Saturday, 10 September 2016

God speaks... Not just on Sunday!

Its a good book and some deep thoughts that bring me back to the world of blogging. I've almost finished reading "Roots and Sky", by Christie Purifoy, and it's one of those books I'll be sad to turn the last page. One of those books I'm choosing to linger over and will leave many pages dog-eared. 

Lately I've been rediscovering Gods voice and relearning how He speaks, guides and directs me. I believe that He does speak to each of us individually and I believe it's a process of learning, growing, maturing and discerning that leads us to be in close and constant communication with Him.  My journey in learning to discern His voice was interrupted a few years ago when, I heard wrong and it ended in heart ache... In hind-sight I didn't hear wrong, the journey and His timing was just different than I had imagined in the midst, and so looking back, He has proved Himself faithful once again. That said, since then, I've gone through various stages and seasons of doubting, questioning whether He really does speak to me, whether I am actually capable of hearing His voice and lots of other questions and confusion in between. 

Recently, I've felt Him calling me to test Him in this. To listen. To obey. And to watch His hand at work. And it's been an amazing journey. It's in the midst of this that I'm stumbling across these words from Christie Purifoy in her book and finding they resonate with me in a new way. Having recently moved to a new home, she feels Gods gentle nudge to open her home to all her neighbours for an Easter egg hunt. Way out of her comfort zone, and yet she chooses to listen and respond.

"It seems that so much depends on listening to the quietest whispers. "How perfect this long, green avenue is for an Easter Egg hunt." And so much depends on following, even if we drag all our fears and doubts along for the wild ride. I don't think following Christ is like aiming at a tiny Bulls-eye on a diminishing target. We are not in constant danger of missing the one right road God has mapped out for us. And yet. Perhaps the mystery who first breathed life into our dusty bones is always ready and waiting to carry us over some new cliff. To draw us deeper into unknown territory and toward unimaginable things. Unforeseen gifts."

I love those words, that He is waiting to draw us deeper into the unknown and unimaginable, a potentially fearful prospect, and yet we can count it all as gifts. Amazing unforeseen gifts.

As Christie gets deeper and deeper into the planning and planting of her new garden, she finds herself listening to His voice beyond the pages of her Bible. I find myself identifying with her words again and want to share them here, but know this... I'm encouraging you to buy her book and read the whole thing, it's worth it! 

"It is late April and I have abandoned my books...even my Bible... I worry over the pendulum swing I have made since Lent. From a winter of words, in nursery catalogs and Tolkeins tales, prayer books and my Bible, to this Spring hustle of digging, planting, weeding, pruning. from contemplation with Scripture to contemplation with spade and watering can. There was a period when I would have narrowed my eyes on hearing someone say they felt closer to God outdoors than in a church. I was sure, and I am still sure, that we mostly find God in the rubbing shoulders with other, difficult people. Like ourselves. God shows up in the jagged edges between us. I believe this... I have learned how much I miss when I assume God speaks only on a Sunday morning... Pulpit words. Hymnal words. Devotional words. These aren't the only words in which to hear Gods voice...some of Gods words can never be heard unless we set aside our books, quiet our usual prayers, and look. Listen. Wait." 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Rest in the chaos

In the front of my journal I have notes and thoughts from some quiet time spent in the first few days and weeks of this year. It's something I've purposed to do and enjoyed the process of this past few years. 2016 started with getting to grips with becoming a mum of two as we welcomed our 2nd son into the world right before Christmas.  All that in mind, I knew that my "resolutions" for 2016 needed to be realistic! You can read my post on that right before this one, as I have not actually blogged since then! with two little guys is pretty much as full as I thought it would be!

My "resolution" was this: 

Last weekend I've been thinking about this again as I stumbled upon a blog via Instagram which has totally resonated with these resolutions of mine. The bloggers' name is Terrica Joy and I'd highly recommend her most recent post on Sabbath Rest: aswell as her Instagram account @terricajoy

Sabbath is a bit of a strange word and one we don't use anymore really. Sometimes church people call Sunday the sabbath and the bible talks about it too.  I personally believe that "sabbath" is more than just a day of the week for going to church and enjoying a good roast dinner with friends and/ or family. I think "sabbath" is a principle of rest. Resting in God and enjoying His presence 7 days a week. Not just in a church building, or around a formal dinner table, but also in the trenches of everyday life - elbow deep in nappies and baby bath water, or around the conference table, in the car commuting, out for a walk, eating dinner with friends, on a play date.... You get what I'm saying. Sabbath rest is a mindset and a mentality. It's a peace and a contentment. It's a slowness and present-ness even in amongst full days and weeks. When we rest in God we recognise that there isn't a need to be always striving for recognition or power or influence or "success" or a spotless show home worthy house or the next must-have whatever. With that comes freedom. Freedom to slow down, take notice, soak in each day, count gifts and acknowledge God for them, enjoy the small seemingly insignificant moments that are actually beautiful and life-giving in and of themselves. 

