Here is my disclaimer – I have sucked at mummy meditation this week. My head has been in the clouds and filled with a million and one things to do (I ran a charity cakeaway for Teenage Cancer Trust on bank holiday monday so that took a lot of brain power, and then it was my birthday on Friday so was wrapped up in celebrations….). I sat down this morning with nothing to show for a week of contemplation and meditation, but God in all his love and faithfulness has revealed something special to me about this passage that I want to share with you all. Here’s a quick reminder of it:
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Philippians 1:12-14
Do you ever feel slightly guilty that you live a cushy christian life? I mean I know we have worries and troubles, but here in the UK we can hardly call ourselves the persecuted church. Sometimes I do, and I wonder what I would be like in those situations. Like the Christians in Syria are currently facing and in many other places across the world.
But God reminded me today that in this passage, it was only Paul who was in chains. There were others who weren’t. And they weren’t having a pity party for themselves or hiding underground because they were scared. They weren’t crying “oh I wish it was me in chains”. NO! They were using what was happening to Paul as motivation to do God’s work – they were proclaiming the gospel fearlessly because Paul’s example gave them courage. If Paul could share the gospel whilst in chains then they could sure as well do it outside.
Shouldn’t that be our mindset today? Lets not make the sacrifice that so many christians make in the persecuted church be for nothing – lets use it as our courage, our inspiration and our challenge to share the gospel where God has put us. We (currently) are not Paul – we are not in chains. But how much worse would Paul have felt if the christians outside were just sat around doing naff all whilst he was in chains for the gospel!!! Lets make it worth something!
Finally, Paul uses the phrase “what has happened to me”. You know, life just sort of happens around us sometimes – we can’t predict how society will change towards us, what natural disasters might strike and many other things. But we can control how we react to them. We can either let it be the becoming of us, where we rise up and overcome like Paul did, or we can let it overcome us and sit moaning about what has happened to us. Paul did not moan about being in chains, he rejoiced about it! He knew that without his chains those people in the palace wouldn’t have heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
So whatever has happened, is happening, or is yet to happen to you, just rejoice in it all. Rejoice in the good, rejoice in boring and rejoice in the bad, because God can use it all to further his gospel.
I apologise again as I have no bible journaling artwork to show you this week, but next week I am hoping to get my head back in the game! So will you join me in pondering the verse below?
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
See you next week and happy meditating!
I was going to start my monthly mission update with a list of all the “things” I had done and achieved this month, but then God hit me with something else. So this won’t give you practical ideas as to what to do in your missional life as a mum, but hopefully it shows a bit of my heart for why I do this and why I write this blog……
I always try to remind myself that I am living a missional life and showing the love of Jesus just for the ONE person that might see, that might benefit and that might come to know Jesus a little bit better through it. But sometimes the number counting kicks in (partly my own fault for setting number related lifegoals, but you’ve got to aim at something right?!) and I feel down hearted.
Then God comes along and shows me what a difference that ONE can make. When that ONE person tells you they feel at home in a strange country because of something you have done, when that ONE person opens up for no reason other than the words you have written, when that ONE person gets a treat instead of an insult and sends a thankful text doesn’t it make it worth it???
Sometimes I feel like I am chipping away day after day and nothing makes a difference. Like what the point of writing this blog is and then BLAMO! God gives me an evening like tonight when he shows me that I am doing it for the ONE. If just ONE person gets empowered, built up, changed, helped, inspired through what I do then it is worth it. And I don’t know what your “thing” is, what your mission or passion is, but just keep doing it for the the ONE. You might never know who they are, you might never get that thank you text, but it is still worth it. Sometimes we get that feedback into how it has helped, and it is completely heart filling and awakening. But sometimes we don’t – KEEP GOING
Tonight God has hit me like a tidal wave – his love is fierce….. so I will leave you with this song which is my favourite at the moment:
Welcome to Mummy Meditation Week 3! If you missed last weeks ponderings about “longing” then do catch up, as it was a good one. This week I have been thinking over the following verse, and my thoughts are below. Join in with your own comments at the bottom….
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:3
Music – what is it about music that makes it so emotive?! Why do some songs get your heart beat racing, some get your feet tapping, others bring you to tears and some just bore you to death? Who can explain why a certain song will stick in your head for weeks and then every time you hear it after that it brings back memories of that time?
