Friday, 30 May 2014

Living a life of love... with Ruth

For the next instalment of 'Living a life of love...' I thought we would go back a couple of years, well slightly more!! and take a look at one of the examples from the Bible of a woman who went over and above in living a life of love exactly where she was placed. Let me introduce... Ruth :)




Introductions...

Ruth was a Moabitess - someone who lived in the land of Moab. (Ruth 1:4). She has her own book in the Old Testament, in between Judges and 1 Samuel. The reason we are introduced to her is that she married Mahlon, Naomi's son, (Ruth 4:10) and was living with him in Moab before he died and she ended up moving to Bethlehem. 


How did she end up living there? 

Naomi and her husband Elimilech had taken their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. During the years they lived there, tradegy struck when Elimilech passed away and Naomi was left alone with her sons. Both sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but unfortunately, about ten years later, both of the men were killed. Naomi was heart-broken and when she heard that the famine was over she decided to go back to her homeland. 

As was tradition, both of her widowed daughter-in-laws went with her, until she stopped and told them to do back to their own families, back to their own gods and back to their own lives. Orpah left. Ruth didn't. 

She spoke the famous words as she pleaded to stay with Naomi...

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. 
Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. 
Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 
Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. 
May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 
Ruth 1:16, 17


And so she found herself living in Bethlehem, the hometown of her late husband, with her mother-in-law. 


What are some of the cultural differences she had to adjust to?

The Moabites were related to the Israelites in that they descended from Moab, the son of Lots incestuous relations with his daughter after they fled the destruction of Solomon - (wow I didn't know that - it's amazing what you can find out when you read into the backgrounds of stories) - so they all had a common ancestor - Terah - Abraham and Haran's father. 

But through the generations they had lived very different lives. Israel obviously worshipped God. But the Moabites worshipped many different gods and goddesses, one in particular being Chemosh. The worship of these gods often included things like human sacrifice and they even sent their daughters out to try to tempt the Israelite men into joining their idolatry. 

So life was very different. In order for Ruth to leave this behind her, she had to convert to Judaism and trust in and believe in a God of love, mercy and justice who was alive, rather than the dead gods she was used to. 

The standard of living may have been very different as well. After all in Moab she had has her husband to look after her and it was known to be a possessions-rich trading society, where now she was going to Bethlehem with Naomi, with no men to fend for them and to put themselves at the mercy of Naomi's family. Who knows how that was going to turn out.


How do she live a life of love where she was? 

She started at home - by loving Naomi. When given the choice to leave her and return to her mothers home, she clings to Naomi, a sign that her decision to stay was born of love and that she really was serious about it, not just rebelling and trying to be contrary to Naomi's wishes. 

Naomi had a very different relationship to her daughters-in-law than a lot of women of that time. We can tell this because in a time where ordinarily the widowed mother would want the two girls to stay and look after her, she wished them kindness, and wished them 'rest in the house of a new husband' (Ruth 1:8-9). She genuinely cared more for them than for herself and loved them like daughters. 

So Ruth took this to heart and instead of leaving, as Orpah did, to return home, she pledged her alliance to Naomi and to The Lord God Jehovah and committed herself to staying with her.

Later in the story we also see her gathering grain for both of them and looking after Naomi, so much so that others noticed and talked about it (Ruth 2:11). They had such a good relationship that she trusted Naomi enough to do whatever she asked, without questioning why (Ruth 3:5) and in the end the women of Bethlehem rejoiced with Naomi, telling them that Ruth was indeed worth more than seven sons (Ruth 4:15)!! 


How can we use her story as inspiration... 

I love this story because it reminds us how important our family relationships are - not only to us but also to everyone around us. Ruth's actions not only impacted Naomi, but the people of the town, Boaz and for generations to come - especially exciting since her son was King David's grandfather! 

I know so many people who don't have this sort of relationship with their mother-in-law and who in fact hate the sight of her or groan and moan if they hear she's coming for a visit. And then I read this story and think why can they not see the impact they could make... 

