Plastic Free July, Parenting and Powering Down

So its been a little while since I’ve had head space to write on my blog.  Personal circumstances have been stressful, and whilst we’ve been trusting God in the waiting, its not always conducive to coherent thinking!!!  But I wanted to pop back and share a few of my thoughts from the last few months, and hopefully inspire you in your parenting journey.

Plastic Free July

The first thing I want to talk about is Plastic Free July.  Now, you probably think that I’m mad for signing up to take part in this whilst my head is already swimming, but I decided that I had ignored my part in plastic pollution for too long now and it was time to do something about it.  Now, our monthly budget is pretty slim so we haven’t been able to make all the changes I wanted to, but the boys have really enjoyed thinking about how to use less plastic.  So here are some of the things we have done (or are thinking of doing) if you want to do the same:

  • switch back to using bar soap (or rubba dubba soap as the boys call it!).  Its mega cheap compared to liquid soap and lots less plastic used.
  • consider using a local milk man with glass bottles.  We are still considering this one because there are many pros and cons – one being financial, but also we use a lot of milk in our house and there is the possibility of it going off on the doorstep.
  • Order toilet roll from “Who Gives A Crap where it is wrapped in paper, recycled and delivered in bigger boxes for economy.  If you want £5 off your first order here’s a voucher for you!
  • Start making ecobricks with your single use plastics.  It stops whatever plastic we do have coming in from just being thrown away into landfill.  Find out more here.
  • buy reusable lunch boxes, packaging and beeswax wraps for food out to stop the use of clingfilm.
  • Take a travel mug with you wherever you go and remember to ask for take out drinks in it (you might even get a discount!).  I have a “keep cup” and I love the swivel lid that locks into place to keep your hot drink from spilling.
  • Take reusable shopping bags with you EVERYWHERE
  • Try to choose lose vegetables in the supermarket

Ok, so we’ve not done amazingly, but I’m quite happy that we’ve made a start with some little changes.  Hopefully if we all do it will start to send a message to the suppliers that this is the way we want it.  Find out more about Plastic Free July here.

What can you do to help reduce plastic usage this July?

Parenting

So we are all aware that the summer holidays are here, and I have been meticulously planning our calendar and summer holiday bucket list.  Parenting has been up and down over the last few months, with a few blips in behaviour, so I want to make sure this is a positive summer where our boys grow in faith, love and knowledge (and have fun along the way).  Amongst our daily tasks as drum practice, chores, bible study, reading, cooking dinner together and handwriting practice.  We are also planning a charity event too for our neighbourhood.

What do you have planned for the summer?

Powering down

Me and my husband lead a youth weekend at the beginning of July, and the theme was “unplugged”.  It really got me thinking about making sure I have time to power down from life and connect with God properly.  It’s a bit depressing that this is constantly something I have to remind myself to do.  But technology is an addiction that is tough to break.  I am really valuing the “HOLD” app on my smartphone to help me with this (it gets me rewards like free popcorn at the cinema!) as it stops me from serial checking my phone all the time.

What helps you power down so you can connect with God?

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 16)

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It’s the LAST WEEK studying Esther!!  Who else is sad to say goodbye to this woman from the bible?  I think this has been one of the biggest characters we have studied so far, with her story quite well known by all of us.  But even so, by stepping into Esther’s shoes we have discovered far more depth to the emotion of this story and the things that might have been playing out for her.

Our final verse to meditate on was:

“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” Esther 8:17

Zooming out

This week the verse is unusual compared to all the others we have studied, in that Esther is not actually mentioned in it at all!  But I wanted to close on this scene, where the author of the book (remember this would have been a male writer) zooms out from the action at the palace to look at the whole region.  It feels like Esther is not important anymore, now she has completed her part in saving the Jews, but for good reason.  The important thing is the reaction of those who depended on her – that there was joy and gladness and celebrating.

