Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

Category: Seven (page 1 of 2)

My take-away from IF Gathering, (The Esther Generation Poem by Ann Voskamp)

Atlantic
Two weekends ago, I got cozy on the couch in front of my laptop and tuned in to the “IF Gathering” live stream. Christian women from around the states gathered in Austin Texas, and in their own front rooms and churches around the country to listen, pray, and explore answers to the question, “If God is Real….then what?”
I may have been the only person in the UK watching…maybe, maybe not. I always said I’d never “go back” to the States, and that I was so relieved to be living out from under the American Christian subculture I had grown up with, that helped to mould and shape me, and that I’ll always have a soft spot for, and call ‘home’, but….that I never really truly settled into. I tried, but It always felt like a shut door. Something I’d moved on from.
Yet here I am now, fascinated by what’s going on. When I tune in,  read their blogs, laugh at their Facebook statuses, I feel so relieved…..that I wasn’t the only one….and that God is doing something so fresh and new yet born out of a beautiful legacy of the previous generation….I don’t think I’ll ever get on their radar or get to meet them or work with with any of them directly, but their heart’s cries are resonating with this heart, possibly because, they are so incredibly in to Jesus…and so am I. I feel a thin thread still links me to them, and I’m drawn to what God is doing among them. I maybe feel a bit of a twinge of sadness that I’m not ‘in it’ with them, that I jumped the ship and found a new one a long time ago….but as I gaze across the (hypothetical) pond….I’m so glad to know they are there…and that they are doing this thing, God bless you Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, and Jennie Allen, fellow American Christian sisters of my generation….I’m so proud of you…and so thankful you are there doing what you’re doing…being who you’re being.From what I was able to stream that weekend, this poem, transcribed, (not published yet…and as soon as it is officially, I’ll do a proper link to Ann’s page) had me sat on my couch choking up, with tears, streaming. I want to share it with my friends…my friends here in the UK who are doing this life with me here….and those who I left behind….GET in on this!! :) 
 (From IF:Gathering)
 The Esther Generation, BY ANN VOSKAMP 
They say you should travel light
But most of our lives we carry it all on our backs
These days it isn’t our arms that stay weighed down
It’s our minds
We wake up in a panic
Its our thoughts that hyperventilate for fear
Of making mistakes.
For fear of failing or succeeding
Or fear that we’ll never move past our past
That we’ll be exactly who they said we’d be
That we’ll never be more than what was done to us
That we will continue to be taken advantage of
That we should accept shame as a companion to carry with us
That we should let the lies befriend us
The lies
started in a garden
Spoken slyly by a slithering serpent with his syrupy sweet: “Did God really say?”
And we’ve be doubting ever since
Allowing an unwelcome guest to make himself at home in our lives, minds, gardens
Keep us bound with slithering fear
that we are damaged goods
Never going to be good enough
Not enough brains, not enough brawn
Not enough guts to take anything on.
 But there is no time for being soft or weak
That at all times we have to be tough
That We’ll never be perfect that
We’ll never be worth it
That we’ll never be enough
And sometimes we feel God calling us, nudging us
Trying to show us
but somehow we stay trapped
Behind walls of unbelief and unforgiveness
Our arm’s a weary rope caught in a vicious tension
Tug of war between our fear and our calling
Between worry and peace
Comfort and inconvenience
Comparing ourselves to each other
While battling low self esteem 
Do we do what’s practical?
Or follow our dreams?
Do we take care of ourselves?
Or meet others people’s needs?
Should we fight?
Should we please?
Should we hide from who we are to put other people at ease?
And then the lies begin to echo and amplify
Loser
Time abuser
Mess producer
Who needs you?
She’s so much better
Just look at her
You actually thought that was a good idea?
Open your mouth and they’ll laugh long enough that you’ll shut your mouth
You aren’t smart enough
You aren’t good enough
You aren’t sharp enough
Who do you think you are?
Fear is our chain and it’s rattling us hard
the poison that deadens our hearts
Fear of failing
Fear of flailing
Fear of the arrows
Fear of the way named narrow
Fear of the shear rock in front of you that begs you sweat and climb
Climb out of that drug dead comforting pit they call status quo
And break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for
In the now of your life while there is still time and hunger in your veins
Turn around and shake off that snake
Because it’s head’s been crushed, no pulverized
So let go of the lie.
Sometimes we imagine that God’s voice is a disappointed hard lined teacher
Who is waiting to whack our knuckles with a ruler for any imperfections
But that isn’t God’s voice at all
That isn’t Gods heart at all
He speaks tenderly
He doesn’t need to raise his voice
He speaks as if He’s right next to us
Because He’s right next to us
Because He goes before us
Because His spirit lives inside us
He starts with love
And not because He is a hopeless romantic
But mostly because
He is ALL LOVE and HOPE and SECOND CHANCES
Let go of the fanged lie and bind the wound with dressings of Truth that will heal your bloodied soul
Take that sharp edge of His Word and hack that snake creeping up the back your neck
The words
The only life hack that will hack off the lie of the snake and make your life whole
We fear that the place we think God’s love will run out or dry up
We fear that place where we think God’s love will run out, dry up, fall of the edge
And we’ll be left dangling beyond its reach
We fear that somewhere God’s love ends
 But His love never runs out
His steadfast love surpasses suburbia
Canvases from skyscrapers to street corners from porch to stoop
His love is looking for you.
Who would you be?
What would you do?
If you weren’t afraid
Could be that you’ve always wanted to come up through the ground
in some desolate place that needed a tree
To bear some fruit for someone with their tongue stuck to the dry roof of their parched mouth
To be a limb that held some baby abandoned
To be a limb that someone could used to swing over the fence and free
We were made from dust
A bit of earth kissed by heaven
made to be groundbreakers
And peacemakers
And freedom shakers
So you can take your glossy Vogue covers and use them for washing windows
Because we’ve always thought the most beautiful women have dirt under their fingernails
And could shake a bit of the very earth out of their warn and pioneering shoes
And lets redefine comfort zone because wherever He takes you
You are with the comforter
Wherever He calls you
You are always in his comfort zone
So live all your present moments in His presence
To keep company with Christ
To get in on the best
There’s a whole Esther generation right here and now and it is us.
Who come broken
Who are done being defeated by fear and worry and stress
Because it advertises the unreliability of God
 Who want hard and Holy things because we want more than hallow lives
A life more than self focus and cell phones
More than iPhones, iTunes and iLove
Who want a life of loving the least, the lonely, and the lost
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who are done with easy
Who know that being like Christ and caring for the poor in body and soul
Means more than just caring about easing our consciences
It means living real sacrifice
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who say now is the time for the faith brave
To sky dive and fly
To remember that we don’t have to strive to be anyone
To stop taking issue with what God made
To accept that our perfect God makes no mistakes
There’s a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
To take the weight we carry on our backs
And offer it back to the savior who already carried the weight of the world on his shoulders
Who surrender
Who lay out alabaster hopes and dreams at the feet of our Savior
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who will no longer look for peace in opinions
But to find our solid ground in the truth
There are many tomorrows to face
But today, lets open our hearts and our wounds and our stories
To the great story teller
That our lives may be chiseled by His pen
That we may
BELIEVE
and LOVE
and PRAY
and FIGHT
and REST
and LIVE!