I know that I am extremely blessed in my mother-in-law - she is a wonderful godly woman who would do anything for you and has a heart of gold. She is like a second mum to me and I know how special that is, especially in today's climate where mothers don't really like to let go of their wee sons, and who have trouble thinking any girl could possibly be good enough for their boys! But my MIL is wonderful and I love spending time with her. She is the other person I go to (second only to my mum) when I need advice and help and she truly sees and treats each of her daughters-in-law as if we were her own daughters. We still have to work at the relationship, as good as it is, but even if I disagree with her, I always remember that she brought up my husband to be the man I fell in love with, so I owe her a debt of gratitude and a lot of respect. 

I thank God a lot for the beautiful story of Ruth and for the impact it has had on my relationship with Alice - and I pray it will have the same effect when my boys grow up and find wives too. 




A few reflective questions... 

• How is your relationship with your mother-in-law (if you have one)? Does it impact everyone around you in a positive or negative way? 

• And if you don't have one yet, how do you think this will impact you as you first meet your boyfriend's parents? Or how does it impact the different relationships you have with the older women in church/work? 

Another wonderful missionary story to share next week! 
Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Quiet time examples...

So to finish off looking at our G in GROWTH - getting to know God by reading the Bible - we are going to look at a couple of examples using the SOAP and WORD methods. They are interchangeable and both are easy enough to learn. 




So we'll start with the SOAP.
For this example we are going to look at a passage in Colossians 3. 

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SOAP - Colossians 3:15-17
(I would read the whole section - which I'm this case is Colossians 3:12-17 - before I focus on the verses for today) 

S - SCRIPTURE
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)

O/A - OBSERVATIONS / APPLICATIONS
I noticed something about today's verses that I had never noticed before. I love this passage and I seem to have read it a lot, but I love it when you can read something well known and God brings something new to your mind. The end of verse 17 read like this is the Message -

"Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."

I have to say I NEVER noticed the 'thanking God every step of the way' bit before. That's the beauty of looking at lots of different translations and versions as we do these verses! But not only that - in these three verses alone we are told to be thankful three times! It is something that I take for granted - saying a quick grace before our food or thanking God for answered prayer - in extreme situations or specific problems. But I am nowhere near thankful enough when I consider where God has brought me to and what He has saved me from. 

We are to be thankful when we have the peace that comes from working together and being unified in our faith. We are to be thankful when we help each other along in our faith, working together to lift each other up instead of the worlds view of knocking each other out of the way. And we are to thank God every step of the way as we do everything to His Glory - whether its speaking to a room full of women, washing a sink full of dishes or changing a crying baby's nappy for the tenth time that morning. 

Such a lot of reasons to be thankful and no excuses not to do it!! 

P - PRAYER
Heavenly Father, we thank you for everything You have given us and for everything You have done for us. We take You for granted so much, and even though we know we need to do everything for Your glory, we forget the basic necessity of taking time out to thank You properly and constantly. We are so ungrateful sometimes Lord, asking, expecting You to come through for us, wanting peace, love, wisdom, things... And yet never thanking You for the basic things You give us, never mind the amazing and wonderful gifts You give us each day, thank You Lord. Help me to be more thankful today and really work on having a heart full of gratitude. Amen xx

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So this was an example of a passage we looked at in one of the GMG studies. I am a bit of a waffler - just in case you hadn't guessed that from my posts!! - so you don't need to write that much, and I tend to think as I write so that's why I mixed my observations and applications instead of separating them. 

And here's an example of a passage using the WORD method.

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Passage read - Psalm 63

W - WORD 
"You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy."
Psalms 63:5 NLT

O - OBSERVE 
God is much more satisfying than anything - even the best food or east ever. We need to sing songs of praise to Him. 

R - REFLECT
I have a problem with food. I love eating and I love food, but I don't often get to sit back and feel satisfied with what I eat -  too often it's either been shoved in quickly and not savoured or I have been a glutton and eaten far too much and ended up feeling so full I feel ill. 