Maybe that's all a bit too deep and nebulous. So here's what these resolutions have been looking like for me practically the past few months:

- using my boys nap times to sit and read/journal/rest knowing that the housework or whatever else can wait.

- prioritising play dates and visits with friends

- simple hospitality. Good food with friends + kids + sometimes a bit of chaos. It's all good

- going for walks most mornings and being present with my boys. Letting my two year old play and explore along the way rather than being on a mission to rush the time away so I can get onto the next thing.

- time in my kitchen. My happy place. Planning and cooking good food for us to enjoy as a family (see @kargskitchen on Instagram)

- starting the year off with a Bible study in the book of Daniel by Beth Moore and another one that I'll do later on in the psalms. 

- not over cramming my days. Leaving time and space to read books to R, go outside, drink coffee with my man. 

- rocking my baby to sleep, drinking in that baby smell, holding him, cuddling with him, letting him sleep on me. Napping with him from time to time and just generally enjoying this short baby season as much as I can in my sleep deprived state!

There's more, and there's also areas of my days and weeks that I still need to work on too. It's been a full six months - taking care of two boys under two as well as being in the middle of a house move and a change of job for Ken. I think the Lord really knew I needed to focus on these things so that He could bring me out through the other side of all of this in one piece! There's days I feel far from "rest", contentment, being present or living slow. Sometimes I'm frazzled, stressed, snappy with my kids and husband and just generally frantic. But for the most part, I see His hand at work giving me peace and calm and enjoyment in a season that has the potential to be full of stress and anxiety.

Rest in the chaos.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Take notice

We recently heard a preacher quote from the movie "About Time", and so one evening a couple of weeks ago we decided to watch it. We're not usually the rom-com types so our expectations were pretty low! In the end it was a pleasant surprise and we enjoyed watching. 

Without ruining the whole thing, the general storyline is between a father who tells his son that he can travel back in time. It's a family secret and a "skill" that all the males in the family hold. At the end of the movie, the son is reflecting on the use of this "gift", and on the pearls of wisdom his dad told him as he had used this gift throughout his own lifetime:

"And so he told me his secret formula for happiness.. Part one of the two part plan was that I should get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like everyone else. But then came part two of Dads plan. He told me to live everyday again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing."

"And I. The end I think I've learned the final lesson from my travels through time; and I've even go be one step further than my father did: the truth is I now don't travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately gone back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary ordinary life."

I love those words. So, as I think on the year ahead, it's a reminder to me to take notice. I don't want to live with "all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be". Motherhood can make life feel very ordinary and yet extraordinary at the same time. And so, my resolution is this, to:

Take notice
Live slow
Soak in each day
Count gifts
Enjoy the moments

How about you?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Comparison is a killer

Comparison is a killer of contentment. I've been learning recently to find joy in the seemingly mundane and in the life that God has called me to. In the season that I'm in and in the tasks at hand. It's easy for me to look forward and long for the next thing. It's also tempting to look back and wish for things that once were. Comparing now to then just kills my contentment, and it's something that I'm more and more challenged to let go of.

Being thankful is part of all of this. I'm reading through Ann Voskamps 1000 gifts devotional again at the moment and it's so helpful to me to practice thankfulness, counting the gifts of each ordinary day, and from it experience the contentment that comes from enjoying the moment. The here and now. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Fringe Hours

I'm hitting the "new post" button for the first time since April! It feels good to be back and blogging is something I've put to one side for a while and yet it's always been in the back of my mind, knowing it's something I've wanted to get back to. Reading a book recently called "The Fringe Hours", has prompted me to get back to it.  The book was by Jessica N Turner and I'd highly recommend it. It was a challenging and inspiring read and I wanted to share a few thoughts...

