Friday, 24 August 2012

Let it rain...

We are on holiday this week on the North coast of Northern Ireland. The scenery is breathtaking. The old ruins are fascinating. The beaches are beautiful. The weather... not so much!!
 
Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle for good reason. The lusciousness of our green fields make gorgeous postcards and produce the most beautiful potatoes known to man, but there is a cost involved in all this goodness.
 
Rain.



This may not seem unusual at certain times of the year, but unfortunately here it rains all year round, and this summer has been particularly poor. We had really hoped that it had gotten all the rain out of its system before we headed up to Portstewart, but we were out of luck!
 
Since we arrived we have had rain and sun alternatively, never knowing when its going to change from one to the other. We were disappointed, thinking it was going to ruin our time away, limited as it was, but then we stopped and decided something wonderful!
 
We made the decision to praise God as a family - no matter what happens and no matter the weather! We decided to take whatever sun we are given and speed our way to the beach, and take whatever rain we are given and enjoy relaxing as a family.
 
Yesterday morning as a family we were reading through Psalm 147 and found this in verse 8 -
 
"He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain
and makes the grass grow on the hills"
 
 
What a lovely verse! The Bible constantly amazes me with the poetry and the beautiful meaningful verses that I find there. I know that it is God's Word and that He is the creator of all beautiful things, but still I am amazed and delighted by what I read. God is good. And if He chooses that we have rain this holiday, then we have it for a reason.
 
And we choose to rejoice and be glad, rain or no rain...
Keep shining :)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The book of Acts


My favourite book of the Bible (at the moment) is the book of Acts.

The book of Acts is an amazing book. Not only is it filled with tales of the adventures of the early church, but it is filled with stories of how the Holy Spirit came to encourage, equip and enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things for God. In my opinion it is one of the most exciting books of the Bible and one that we, as Christians living in the 21st Century, can learn from, especially on the topic of evangelism. This book is the story of how a group of believers shared their faith, leading to the spread of early Christianity across the globe. If that isn’t an inspiration and an encouragement to get out there and share, I don’t know what is!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

I wanted to look at several of the methods that these early Christians used to share God’s Word and His message of salvation, and then look at how we can use those same methods in today’s society. Our jobs as Christian women is to share Christ with those around us and reading this book can help us  to find new (or old!) ways to help them to see the sacrifice God gave for them and the amazing plan He has for their lives.

Firstly, we have 1-1 conversations. The book of Acts is full of examples of this, but by far my favourite is the story of Philip and his call to go and talk to the Ethiopian Eunuch.  This story, which is recorded for us in Acts 8:26-40, shows how God gave him an opportunity and instead of being afraid or making excuses he took it and was able to share God’s Word with that soul.

How many times are we given opportunities to share with those around us in a 1-1 setting? Those quiet conversations in the work canteen or over coffee or when you are standing waiting for the kids to get out of school? Times when people have questioned something in the news or something that has happened in their or your life… when it would be the perfect time to tell them about God? But how many times do we obey and take hold of these God-given opportunities and actually open our mouths? I know, for me, this doesn’t happen as often as it should and I know fear is a big thing – fear of being laughed at or rejected, fear of getting muddled or fear of getting it wrong! But God has promised to be with us whatever we do, so that’s not really an excuse any more… is it?!

And then we have the big events – like the Day of Pentecost. Found in Acts 2:1-41 we read an amazing account of the events of that day, where everyone heard the gospel in their own language, and thousands were added to the church. Now I don’t imagine many of us have opportunities to go before large groups of people and share the gospel, but maybe you are in a book club or a craft club or a sports club… you get the picture! God has promised to be with us but He has also promised to do amazing things with His Word when we make the effort to tell people. In Isaiah 55 v 11 He says (in the New Living Translation)

“It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

What an amazing thought – any time we step out of our comfort zone and speak God’s Word into a situation, God will not only be there to help us and honour us for honouring Him, but He will also use His Word to save and restore and to produce fruit! We may not see it, but it will be done!!