Spoiled for Choice

So it’s been a few months since we completed Seven. Our group had the great pleasure of passing on the DVD’s to another women’s group down the road who are crazy brave enough to have a go at it, so we wish them well, and it’s exciting that more and more of us are having this conversation. Since the lessons of Seven my family has been through some changes.

  • My husband lost his job at the start of the summer holidays, and has been battling the ups and downs that come with that.
  • The kids and I spent three long beautiful weeks in August in the States soaking up time with friends and family and doing our best to not get overwhelmed by the “oh wow look at this I could so use this back in England they don’t have these oh look i miss those let’s get some for old times sake oh my gosh that’s SO much cheaper here need must have” mentality that often creeps in.
  • A new school year has started and my daughter, after spending two years sailing merrily along with no issues at school has been hit with her first real wave of “ohnoican’tdothisit’stoohard” and due to circumstances has had two parents around to gently walk her through this. (what i really mean is that she’s had her dad  around to give the gentle help, as I have no patience and can get just as overwhelmed as her. He’s also been there to have a man to man chat with the teacher as opposed to male teacher in shirt and tie vs. mom on the verge of tears chat because I’m rubbish really
  • I actually have work to do, and am looking forward to three births over the next three months. yay.

Something I’ve realised in the last few weeks and days, is just how spoiled I am. I’m not talking about wealth, because that’s a different story. That falls in the realms of blessing. We’ve had no real income over the last few months, but people have been so generous to us, it’s humbling. We’ve been given money outright, Tesco vouchers,  food from people’s fridges and freezers, grocery bags full of those extra treats like humous and sticky toffee pudding and extra apples to feed Judah’s compulsive apple binging, clothes, shoes, and even a bottle of wine! Thank you friend and family….I’m humbled.

Back to the spoiled thing. I’m talking about choice. The choices I have in life. I mentioned Iona’s beginning of the school year wobbles. First off, I take them seriously. I love her, and the last thing I want for her is to be feeling sad, overwhelmed, and powerless. So when this whole thing first happened, in came the flood of worry, self doubt, and brainstorming.

