dinner for Keith and Linda (that I must be invited to!!!)

Monday, 20 July 2009

100th post!

Yey!!! Imagine that...this is my 100th post! Go me! Apparently it's traditional in Bloggerland to write 100 facts about yourself when you reach your 100th here goes...

ONLY JOKING!!! I don't think I could think of 10 never mind 100 - and who would read that anyway?!!!

So what shall I write on my 100th post? I could tell you all my hopes and dreams?, I did that already. I could give you some background information on my life?...nope, covered that as well. Write about my amazing family and church?...nah, said all that too. My job as a teacher?...check. Being an assistant pastor?...yep done that.

Oh what to write, what to write?...

Well that's easy...the One who takes centre-stage in my life is Jesus. it's so easy to write about Him and how madly in love I am with Him.
My prayer is that I will always attract others to Him...He has the spotlight in my life and I'm His greatest fan. Everyday I take time to remind myself how amazing and powerful His love is. I'm in awe of how He loves me and cares for me. I'm stunned that He welcomes me back with open arms whenever I stray. I'm moved to the core with the love song that He sings over me. He is beautiful. He has captivated my heart and turned my world upside down. He rescued me from myself.

I could go on...but I'm kind of speechless now. The more I look, the bigger He gets. The more I search, the endless the treasure I discover. The deeper I go, deep still calls out to me. What a love affair!!!

If you have the pleasure of knowing Jesus - love Him with everything you are and have, and lead people to Him.

If you are reading this and don't know how incredible Jesus is, He's using this post to show you how much He loves you...will you step out and get to know Him better?...allow Him into the deepest part of your heart and let Him fill every empty space? It will be the best decision you will ever make and I will be your greatest cheerleader!

To those of you who read this blog...Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I never expected it to impact anyone (truthfully, I didn't think anyone would read it!) and I've made amazing new friends through it, and it's strengthened longstanding friendships. Love you X

Friday, 17 July 2009

Would you like a little update on the saga of the broken tooth? Sounds like a good title for a book doesn't it?... tooth seeks healing and restoration but can't seem to help itself from going to those dark, dangerous, sugary dens....sorry, I get a little carried away...must be only-child syndrome. Anywho...the tooth (the easily-laid and naive star of this plot) had to have it's nerve removed (I know, you feel my pain!) and after 4 injections, my jaw is throbbing like a beacon to the world. Hence the reason why I'm in my house on a Friday night while everyone, including my hubby and Em are living it up. But don't worry I'm enjoying the quiet (those of you who know David will get this!) and I've connected with loads of new, wonderful people around the planet via facebook. It certainly opens your eyes to know that there's a big, wide world out there full of God-loving people!

Our church is going through a metamorphosis at the moment - slowly emerging from our hidden state, stretching our wings and learning how to fly. A lot of great events planned for Saturday Nite Live and teaching & training packages are being put in place for September.

Read a great quote recently, from George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), an Anglo-Irish playwright and critic:
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

I love this quote because it reflects our human heart’s longing to be a part of something mighty. This is hard-wired into us, an eternal echo that only feels right when we’re doing what we are created for.
For me, as a Christ-follower, I am participating with a force greater than myself, wrapping myself whole-heartedly into His story of redemption. Plunging into my destiny that was prepared in advance for me to do.
And when I am “thoroughly worn out and… on the scrap heap” (you know what I mean) I want to say, with the apostle Paul that I’ve run a good race. I’ve fought the good fight.

How about you? What is the mighty purpose that you’ve given yourself to?

(P.S. hubby has just arrived home and taken off his I want to throw him in the scrap heap! The aroma is truly out of this world!!!)

Mother Teresa said, “Let’s do something beautiful for God”, and that is really the calling that’s placed on our lives – to learn what’s on the King’s heart and carry out His desires. The risk factor is real and it means facing up to the fears of being rejected, isolated and laughed at when we take a stand for our beliefs. In essence we have to let go of self-preservation - fear of failure, getting it wrong and messing it up. We need to demystify failure – it’s part of our learning process.