So the next time you are reading through the book of Acts, take time to think how you can use their methods to share with your circle of influence and let the Holy Spirit work in your life, helping you to do extraordinary things for God.

Keep shining… J

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Linky links!!

A list of useful sites for marriage advice:


·         Time-Warp Wife - http://www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.co.uk/

·         Women Living Well - http://womenlivingwell.org//

·         Cindy Beall - http://cindybeall.com/

·         Family life - http://www.familylife.com/

·         Marriage Uncensored - http://www.marriageuncensored.com/downloads.php

·         Together in Marriage - http://togetherinmarriage.com/ (written by friends of ours!!)



A list of useful sites for help on living your single life for God:


·         Josh Harris - http://www.joshharris.com/2009/02/ive_been_working_on_putting.php (you just need to scroll down a little for the article!!

·         Girltalk - http://www.girltalkhome.com/

·         Just between us - http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=100499


·         Christian single woman - http://www.christian-single-woman.com/

·         Heart Wing Ministries - http://www.michellehammond.com/Heartwing_Ministries_Home.aspx

Now – I am giving you these as a guide – I’ve read some interesting articles on or about each of them but since I have not read everything on all of these sites, please do pray for a spirit of discernment as you read through them and remember that anything you read (including my blog) must match up with God’s Word or it’s not worth looking twice at!! J

Friday, 10 August 2012

Make each day fun!!! :)

You shall make each day fun…

This is definitely a good one!! After we’ve worked through the other nine disciplines for either maintaining a meaningful marriage or making sure that we are living life to God’s idea of fullness as singles, we need to make sure that each day is fun!

Psalm 118:24 says this –

We have to note the determination in this verse – let us rejoice – it’s a choice that we get the privilege to make each and every morning we are blessed to open our eyes to another beautiful day.

I know that sometimes it’s hard. When you’re kids have been up all night, when you’ve been studying for an exam into the wee small hours or when you have to get up for work earlier than you ever thought was reasonable... but it’s still a blessing and a choice. I love the poem (below) that reminds us that everything we complain about is a blessing in disguise.

We have been blessed with another day to live life to the full for God’s glory. Our purpose for the day has to be to make that choice to rejoice and truly embrace the challenge of doing God’s will and showering Him with the glory.

As Gabby Douglas, US gymnast and Olympic champion said,
‘I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation.
The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.’

Let’s fully embrace each day, making the choice to rejoice and be glad whatever our situation or the mood we wake up in!! What ways can you make today fun for your husband, family, friends and yourself? And how can you bring glory and honour to your Father above in the process?

Let us know what you do!!


And above, keep shining... J


Thursday, 9 August 2012

A few DOs and DON'Ts...

You shall heed a few “don’ts”…

For MARRIED ladies – we’ve got a few Scripture don’ts (and a couple of dos) for you!! So today’s task is to take the time to look them up, and make a note of the things that are advisable for you NOT to do as you seek to have a meaningful and fantastic marriage!

Proverbs 12:4
Proverbs 15:32
Proverbs 19:13
Proverbs 31:11-12

And for SINGLE ladies... a little clip for you to watch that reminds you of a little something special...


Enjoy and keep shining... J

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

It's good to talk...


You shall talk things over…

The all important topic of conversation! If you are MARRIED then I am primarily talking about how you communicate with your husband, and if you are SINGLE then it is focused on anyone that you live or work with - whether that’s family or friends.

So I want you to ask yourself honestly - how do you communicate with your husband/family members? Do you talk in raised tones, shouting your questions at them across the room or across the table? Or do you speak respectfully in quiet, calming tones? Do you use abusive or hard language when you speak to him or do you use loving language? Do you build him up or do you tear him down?

'When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.'
Proverbs 31:26

We need to really think about what kind of message our words, our tone and he volume of our voices send to our husbands and family members. We want to be a help and an encouragement to them, building them up and providing a house that is a haven. And trust me when I tell you that shouting and cursing them (even the ‘nice’ words we Christians use when we don’t want to use bad language!!) is never going to make your home into a haven. Take some time today BEFORE you open your mouth and think and pray about what you are going to say, before it comes out.