Music is powerful, it’s emotive and it’s a key way that we show our worship and adoration to God. It’s not the only way (worship is a lifestyle of praising God through everything we do), but I don’t think there is any way that we can deny the place of music and songs in our worship of God.
Last week our church had a huge shock and the congregation as a whole was grieving. Our worship team led us in a song that we have done a few times before, but in many ways it was a “new song” as it took on a whole different meaning.
When tragedy strikes we can be all too quick to shrink inside ourselves and ignore God. But that’s not what David the psalmist did. He would come to God and God would put a new song in his mouth. One that verbalised a little bit of how he was feeling but that also praised God throughout it all. That is powerful stuff.
Do you find that a particular song etches itself on your heart sometimes? Or that in a difficult time a particular worship song becomes your anthem that you hold on to to keep going? I remember when we had moved house for my husband to train at Bible College. He started in September, but I decided the right thing to do would be to stay in my old job in the midlands until I found a new one in Yorkshire. I traveled up every Friday night to stay the weekend then back down again to the midlands on Sunday afternoon from September until December when I found a new job. It was tough being apart but our new church in Yorkshire had just started to sing “never once” by Matt Redman:
This song became the anthem of that time, as I tried to remind myself that God had never let me down or left me before so he wouldn’t this time either. It reminded me that part of the joy is in the journey, the struggles and the scars along the way.
The most important thing that I have taken away from the verse this week though is what the whole point of this “new song” is. It is not to make us feel better or for God’s benefit. It is for those who are watching. Those who are around us in our lives. It is so that they can see how we respond and marvel at the mystery of our faith. It is so that they can want what we have and “abandon themselves to God”. Wow.
So keep going, sing your new song and let God give you new songs to sing, but just make sure you are singing them where people can see you and praise God with you.
Do share your thoughts on this week’s verse below, and here is the verse for next week (I am taking a little break from Psalms for something different!):
Our God really does care about the little things.
And our God really does use the little things to break the ice.
Here is a short, and quite amusing, story that happened to my family a few weeks back:
After weeks of praying and searching God’s heart, we decided it was time to buy a new car. Our old car was started to be a bit dodgy and we had a feeling that sooner or later it would cost us a LOT of money to fix. So we wanted to trade it in before that happened! We went out one weekend to look at cars and came back having made a decision that we wanted to test drive and buy a new(ish!) Vauxhall Vafira. You know, one of those big boxy family type cars with extra seats in the back in case you accidentally have two more children than planned….
The next weekend we booked in three test drives of three similar cars and prayed for the best (I really wasn’t looking forward to a whole saturday being wiped out spending it in cars and car showrooms). So off we all drove to the first car showroom excited to start the day and find a new car. It was all going well until Rob went off to get the car seats out of our old car so we could put them in the one we wanted to test drive. 10 minutes later he still hadn’t returned – that couldn’t be good….
When we all went out to check (me, sam, reuben in his car seat and the sales lady), Rob was wrestling with Sam’s car seat – it was stuck. Our old car had this annoying feature that if you stopped pulling it out, it had to go all the way back in again to come out again. And when undoing the seatbelt, it had gone in too far and got wrapped around the arm of the car seat. There were only two options here – cut the seat belt of the car we were hoping to sell with the sales lady stood right in front of us, or destroy the car seat in some way. We went for the second option, and Rob sawed off the arm of the car seat with his pen knife.
It made for an interesting ice breaker with the car sales lady, who we entertained around Chesterfield on our test drive. When we got back to the showroom we got such a deal from her that we couldn’t refuse, and we bought the car there and then. It was lovely though to be able to spend time talking to her and getting to know about her. She obviously felt valued in speaking to us, as she then sent extra goodies for Sam when Rob picked up the car, a handwritten thank you card for buying the car from her and then a parcel of goodies for Sam’s birthday also turned up in the post a week later!