So to me this verse makes me very emotional. It speaks to me of a God who can take my battle with food and turn it upside down; a God who can satisfy me and make me feel complete and 'full' without the guilt or shame that usually accompanies my eating - especially since so much of it is hidden from earthly eyes; a God who cares enough about me and my eating disorder (I'm an emotional overeater - and believe me it's definitely an disorder) that He placed this verse in his Word to finally get through my thick skull that He cares and loves me and wants me to be more than the 42.5% fat that I am. {Tears are flowing!}

Aw girls - this is an amazing verse - I just had a 'WOW' moment and I am overwhelmed by God's love. 

'I will praise you with songs of joy' - Oh Lord I praise Your wonderful name and thank You for this verse. May my heart swell with praise and songs of joy over the next weeks and months as you help me turn this journey around to something that can truly glorify Your name.

D - DO
The challenge is to remember this verse and to really use it when faced with emotional situations and the longing to binge eat occurs. I am going to type it our (all fancy!!!) and print it out to put in my kitchen - on the cupboard that houses the treats. I need to actively call it to memory and let it remind me to pray and let God take control and to worship Him knowing He is my satisfaction - not food. 

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I hope that this has given you an idea of what you can do to make your quiet time a truly amazing time between you and God, where you can really learn what he wants you to learn and what He wants to reveal to you. Warning - it can be an emotional roller coaster but it's definitely worth every minute spent in His presence :) 
Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Reading the Bible

Following on from our look at the G in GROWTH we are going to have a wee look at some different bible study / quiet time methods. It's such an important part of your day, so it's worth finding out which method works for you. 

The first method I ever used to do my quiet time was using a devotional guide, such as the 'Word for today' books or 'Daily Bread' books. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with using these, as long as you remember that the words in the devotional (just like the words in all of my blog posts) are someone's opinion or someone's story, used to make a point. It's the way most devotionals and blogs are written - we use stories from our lives to point you towards God. 

But when you want to really get to know God, this isn't the best method to use. What you want to do is get straight into the Bible for yourself, using one of the following methods, allowing God to talk straight into your life. I want to highlight three methods which really are just you and God, intimately conversing. All you need for each of these is your Bible, a notebook and pen, and time to spend with God. 





SOAP
This is the method adopted by all the Good Morning Girls programmes. It works like this -

S - SCRIPTURE - write out the Scripture you are looking at into your notebook

O - OBSERVATIONS - write out 1 or 2 observations from the passage/verses

A - APPLICATIONS - write out 1 or 2 ways you can apply this to your life 

P - PRAYER - write out a prayer


WORD 
This one is quite similar -

W - WORD - write out the passage / verses that you are looking at

O - OBSERVE - write down a couple of observations

R - REFLECT - take time to reflect and write down what it means to your life

D - DO - what practical steps are you going to take to put it into practice


With both of these methods you can work through entire books with just the Spirit of God guiding you and I can tell you from experience that it can really change your life. There is something amazing about just spending time with God, leaning on Him and not relying on anyone else's study guide or questions or devotional. 





The final method I wanted to highlight is the Precepts / Inductive method. This is where the colouring pencils come in and it's great fun as well as being a great study tool. This is something you can do on your own, but it's probably advisable to work your way through at least one of the guided studies first to really get into the way of it. 

It works by helping to focus on the passage and the words used. For example, you might read the passage and mark (colour in!!!) all the references to travel in one colour, and all the references to who is speaking in another, and the references to a key word - like faith or love - in yet another colour. It makes you think about the way the passages were written and different things you can so easily miss when you read through it quickly. You learn to cross-reference it with different passages throughout the whole Bible, and learn how to get the context as well as the bigger meaning of the verses. 

I really enjoy this method and use it in between the GMG studies, but I'm not accomplished enough yet to do it without the guide! But I have plenty of friends who can do this by themselves because they've done so many of these type of studies. It really does give you a more in depth study and so it can be good to mix and match between it and the SOAP/WORD study. 