The second important thing about this discipline is actually doing the talking! If you are MARRIED it is so important that you learn to make decisions, whether they are small or big, with your husband and not on your own. Trust me when I say that this works!! I am the most gullible person alive and every time I get caught on my doorstep I end up signing up to something or talking to the person for ages before I get the courage to say no! So I have taught myself to run all my decisions past my husband, and it has been the best thing ever. Not only do I pray about things but I also have the wisdom that God has given my husband to help me make that decision. Now I make much less mistakes and I have someone to share the guilt if things go wrong!! J

And if you are SINGLE, then it is so important that you find someone to be accountable to. My advice would be to find some other Christian woman that you find it easy to talk to, and who will you’re your confidences, and then you can talk through things, whether they be work, church, your faith and they can be a sounding board for you. It also helps you to be accountable with respect to your single life, having someone who can pray for you as you go through hard situations, attractions to the wrong people or temptation, especially with respect to sex and purity. As the advert says ‘It’s good to talk!'

Keep shining... J

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Another split discipline!


You shall make sure your husband is number one…

For MARRIED ladies – this can be as tricky as the first discipline we looked at. I have four wonderful children. I say they are wonderful because I am terribly biased and love them all dearly, but sometimes that can actually be a problem. I will be the first person to admit that sometimes I have been known to get so caught up in the boys that I have put them and their needs well above my husband. And then every so often I have to stop and reassess where my priorities are and adjust things accordingly! Or maybe your problem comes not from putting your children first, but maybe it’s your mum - someone you’ve always been close to and who still wants to be a big part of your life – or maybe it’s your job…  As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  (Ephesians 5:31). No matter what the problem is you need to focus today on outing your husband back into his rightful position. God first… and then your husband.

For the SINGLE ladies – OK – so obviously there is no way I can spin this for you guys since you don’t currently have a husband to put as number one!! But what I wanted to challenge you on today was to think about what you have put first in your life at the moment. I am, of course, meaning after God… but what I think would be good for you would be to sit and pray over what takes priority in your life, reflecting on how your spend your time, energy and finances. If you can write out an hour by hour schedule of how you spent the last 24 hours and the last week and see if there is anything on that that is currently taking your focus off God.

Keep shining... J

Monday, 6 August 2012

Submitting... and spiritual gifts

You shall follow your husband’s leadership…

For the MARRIED ladies – For this discipline we need to look back at Ephesians 5:22-24.

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.
He is the Saviour of his body, the church.”

Obviously we are to submit to our husbands, and follow their leadership. But a lot of girls don’t understand what submitting actually means. It isn’t a pressure put on you that means you have to do everything you husband says or desires! It actually is a joy – to give the trust to your husband that he knows what he’s doing and you will follow him to the ends of the earth! So my challenge to you is this – if you have difficulty submitting, or the idea is a new one, or even if this is something you do every day, choose one little area today that you can choose to follow your husband’s leadership, and tell him what you are doing. And after you get used to submitting to him in the little things you’ll be able to move onto the life changing big decisions and show him that you trust him in those too… although it might take more than day to do that!

For the SINGLE ladies – I want to look at who you need to submit to… your Lord and Saviour. So in keeping with our previous challenges, we’re going to look a bit closer at who we are in Christ and continue in the journey to finding out what He wants us to do. We’ve had a look at what you are good at, and how you can use it to help others and glorify God, and we’ve spent time in prayer asking God to guide you, so now we’re going to work out what our spiritual gifts are. There are a couple of tests that you can do online which are great at helping you to identify your spiritual gifts.

The one I tried out is the first one on the list, but I've included another couple that can also be used.
To give you an idea - and this will make much more sense if you know me (!!) my top five came out as HOSPITALITY, FAITH, ENCOURAGEMENT, CRAFTMANSHIP AND WRITING. I think that's quite accurate!!

So my challenge is this – when you have half an hour or so, take one of the tests and find out what they suggest are your spiritual gifts. Now remember, this is a human test to find a spiritual gift, so it may be wrong!! But when I did it, the results fitted me perfectly and just helped me to identify where my strengths lie. So have a go and let us know how you get on!!