  • Have we chosen the right school? Did I just choose Astbury because it looks so darn lovely and felt comfortable to me? Did I let my own ideals or fears of a larger more secular school environment cloud my judgement?
  • Should I actually be home educating? Am I selfish? Wouldn’t she just flourish so much better at home given the space and freedom to learn things in her own time?
  • They start them too young!! Why can’t we be like those European countries who let kids do nothing but play until they are 7!!!???
  • Her teacher’s style is to blame! He’s putting her off! I miss her old teacher, he was better, wah!
  • floods of worry over Iona’s confidence, development, intelligence, ability, fears over what others think of her, my parenting choices, stuff that matters, stuff that totally doesn’t matter but I make bigger in my head, and on and on.

Do you know what came to me? I am spoiled. I live in a lovely town with the choice of several lovely competent schools where I can choose a school based on how much I like it, not on whether my child will actually come out the other end knowing how to read and write. I can choose a school out of walking distance because I have a working car, that looks and feels like something out of a storybook. I can choose an open plan school with an intentionally relaxed ethos, or I can choose a school with a more intentional emphasis on academics. I could choose a school within walking distance, allowing my kids to befriend those in their immediate community and get that daily exercise, or I could choose that school with the yellow uniforms, because they’re just so cute.

What happens when we are presented with these choices is that by nature we feel compelled to pick apart the options and certain schools actually get labelled as “rough” because the vast majority of the parents don’t fit into a certain socio-economic bracket, which when compared to truly “rough” schools, is laughable.

In addition to the choice of several perfectly descent schools, If I really wanted to, I could choose to home educate. It’s legal in this country and although still not socially the norm, I could join in with other like minded parents and my children could receive a well rounded holistic education at home and likely have even more practical learning experiences and opportunities than those that are formally educated.

The bottom line is that my daughter, who is precious, loved, and treasured by us, has a roof over her head, clothes to wear, and the opportunity to learn to read, write, and add up. I’m not faced with the choice on whether she receives an education or not. I’m not worried a human trafficker is going to snatch her or deceive her as soon as she turns 10. She gets to go to a school. She gets to learn. She is a lot better off than most girls her age. 

Does this mean I never raise concerns with her teacher? no. Does this mean I roll my eyes every time I hear a gaggle of pre-school mums chatting about which school? Of course not! (Well I try not to) Is it still important to choose the right school? Of course, but balance that with a sense of perspective and gratefulness that we actually have that choice.

Now I have not just dropped my concerns over my daughter’s rough start this year. I’ve been challenged to be more present with her when she is at home, and  I’m praying for her, and unashamedly asking friends to pray for her.

I guess I’m just trying to get some perspective and remember just how privileged I am. It’s the tension those of us here in the western world will live in most of our days.

 

Cramming waste, spending, and stress.

The last few weeks have been a blur.

My last blog was all about how much I enjoyed the media fast. That seems ages ago. Since then we’ve done Waste Week, which I kind of did ok at until the day before going on holiday and I had to just use the tumble dryer….since then, I’ve tried to be more mindful, but at the moment we don’t even have a washing line set up right….so that’s my excuse. It pains me though. Whenever I visit my friend Beverley, and see her managing to dry all her laundry across the back of her small paved yard, when she works three days a week and obviously has far less spare time than me, I feel challenged.

Thankfully, “seven” is NOT about guilt, it’s not about being more “this” or “that” then the next person. It hits us where we’re at, and just turns the spotlight on a few things we may not have thought of before. I think the whole idea of Waste week was to remind us that God made this earth, and if we love God, we’re going to want to look after what he’s made, and not treat it like a spoiled child treats a toy, thinking “what does it really matter? I can just get a new one”.  Appreciating and looking after the earth is just another great way to be closer to God and make space for Him.

While feeling a little bit down about how Waste week had sort of fizzled out for me personally, I felt God remind me that I may not be great at hanging my washing out, and I’m kind of rubbish at being “sustainable” and can’t garden to save my life (yet), but suddenly this voice came into my head and said “but you did breastfeed”. Oh yeah…that. Breastfeeding is one great way to contribute to the waste/environmental issue, and it also saved me at least £1,000 the first year. I’m not saying it get’s me off the hook though, I’m certainly more aware, and am going to do my best to do more.

Spending week made for good reading. It was challenging, insightful, and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’m a big spender. Even if I was, the constraints of living on one steady income with a sporadic modest second income have their realities. But I realise I may be one of those people who sort of (to use an American expression) nickel and dime my money away. A few coffee’s here, a few books there, and suddenly my monthly allowance is gone and there’s no room to be generous or to give and I have this horridly distorted idea in my head that I’m somehow “poor”. ridiculous. Spending week was not just for those people who can afford to go shopping on their lunch hour and buy new clothes whenever they fancy, it was for all of us, wherever we think we’re at.

