Thursday, 11 June 2015

Throwback Thursday - A Post From The Past

This post was first published on 26/3/13. Quite apt to choose it now as I will be blogging shortly on The Prayer Course that our homegroup have just completed.

It's often said God gives three answers to prayer - "yes", "no" or "wait".......we seem to be getting the bulk of the "no" answers at the moment and it really does make me think 'why am I even praying?' I thought I'd be really clever and prove my point by specifically not praying and then if what I would've prayed for went the right way - case proved - circumstantial!



Don't misunderstand me and think I am losing my faith, I completely know God is there and loves me and cares about what I need, but I am starting to think what happens to us in this life is very much down to our own control and circumstances, the thing is..........I can't not pray!

I have developed such a relationship that even if the answer is going to be "no" I still find peace in having had the conversation and I know I will look back at this period of time in the future and make sense of the "no's"!

So I still pray, but avoid the specific subject of our want/need at the moment! I know many of my friends are praying for the same thing for us so I leave it in their hands! Pressure!

I have found recently the easiest way for me to pray is to elaborate on the Lord's Prayer something like this:


"Father, you are the one true God,
the only God who deserves all my praise & worship.
I pray that your world will be filled with people who follow you,
& every day your work will be done.
Thank you for all you've provided & continue to provide for me & my family.
Please forgive me for the things I've said & done that've hurt you & others,
help me to think before I act & help me to forgive others who hurt me.
Help me to not be tempted by things that are not good for me
& keep me safe from things that can harm me.
In your son's precious name. Amen"

Why pray? Because Jesus taught us to, and whether we believe it or not and even when it seems like God's not there, He is, and He's listening and it'll all be alright in the end, and if it's not alright, it's not the end!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Big Lunch and Benefits Street

I totally didn't go on the bouncy castle after church this morning, well not until I'd intimidated the little kids off of it first; I was only thinking of them I wouldn't have wanted to land on them.

Our church hosted a Big Lunch where we invited the families from the toddler group and coffee shop to join us, and after the service we had face painting, pool tournament, balloon modelling, loom bands and the aforementioned bouncy castle!

The idea behind it is to build community and for neighbours to get together with each other in their streets and share lunch together and bond I guess!  It's true not many neighbourhoods do this, I know in our street we had a shindig for the Queens jubilee as did most of the country, but aside from that I can probably count on one hand the times since then I've had a conversation with any of my neighbours.

This was highlighted to me last week as I watched the final episode of Benefits Street, seen by some as 'poverty porn', to me I saw people who cared about each other and looked out for one another and actually knew their neighbours and their needs.  None more so than Julie's friend Sue, who went door to door collecting loose change from the residents to pay for Santa and his reindeer to visit Kingston Road, and in particular Julie's severely disabled son Regan. Remember, this is Benefits Street, most of the people featured were unemployed, scraping money together to feed metres, but they were more than happy to donate to see Regan's dream realised, because they knew him and they cared.

It may be because they aren't rushing off to work each morning that they are able to forge these bonds, but I started to feel sad that in my street would I be aware of someone genuinely in need, and if I was would I do something about it?

It's somewhat easy to offer hospitality to the community from the security of our church and that's definitely a good thing to do, but how can we, if we live in a street where most head off to work daily, build a rapport with our neighbours in which we can understand their needs and offer that hospitality where needed?

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Trauma Of Pet Loss

What a traumatic weekend!  Which culminated this morning with all four of us hugging and crying while the worship team played "I'm desperate for you, I'm lost without you"...... I'm sure anyone standing nearby just assumed we'd been overcome by the Holy Spirit, but sadly, we were mourning the loss of our pet rabbit, Silk.  

Well, the kids were mourning the rabbit, I was mourning the £60 we'd spent at the vets on medicine that clearly hadn't worked!

Poor Silk, she lost her friend, our other pet rabbit Snowball, to a fox last Spring and since that tragic night I'd always felt worried Silk would meet the same fate.  