In a way it’s a little sad that Esther isn’t mentioned here – I mean surely this is her victory?  She put in the time, the effort, the risk.  But actually, God is the hero here.  He planted the idea in Mordecai’s mind, gave Esther to confidence to approach the King, gave the King a dream which put him in the right mind to agree to Esther’s requests, and ultimately save the Jews.  How often do we get caught up in getting the credit when really it all belongs to God?

It’s all ok in the end

I was reminded again this week that God never does anything the way we imagine or think.  Mordecai and Esther were purely focussed on saving the lives of the Jews, their own bacon!  But once again God has something bigger on his mind – not just the Jews but many many others too.  At the end of this verse, we see that people of other nations became Jews!  Maybe that was his plan from the beginning, the Jews and Esther were all just a detail along the way to the salvation of some more of his precious children.  How amazing is that!!

Our worst failures, our most complicated problems, our dilemmas and tragedies and curve balls in life are maybe just there so that God can bring even more of his precious children back to him.  Doesn’t that put things in perspective for us?

In Her Shoes

My biggest thing this week was to try and put myself in Esther’s shoes in the midst of this verse.  Yes, the author may have zoomed out from her at this point, but she is still there.  Where was she during this?  Was she alone in the Palace, not really getting to celebrate after her part in this?  Was she allowed out to see the jubilation?  Was she just completely and utterly exhausted after the emotional and spiritual battle she has just taken part in?  I think probably the later.  That she was happy and relieved that things have turned out well,  but well and truly exhausted.  Too exhausted to really celebrate in the way that the Jews outside the Palace walls were.

I hope that Esther was thankful too.  After spending all that time praying and fasting beforehand, I really hope that her first instinct after this result was to praise and thank God for answering her prayers.

What happened next?

The rest of the book of Esther (do read it if you get a minute) details the final points of setting up Purim as a holiday to be celebrated every year.  Nothing else much is mentioned of Esther after that, so we don’t know if she had a happy ending or not.  Did she have children?  Did the King love her more as Queen after this episode of their lives?  We simply do not know.  And it isn’t important, otherwise it would be documented.  Some parts of our lives we see God clearly moving, directing every step and making huge changes and advances with us.  Some parts we are simply getting on with the day by day.  And that is ok.  That is life.  If Esther teaches us anything, it is that we should remember to turn to God in those big moments, as he is the one who has the power to change the final outcome.

What was your biggest thing to take away from Esther?  And what did you learn that surprised you?  I’d love to hear!

New Series

We are now going to have a week off from Mummy Meditations whilst I finish preparing all the resources for our new series – Unnamed Women of the Bible (Part 1!).  I hope you will join me next Sunday 5th May when the first verse is announced!

In the meantime, head over to the new Mummy Meditations Website – all the summary posts for the new series along with all info about how to get involved (including our new Mummy Meditations Family membership….) will be on that dedicated webpage now:

www.mummymeditations.co.uk 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 15)

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Welcome to the second to last week of our Esther series.  I know some of you will be sad to see the end of our time with Esther, but don’t worry – the next series is really exciting too!!

So this week we were meditating on the following verse:

“Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.” Esther 8:3

It’s still not over yet

Last week we thought we’d seen the last of Esther having to put herself out there and ask difficult questions – she explained the situation in a calm and reasonable manner and explained the problem well.  But the King, in his rage, didn’t really grasp what the true problem was.  He was angry at Haman, and acted to get rid of that problem.  But he didn’t actually address the thing that Haman had put into motion which meant the death of all the Jews.  So this week, when Esther is well and truly emotionally spent, after one terrifying approach to the king, two emotional and intense banquets, and witnessing a man be hanged (or impaled, depending on which translation you read), she has had enough.  She’s reach the end of her tether, her last ebb of strength and so she pulls out all the stops and approaches the king one more time.

Not giving Up

Esther could easily have given up at this point.  She had tried her best, she had done what Mordecai asked of her and it hadn’t worked.  But the word AGAIN really stood out to me this week.  She doesn’t stop until she gets the miracle she needs to survive.  Her life depends on it.  And so AGAIN she goes to the king, but this time it is different.  This time she doesn’t follow the etiquette or the do things the right way – she HAS to get the message across that this is a big deal to her, and so she pleads, begs and weeps at his feet.

