Monday, 31 March 2014

Plans for this week...




Every summer I take this verse and stick it up on a wall and then plan our boys summer activities around it. As Jesus was growing up, as a human boy, He grew in four ways - in wisdom (intellectually), in stature (physically), in favour with God (spiritually) and with people (socially). This gives a great balance to the boys summers and makes sure we focus on some important parts of their development.

But it's important for me too. So each week I will be making a goal in each of these areas to try to meet. With this thought my plans for this week are :-

Intellectually - write at least 3 blog posts this week & register for the course I want to do in September

Physically - do my two PT sessions & exercise for at least 15 minutes each day (no excuses!!!)

Spiritually - Easter study (GMG) with memory verse - John 13:14-15

Socially - meet 3 friends - one friendship that's old, one that's new, one that's growing... all of which I can talk about things of God and be totally honest with - each one a wonderful blessing xx

I also have my Lent challenge to do over the course of this week. But I want them to spring up from my readings, so I'll have to let you know as I do them!!
What are your plans for this week?
Keep shining xx

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Why Easter Matters...

I hope you had fun looking at the challenges the 40 Acts site are giving us... I have really enjoyed doing them, but I have had a few really busy weeks and I feel as if I have failed because I didn't get to do them on the day they were given out, or post about them when I finally completed them. 

But that's not how we are supposed to feel... And it's not the purpose of  the challenge...

These challenges are given to us to encourage us to get our of our Christian bubbles and start showing the world around us who God is, how much He loves them and what He did for them. Easter is a perfect time for this since we are celebrating not only the fact that He died and took all of our sins on the cross, but the fact that He rose again and is ALIVE!!! 

So I've stopped posting the challenges, and instead I'll be giving myself one or two challenges a week - on a Monday - to try to do in the following week, with the purpose of sharing the Easter story with those in my world. 

Easter is a 'holiday' that I haven't really paid much attention to. I've done the 'giving up something for Lent', held an Easter egg hunt for the kids, rolled hard-boiled eggs down a hill to signify the rolling away of the stone... But I've never really interacted with the actual story in such a way that it has changed my life or the lives of those around me. 

This year I hope to do just that. The 'Good Morning Girls' team have put together a 4-week study to help us to really focus on why Easter actually matters. I am looking forward to really getting my teeth into it and showing those around me why we celebrate a holiday which is so much more than chocolate eggs. If you want to join us, why not have a wee look at their website and find out for yourself. 


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Acts 5-8 : a summary!! :)

Sorry I've missed posting about the last couple of days - I've been a little sick so couldn't get up the energy to :( So even though I may be a couple of days behind, I'm enjoying catching up today! Sorry - this is probably going to be a long one!!! 



Act # 5 - An attitude of gratitude
This thankfully is something that kind of comes with our job. We are missionaries and live by faith - that means that we rely on God prompting His people to help us and support us financially and prayerfully for our ministry to work. We have a fantastic team of people around us who do this every month and we truly thank God for each and every one of them. As well as this, we find ourselves in the very privileged position of being blessed by gifts throughout the year - whether it's a box of Christmas treats, some money that just happens to meet the amount we need for a bill or one of my hubby's flights, or someone who just wants to help us or bless us in a practical way. God is forever meeting our needs - at the exact time we need them met - by the people around us - and even by people we don't even know. It is an amazing and very humbling way to live - and so it helps to make us truly thankful of each and every thing we have. 

Someone once challenged me by asking this question - "But if you are always being handed money in envelopes or having stuff appear out of nowhere, do you not get used to it and begin to expect it, or be annoyed if someone who has been giving you stuff forgets or stops altogether?" At the time I was quite annoyed and thought she had a cheek asking, especially as I didn't know her that well, but when I thought about it I was totally challenged
to review my attitude to make sure I didn't fall into this trap. Since this conversation happened I have been extra careful when we get gifts or money to make sure I am truly thankful because I do appreciate that others have sacrificed in order to obey God's prompting in their lives in order to meet a need in ours. It truly does have an impact every time you receive. 