Whichever study method you use, you need to make sure that you surround your time in prayer. On of my favourite things to pray at the start of my time with God is that He will quiet my heart and my mind - I'm a mother so it's always running around in twenty different directions!!! - and that He will reveal His truths and His will to me. And I love to pray this scripture - 

"Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions."
Psalms 119:18

And then I always try to end with a time of prayer, asking God to help me remember what I have read and implant anything that He has shown me. This is a hard bit , because it can be so easy to read, tick it off and then promptly forget every word of it. We need to make a conscious effort to remember it, to think about it during the day and truly understand why we are told to...

"... delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night."
Psalms 1:2

Just in case you are wondering exactly how these work out in practice, I'm going to post a couple of examples tomorrow using the SOAP/WORD methods. 
Until then, keep shining xx 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

GROWTH - G

Looking at the next on our series about growing (based on Luke 2:52), we are starting to go through the GROWTH steps. So we're stating with G...

G - Getting to know God by reading the Bible

As we know the Bible is a big book made up of lots of little books. It's quite an amazing selection of writings, even from a purely literary point of view, but when you consider that each and every word of it has been inspired by the same Spirit of God, is incredible. 

And I love this - it really says it all!!




The Bible's author - God - really is present every single time we open it up and read even just a verse. It's alive. It's full of power. And it is the one way we can truly learn about our Heavenly Father. 

The G of our GROWTH is all about communication. If you want to get to know a new friend you listen to them, and by listening you will learn the different parts of their character and what they are like. 

The same is true for our relationship with God. We need to listen to Him and to learn what his character is like. But how can we do that? Simple! We read the book He wrote and let His Spirit talk to us through it. 




One of my favourite programmes at the minute is House. It's a series about a doctor (played by the wonderful Hugh Laurie) who is head of the diagnostic department of a top hospital. House and his team have to find out what is wrong with their patients by asking them questions, finding out about their lives and about what they have been doing over the previous weeks and months. In one episode they were treating an author who was ill but who wasn't cooperating. So instead of asking her they read her latest book, and lo-and-behold the main character had the exact symptoms, and more, that the author had been experiencing. They were able to solve the mystery by reading her book. 

We are never going to be able to solve the mysteries of God - and that's a good thing because our human minds couldn't take in the complexities of a God who can create us as fearfully and wonderfully made as we are. But what we can do is read his Words and learn more about Him - about His character, His actions, His plans and His love for us. We learn about His character by reading about His past dealings with His people over the generations. We learn about His plans by reading what He does and how He works out everything for His glory. And we learn about His love by reading about His almighty rescue plan for sinful humanity. 

And not only that, but every time we open it God is there, talking to us, guiding us with His Spirit, giving us answers and pointers of how we need to live our lives for Him. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says this -

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true 
and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when 
we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to 
prepare and equip his people to do every good work."

The Word of God is alive and we can learn so much from it. If we want to get to know our Father, we need to be spending time every single day, reading His Word.  So how do we do that? This week we'll be looking at some different ways to do your quiet time, and how to get the most out of your daily times with God. 

After all, this is such a privilege for us - to get to spend time with the creator of the universe, where He is revealing himself to little old me... So I want to make sure I'm giving Him my full attention and not just doing it to tick it off on my 'to-do' list. 

Come back tomorrow to find out what SOAP, WORD and colouring pencils have to do with Bible study! And in the meantime, keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I stand amazed...



"I see the stars that You have made
I know You call them each by name
To think Father God who heaven displays
Is thinking of me in intimate ways

I stand amazed in all of your glory 
That you would die for me, I stand amazed
I stand amazed in all of your glory 
True love's sweetest story, I stand amazed

I see the nails piercing Your skin
My wicked heart driving them in
I see the spear piercing Your side
And I see the lamb for me crucified

I stand amazed in all of your glory 
That you would die for me, I stand amazed
I stand amazed in all of your glory 
True love's sweetest story, I stand amazed"


This is a song that I have loved for over 10 years now after hearing a visiting choir sing it at church one evening. The melody is beautiful and the words are amazing. Each time I hear it it cuts straight through my heart, reminding me not only of how amazing our God is, and how much He loves us, but of what He did to show that love and what He suffered... for me...