What about us?

I’ve been thinking this week more about how the story of Esther applies to us.  What can we take from her life and be inspired for in our own.  Well for me it is a story of circumstances preparing someone for the future, despite how hard they are.  It is a story of a wise young woman who relied upon God to do step out of her comfort zone and do something really scary, but she was spiritually, physically and emotionally prepared.  It is a story of a woman not willing to give up until God does what he promised.  So let us remember that our past has been a training ground, prepare ourselves in everyway possible for what lies ahead and never ever give up praying, asking, pursuing until we get the miracle we need.

next week

For our final week in Esther’s shoes we will be meditating on this verse:

“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” Esther 8:17

I am still struggling with this cold and my voice is awful, so there won’t be a Facebook Live Discussion this Monday evening, but don’t worry – it will be returning for the new series!!!

After next week we will have one week break before the new series launches (yey!!!).  There will be lots more exciting announcements during that week, including the new website, how to join the Mummy Meditations Family and get some amazing goodies, and new resources for the new series.  WATCH THIS SPACE……

 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 14)

 

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If Esther was a film, we would be in the pivotal scene right now – she’s finally made the ask and now the King is responding. This week we were meditating on this verse:

The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.” Esther 7:7

victory or not?

This verse left a very confusing feeling in the pit of my stomach.  How about you?  In one sense, Esther should be celebrating here, as the King is clearly angry about what has happened and so will act to reverse it.  This means that Esther and her people’s lives are saved (yey!!!).  And yet reading this verse, I don’t feel that sense of victory or celebration yet.  There is anger and confusion and unfinished business that needs to be dealt with.

Anger is scary

Whether or not the anger is directed at Esther, being so close to someone who has lost control, and is in a “rage” can be a very scary thing.  Women are weaker than men (yes we may say that is sexist, but in general that is true) and so a man in a rage who would probably be considerably stronger physically than her is not someone you want to be around, even if that anger is not at you.  It only takes one wrong word or action and that rage could be redirected.  So when I stepped into Esther’s shoes this week I felt fear and that maybe she was shrinking back to try and become invisible as the King worked out his feelings in that moment.

One Facebook Community member shared that as a social worker, she is often in environments where people are angry like this, and that she tries to feel sympathy, love and understanding.  Perhaps Esther is empathizing with the King here, as really she has broken the news to him that someone is trying to murder her, his beloved wife.  Perhaps she was praying through this for protection, strength and for the King to make the right decision in the end.  It is not noted how Esther reacted to all of this so we can only guess as we step into her shoes.

Begging is scary

Anger can definitely make people act irrationally and irresponsibly, but the other thing that can do that is fear.  Haman, now realising the tables have turned, is fearing for his life, is desperate and grasping at anything that might save him.  The only thing left to grasp at is Queen Esther’s mercy, and so Haman starts begging and grovelling at her.  Again, as a woman, this would have been pretty intimidating to have a strong man so desperately begging her for something.  I imagine she was lost for words, trying to move away from him but he would be unable to stop given the state he would undoubtedly be in.    What would her prayers be about that situation, I wonder?

how will the story end?

This is a bit of cliff hanger verse really, as Esther is sort of trapped between an angry man and a desperate man, with not much that she can do.  This is all after the very emotionally tiring week she has had, bringing herself to approach the king and ask this huge favour.  Its a miracle that she is holding it all together, and I am sure that after this event she would have collapsed into her chambers to recover and receive from God.  We’ll have to wait to find out…..

next week

There are only 2 weeks left in our Esther series, so next week we are meditating on this verse:

“Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.” Esther 8:3

The story is still not over!!  There is no Facebook Live discussion this week as I am full of cold, but I hope you will add your own thoughts and ideas in the Facebook Community during the week. x

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 13)

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Hello!!!  What a great week it has been looking at our meditation verse and the next part of Esther’s story.  I’ve also been planning the next series after Esther so I’m super excited about revealing what this is to you all soon!!