What God has got going on in our lives right now is beyond what we have even understood. It’s bigger than we’ve seen, about more people than we’ve known, about places we’ve never been to yet, conversations we’ve never had yet – what God is doing in our lives is far greater in it’s consequence, outcome, result than we’ve ever dreamed of. He’s working in the shadows, behind the scenes preparing, placing and positioning you – you’re empowered to do something you wouldn’t have even thought of.

So often we feel that we can’t do everything and therefore we don’t do anything. The people that God has put into your life are there for a purpose (our significant others) We can press the pause button on our busy lives and intentionally get our minds off ourselves and instead be mindful to be a blessing. What does it mean to be mindful? It means to have your mind full of ways that you can be a blessing – and do it on purpose. There are so many ways we can be good and show kindness to people – a simple phone call, a note written to someone, taking time to listen to someone and showing an interest, a financial blessing, praying with someone, a lift home – one man’s good deed is another man’s miracle. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money, just some creativity and thought. People are starving for somebody, anybody to show them the love of God. You’ll be amazed at how your life will change by simply getting your mind off yourself, your problem, your wants, your needs. Leave your list of ‘I wants’ in God’s hands. Instead, concentrate on being a blessing wherever you go. You’ll be surprised at how many of the ‘I wants’ on your list will be taken care of while you are caring for others. It will help us to not be tight-fisted with our lives but to be open handed “The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” Be generous with your life and your world will open up for you.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

This post is a little heavier than the previous one - it's thought-provoking - so if you're up for that, read on....

In a speech a few years ago, Elie Wiesel observed, "What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference." A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil. What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals? Here's what he says...

"Of course, indifference can be tempting — more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction . . .
"Indifference . . . is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it.
"Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees — not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.
"Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment."

Ponder on these words...what do you think?
Remember, your toughest management challenge is always yourself.
Love you guys X

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I wanna be a rock star!

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 MSG)

"They drank from the Rock, God's fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ." (1 Cor 10:4 MSG)

Reflect the light of Christ - be a Rock star!

Here's a bit of wisdom for ya - "A man without a smiling face must not open a shop" -Chinese Proverb

Just a light blog for you today - had some dental work and now my tongue is too big for my mouth - hmmmmm, I wonder what God's saying?! ;)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Less is more

What has happened to me? I'm a city girl and I make no apologies for that. I love my squidgy pillows, my ghds, my laptop, getting dressed up, hot bubble baths...and yet I'm just back from camping, having left all of that behind, and I LOVED it!!! My hubby and daughter want to nominate me for the 'most changed person in the shortest period of time ever' award! They too are stunned at my hippy attitude.

Once I accepted that I was going, I embraced camping with an enthusiasm that would have put Bear Grylls to shame! (who I adore btw!) We had heavy rain for some of the time - and even that didn't dampen my spirits. It's so relaxing being all warm and cosy in your tent with a cappuccino, listening to the sound of the rain.

Here's something I discovered - Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of his glory (Is 6:3), in the form of beauty. This means that beauty is essential to life. It is essential to the Christian life. Your life must have beauty in it, lots of it.
Drink it in this summer – soak in it, let it heal you, comfort you, draw you to God.

As I sat outside in the evenings and just listened and took it all in, my heart began to quiet and peace settled in my soul. May summer nourish you, free your heart a bit, bring you hope.

P.S. A few other observations...
*Baby wipes cleanse a multitude of sins.
*Even though the minibeasts look like they're on steroids, they won't bother you unless you're running around, screaming like a headless chicken.
*A dog passing wind in a small tent is not pleasant.
*When going into a maze, leave a trail of pebbles.
*Don't forget a pump for your air mattress.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Wild at heart

"Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives." (Isaiah 41: 11-12)

Isn't that an incredible promise? I read that this morning and could literally feel God's liquid love pouring all over me.

