Thursday, 19 February 2015

Leading up to Easter with my daughter: a Sense of the Resurrection

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I have never gone to a traditional church where Lent was celebrated and adhered to. I have mostly ignored it to be honest! I have done a couple of fasts for Lent in the past few years, however, and last year I did a devotional in the lead up to try to recapture the full meaning of the cross in my life.

I have been doing a kids devotion with my daughter each morning. I don't know how much has been going in but I trust that the concepts and Scriptures will get through eventually. I have been stuck on how much to talk about the core of our salvation though. I don't really want to be talking about death with her at only three years old. She is quite a sensitive and anxiety-prone kid. I also didn't want to shy away from the truth and end up with a wishy washy and untrue picture of faith. Enter "A Sense of the Resurrection" by Amanda White. I used some of her Advent activities in the lead up to Christmas last year and loved the format of Scripture being incorporated into craft activities with ways to discuss the topic with kids. I purchased the book and then forgot to download it! Thankfully Amanda kindly reactivated my download link quickly so that I could get started today. There are not 40 activities to try to do, thankfully. Twelve activities carefully chosen to incorporate the five senses are included in the book. I aim to do one this week and then two each week leading up to Easter. We will be away for the last week before Easter so I may have to adjust this but we'll see. I love that there are printable flags that you can use instead of the full craft activity if you prefer.

Today we did Day 1 of the activities. Issy was SO excited to do something special. She has no concept of it being Lent really but that isn't the important part. I did the printable flag activity today, getting her to paint it. I then got her to smell a few of my perfumes and essential oils and she chose one to add some drops to the flag. 

I am really looking forward to exploring the Easter story with Isabel through these activities.

If you would like to join me in this, click on the image below or in the side bar to purchase a copy.

Monday, 16 February 2015

God's delight

I started praying in my room as usual this morning while I felt a whisper to go outside.  These skies full of wispy clouds (my favourites) greeted me. My first thought was the verse from Psalm 19- the Heavens declare His glory and the skies display His craftsmanship.
Then a verse I memorised last year came back to me and I was overwhelmed: Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
For the lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
I got such a clear sense that God had called me outside purely to delight in my delight about the clouds. He loves me that much! I don't think I really believed this verse when I memorised it. I've been teary with joyful tears all morning. God loves you too and wants to delight you just as much. I pray that you would all sense God's love for you immensely today. Don't forget to delight in the creation around you.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Why I've given up Bible study for now...

I am going to attempt to form words around the swirl of thoughts and deep growth that are within right now. For the past few weeks, I've known that something was shifting. I've been a bit restless again. There's been a tension that I couldn't put my finger on. I wrote about some of what I grabbed hold of from a conference I went to in this post and my sense of a wait coming to an end here. We've had an amazing guest speaker at church who has not held back the hard hitting, uncomfortable truth that we need to hear. A few years ago, I was longing to be part of a church that had more Spirit-filled ministry and giftings displayed. I love my church and we do so many awesome things but it is on the conservative side. I felt God say then that I needed to stay and wait for His timing. There have been stirrings over the intervening years and this has felt like momentum gathering. The speaker's series culminated in an evening of giving space to God's Spirit to move. I don't normally go the night service but made the effort. I was so pumped to see what God was going to do but nervous as well. I know how God has moved in me before and I was expecting the same. I realised that I am still carrying fear of what others around me may think. The service went very differently than I expected. I didn't get the same sense of outpouring and laughter that I was anticipating. There was small flashes but it was blocked within me. 

I've been processing the prayers prayed over me and the sense I have been getting from God since then. That night I felt very clearly that I needed to stop doing the Bible study that I had been doing each morning. This has not been comfortable for me. It has strongly highlighted how much I have substituted spending time studying and relying on my intellect as opposed to actually seeking God and taking the time to listen. I had been trying to build it in but it was always at the end of completing the questions for the day. Backwards priorities!! Please understand that I think Bible study is good and I will get back into it again. I am still memorising Scriptures and reading a bit each day. The difference is my time is mostly spent listening and seeking God. I am processing a few questions that the weekend of church services have raised for me:
  • Is my confession current?
  • What are my blind spots?
  • What are the things in my life blocking God's Spirit?
  • What are You wanting to say to me today?
The first morning, God showed me clearly that I needed to unsubscribe from many of the YouTube channels that I watch, not because they were wrong or sinful but a distraction. This was much harder than it should have been and took a few tries of deleting a few then listening again and being shown more. I still feel the tug to go try to justify not doing it and restarting some subscriptions. There's a blind spot revealed right there!! It felt like there was a cutting away of something in my obedience.

This morning was a struggle. I was tired and had a grumpy three year old interrupting me constantly. I couldn't hear anything. I couldn't focus and be still. I had a strong urge to walk by the coast. After getting us ready, that's exactly what I did. (Thankfully my daughter still loves being in her stroller!) I immediately felt God there. My One Word for this year came back again: Persist! Persist in listening, in seeking, in obeying even when it doesn't make sense or isn't easy. I realised that God is taking me on a process of growing deep roots that will nourish and sustain me in the calling He has. The flashes of living by His Spirit have never lasted in my life. I have relied on the big experiences and had a puffed up view of myself through these. There was no depth of relationship with God. There was little authenticity. As soon as times got tough or life got busy, I reverted back to old ways. This time is different. I realised that I went to that evening service looking for a quick fix. "Pour out Your Spirit again and I'll be good to go" mentality. God knows what I need and loves me enough not to give me what I want in that moment. This is where I persist. I am both excited and reticent in anticipating what God will say next. 

My challenge now: not to leave this listening solely in focused times with God but to learn how to have this throughout my everyday. It needs to shape my parenting, my responses, relationships, work, everything. I've talked the talk for so long. Now comes walking at a whole other level. Watch this space!