So this week we were looking at this this verse:

“Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” Esther 7:3-4

The perfect timing

I spoke in our Facebook Live discussion this week about the importance of timing, and that this was the third time Esther had been asked by the King what her request was.  She finally comes round to saying what is really on her mind, but it intrigued me to know why she had waited until then.  She could have asked him in the throne room when she first approached him, and she could have asked him at the first banquet.  But no, she waits until a second banquet is arranged and then tells him.

All the while, events are taking place in the background with Mordecai and Haman, which are the undertone to the story and mean that the King is in the right place/mood to be appalled by what Esther has said and decide in her favour.   But did she know that?  Was she aware of this all happening?  Or did God give her nudges to delay until the time was right?  We can’t really know, and perhaps Esther’s fear just took hold of her the first two times and meant she didn’t have the courage to ask until the third time.  All we know, is that to God, timing is important.  It can be the difference between life and death.  And so sometimes, when things are delayed or we don’t see answers straight away (I mean the Jews were probably getting antsy by this point as the countdown clock was on for their murder), it doesn’t mean God isn’t interested – it means he is working in the background to everything ready for the RIGHT TIME.

Queen Esther

Did anyone else spot that Esther is referred to as “Queen Esther” in this verse, whereas in chapter five she is sometimes just referred to as “Esther”?  In this moment she is owning her role, she is acting as Queen, and she is important to the King.  She is not just another subject to be dismissed or who’s life he can play around with, she is his chosen Queen, and that makes a big difference to her request.

Method in the madness

So I guess I had been thinking, why another banquet, why all this pandering around, just get to the point ESTHER!!!  But I know there is method in her madness.  Someone commented in the Facebook Group that “a gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great” (Proverbs 18:16) – so hosting two banquets a giving the King a good time, is a way to access his favour.  She has buttered him up essentially, and is now able to go for the big ask.  She has not rushed into anything.  She had selected all the right words, explaining why she was asking and pre-empting his questions.  She was prepared and she was armed.  This was her last chance to stop her murder afterall!  Do we do the same?  Or do we rush in unarmed, unprepared and unlikely to get the right response?

How was she feeling?

After all the practical stuff, lets also step back into Esther’s shoes for a moment here.  Yes she has been very wise and thoughtful, etc etc.  But in that moment she was asking him to decide between life and death for her.  Can you hear the beating of her heart, the throbbing of pressure in her head, the spinning of her emotions?  I bet Esther was physically and emotionally exhausted about now, after the first two interactions with the King, and yet here she is asking for even more.  To stand up and do that from a place of exhaustion would have been hard.  She really was one brave woman.

NExt Week

So we have seen what Esther asked, and how big a deal that was for her, but next week we’ll look at the fallout, meditating on this verse (remember to put yourself in Esther’s shoes whilst this is all taking place!):

“The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.” Esther 7:7

I hope you will join me in kicking off the week’s discussion over in the Facebook group with a live discussion at 8pm on Monday evening.

 

 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 12)

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Welcome to week 12 of our Esther series – we are nearing the last few weeks now and we can sense the story is starting to pick up pace!  This week Esther’s plan has been put into action, and this is what she does:

“If the king regards me with favour and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfil my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

I think there are three key parts to her plan to save herself and her people:

Flattery

It was mentioned this week about how powerful the King was, that he clearly didn’t always make considered and well thought out decisions and that he could be quite rash in his reactions.  So Esther is wise in her approach to the King, after being allowed to approach him.  She talks with respect and honour, and uses flattery to ensure that she is well regarded by him.  If she uses the wrong words here then everything would be over for her and her people – she cannot afford to make a mistake.  And so to read this out loud it sounds so over the top to me!  But I guess if you were in front of someone who had the power to take your life there and then, you would be extra sure that you said the right thing, wouldn’t you?

