Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

Tag: Ann Voskamp

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

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
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
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
and LOVE
and PRAY
and REST
and LIVE!

Advent Day 2

Day 2 of Advent.

Iona has enjoyed her Jaquline Lawson Advent Calendar so far, a present from Granny. It’s a  sort of interactive Downton Abbey (Pre WW1) does Christmas with a bit of an upstairs downstairs theme.

Mondays are actually great days for me because I love my Monday Morning Bible Study group. I love doing the studies, but I also take huge delight in seeing other people enjoying them too. I have to admit though, it’s a group that touches on my insecurities and vulnerabilities still. I cringe every time I hear my phone go off on a Monday morning…usually someone texting me to tell me they won’t be there. In my head I can totally get that people have legitimate reasons for not being there…but there is this little voice inside me that says  “they are rejecting you….you are not good enough for them” even though I do my best to make the group not about me by including as many people who are willing in it’s leadership and deflecting as much of the actual teaching as I can….paving the way for others to take it over should anything happen to me. Yet despite all this….there is something raw that get’s prodded every Monday morning. There have been times I’ve set out the tables and chairs in total despair wondering why I bother…but always…by the end of it….I’m lifted somehow..and it’s nothing to do with how many people turn up. I wish I had a more creative way of just stating the obvious…God’s word is powerful, and it lifts me out of my self, and puts my mind straight and adjusts my wonky self centred perspective.

Ann Voskamp writes today about creation….about the hugeness of God….and His love. She challenges us to show love today by making something for someone, and identifying people who are hard to love.

So tonight I made the cupcakes for Iona’s 7th Birthday party on Sunday. I’ll put them in the freezer and frost them at the weekend.

Who’s hard to love? Just today I feel slightly tested in this area. It’s easy to say we love people, but it’s a lot harder to show it, especially when we don’t feel it. Christmas is about Love….and love that was undeserved, not based on anything we did. This is hard for me to swallow.
It’s a pleasure to make cup cakes for my precious gorgeous daughter’s party….but do I feel like being kind to someone who’s deceived me and lied to me? Ugh.

More Love needed already…and it’s only day 2!!



Starting Advent

Advent is here. I’m already feeling tired, and drained.  I remember growing up only hearing the word “advent” in relation to our advent calendar. I had the old kind with the little pictures, and I used to love it.

And so it begins. We’ve been looking at the Advent Conspiracy in life group, which is good food for thought. The themes of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All all seem to be resonating with people. Interestingly one of the charities being promoted through the Advent Conspiracy is one that brings clean water to impoverished underdeveloped villages around the world.  So it felt very fitting that many of us woke up today to no water! There was a damaged water pipe on our estate so that of course made leaving the house interesting.

I’ve also decided to do read Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” which takes a look at the genealogy of Christ. Today she talked about the Root Of Jesse…Jesus as the tender shoot that sprung up out of a stump of a tree long chopped down. In what way do I feel like a chopped down tree? Well, I suppose I and been looking forward to a birth this Christmas, due the 25th of December actually, and I am no longer. It’s for reasons entirely out of my hands and I am thankful for this baby’s safe arrival and health of the mother, but from the standpoint of my role, of my job, of this “calling” to be a doula, I feel slightly winded. I don’t know what God has in store in the new year for me and this job. Right now it does feel very tender, very vulnerable, and that it could go either way.

It’s the 1st of December, and I’m already tired. Ann talks about Jesus as being this gift to us….this is one gift I truly do need.

Christmas Presents: 
For me: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
For one of my darling Nieces: Pj’s from Tiny Ted and Farmyard Friends, a local shop run by a lovely friend of mine, selling quality ethical, fair trade, organic, British, etc children’s clothing.


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