My husband came home from work on Friday night and chased a cat out of the garden and found her hiding, petrified, he brought her in and could immediately tell not only was she terrified but she was unwell and decided to summon me.

I was watching a film with our youngest two and thought it best we finish the film before we broke the news to them, it was going to be traumatic enough to discover their pet was dying, they didn't need the added trauma of delaying the climax of the film; some kids had been going into unused mine shafts looking for a ghoul who had kidnapped their friends and it was getting to the dark bit where we were sure the ghoul was going to grab one of the main characters and the tension was really building, we wanted to see this ghoul get got!

When we all got up Saturday morning we were amazed to see Silk was still fighting on but obviously not well and although we're not hugely sentimental 'pet people', neither are we heartless, we didn't want to just leave her to get worse and worse so off to the vets we went.

Apparently there was something wrong with her gut and she was in a lot of pain, so an injection for the pain, some medicine for her gut, and £60 thank you very much and she was given a 50/50 chance, turns out they weren't great odds.

Our daughters dutifully attempted to give her her medicine every half hour or so but on our last attempt, she went all floppy while my daughter was holding her, we turned her every way trying to find a heart beat, my daughter wondered how to do CPR and attempted a few chest pumps but we both agreed we weren't going anywhere near mouth to mouth. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we could feel a very faint beat, but it was short lived and she had gone.

Both girls were very brave and although teary, they held themselves together very well, gave her a last cuddle and then we buried her.

I thought they coped with losing their pet extremely well and I had been amazed at how composed they had kept themselves.....until this morning in church.  I'd said to my daughter before we left I was hoping for some really good worship, well we certainly got it because it was singing that song that opened the floodgates for all the emotions to come out!


Friday, 8 May 2015

What Do We Want? A New Voting System!

The country has awoken in uproar (well, mild grumbling) at the electing of a Conservative government - which is odd, because apparently we elected them!

Maybe I should've kept the views I was brought up with and that is 'Christians shouldn't vote' but I didn't, I got involved, I went to the hustings, I emailed candidates, I watched the Trews, and because I invested, I am now upset that the vote I cast wasn't a winning one.

But where are the jubilant voters who have done this to our Country? Not surprisingly, today on Facebook and Twitter a lot of people are upset, in fact I have only come across two voters who are happy with the result: Katy Hopkins, the lady who says drowning people (immigrants) are cockroaches, and a farcebook friend who works in education - unfathomable!  Everyone else who voted Tory is keeping their head well and truly below the parapet.

Of course if my vote had been a winning one, (which it never could be in my constituancy) many others would now be feeling upset and let down by the system, you can't please all of the people all of the time, only some of the people some of the time. (Who said that?)


I went to bed last night praying for change, hoping to wake to something new & exciting, a fresh start....turns out it's still Friday & I have to go to Asda.  Which, incidentally was a lot quieter than usual, perhaps their clientele have assessed the situation and taken their custom to Aldi, which is marginally preferable to a Food bank.

But enough of the doom and gloom, as Christians now, if this was not the result we wanted, we need to rise above it with prayer and petition, with responding to need as we see it, and being thankful that we have a voting system, albeit a pants one.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Noah 8 Track Experiment

I came across a group that are looking at different ways of studying and reading the Bible by doing various experiments.  One that particularly attracted my attention was the 8 track experiment where you look at a Bible story and pick up to 8 music tracks to tell that story.

I thought I'd have a go at the story of Noah, mainly because I know the story well and thought it would be a simple one to start with.  I went about it by picking songs I thought were suitable based on what I already knew, it soon became apparent as I read the story that I had ingrained interpretations that weren't necessarily accurate, and so some of my song choices had to go!

Here's my playlist! Why not take part yourself, it was good fun if you're into music, and it definitely makes you think about what you're reading while you're picking the music!