I get chills and I get physically choked up when I sing it. Most times I can't finish it - especially when I'm on my own. It's when you find songs like this that worshipping through music really comes alive. 
Keep shining xx 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Growing ...




As part of my Monday series based on Luke 2:52, I wanted to think a bit about the whole process of growing. 

In this verse we are told that Jesus grew in four ways -
• in wisdom 
• in stature
• in favour with God
• and with men

I like to think of my life with respect to these four areas and check if I'm growing, standing still or falling backwards. All of them are important. Let me explain why. 




If you aren't growing in wisdom, and stretching and using the brain God gave you, you can become too much of a follower, letting everyone else make the decisions you should be making, content to follow the crowd and losing the trust in our ability to make decisions on our own. I know that seems extreme, but at times I've not done anything to stretch my intellect I've found myself in that very position. It's not good. 





Likewise if we aren't growing in stature - and for this I take it to mean in body, health and anything physical - we end up exactly where I am right now - overweight and extremely unfit.  And yet it takes so little effort to prepare the right food, do a little exercise and look after ourselves, boosting our self-confidence, our self-esteem and being able to live the life God created us for. Realistically it is nearly impossible to live a radically obedient life for God when we can hardly get off the sofa, never mind walk to the end of the street. Thankfully my journey has started already, but more about that on a later date! 





And then we have the last two. I want to skip right to the last one first. If you aren't growing in favour of men - socially - then your life will end up being very lonely and very hard. People are created for relationships. We feel, we love, we may hate, we laugh, we cry, we dream, we plan, we succeed, we may even fail ... But all of those things are so much better when we do them with others. Think back to all the wonderful memories in your life. How many of them involved other people? Whether it was the birth of your daughter, a wedding you went to (or your own), a glass of bubbly in your favourite Italian restaurant, being caught up and immersed in a worship song in church, that bag or shoes you found for less than half price (and yes shoes can be that important!!)... They all involve other people - friends, family, loved ones, and even strangers... Community breeds confidence, love and the ability to step out knowing you have people who have your back. 




But the most important one of all is the third one - growing in God. Our spiritual life is probably the one area where it's possible to stop growing, and even fall backward, and not even notice. We can be going to church every Sunday with a smile on our face, or not going at all because your fed up trying to look as happy as you're supposed to feel, reading, praying and going through the motions... But that's all it is. It's not exciting you as it once did. It's not making a difference to any part of your life. It's become something you do so you can mark it off your 'to-do' list... And as we start to slide down the slippery slope you can so easily convince yourself that you are doing ok, that you are still believing and anyway, God keeps us not the other way round... Right?? 

Taking time out to make sure we're growing is so important, and none more than in our spiritual life. If it's not going right, nothing else will either. It is through God that we succeed and achieve His plans and will for our lives, but until we get our relationship right with Him we can't live the life He has for us.

So every Monday for the next couple of weeks we're going to look at a couple of ways to grow in Christ and make sure our spiritual life is on track. It follows this plan :

G - get to know Him by reading the Bible
R - responding to God in prayer
O - obeying God moment by moment
W - walking in the power of the Holy Spirit
T - telling others out Christ
H - having fellowship with other Christians 

This acronym comes from 'STEPS TO CHRISTIAN MATURITY' by Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Cru ('Campus Crusade for Christ' as was). I'll be taking you through each one with some application questions so that you, and I, can really take a challenging look at our spiritual growth and our relationship with God. 

How do you evaluate how you are doing in the different areas of your life? Do you do it often enough or just when something goes wrong and you forced to stop and think? 
Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Eat, Pray, Love

One of my favourite books from the last few years is a book called 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know this isn't a very Christian novel and it certainly deals with lots of big issues but I loved the film with Julia Roberts, and when I got the book I loved that I could identify with the main character in so many ways. 