Stress week came just in time. Life seems to be flying by at the moment. In previous years I have often looked on and observed that busy family with all the different activities and felt a twinge of jealousy. They really seemed to be “living” and “having a life” while my family sat around on a Saturday not doing anything.

I think my kids are starting to get to that age where if we are going to ensure they don’t get run raged and that we don’t look back in ten years time and wonder where the time went, we’re going to start having to be intentional about taking breaks. A formal Sabbath may not be practical in this day and age and culture, but wow, what a novel idea! So many things we view as inconveniences are actually there for our benefit. We talked about this in the group and I told them all about the Red Tent idea, I mean, what a perfect idea that was!! God tells all the men that women are “unclean” when their on their periods…but actually…he’s giving them a well deserved four day rest where they can all hang out and chat together. Genius.

But back to the 21st century where it’s considered noble to “not be able to sit still” and to “have to be doing something or else I feel guilty”. When I see someone who doesn’t stop, if I’m having an insecure moment I will find myself admiring them and wondering  how they do it and wishing I could be that cool and together and busy.

So the last few weeks after our holiday have been busy. Ballet recitals, drama practices, trips to Edinburgh to renew passports, antenatal session prep for a client, the marriage course, life group, worship leading, birth hope day, it’s all been “a go” as they’d say in Ireland. So am I cool now? I mean, does all that stuff I listed validate me? Does it make me feel like I’m good enough? Yeah right. You know what? I miss my friends. I miss having random coffee’s with friends in the afternoon while the kids play. I miss being able to have my neighbour’s baby for the day and look after him. I miss having a leisurely conversation with Emma in the afternoon while I cook tea, instead of hurrying off the phone because the house has taken on a life of it’s own, yet again, because I have not been able to face it with being so wonderfully busy.

Ugh. Not the life for me. However, seasons like this are inevitable. And Jen had some great ideas for learning how to take sabbath moments during the day. Some tips from the ancients on seven sacred pauses. I haven’t had a chance to do it yet…but I want to! It makes so much sense! I also love the whole idea of dipping into older church tradition. I think sometimes we modern Christians think that people really weren’t saved prior to Azusa street or one of the great reformations or Wesley revivals.

Do I have any of this stuff nailed?? Not. at. all. However I’m more aware….and it’s starting to work. I was in a huge heap of stress on Friday. I had set aside the whole morning to catch up with a friend, which was good solid sabbath time. You don’t tell your friend who you only see once a year you can’t see her because you need to do the food shopping. Anyway, that afternoon I was in between food shops, and just feeling totally overwhelmed and panicky, My mind was on something I had to do later in the week and I was hitting a wall. After going down the wrong road and having to turn around, I don’t know quite how it happened, but I just stopped somehow, prayed, and then suddenly got this overflow of ideas come into my head to help me know what to do. I ended up sitting in the Tesco car park with Judah in the back seat, and just crying, and writing down everything that was coming to me, and breathing. I had a real peace for the rest of that crazy afternoon, and lo and behold, I survived the weekend I’d been dreading, and even lead worship this morning which I’d tried to get out of on Thursday after a late night coming back from Edinburgh, but Jeff just sort of pretended not to hear when I said “umm, i don’t think I can do it”.

So tomorrow morning’s our “wrap up”, but I don’t know that any of this will get wrapped up neatly…this one’s a messy one…a very messy one…almost as messy as my house right now.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Media Week

Ok I totally survived media week. It was just the detox I needed. However the challenge with these things, as always, is to not sink into the addictive patterns again.

I didn’t enforce it with the kids, (and i obviously didn’t enforce it with Jon) but I think by default, they needed media less, because I was more “present” with them? Maybe? I mean, I didn’t exactly pull down the jigsaws and get on the floor with them, but maybe me being less “plugged in” has more of an impact than I realise.

After my December Facebook fast, I took it off my phone, and after this fast, I’ve taken it off my kindle. Now that I have my own laptop again, I’m loath to use Jon’s desktop, and because I’m a little paranoid about just leaving my lap top sitting out on the table, I’ve taken to shutting it down and storing it more often, so it’s not like this constant thing that’s “on” and “central”.

In this Seven study, Jen Hatmaker often talks about these tiny little changes we make, little by little, that when added up, make a difference. For me, I could make a promise not to buy any clothes for a year, and between my lack of means to do so, and low interest levels, I could easily do it. But that’s not my issue, so I’m not going to go there. For people who have that issue, the smallest positive decisions they make with regards to spending are going to make a difference when added up and they should be encouraged in their journey.  It’s not always the big dramatic actions that yield long term results and change.