Another thing I would say is this - we are so careful to make sure that no matter what we get - be it a gift of money, groceries or someone's time - not only are we thankful for it, but we also make sure we tithe and give to someone else. This is the most important part of receiving - knowing that it's not yours but God's and making sure you bless others and give back to Him before anything else. This is honestly how we live, because without Him we can do nothing  :)



Act #6 - Reach
We use this method in work to help people see that there are lots of people unique to their sphere of influence that they can share the gospel with. It's a fantastic tool to find out who you come in contact with on a daily and weekly basis. And it's a great way to see who let's you into their life. I love the way, in the devotional, they mention about who has trusted you with their phone number. There are lots of people I would love to be able to text, but I can't because I don't know them well enough and they haven't given me privilege yet. But I have more than enough people on my phone list that have trusted me with a direct link to their lives. I feel so blessed to know every single person on that list, and especially since I know that the majority of them will pray for me if I text and ask them, or would help me if I need it. All because I have let them into my life, and they have let me into theirs. It's a beautiful thing - doing life together - and I am so very thankful for every one of them. 



Act #7 - Redial
I hate phone calls. I know - I'm weird - but I get very self-conscious on the phone for some reason and I feel awkward and strange. For that reason I love that I can text my best friends and have a great wee conversation over a period of time. But there are some times that a phone call is essential. Like when I rang my Granda to wish him a 'Happy Christmas' or when one of my oldest friends rang me to see how I was and we chatted for an hour! I know I need to get better at calling people so I'm excited about this challenge! Planning on calling someone tomorrow :)




Act #8 - OTT
I love this idea of just going over the top with blessing someone! Personally I love giving to others - it makes me happy :D - and I just wish I had more to give. Don't get me wrong - I love getting too ;) - but there is something so beautiful in being able to bless others - whether it's with a bunch of flowers, a meal when they aren't well or a spa day! Sometimes people need us to go OTT just for them, to pick them up when they feel as if they are having the worst day, week, month or year EVER, or when they have had some devastating news. When we go OTT to show them how much we care about them and how much they mean to us, it can make all the difference. We might feel uncomfortable, especially when they say thanks, but it can make the difference between believing that someone is there for them, and thinking that they are all alone in this world. I'm giving careful thought to who I'm going OTT on.... And since they may well read this I'm not saying a word!! :)

Well in the next day or two I'll be all caught up with the rest of you - so keep shining xx 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Day 4/40 - Connect!

TODAY'S CHALLENGE -  Connect...



This was an interesting challenge for me today. As I thought about my street (pictured above) I thought about how many - or few - people I know on it. I know my neighbours on each side - two lovely couples - and the house that is directly opposite me - a lovely family - and one other lovely family a couple of doors down, because their daughter is in my son's class at school. But that's it. You can see from the photo that there are definitely a lot more than 5 houses there. 

I don't find it easy to talk to people on my doorstep - it's so much easier to chat to someone half way across the world! But I really think that this has to change. These people are people I see walking their dogs, running up the street beside their child as they learn to ride a 2-wheeler, playing in the snow when the street comes to a standstill. 

But there are also the places I frequent in our neighbourhood - the local garage, the corner shop and the chemist - I go in each of these places frequently enough that I should at least know the staff's names, if not more about their lives. We always use the garage at the end of our road for petrol, milk, bread and the occasional Ben & Jerry's ice-cream!! In fact I use it so much that I will by-pass two or three garages on my way home, just to call in there. And yet I can't tell you any of the assistants names. And I know them all! 





And He said to them, "Go into all the world 




and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation"




Mark 16:15

We need to connect much more intentionally, and I think Easter is the perfect time to do that. The people who are on our road, or in our lives need to see. God's love in action but they also need to hear about His amazing plan of salvation. I will be using these next few weeks to think about how to bless these neighbours and friends-by-sight and to think about how to share God's perfect love with them. I knew this would be a fun journey - but I am so thankful that it is also such a challenging one. 
Keep shining xx 


For more information on today's challenge and the devotional to go with it, check out http://www.40acts.org.uk

Friday, 7 March 2014

Day 3/40 - Tool up!!

TODAY'S CHALLENGE - Tool up



Today's challenge is to sit down and think about what gifts and talents God has given us. Not only is this an important thing for us to do to best serve Him in the next 37 days, but in life itself. We can try our hardest to be creative, to serve Him in the same ways as everyone we see or admire, but until we understand our gifts and the unique set of talents God has given us, we will struggle instead of serve. 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, 
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 
1 Peter 4:10

Look at it this way - you want to help in church and you know there is an opportunity for someone to help with the cooking / baking for events and for the church suppers, but where your passion really lies is in creating beautiful spaces and interior designs. You can put yourself forward to help, and you'll probably do a great job - a much needed great job - but if you were to volunteer to decorate the hall you'd find it so much easier, more enjoyable, and it would give you a buzz about serving that baking or cooking just doesn't give. 