Keep shining... J

Friday, 3 August 2012

A servant? Seriously?

You shall be a servant…


“…Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
1 Peter 4:11

My husband recently went to one of the Mighty Men conferences run by Angus Buchan – the farmer featured in the ‘Faith like Potatoes’ book and film. The conference was fantastic (according to my hubby) and one of the subjects Angus touched on was getting back to our Biblical roles and letting men be men and women be women. I have listened to the final talk online – I don’t want to listen to the ones for men only – they were for my hubby and I don’t want to start nip-picking at him because of something I heard!! – and he is a great speaker.  If you want to listen it’s the Sunday morning session and can be found HERE.

But it made me think. In our house we are quite traditional. I do the cooking, cleaning and all the laundry, while my husband does anything out-door, and takes care of all the important legal and financial things. The only exception is that my husband does most of the vacuuming in our house – when I was pregnant with my eldest son, a wonderful midwife told him that I shouldn’t be vacuuming as it was bad for my back!

It may not suit a lot of women, especially in today’s society where women are told they can have it all and for some the thought of being at home and doing cooking and cleaning makes them shudder, but I love it. I love the fact that I am there to care for my husband in this way. Not as a servant, but as a helper, enabling him to do what God has called him to do more easily and more freely.

For the MARRIED ladies – my challenge to you is to ask your husbands for the top three things that they need you to do for them to make their lives easier and then work them into your daily routine. You may be surprised at the answers!!

For the SINGLE ladies – yesterday I asked you to think of three things you are very good at. Today’s challenge is to think about whose life you could make easier by helping them in that way. And then go do!! J


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Learning more about ourselves and our mates...

You shall study your mate…

For the MARRIED ladies – How well do you know your husband? I remember when my husband and I were dating I knew him SO well – I knew what his favourite meal was, what dress he liked me to wear most, what colour his eyes are… everything. And now? Now I’m not so good!! I know his eyes are blue, only because all the boys are gutted that they got green eyes like their mum and not blue like their boys! But some little things have fallen by the wayside and I definitely don’t spend as much time as I used to learning what I can about him. Romans 12:10 says Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.” So my challenge to you is this. Think about three unique things that you love about your husband. Then find a way to show him how much you praise, honour and respect him with respect to your list.

For the SINGLE ladies – if you are engaged then you can read either post today!! Just read them both and pick which challenge is going to be harder for you to do – yep harder – we want to challenge you to better things not give you things that are too easy and don’t require any effort!!

And for those of you who aren’t engaged, it is my opinion that you can’t truly spend the time to get to know anyone else or study anyone else, when you haven’t taken the time to get to know yourself. The other day we looked a bit about finding out what God’s will is for your life. Today’s challenge works alongside that. God has given each one of us a unique set of talents and gifts. As Romans 12:6 reminds us "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us..." I want you to write down three things that you can do very well – this could be something like baking / cooking / sewing / making something / designing something / some computer skills – it can be anything – as long as you do it well. Just think about them and write them down – you’ll be doing something with them soon enough!! J

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Knowing our roles...

You shall know your roles…
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24

For the MARRIED ladies - For this discipline we want to take a look at back at one of the first posts, God’s Four Words for Wives. In this we looked at the four roles that we have as wives and thought a little about each one. If you remember we were to help, follow, respect and love our husbands. So my challenge to you is this – take some time and think about one way that you can show each of the above ‘words’ to your husband… and then do it!! We’d love to hear your ideas, so please do share them with us!! J

For the SINGLE ladies – what is your role as a single lady? When we looked at whether being single was a blessing or a curse, we talked about how our main role in singleness, as in life, is to bring God glory in everything that we do, and especially in how we live our lives to the full in the centre of God’s will. So my challenge to you is this – take some time today to really think about what God’s will for your life is. If you don’t know what it is yet – then ask Him! Spend some time in prayer and study asking Him to reveal it to you and to help you to work out what you need to do or where you need to go to be right in the centre of His will for your life.