So back to me and my issues. I think I’m going to be realistic and realise getting social media in balance in my life may be a series of small decisions, lapses, victories, and slow progress, and the most important thing really, is being aware, admitting my weaknesses, and talking about it honestly within a supportive environment.

Giving up Facebook 100% may have been the detox I needed last week,  but during the week I was frustrated at the amount of times I could have used Facebook as a constructive, time saving communication tool, to my advantage and the advantage of others. The problem is the amount of time that get’s eaten and wasted.

I’ve had a week back in the thick of things online. The first thing I checked was Jen Hatmaker’s profile and saw that she’d been flown into NYC to be interviewed on the Today Show!! I enjoyed her humour, but refrained from reading any more comments while noting the comment tally on her blog was over 4,000! I’ve also got stuck in to promoting my Doula services, as well as the next Birth Hope Day.

We leave to go on Holiday on Friday and I’m looking forward to another week of dialled down media….

Don’t ask me about Waste Week just yet. I’m totally overwhelmed. Hanging clothes out to dry with no operational clothes line this week while trying to pack for a holiday in an effort to not use the tumble dryer….well, I think I may have to admit defeat tomorrow morning when I go into mad packing rush mode.

I’ll see if I can find time to fill you in on how this week is going before we head off on holiday. You’ll just laugh at me I know!

 

 

Dreaded Media Fast Week.

Tomorrow starts Media week. Those who saw me breeze through clothes week are now just waiting for me to crack. I know it’s bad when my son used to associate feeding times with my phone. I think about 3 people will be there tomorrow as some are still enjoying an extra week of half term, some have inset days with older children around, and one of us gave birth two weeks ago. I texted Siobhan to check if we were going ahead with the dvd as she keeps the schedule, and she assured me we were going to press on. bravely. No getting out of this one!

This is the week I’ve been dreading. I’ve done a version of this before I even read Seven. After watching the Advent Conspiracy at life group I decided to give up facebook for December. It was easier than I thought, and did me the world of good, as in it got me through Christmas without spiralling into a depressive state of believing everyone else out there has the perfect life and mine is boring. boring. boring.

I think I’m over that bit of Facebook now. I can scroll through news feeds and eat the meat and spit out the bones. Well let’s be honest, it’s not really meat, (and I don’t really eat meat) it’s more like…junk food, with the occasional healthy snack. I am shamefully addicted though. I think my seratonin levels rise whenever I see  a fleck of red against a backdrop of blue. It’s just crazy. It really is. I feel slightly strung out on social media at the moment. I think it’s possibly due to the half term haze that’s tricked me into staying up ridiculously late just because I don’t technically have to be anywhere the next day which has resulted in me getting stuck in a temporary rut.

I’ve been particularly obsessing over Jen Hatmaker’s latest blog post. Not the post itself. It was nothing short of hilarious, and I read it, laughed, and didn’t give it a second thought. I’m used to Jen. She’s the author of 7, in case anyone hasn’t picked that up yet. However (due to my constant Facebook checking) I started to notice her blog appearing in my newsfeed, and being posted by people who were unlikely to be regular followers. To make a long story short, the blog went VIRAL, and it was suddenly appearing on the front page of MSN in the states. The last time I checked (about a minute ago), there were 2,900 comments!!!

Most of the comments were along the lines of “I feel exactly the same way!! You’re in my brain! You’re my new best friend! You’ve nailed it! I’m not alone, and mainly ha ha ha’s” However, i could not help but get drawn in like a moth to a flame as some of the more negative reactions started to appear. There are people out there who clearly don’t have a sense of humour. The scary thing was, even though these are people I will never meet, their comments, their rudeness, their downright meanness, really unsettled me. I felt for Jen, but I’m sure she is made of tougher stuff than I am and this isn’t the first time she’s come under fire. (for far more serious issues than whether or not she’s a good mom or not because she’s admitted to not enjoying reading with a 6 year old, shock horror.)
I have been sensing a good break is in order for awhile, and so I’m going to detox for a week.

I have not quite worked out the details of everything I want to do. My personality tells me to go the whole way, and pull the plug on everything, because then I’ll feel I’ve done it “right” but as I keep telling my Monday group “there is no right way to do this” I may need to put that in practice myself.

So Facebook is an obvious one. It’s going to go for the week.
I’m also going to have to give up Jen’s blog, because I’ve just gotten way too sucked in to the comments. I’ve been waiting to see what her response is going to be to this whole drama. Truth is, she’s probably going to handle it with total dignity and not give it too much head space. (unlike me)
There is no point sitting on a computer blogging during media week about how you’re giving up media, so I’m going to give this a rest.
I’ll keep my kindle, but limit it’s use to reading.
I’ll keep my phone but make a conscious effort to not drop everything the moment I hear a notification coming through. It can wait.