I'm still pondering on the subject of opening our hearts and homes to others. I remembered a poem I'd read a while ago and thought it would be good to revisit it...

Prayer of Sir Francis Drake

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Challenging isn't it? It hit me right up the side of the head. We tend to want to live in our safe, comfortable boxes - where everything is neat and orderly. Sometimes I live my life like it's a list, ticking off achievements as they happen. It can be clinical at times and it can shut God out. I'm learning to surrender my structures to embrace the wildness of God - where I don't have or need all the answers, where life is risky, unpredictable, exciting. Remember the quote about Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia - "He's not a tame lion but he is good".

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Entertaining Angels

Well guys and gals it looks like Jesus loves me more than anyone else in the whole, wide world! Camping may have to be cancelled due to the heavy rain travelling our way from the Atlantic. We have booked a week of camping in August so I'm doing it anyway - I'm just thankful that I may miss our practice run!

Life in the McClenaghan household has been busy, busy of late. There's loads of exciting happenings going on at church. The youth (Emerge) are growing and invading our hearts with their energy and enthusiasm. Alpha has yielded salvation - so loads of people to reach out to and care for. David and I have always desired that our home would be a refuge for others - we have an open door policy and love it when people call by unexpectedly (sometimes I get caught in my jammies so I have to be dressed very early!!!)

Hospitality is a big deal to God. "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:9-10) Practicing hospitality isn’t about glittering, glamorous table settings or platters of picture-perfect food; it’s about practicing servanthood right in the middle of your practical Christianity. More important, it’s about loving others through Christ and making people feel special. Romans 12:13 encourages us all to practice hospitality, whether it is our spiritual gift or not. In fact, the Greek word philozenia is actually a combination of two words – philos, meaning “affection” and zenos, meaning “stranger.” While usually translated to mean hospitality, philozenia signifies affection toward strangers. In The Message Bible translation, 1 Peter 4:8-10 says, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you.”

Sometimes we can choose to focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on sharing the blessings of God. So give it a try. Somewhere along the way, you’ll realize that people are not in your home for the unlimited entertaining budget. Rather, they sense loving kindness and genuine concern. That’s the moment when your home becomes a sanctuary for those God sends your way.

The bottom line is that God can use people like you and me to touch lives. It doesn’t matter if we rent or own a house or an apartment; our homes are an extension of ourselves. When we practice hospitality, we have the opportunity to touch lives in an intimate, personal way. Be bold: God has not only given you the roof over your head, but also will give you the love and wisdom needed to open your home to others.

With a little planning and preparation – and a good measure of prayer – you can be prepared to share your home with friends, neighbours, and even the strangers God may send your way.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Camp it up!

Two more sleeps until I go camping! Yeah!!! So excited!!! Can't wait!!!! Love it!!!!....yeah right!!! I'm being FORCED to leave my cosy bed, memory form pillow, all my luxuries, ghds, to sleep on a rock with creepy crawlies, cook on a tiny camp stove, pee behind a bush, have mud up to my neck and listen to the delightful noises of nocturnal woodland creatures when I try to sleep (Blairwitch!!!!) What am I doing????

I'm dying to my own preferences for the sake of my family. David and Em have pestered me for years to go camping - I love them and want to see them having a good time, so I'm going. It's not my favourite thing to do, but they are my favourite people so I will gladly give up my idea of a good holiday to embrace theirs.

I feel a bit like a method actor - I can use this experience to help with my series on The Giants!!! (always a silver lining!)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Passion for Positive

Are you ready for another one of my soul searching, mask removing, heart examining posts?
I'm learning, as a leader, that ingratitude and criticism are going to come. I don't like it but I'm discovering they are a part of the price paid for refusing mediocrity. Anyone who has achieved anything notable sooner or later receives criticism. The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said "Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." If you move with God, you will be criticised.
But the Bible offers a great promise - the truth always outlives a lie! Prov 12:19 "The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment".
Kenneth Tynan has provided a fantastic description of a critic - "A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car".