Food

Who can resist a good meal?  With a fully belly the King was much more likely to regard her request favourably, and Esther would be able to request and prepare for him everything she knew he liked.  I asked our Facebook Community what they would cook in a banquet that would save their lives, and roast lamb, lasagne, pancakes and sticky toffee pudding were some of the options suggested (and I very much approve of all of those!!!).  You would definitely choose the best things, the richest ingredients or the dishes that the king really enjoys.  We were reminded of the phrase “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!”, and although this is just a saying ,  there is some truth in that enjoying a good meal puts you in a better mood, and that being hungry makes people agitated and more easily annoyed.  So Esther is once again wise in her approach and making sure everything is on her side and that the king is in a good mood when she asks.

patience

How often as women do we want to rush in and fix things, get things sorted straight away or just blurt out whatever we are thinking?  But Esther has the wisdom again to take her time with this.  Yes, she could ask him there and then in his throne room, but Esther is not to be rushed.  If she is patient then the circumstances surrounding her asking will be better, and not just out of the blue.  The answer is more likely to yes.  Just as with the praying and fasting, Esther takes her time.  What decisions are you rushing to be made when you should have a bit of patience in making them?  

I think also there is a bit of Esther that wants to spend some more time with the King so he remembers just why he fell in love with her.  Although he is favourable to her in the throne room, after a long time apart she would be wanting to spend some more time with him and remember what he was like too.

plan to succeed

Esther clearly had a plan in mind – whether that was one she had thought up or one that God had revealed to her through her prayer and fasting period, we don’t know.  She didn’t just rush in and see what happened, but it using techniques to try to ensure she gets the outcome that both she and the whole Jewish nation need.  Maybe this is something we need to consider in our own lives – we need to plan to succeed and not just wing things all the time!

Next week

We skip over a large section of the story (so do skim read Chapter 5 and 6 if you have time) to get to this verse next week:

“Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”  Esther 7:3-4

Please do join me at 8pm on Monday evening for a Facebook Live discussion to start the week off, and share your thoughts in our Facebook Group.

 

 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 11)

 

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Its the end of week 11, and this week we have been celebrating Purim in our Facebook Community – the celebration of God delivering the Jews from annihilation through Esther.  Last week we saw Esther step up, overcome her fear and really turn to God in the midst of this difficult situation.  This week she continues to prepare for and take the first steps in approaching the King in this verse:

“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the sceptre.” Esther 5:1-2

Get ready spiritually before you get ready physically

How often do we get physically ready for things before we’ve even thought about praying about it?  One big thing we can take from the story of Esther is to not rush into things, but to prepare from them spiritually before anything else.  Esther starts putting on her robes in this week’s verse, but remember she has already spent 3 days praying and fasting, showing God he is most important in this situation, and getting wisdom from God on how to approach it.  We don’t know what was revealed to her during that time, maybe God revealed which robes she should wear, or where/how she should stand to be noticed by the King.  Even if God said nothing to her during that time, she knows that she has put him first and can approach this difficult meeting with confidence. Before even thinking about what to wear, she has dressed herself spiritually.  Lets do the same .

Get ready physically for the answer to prayer

If Esther had gone in to see the King in her joggy bottoms, hair all greasy and slouching in a depressed fashion (which is probably how she felt) then what do you think the outcome would have been?  What we expect to be the outcome to be, and if we believe that God will answer our prayers, affects how we are physically and how well we prepare.  Esther believed God was going to answer her prayer, and so she dressed as a victor, in her royal robes, and she stood in the place where she could be seen.  She didn’t hide in the corner, nervous about being seen, but put herself in the place where God could work through her.

How can you prepare better physically for the challenges you face to allow God to answer your prayers?