So why? What’s the point of all this? It’s not just about proving I can live without facebook. I’m just making some space….and saying “Ok God I’ve been wasting a lot of time and I’m sorry. What have I been missing while I’ve had my head stuck in a comment war or a mind numbing news feed?”
I’m sure the most obvious answer will be my family.

 

 

 

Lilies of the field

Tomorrow we’re heading to the Big Church Day Out. As I feel the wind ripping through my clothing and beating down on my wet hair, I’m wondering why in the world I thought this would be a good idea. However as I sat down to do some work before heading out to buy ice packs (which I cannot imagine needing at this moment in time) and other bits and pieces for the weekend, I clicked on Amy Grant’s new album on Spotify.

Her new single “Don’t try so hard” came on, and I stopped. Tears welled up. Suddenly I was back in my bedroom in Wisconsin at the age of 12 listening to “All I ever have to be” feeling completely free, released, and happy, with such a strong sense of who I was. Fast forward twenty-two  years, and His message through her music is telling me another version of the same thing…because I need that message now more than ever. So yes, I’m going to see her live this weekend. She is a voice from my past….and I feel very drawn to go and see her live, which I’ve never done. Alongside her will be the very present and current inspirations of my favourite worship music. Gungor, Rend Collective, and Matt Redman. Judah keeps running around singing “Set your church on FIRE!! win this nation back” and it’s just too cute, along with Iona’s “oooooooOOOOOOooooo my soul” as she sings along to 10,000 reasons.

This week is possessions week for 7, so yesterday I spent the day sifting through cd’s, books, dvd’s and other bits and pieces. The idea is not to just bung them in a bin bag and charity shop them, but to turn them into something more specific. The reality is, I can’t imagine anyone really wanting or finding any of this stuff useful, so I went on music magpie and zapper and have decided to use the cash towards towards some things I’ve wanted to give to recently. However Jen said…”This isn’t a one hit wonder”. I have yet to do the homework, and much of what she said on the DVD was again, so much more than just about having a clear out and simplifying our lives….much deeper…and as we’re on half term next week that means I have a whole other week to dig deeper on this one.

Monday morning was good. The best lesson many of us learned during clothes week was that no one seemed to notice our amazing ability to just wear seven items of clothing for one week. It was sort of a non issue. I am pretty sure Jon never even noticed me only eating seven foods lets alone only wearing seven clothes. This revelation was particularly liberating to those accustomed to giving much head space and time to what they were going to wear every day.

On a deeper level, one of my friends arrived armed with copies of newspaper clippings about injustices in the garment industry, as well as a compiled list of fair trade clothing and goods retailers. Her response to several people being ill on Monday: “they won’t get away! I will get them next week” Love it!! I can just sit back and enjoy and not feel like “the one” who’s always going on about this stuff.

For me….my lesson from clothes week was simple. It comes from Matthew 6. God used several incidents in the week, particularly at the weekend to confirm to me again, (as he has MANY time before) that he looks after me…so much more than the lilies of the field. He clothes me, feeds me, and provides….not only for me, but for my children. Iona danced on Saturday, dressed in a lily white dress, she joined hands with her classmates as they celebrated the ancient tradition of May Day. My heart was full as I saw her smiling, dancing, and clearly taking pride in what she was doing. When she asked afterwards for a crown of silk flowers and ribbons, it gave me great pleasure to say “YES!!” and it made me even happier when she knew exactly which one she wanted…the gold one with sparkles! The sun didn’t shine, and we were shivering, but we drank tea out of real tea cups, ate cake, and Iona went home happy, having danced and having been and gifted with a crown.

The next day, after proudly wearing her crown to church, and Sunday club, after a play in the park, we were halfway home when we discovered she’d left it behind. In a whirl of frustration we rushed back, had a look for it, and could not find it anywhere. We took her friend home on our way back and I had to console a very very sad little girl. That evening at bedtime, we prayed it would come back to her, and not 20 minutes later, a knock at the door, and her little friend was there with her mother. Her friend had bugged and nagged her mother to take her back to the park so she could look again for Iona’s crown, and they’d eventually found it! I could have adopted that little girl right then and there. I sent her straight up to Iona’s room as I’d just put her to bed. The smile on her face was precious!

More than the pleasure I took out of buying her the crown, (a mere £3), It was even more amazing to see her witness answered prayer. He looks after us Iona….we can trust him.