I have found that it is better to be alone than in the wrong company. I'm steering clear of negative-thinking "experts".

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Moment by Moment

The trouble with having just one child is that you get roped into doing a lots of 'kids stuff' that you don't really want to do...WHY?...because you're sick of hearing, "I'M BORED!!!" and there's no siblings to share the load! So I thought I was being really clever sending my lovely daughter to a summer scheme and buying her a dog - "HA!" I thought, "I'll have some 'me' time while Emily is busy with her own activities".

Yeah right! I honestly don't understand how my plan failed. We are 1 week into our holidays and already I have been in wrestling matches in the garden (with daughter and dog), drawing cartoons, watching Disney channel and singing all the theme songs!, learning the Hannah Montana dance, giving head massages, hosing child and dog to cool them down, making rings, painting, putting cotton wool on the grass to pretend it has been snowing... 'ME TIME?' no chance!!!!! BUT it has been fun.

I'm usually such a control freak - "task orientated" my lovely husband calls me - so it's been really good to throw off the 'teacher' role and be a kid again. It's been nice to not have a 'structure' to my enjoy the moment, meet up with friends, organise and plan at a leisurely pace rather than my usual break neck speed, spend time with Emily and David (& Coda), read, write, drink tea, potter about...Hmmmm could this actually be 'me time'?

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Great Adventure

Eugene Peterson stated this in his book, Traveling Light:
The word “Christian” means different things to different people. To one person it means a stiff, upright, inflexible way of life, colorless and unbending. To another, it means a risky, surprise-filled venture, lived tiptoe at the edge of expectation. . . . If we get our information from the biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.

At the edge of expectation — that’s how we’re meant to live life. We can have confidence that God will take us on white-knuckle adventures that will make an eternal impact on others while at the same time giving us the thrills of a lifetime.
It’s the difference between a numb life of predictability and an exhilarating series of divine surprises.

Simply put, our role is this: to be ready and willing — because God is always able.
Cultivate passion and excitement for the unexpected adventure, and you’ll be amazed at how you — regardless of your age, gender, background, or experience — can stir up your church to become a more spiritually dynamic and contagious place.

God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.(1 Corinthians 1:8 – 9, The Message)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

No greater love

Can I ask you something? Have you really accepted the fact that God loves you as you are. Are you resting in the fact that you already have His love? I know intimately how we can struggle with that. I’ve gotten on the treadmill of human achievement again and again and again. I’ve tried to earn the love of God. Many times God has to remind me that He loves me irrespective of whether I do a good job or not. He loves you irrespective of whether or not you perform well at work or whether you have it all together on the outside or if you jump through all the right religious hoops. You cannot earn what you already have. I need to repeat that - we can’t earn what we already have. You have God’s love.

In Hosea 2 there are some powerful imagery in verse nineteen. God says this, “I will betroth you to me forever.” That word, betroth, in the original language has the idea of a bride price that’s paid for a bride. A groom would pay it to the father of the bride for the bride. He says, “I will betroth you to me forever.” How long? Forever! “I’ll betroth you in righteousness and justice and love and compassion. I’ll betroth you in faithfulness. You will acknowledge the word of the Lord.” That word acknowledge is used in the Hebrew language for intimacy. To know someone – He’s saying you will know me in a personal intimate way. I will betroth you forever. That’s awesome imagery. It means we can enjoy God forever.

Glen Wolf is a guy who died at eighty-eight years of age in Los Angeles. He died as many people do in our world, alone. There was no one to take care of him and no one to attend to his funeral. He didn’t really have a funeral. He was buried alone. It was a tragic way to end your life. But Glen Wolf had a very unique distinction. He is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the man who has been married the most in his life. True. Twenty-nine times he walked down the aisle with a different woman. Twenty-nine times he stood and said, “I do.” Twenty-nine times he watched a relationship explode. He died alone. He never learned that love has to be cultivated, nurtured, and matured in the midst of the heartaches and difficulties of life.