Remember who you are

This week, the phrase “put on her royal robes” has really stood out to me.  Esther, at this point, hasn’t been to see the King for a long time.  I imagine that the only time she needed to wear these robes was when she was with him, and the other times when she was just in the harem with her servants and eunuchs, she would wear other more simple clothes.  Perhaps Esther has come to doubt if she really is Queen, or if she is any better than the concubines who the King doesn’t really care about.  In order to face this difficult task, she has to remind herself of who she is.  SHE IS THE QUEEN.  Putting on her ROYAL ROBES reminds her of that – she steps into that identity and owns it.

Remember that you are the daughter of the king – how can you step in to that today and own that identity?  Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of who you truly are so that you can win the battle.

Remind others who you are

If Esther had just played dress up in the harem, wearing her royal robes and remembering she is Queen, but never let anyone else see that, then what use would it be?  Esther had to step out of the harem and into the inner court so she was able to seen, and she was able to remind the King of who she was.  We know from earlier in our studies that there was something different about the relationship between Esther and the King – he loved her.   And yes, maybe kingly duties had distracted him and other things, but in order to see God’s plan come together Esther had to remind him that she is Queen and that he loves her.  Only by stepping out in her royal robes and reminding him of who she was to him would she be able to get through to him.  She couldn’t just sit and wait for him to remember, and equally she couldn’t march in and DEMAND that he respect her as Queen – she just had to subtly remind him and let God do the rest.

In this case it worked out – the King saw her and “was pleased with her” and extended the golden sceptre, saving her life and allowing her access to him.  He remembered his love for her and who she was to him.  In what ways can you remind people of who you are?

Next week

You may think that that is the hard part done – but there is still a lot more in the story of Esther to uncover.  Join me over the next week in meditating on this verse:

If the king regards me with favour and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfil my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.Esther 5:8

I will be kicking off the week with a Facebook Live Discussion at 8pm on Monday evening, and would love for you to join me!  Just head on over to the Facebook Community at 8pm.

 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 10)

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The end of Week 10, and this week we have all been challenged on how we deal with big life changing situations.  Esther was certainly facing one, and although she had made the decision to approach the King, she wasn’t rushing in to it.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16

Putting God First

The thing that has kept coming back to me this week, is that Esther looks for God’s help in this situation.  She has accepted Mordecai’s persuasive argument and is going to approach the King as he suggests, but she’s not rushing into it just because he has said so.  Part of his argument was around God using her to save the Jews, and so she wants to make sure that that is what God wants too.

Esther takes a breather and seeks God on this.  She decides to fast for three days.  Now, we could very well say that this gives her time and space to get her head round what she has to do, maybe she is stalling and hoping that something else will save them in that time, but she is taking time out to put God first in it.  She is actively denying herself food, her own pleasure and comfort, to make sure this is the right decision.   And its not just a little fast – she is giving up food and water, for the whole three days.  Sometimes people will fast just one meal, or just during the day and then eat at night.  But this is a full on proper fast.

Whilst looking at this verse, we were challenged as a group to fast ourselves and show God that he is first in our lives – I am always amazed at what God reveals and does during times of fasting,  It is sooo hard to do it (and there are many excuses as mums as to why not to – breastfeeding, being pregnant, needing energy to keep up with the kids!) but it is worth it to show God that we put him first.  It definitely paid off for Esther.

Putting others Second

When we discussed this verse in the Facebook Live discussion last Monday, someone mentioned that this action of fasting, and the way that Esther gets her attendants to fast with her, would have been an amazing ministry and teaching opportunity for her.  She had kept her nationality and relationship with God a secret up until now, but here should would have had to share with her attendants as to why she was doing such a strange thing, and what she hoped God would do through it.  She could easily have just done this by herself, or said she was feeling sick and not wanting to eat, but she doesn’t.  She gets those closest to her involved and shares the experience with them.  No doubt, when God does deliver the Jews from death, the attendants will then see Gods glory and come to know and understand Him better.

Esther isn’t selfish in the way she approaches this, but looks to put others second after God and include them in the miracle too.  She does this by asking the Jews in Susa to fast with her – she is allowing them to be part of this.  When God does deliver them they will be able to say that they had fasted alongside Esther and been part of taking her prayers up to God.  What an awesome thing to share!