Iona Maid 2013gold crown iona

 

Saturday Morning’s Mashed up Ramblings on Day 5

Well, we’ve made it to Saturday. I’ve been in touch with several members of the group and everyone’s brain seems to be in a state of learning overload. even those who haven’t even quite begun yet, or have been unable to dip their toes in yet, they have still been thinking about it which is brilliant! Jen Hatmaker included a little “message to leaders” with the teaching DVD’s, and said “It doesn’t matter to me if people are struggling with this or not liking every single thing about it, I’m just excited you’re having the conversation” (the gist of what she said..not exactly) One of them has been sharing in a Facebook group we’re in and I’m going to see if I can copy and paste to here for a guest post! (nice to have a change of voice)

Whenever I’m with people, I find this fasting thing so easy. “How are you finding it?” everyone asks. “Oh not bad really, it’s really kind of fun!!” I say, because in that moment, I’m not feeling it really, because like I said I have NOT been in any way shape or form denying myself food or starving. I’ve not even given up caffeine. However, when I am on my own, oh my goodness, that’s when it gets difficult.

It just so happens this week I’ve been out of the house a lot! I promise it’s total coincidence! Tuesday was my usual date with my friend Beverley. We were at her house this week so the majority of the school day was spent there. Then Wednesday I was out and about doing Doula stuff which is my version of pure fun. Thursday I spent the morning and afternoon with friends, and Friday I spent the morning with two friends who were kind enough to just sit and listen to me ramble about seven, birth hope, doula stuff, and anything else that happened to be rattling around in my mind. I picked up Judah, did the shopping, and came home to a chaotic messy house. I hid behind the computer for a bit (oh media week will be SO HARD) and was just about to start cleaning when another friend came through the front door. Yay! A welcome relief. I did the washing up in front of her (which she’s used to), but then she said “OK, let’s sit down, my feet are killing me”. So then I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with her.

Jon was out Friday night, so after the kids were down, I just felt tired. Even though I had several things to do, the prospect of another evening without a bit of something foodwise felt tiring, and a little sad. I find myself wanting to go to bed at like 9:00-10:00 (that might actually be a healthy thing to do) however with a night owl husband, this does not work very well.

However that’s all the mechanics of things, which we’re not supposed to be focusing on!! Let me reflect on this last week so far and say that all that time spent with people, has felt so meaningful. Every conversation has been worth it. I feel as though this week has set me free in some areas, and that is exactly what I wanted God to do through it.

I have felt closer to my kids this week, more just…in awe of them, and thankful for them, and more grace for them and these odd tender feelings as opposed to the impatient feelings that usually dominate the more stressful parts of the day. I’ve shouted less in the mornings.  I feel like I’ve softened somehow. Sometimes as parents it becomes so much about us and how we’re doing as  parents, and less about them as little people and how they are getting on and how they feel. So maybe God’s had some space to give me more of His perspective on my children, and on those around me.

Worship has been a big part of this week. I’ve felt more sensitive to the music when it’s been on. I’ve felt it’s impact in the space I’m in. I have felt God putting songs in my head and so encouraged and empowered by the words.

This was the song I had in my head yesterday:

http://youtu.be/WGqyi-WpHU4

.

 

Day 3. Cracks showing

Cracks are beginning to show today.

I enjoyed a lovely time visiting clients this morning and had a golden time with my doula mentor this afternoon. All sunny, breezy, and warm.
Then somewhere between picking kids up and the present, I’m no longer feeling warm rays of sunshine (and it’s not even my kid’s fault!!)
I’ve been snappy, sensitive, snarly, and tearful.
After bedtime, I thought I’d curl up and do the actual homework for this week, to see if it would calm me down, comfort me, and make me feel better.
Aside from the first few laughs…Jen Hatmaker told me to go count all the items of food in my house. Ugh. I didn’t want to do anything physical, I just wanted to slouch. I lugged myself up, and started to count tins of beans. Meanwhile my husband randomly started looking for a pen drive of ours that always goes missing. Whenever this happens, I always have this sinking guilty feeling that it’s my fault it’s missing. So while I was counting food, my head was in a mither, because Jon was now up and about on a search mission. (In the end I found his pen drive for him)
Counting my tins and food usually only serves as a reminder of how completely encrusted my cupbords get within days of me cleaning them. I thought I had JUST done this, I’m thinking, as I try and wipe away bits of lentils and pasta and gooey honey from the shelves. Ugh.
It turns out I have roughly 150 items of food in the house. That’s a lot. I recon we could survive a good two weeks on what we have in. It may be very boring food, but we could certainly do it. I’m not sure it’s a practical solution, but I’m going to make an effort to start making a dent in this. But back to my night. I just wanted to go back in curl up on the couch and enjoy the home work.
The Homework was good, however it did not serve as a balm for my poor deprived soul (as if), it was more challenging, convicting, confusing, and hard core.

No warm fuzzies tonight…I miss hot chocolate, and I just want to go sleep.