 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Throwback Thursday: A Post From The Past

Today's post from the past is a book review in honour of World Book Day.  I chose this review in light of the recent retraction from Alex Malarkey about his trip to Heaven, and because Colton's story was made into a film last year. This post was initially written on 14/12/2011 

Colton Burpo is not quite four, when he has an emergency appendectomy.  In the months that follow, he starts to tell his parents about how while he was being operated on he was in Heaven with Jesus, and the Angels sang to him.
If you are a non-believer you could probably say this is a clever book of fiction by a Pastor with Biblical knowledge.

I am a Christian and I believe Heaven is for real, but I don't know why I find it hard to accept that Jesus would let a child visit Him in Heaven and tell us of his experiences.  It's not that I disbelieved Colton's story, I just suppose it's so supernatural it's hard to get your head around - imagine how his parents coped as he casually told them about meeting his mis-carried sister!

The story naturally unravels without coming across as overly sentimental or cheesy.

Colton's Pastor dad backs up his accounts with scripture references, and the end of book poses questions to make you think further beyond what you have read.

Heaven is for real? Yes it is. 

Did Colton Burpo visit Heaven? Why not?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Throwback Thursday: A Post From The Past

A post about my first experience as a leader on a youth weekend; I've been true to my word at the end and am repeating the experience! This was posted in Feb 2013

I've just returned from my first weekend away as a youth group leader, I use the term 'leader' loosely because I'm not sure I always lead in the right direction, and am often accused by the kids of being a bigger kid than them!

Although I grew up in Christian surroundings I wasn't one of those kids who lived for the camps - in fact the only two I remember going on as a kid didn't leave me with great memories, I came home from one infested with head-lice, and the other one I spent a whole day in tears and didn't really know why!

Funnily enough it was to be at the same place I spent a week and a tear soaked day as a child, that we were to return to with the youth group from our church, so I wasn't sure what emotions it might evoke. 

We went across to Woodcroft Christian Centre which is only about 30 mins drive from where we are, which is a bonus for whoever has to drive the minibus, because listening to the onslaught of vocal renditions ranging from S Club 7 to Queen, or various entire Monty Python sketches being recited word for word by a large group of teenagers is a lot to ask of anyone; so top tip for booking a youth weekend away......go local!

The theme for the weekend was 'trust' and we covered all angles, from trusting God and our faith to trusting peoples advice, and of course how we recover from broken trust. 















I hope and pray the kids got something out of it, I think they did, we'll find out more over the coming weeks in our group together.  But I know I got something out of it.  My slot was to cover trusting God, and in my preparation I was reminded of a verse I had come to a long time ago while praying during a desperate situation:

Psalm 28:7(NIV)

The Lord is my strength and my shield,

my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

    and with my song I praise him.


It was so good to be reminded of this verse again and find the trust in God that I needed to for my present situation.
Aside from worship and talks and a couple of workshops, there was time for the kids to have one to one talks with leaders. I don't know if as a teenager I would've opened up to an adult about certain situations, but I know as an adult I wish I had, so I think it's great that we can build those relationships and provide the environment for them to talk - only if they wanted to of course, it was all very relaxed.
Both nights two other leaders and myself stayed up till 1am for 'late night chat'. The first night was great, a few testimonies were shared which was very moving and I feel privileged to have heard them, and some theological questions asked, and it was wonderful to see just how seriously these youngsters take their understanding of the Bible and they want to talk and ask their peers their understanding of certain texts.
Night two and we thought we'd try and spice it up a bit by allowing an anonymous questions bag, improvisationaly provided in the form of a wash bag and some post it notes! I'm not sure who managed to lower the tone more - the kids or the leaders; the best question was.....oops no, sorry, what gets said in 'late night chat' stays in 'late night chat', the weekend was based on 'trust' after all!
We finished up the weekend with Christmas dinner and Secret Santa gifts (I know, it's February, don't ask!) and I have to say I was more than chuffed with my gift, I don't know who it was from, but it was a book I have wanted for a little while now, Heaven: It's not the end of the world by David Lawrence (maybe I'll get him to sign it next time he speaks at our church!)

So, I survived my first weekend away with 18 teenagers as a leader! Would I go again? Definitely!