It all seemed to turn out ok (and we had managed to time our test drive perfectly to fit in with their company’s promotion of offering a free night away in a hotel when you test drive a used car!), but my heart was heavy that my son was sitting in a car seat that could possibly be dangerous. I mean, it was still strapped in with the seat belt but having a sawed off arm couldn’t be great, could it?! I hadn’t prayed about, but God knew it was weighing heavy on my heart. Then a couple of days later I got an email from Argos. The car seat was being recalled due to faulty plastic used in it. We could have a complete refund of £50, no questions asked, it we took it back!
I sometimes stand in awe and wonder at how amazing our Father God is and in his timing. We bought that car seat over 9 months ago and yet the timing in the recall fitted perfectly with when we truly needed it.
So many positive things came out of this experience for me – getting to speak light and truth to the lady at the garage, getting a new car seat for free (when it all seemed to have gone wrong), getting a free night away in a hotel and finally my son being blessed with presents as well. God uses every little experience in our life for His glory and that really and truly excites me. I hope it excites you too.
So yesterday was an interesting kind of day, but one that God used immeasurably more than what I could imagine in the morning.
My plan for the day: Take kids to play centre so that husband can have some peace and quiet to work at home. Spend as little money as possible and sit in a corner with Reuben whilst Sam plays and then come home later to do the food shopping.
God’s plan for the day: Take kids to the RIGHT play centre where Rachel will meet other mums to encourage and chat to the member of staff there about church (this could be a pivotal point in her journey back to relationship with me)
What actually happened: Arrived at planned play centre with free entry voucher in hand. Play centre would not accept it as it was Christmas party so could only go in if I paid £8 party ticket fee. Feeling like a cheap skate decided to leave as was annoyed we couldn’t get in for free. Cue toddler tantrum in middle of car park with son lying on the floor and limbs flailing wildly! Had to quickly calm him down whilst deciding on the cheapest alternative play centre that was close by.
Arrive at next play centre to be greeted by a really friendly staff member. She could see I was struggling so let us in and let me feed crying Reuben before we even actually paid entry! As the place was deserted we had a lovely conversation about the kids and then later in the day she asked where daddy was. Sam said he was at home so I was able to tell her that he is studying for a theology degree and works part time in our church. This opened the door to talk about church with her. The centre then got busier but I was able to write her a nice thank you note and left it with a #lovegives card from our church.
On the way out she also told me an app we can download to get free entry next time! What a blessing she was to us on what seemed to start out as a rubbish day. I pray that God will be moving in her life to rethink what church is and what it means to her. Once again God is able to use my everyday activities as a mum to reach into others lives. Feel amazingly privileged to be a part of it!
As a mum on a mission, it is often a delicate balance to fit in missional activities in my local community with my daily commitments to my home and family -I’m sure you feel that too! And after having a bit of a rollercoaster of a day yesterday I thought I would share with you a day in my life. Enjoy!
8am – the chaos of the morning has just died down as daddy and Sam head out the door to nursery/work. Today is a special day as Reuben has been asked to play baby Jesus in an interactive nativity experience on of our church’s extension sites is putting on for a local primary school. So we quickly get dressed and sorted and head out the door.
9am – arrive at Thurcroft building and feed Reuben whilst everyone else gets ready for the nativity. Baby’s routine can’t go out of the window even when there is outreach to be done! My priority is as a mum and I made sure Reuben was happy and fed before handing him over to “Mary” for the morning!
12noon – the kids loved the nativity! And it was the icing on the cake for them all that it was a real baby. Made it all worth it to see the faces filled with awe as they came into the stable and saw baby Jesus/Reuben. Now to head off to pick up big brother Sam from nursery – can’t forget about him!
1pm – arrive home after picking a tearful boy up from nursery. They couldn’t find the second sticky picture he had made and mummy hadn’t come to pick him up with his trike in tow, so it was a disaster. This was followed by several hours of whining when we got home and copious amounts of cbeebies to try and cheer him up and occupy him whilst Reuben slept. It did not go well….
3pm – after feeding Reuben and getting very annoyed with Sam who kept trying to sit on Reuben’s head whilst I fed him, enough was enough and decided we all needed to get out of the house for some fresh air. Usual battle of getting ready commenced and all three of us ended up in tears. But it’s worth the battle to get out and deliver Christmas cards to the neighbours. We might not know everyone on our estate, but just this little token of Christmas cheer might open up more doors and cement some relationships.