 

Day 2. Grateful

This isn’t going to be a long post today.

Tonight was life group and afterwards I got to watch the “7” dvd again with two friends who are doing it with me! It was nice to chat about it in real life! It’s so exciting also hearing from the group so far. Here are some of things that are happening:

“we’re cutting out all processed foods this week”
“I’m making a meal plan based on everything I already have in, and researching farmer’s markets and box schemes”
“We’re going to start making healthier choices, and the money we save from not buying junk food, we’re going to do a micro-lend(WOW)
“I’m just going to stick with three simple meals a day…and see what happens!”

I have to admit what excites me more than anything is seeing other people get into this!!

I woke up this morning feeling empty, sad, and a little bit miserable. Not because anything was wrong in my life….but because of this food thing! Then I stuck this on:

watch?v=wPI_DIqICP0

and then Judah started to sing along….and I knew that I had so much to be grateful for, and what’s amazing, is that I didn’t just “know it in my head” I felt it. It came to me like a warm ray of sunshine. This sense of….gratefulness.

Gratefulness is what makes ice cold water taste like the best drink I could ever have. Gratefulness enables me to genuinely stay positive when I’m overcome with a wave of unsettledness that would often find me reaching for food.  I feel genuinely happy when I am grateful, and I feel closer to His heart, which is where I pretty much want to set up camp and stay.

I’m thankful for being able to feel grateful today. It’s that feeling of gratefulness that so often gets dulled..when we take things for granated. It’s one thing to just decide to be more grateful, I could have just done that, but chances are I would have forgotten to five minutes later. Yet for today, this experiment, this fast, has enabled me to really feel it, practice it, and experience the pure joy that comes from feeling grateful!

 

 

 

 

Food Week. Day 1

Today was the day we all met together to do the first proper session of seven. We’ve taken two weeks to ease ourselves into it!

First Hurdle: Drinks! A few people came with their cappuccinos from the coffee shop, a couple of people brought herbal teas, and we even had one person on hot water. You have to love a diverse group. We’re all doing different versions of this…and some of us are not even sure yet if we want to do it at all! which is not only allowed, but encouraged, as we have emphasised from the start..it’s not a template, a program, or a formula. It is certainly challenging though and it’s a conversation that is well worth having! For me, the discussion got my head going today. Hearing everyone’s feedback from the homework was good too as it brought up stuff I needed to be mindful of.

I was able to articulate in my head finally, that this week, I am not fasting from food, I’m fasting from excess. The title of the study contains the phrase “a mutiny against excess” never once does it suggest that food, clothing, possessions, media, and spending are things from which we may want to fast from in themselves…rather….the excess of these things.

I am not going to be going hungry this week. I’m not going to be depriving myself nutritionally this week, and for the record,  I’m not going to be sneaking a vain diet in through the back door and having a peep at my weight at any point this week!

To be perfectly honest…..I know in the last post I said I had some goals…but after today I realize, that I’m actually winging it!  I’ve prayed about it, and I feel happy about the route I’ve chosen to go down. I’ve got my 7 foods….my little “meal plan” but I really have no idea what I’m going to learn, and how. I mean, if I did…there really would be no point in me going about it this way.

I’m also aware that some weeks are going to seem “easy” or I could look at them and think “I don’t think i need to do that week because that’s not a massive issue for me” but my attitude is…why not!!?? It’s only 7 days and it might be fun! I might actually learn something. I’d rather do something, and think “hmmm not sure if I got anything out of that” than not do it and miss out on something I could have experienced or learned.

Also, I want to support my friends. Maybe I won’t struggle on clothes week, but if one of my friends is struggling, I want her to know I’m not alone and I’m doning it with her!!

So day 1 has has not been hugely massive, but as I said, it’s been clarifying, sort of. Fast wise, I have not felt it too badly except a sudden wave of tiredness in the afternoon hit me and I missed my afternoon coffee….milky strong coffee with hazelneut syrup. However, I’d gotten to the point where it didn’t even feel like a treat anymore..it just felt like….something I had to have, which makes me sad really. So instead it was Green Tea. I usually enjoy jasmine green tea after a chinese meal, it makes helps me feel like I’m doing something healthy after devouring spring rolls and sweet and sour sauce. Somehow drinking a cooled down cup at 4:00 PM that I’d made before the school run wasn’t the same thing, but at least I’ve had no headaches!

I had a little bit of a vulnerability hangover between the yesterday’s birth and this morning’s group time…and so I’ve been challenged to take my feelings to God..and not just seek out reassurance from others.

My Lunch this week.

My Lunch this week, Judah helped me finnish the Quinoa, he actually loves the stuff!! I should make it more often for us!

 

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