Her theme for the book is "making time for you". This is something I do manage to do generally but is more and more difficult now being a Mum!  A few other bloggers/podcasts I follow kept mentioning this book and so I was interested to read it. I was finding that my life was revolving around cooking, cleaning, changing nappies, doing dishes, laundry... And I was beginning to resent it, feeling like a slave. It's not that I don't love my family, and I'm thankful for our home and food on the table, but I knew I also needed to pursue some stuff just for me. I'm a creative person and I felt like that part of me was dying. 

So I started reading "The Fringe Hours" and soon got hooked, not able to put it down. This woman was speaking to me! Lots of things I already knew, just needed reminding of. She writes that we're all creative by nature whether we realise it or not, we've been made by a Creator God and made in His image, and so that made so much sense to me. The problem is that we spend so much of our time and our days consuming that we forget about the joy of creating. 

So I've purposed to organise myself and prioritise time for creativity above other things. We don't watch a lot of TV and I'm finding that helps. There's also a lot of little sections of time that I find I was wasting, and if I could just plan a little bit better I could use them for the things I wanted to do and that bring me joy. What would those things be for you? It's the gifts and talents God has given you, the things that you get excited about or that make you feel fulfilled and satisfied. The things that bring you joy and others too. How amazing would it be if we all set aside some of the consuming to get creating instead? I think we'd live fuller, more interesting and satisfied lives and probably bless others in the process.

So that's my challenge, to create more and consume less... Screens, TV, social media... To make time for things that matter by filtering out the things that don't. To prioritise the fulfilling and side-step the time-wasting. The laundry, dishes, nappy-changing and cleaning still has to get done, but I'm learning to look for "The Fringe Hours" and make them count!


Thursday, 2 April 2015

You want peace?

"You want peace?  It starts by yoking yourself with the prince of peace.  But be careful,  You'll find yourself going to parties with people you didn't think you'd like, visiting seniors who are lonely, and sharing a drink with someone whose theology is, by your standards at least, "off".  You'll find yourself looking for ways to bless those around with little thought of whether they're 'worthy', agree with you, or even like you.  Your fear will be melting away like a spring thaw.  Love will blossom.  And the tomb that held your bitterness, rancor, and pride, especially your religious pride - well you'll wake up one Sunday spring morning and find it:  empty.
Peace.  Don't let your hearts be troubled.
Happy Easter..."

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Leave me in peace!

Are you a Mary or a Martha? Do you find it easier to give or to receive? Do you show love by doing things for people, or by giving gifts or speaking kind words? 
These things fascinate me. We're all made differently and communicate differently. By nature I am busy. I like to do. I like to go, go, go. I like to help more than I like to be helped. It's who I am. That's can be both a good and a bad thing. My natural slant and leaning would be towards burn out, and so I'm slowly learning to "smell smoke" before I'm in flames! Sometimes it's too late though. Sometimes I'm all about the exhaling. The giving out. I forget to inhale. To recharge. To rest. 
I was in that place again last week and over and over again these few well known verses kept hitting me - either just coming to mind, or being put quite literally in front of me!

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:1-3

As I think on what it might look like to actually live like this is actually true in my life, I'm challenged by how far from being a reality this often looks for me. To actually live by these words is pretty against the flow of how life looks for most...

"I shall not want" is easier said than done in a materialistic, comparison-filled world.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters" - again, whether literal or just a state of mind and being, easier said than done. We live in a busy, stress-filled world, often rushing from one thing to the next without coming up for air, never mind taking time to "lie down" or "be still". And even if not physically, it's hard enough to mentally be still.

"He restores my soul"... My soul needs restoring often. My attitude is off. I'm annoyed. Impatient. Undisciplined. Ungrateful. Complaining. The list is long. I'm thankful though that God obviously knows that we will get off track and that our souls will be in need of restoration. I'll take it!

So what would it look like to actually live this out? I think for me it means remembering the importance of taking time out to be quiet and be still. To physically rest and to also allow Him to "restore my soul". 

I think it looks like contentment. Rest. Peace. Fullness. Satisfaction. Remembering who God is and who we are not. We don't have to be all and do all. That's His job.

Listening to a sermon today I came across these verses, and to me, they're perspective-altering and peace-inducing.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy.]

"I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil - this is Gods gift to man."

"I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him, [revere and worship Him, knowing He is]. 
-Ecclesiastes 3:11,13&14 AMP&ESV

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