I'm not saying that you shouldn't volunteer for the baking /cooking - or for anything that needs help, but how much more fulfilling is it when you actually use your God-given gifts and talents to serve His church, and how much more will you want to take part and contribute? A friend of mine always talks about the square peg - round hole scenario. We want to be round pegs in round holes... or square pegs in square holes... or hexagonal pegs in hexagonal holes!! We need to look at our unique set of gifts and talents and use them for God's work and His glory. 

And the same is true of these challenges - it will mean so much more when you tap into what you love and are good at, what you are passionate about and what you are talented at, and use them to serve others and shine for the King. Your talents are different to mine - but your sphere of influence, your friends and your family are also different to mine. Go figure!!! 

I enjoyed taking the time today to sit and figure out what I am good at and what I love to do. I think the next 37 days are going to be a fun filled adventure. 
Keep shining xx 


For more information on today's challenge and the devotional to go with it, check out http://www.40acts.org.uk

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Day 2/40 - Create a generosity jar

TODAY'S CHALLENGE - Create a generosity jar



I don't know about you, but every week there is some money that I spend that I don't need to. I'm not talking millions of pounds, or hundreds of pounds, or even tens of pounds. They would be noticeable. This money I'm talking about isn't. It's the money spent on that extra chocolate bar or bun with your coffee. It's the money for the coffee itself. Or the money for the daily paper - every single day.

I attended Bible College for 3 years, one day a week. Every Monday I would travel up to the college 40 minutes from our home, and every Monday, without fail, I stopped off at a certain fast food establishment (which shall not be named!!) half way through my journey, and bought myself a cup of take-away coffee. I would use the drive-thru and open the top of the coffee as I drove the rest of my journey. Not only did this cool the coffee down, but it allowed the beautiful smell to waft around the car. I loved that!! 

But realistically that was just over £1 that I spent EVERY Monday. Money I didn't need to spend. I have a travel mug at home so there was no reason that I couldn't have filled it up before I left the house and had the exact same effect. And I admit that most of the time it wasn't just coffee on its own... 

So my challenge to myself this Lent is to watch every penny I spend and if I feel that the purchase is nice but unnecessary (like my beautiful coffee), put the money into the jar instead. I'm also going to set myself two personal challenges. I do a lot of laundry - and I mean A LOT!!! - so for all of Lent, I am going to add £1 to the jar for every load landed (washed, dried, ironed and put away!!) and I am also in the middle of a wonderful weight loss/getting healthy journey, so I will also add in £1 for every pound of weight I lose over Lent. And at the end of the 40 days I'll count it up and decide what to do with it - now that's the really fun part! 


Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17


For me this is about sacrificing our own desires and understanding that we need to be truly content with what we have, not waste money on foolish things that we don't need, while it could be going to someone or something that really needs it instead. What's going inside your generosity jar?
Keep shining xx 


For more information on today's challenge and the devotional to go with it, check out http://www.40acts.org.uk

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Day 1 / 40 - Start a journal

TODAY'S CHALLENGE - Start a journal 




I love writing lists! And I love writing journals! In fact if you look in one of the many cupboards we have in our house you will see three shelves full of pretty, girlie, beautiful journals just waiting to be lovingly written in! So this challenge excites me so much. But as we go through this journey, and as we start to live generously through the period of Lent, I want to focus in on our attitudes as we go - because there is no point in doing this journey without getting your heart involved. So for every day I will be putting up the challenge, and linking to the actual devotional, while jotting down a few thoughts from my own journey here. 

Everyone knows the verse in 2 Corinthians 9 - 

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, 
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 
(verse 7)

But they sometimes miss the following verses, including this one :

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people 
but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 
(verse 12)

We need to give with our hearts - so that people look at us and see God's love - not people who are giving to be seen giving or giving so that they will feel better in themselves. We need to make sure our only motivation is to serve God, meet the needs of His people and bring Him the glory. 

Looking forward to going on this journey with you. 
Keep shining xx 


For more information on today's challenge and the devotional to go with it, check out http://www.40acts.org.uk/the-challenge/start-a-journal/