I know when I have been asked to pray for someone who is ill, if they do receive healing it is an amazing moment of praise and thanksgiving to God, but also of being a part of something bigger than myself and a little part of God’s plan to heal them.

Not Facing Her Fears alone

I have great respect for Esther in this verse – she really is showing wisdom beyond her teenage years and is a great example to us in how to approach challenges in our lives.  She knew that she couldn’t do this in her own strength, so not only does she go to God but she also gathers others to face her fears with her.  She asks for prayer and fasting from others to help carry her through.

This has really challenged me as a leader of a bible study group at my church.  How often do we share prayer requests and half pray for things?  How often do we offer to fast with others for the issues they are facing in their lives?  How often do we ask others to fast with us when we are facing big things?  Often me and my husband will fast together if we have a big decision to make, but we’ve never asked others to do it with us.  I wonder how that would make me feel to know that others where sacrificing their comfort just to stand with me in prayer?  I am going to consider saying to those I know well that I will fast with them now, and see what a difference that makes to them.

putting herself last

The last past of this verse is quite a sad bit.  At first I thought it was a flippant teenage girl type comment, done with the flick of her hair and with a sarcastic tone in her voice!  As if that defiant attitude would change her having to see the King.  But after a bit more thought and meditation (and some helpful comments in the Facebook Community) I think there is more to it than that.   She is counting the cost and deciding that God is worth it.  She is accepting her fate, whatever that may be, and laying her life in God’s hands.  Are we ready to do that in our own lives?  To accept wherever God may take us and whatever costs may be involved in it?

Esther rises up to be a great role model

The first half of this series, I felt sorry for Esther and her family circumstances, I stepped into her shoes as she made her way through the harem and tried to set herself apart and show how she was different.  The last few weeks we’ve seen how fear has crept in and tried to take that from her, but this week she has stepped up again and shown wisdom and strength beyond her years.  She has proven to be a great role model, in showing us how to approach difficult things in life – to breath, take time, and give it to God.  To fight that fear, with the help of others around her, and to really trust in God.  I doubt that if she hadn’t had such a rough start to her life she would have had the strength to do that.   God had clearly made her resilient through those times and reliant on him.

next week

So next week is crunch time – we see Esther take that step of faith.  I am really looking forward to stepping in to her shoes in this verse:

“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.  When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.” Esther 5:1-2

I do hope you’ll join me in discussing it this week in our Facebook Community and meditating on it yourself at home.

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (week 9)

 

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We are now past the half way point, and we have really started into the dramatic part of this story.  We are at a fork in the road, and Esther has a huge decision to make.  Last week we saw Esther’s argument against action, this week we heard Mordecai’s rebuttle (and he really does pull out all the stops!!!)

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

the final word

The thought that was swimming through my head this week is that this is one amazing argument winning speech.  Not only does he mention what will happen to her (in the verse before – Mordecai says that she will still die even if she stays quiet), but he refers to her family being wiped out (as she was the last one of her father’s line that makes sense) and the shame it will bring on her father’s name, but also that she will be disappointing God.  A three point punch.  Just reading this I can feel the desperation in Mordecai’s voice, this is his last chance to save his, and many other people’s, life.  You would go all out in that situation wouldn’t you!  And most people will be moved by one of those things – either a consequence to themselves, a consequence to their family, or the thought of letting God down.

As I put myself in Esther’s shoes and imagined hearing this, it felt like a battering ram at my heart.  I could picture the words being spoken out, and then her just sinking down on her seat and realising that there’s was no way out doing the scariest thing she had ever done in her life.  She did not want to let her family and her God down, and Mordecai knew that to suggest she did would hurt her and move her into action.

Sometimes we have to say the hard things.  Sometimes we have to hit people where it hurts to make them see how desperate the circumstances are.  Sometimes we have to pack a punch and trust that God will use those words for his will.