I am sure deep down inside all of us is a desire to be generous and to love others. After all, we are made in the image of our Father God, who is the most loving and generous God that he sent his son to die on the cross for us. But truthfully, every day life and requirements cloud this desire from coming to fruition.
There are many things that stop us from following our generous hearts (here are just a few which you might relate to):
- money – it is expensive to be generous! We have all heard amazing stories of people paying others bills in supermarkets, petrol stations, coffee shops, etc. Or of people buying loads of chocolate bars or baking lots of cake. But in all honesty, you have to have some disposable income to throw at it in order to be generous in this way, and sometimes we just don’t!
- time – putting in the preparation for being generous sometimes gets in the way of actually just doing it. Having to think about what you are going to do, go out and buy it or prepare it. Its all a bit too much sometimes when the kids are screaming and the dinner needs cooking.
- courage – It is scary sometimes to put our hearts on the line and offer something to someone else, especially if it is someone we don’t know.
For me it is all of these things. I yearn to be more generous and yet lack the money, time and courage to follow through. But I am determined to do something nice in my neighbourhood to show the love of God to the estate. Here is my plan! I have invested this year in a “purple voucher book”, a local resource that has hundreds of vouchers, like 2 for 1 in restaurants, theme parks etc. The book itself cost £20, but as I will be using some of the vouchers myself to treat my family to days out I figured it was a worthwhile investment. There are quite a few vouchers that I know I won’t personally be able to use so I am going to post them through the doors of houses on our estate with one of our church’s #lovegives cards so they know that there is a connection to church, and hopefully they will look it up online to see where the voucher has come from.
So there you have it – a simple, cheap, no prep required and reasonably low amount of courage needed to be generous idea. Coupons are for caring just as much as cash or presents, so why not leave vouchers or coupons where people can find them? What are your ways and tips for being generous on a budget? Share them below!
Recently I have joined a new mummy online social website in a bid to try to widen my circle locally. The website provides a place where you can meet mums in your area and invite them to socials events or just for a cuppa. So I jumped straight in and put up an event – a teddy bear’s picnic for those in my closest areas where mums and kids could come and meet each other.
There were probably about 10-15 mums invited but only 3 responded – 1 to say she could come (internal jump of happiness!), 1 to say she couldn’t but would love to meet up another time (again a positive response) and 1 to say she might be able to but if not perhaps could do something another time (its still a response so my heart was singing!). I also pushed some invitations through doors on my estate of people who I knew had kids. I even invited a mum who I saw walking past our house with a pushchair the other day when I was feeling brave!!
The day of the picnic came and I prayed faithfully that God would make it a success in His eyes and that the right people would turn up. I got everything set up looking beautiful, I had baked cakes the night before and got colouring sheets and other activities ready. Some might say that at 8 months pregnant I put a little too much effort into it, but I wanted to make sure that if people did come they felt welcome and their kids had plenty to do.
Four per cent. That sounds like nothing. And as we near that figure for how many out of 5000 we have fed in our house, it sounds minuscule, it sounds small, it sounds insignificant. But in fact it is almost 200 different people. 200 different lives, 200 different stories, 200 different beings all loved by God and hopefully shown that love through us.
When the little boy came to Jesus with his five loaves and two fishes, Jesus didn’t say it was too small or insignificant. He thanked God, blessed the food and passed it out. Today I come to God with all those 200 people who have passed through our door over the past 6 1/2 years and thank him for every single one and ask him to bless them.
You see at the heart of my family’s desire to feed 5000 people in our home over our lifetime was not the numbers really (sometimes you just have to pick a target out of thin air!!) but was the people that we would get to impact. You see hospitality can be a very powerful thing. It can be the door to new friendships, perhaps providing a way to start conversations when it is difficult in other places. It can provide a breathing space for problems to be aired and discussed. It can be an encouragement both physically and spiritually for those who are tired and weary. It can be a great social time with many people! It can be a source of comfort when times are difficult and a respite from the pain. Let us not forget how important hospitality is in our everyday lives, by instead try to keep that invite into our homes at the tip of our tongue for everyone we meet.
I have this verse in my kitchen as a reminder to do that:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it”. Hebrews 13:2