What the book of Hosea is teaching us that God, unlike Glen Wolf, will never walk out on us. God will never turn His back on us. He’s there. Learn the secret contentment. Return to Him when we fail. Enjoy Him forever because He’s there for you. He loves you and wants to be in this relationship with you. When you do that His love will lead you on.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Slay your giants

I'm preparing for my preaching series on 'The Giants' which begins Sunday 12th July. I've preached on this topic a few years back (it's one of my favourites) but this time it will have a fresh, prophetic perspective. I'm really looking forward to it - it's an 8 week series so it will take us through to the beginning of September.

Some thoughts to get us started...

Your giant may not carry a sword, but he comes into our world in the clothes of depression, unemployment, abuse, insecurity, or financial problems. We hear the roar of our giants at sunrise and at the end of the day. Giants can overtake your day, diminish your hope, destroy your soul and take away your joy.

When David set out to slay his giant he gathered 5 smooth stones. Allow me to give you 5 things to serve as your 5 stones as you go against the giants in your life:

1. Identify your Giants
Let's not fall into the trap of blaming or taking out our frustration on something other than the giant. This will only create other problems in our life. An example of this is when people have a problem at work and rather than taking steps to deal with the giant; they take it out on their partner and find themselves with a marriage problem - there are numerous examples of this. Identify and face your giant and take positive steps towards overcoming it.

2. Get God’s Perspective
To the soldiers on the battlefield, the giant looked so big. Instead of focusing on the size of the giant, David focused on God’s faithfulness, goodness and power. Like David, let's see ourselves and the giant from God’s perspective. God sees us as overcomers and put us on earth to have dominion. Don’t focus on the threats of your giants - focus on the strength and character of God.

3. Consider the rewards.
Your giant will stand between you and a better life, so focus your energy on the rewards you will receive once it is defeated. People either concentrate on the price or the prize when facing a giant. Those who think about the price become discouraged, but those who think about the prize are encouraged.

4. Take decisive action.
David spoke to Goliath, slayed him with a stone, and cut his head off. It is amazing how many of us get stuck in analyzing, planning and organizing when what we really need to do is take action.

5. Celebrate your victories.
This does not mean throw a party on the heels of a great triumph, but rather maintain an ongoing, continued ownership of the victory. Don’t forget the giants you've overcome. David used every victory in his life as a source of inspiration for his next victory.

I'll put my notes on my blog as I preach them - if you want to get prepared before that, read Joshua 3 - this will be our main scripture throughout the series.

Get ready for a fight!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Dying to be thin

Hello to all you good friends at Bloggerland!
Since my last post on my weight, I've had numerous emails from concerned folk telling me to just eat and there's nothing wrong with my figure. I so appreciate all the love and support shown but I wanted to mention that this is different from us girls having 'a fat day'. I had an eating disorder. Eating disorders are all encompassing. They affect every part of the person's life. According to the authors of Surviving an Eating Disorder, "feelings about work, school, relationships, day-to-day activities and one's experience of emotional well being are determined by what has or has not been eaten or by a number on a scale." I suffered from an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat and a preoccupation with body weight and shape.
Anorexics have a distorted view of their body. Even when they are extremely thin, they see themselves as too fat. Anorexics are commonly perfectionists, driven to succeed; yet they set unattainable standards of performance for themselves. When they fail to meet these standards, they look for a part of their lives they can control; food and weight become that “control” for them. Low self-esteem and constant self-criticism cause anorexics to constantly fear losing control, and even consuming a small amount of food could be considered a loss of control. This is what I battled with daily. It consumed my thought life. It nearly destroyed my marriage. It made me incredibly ill and plunged me into a dark depression.

This scripture really helped me in recovery (as well as the unconditional love of God, my family and my church)

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times… Pour out your heart before Him…" (Psalm 62:5-8, NKJV).

I'm still on a journey X