Seeing God in the midst

There is no doubt that in this verse Esther is being seen as a stubborn teenager, which is probably what she is!!  The word “remain” is translated as “persist” in the Message version, and I like that better.  Persist is to “continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition” and it is doing so “stubbornly, despite warning”.  These harsh words were needed to break Esther out of that stubborn teenage mood, but something else was also needed.

Mordecai hints at what God might be doing through her.  You know, we all want to be used by God in some way don’t we?  We all want to be part of his master plan, to have an impact in this world for God, whether that is bringing one person to know Jesus or to do something entirely different.  But we don’t always know what God is doing through us until after the event has happened.  It is easy to look back and say “oh yes look what God did there!”.  So sometimes we have to guess at what God is doing, and try to see him even in the gravest of situations.  Mordecai here says “who knows?” and admits that he doesn’t know, but suggests the possibility that God might have positioned her there for such a time as this.  That little suggestion was enough to lift Esther’s spirit and give her the confidence that God IS on her side.  Instead of feeling trapped and powerless, she felt connected to the most high God, to the maker of all.

What about us?

I don’t know what situations you find yourself in, but maybe you need to channel this question – who knows?!  Who knows what God is doing through you, who knows why you are in that situation?  I can tell you who – only God!!  But by realising that God is possibly working through you, we can be empowered to do above and beyond our capability.  He has put you in your world for “such a time as this”. 

Next Week

So this week was the turning point, and next week we will see Esther moved to action.  I do hope you’ll join me in meditating on the following verse:

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16

I will be kicking the week off with another Facebook Live Discussion over in our Facebook Community on Monday evening at 8pm, so please do join me there (and pray my internet holds out!).

 

are we nearly there yet book cover

Are We There Yet? An Easter Book Review

Disclaimer – I received a free copy of this book from 10ofthose.com to review, but all opinions are my own. 

are we nearly there yet book cover

I love love love that there are so many great resources out there to equip up to use every opportunity to connect those around us with the gospel.  With Easter coming, I am sure you are all thinking about how to use this time of the year to share the message of the cross.  In kids work, toddlers groups, your local school, there are loads of kids that we can connect with, and I want to tell you about a new book which I think will help you in this.

are we nearly there yet cover“Are we nearly there yet?” is a short booklet style book, but with a strong card cover so its doesn’t just feel like a throw away pamphlet as some books like this can.  The front cover design is modern and eye catching, and because the title isn’t really “in your face” Christian, I think it would work really well as a giveaway in non-Christian environments, such as schools.

The story itself follows a narrative of a family in a car, and the familiar question of “Are we nearly there yet?”.  Whilst they are waiting to get to Granny’s for Easter, their parents tell them the Easter story, and all the way through they see the disciples asking similar the question of “Are we nearly there yet? When will you be king?”.  The pages go through the familiar Easter sequences – palm Sunday, Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion and the stone rolled away at the tomb, but not just in a plain story telling way which the kids will be all too familiar with.

The illustrations and use of speech bubbles throughout the book is very good and engaging for kids.  I would probably say that this book would be useable for 2 years up to mid primary age (maybe 8) as it could be read to children, or they can read by themselves.

At the end of the book, there are included some ideas for taking it further, discussion with the children and playing through the story too.  These would be useful for parents, toddler group leaders or teachers if they wanted to include it in their pre-Easter activities.

All in all, this a very well thought out book, and one that will work well as a giveaway instead of chocolate this Easter (who needs more chocolate!!).  10ofthose.com sells the books individually for £3.50 if you want to grab one for your family, or if you are planning to give them away then you can take advantage of their offer of a box of 50 for £50 (RRP £175!!!!).

Why not invest £50 into your world this Easter and use some of these ideas:

  • Buy a box to give to your kids class teacher to give out to the whole class
  • Buy a box and go round your neighbourhood and give to kids at their doorsteps
  • Bless your church’s kids ministry by buying a box so they can give them out free to anyone who comes into church over the Easter period.
  • Take a box down to your local library and ask if they will give them away to any children who come in over lent/Easter