Before you all go saying a prayer for my marriage and children (although all prayers are gratefully received), it was more about her personality and her desire to discover things about herself and go on adventures I loved, as well as a few quotes that made me cringe with self-discovery. Although I would LOVE to go and spend a couple of months living in Italy, I know that I can have just as many adventures and 'a-ha' moments right here with my hubby and children around me! And of course, if she'd just trusted God at the very start we wouldn't have had the film at all... :) 

So, since I love the book so much, I thought I'd borrow it's title for my weekend posts, highlighting a couple of things that make me 'me'. I want to bring you into my life, right into the messy centre of everything, and tell you about something wonderful I've EATen this week, a PRAYer that has been answered, and something that I just LOVEd :)

So to start things off, here is this weekend's offering...


EAT




Even though I am trying to eat a more healthy clean diet, nothing beats the treat we had on Monday. My mum and my sisters went out for afternoon tea in a very fancy hotel in the centre of Belfast, for my youngest sister's 30th birthday. The food was amazing, and the fact that it was accompanied by the laughter and fun of family getting together made it even more special. Have a look at these treats!!! Definitely not on the diet list!!! :) 





PRAY

I had a very big prayer at the start of this week, which God has answered in a wonderful way. I know it can be hard to see this sometimes, but this was a great chance to see Him at work. 




This week, on Tuesday and Thursday, I started as a volunteer classroom assistant in the school my sons go to. I was extremely nervous - it's been a long time since I did anything outside of meeting women for coffee and encouraging them in their walk with God - and this was totally different as I was to be in with a class of 26 children, a classroom assistant and a teacher that two of my sons had for P2!! 

I was scared that I'd make a fool of myself and not be able to carry out the simple tasks I knew I could usually do blindfolded. I worried that I'd be a nuisance and not a help. I worried that I'd do something very wrong and that they wouldn't want me back. And I need to come back to do my placement year when I start my course in September!! 

But God answered my prayer in a very real way. Firstly, for these first couple of weeks,o I am shadowing the classroom assistant who works in the class - and she is a wonderfully kind and chatty woman who makes me feel so at ease. Secondly, I've had lots of company at break-time and lunch-time and haven't felt out of place once. And thirdly, the teacher, has made me feel very welcome, and I have loved meeting all of the children in the class and getting to know them. I'm sure I'll make some mistakes between now and June which will make me cringe with embarrassment, but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be right now and I thank God forgiving me such a wonderful first week and a great school to go into. 


LOVE


At the end of last week my youngest sister turned 30 and we got the surprise of our lives - my second sister travelled all the way from Australia to be here for her special weekend!! Kathryn has been living outside Melbourne for a couple of years now, and was in Perth before that, so it's great to see her and to have the family back together again like the good old days!! 



We laughed, giggled like school girls and reminisced about camping trips, cars with broken heating systems and lots of other wonderful memories. We talked about serious issues, we talked about God and we talked about our individual families. And we will probably cry when she heads home today... 

I don't know when the next time I get to see her will be... whether it will be another happy occasion or something a lot sadder... But I know one thing for sure - I loved having her here and I wish she lived a lot closer. Thank goodness for Skype, FaceTime and Facebook - they make catching up and staying in contact a lot easier than a snail-mail letter. 

So thats my Eat, Pray, Love for this week. I hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into my weird and whacky life... What did you enjoy this week? 
Keep shining xx  

Friday, 16 May 2014

Living a life of love... in Malta :)

Today we have a real treat for you!! Last week we started a new series on the blog featuring women who exemplify the idea of 'living a life of love' in various circumstances.

I would like to introduce you to a wonderful woman of God who lives in Malta, and who I have had the privilege to spend time with, albeit 11 years ago now!! I'll let her introduce herself and tell you a bit about her family...




Hi! My name is Robin Pinkston and I'm 41 years old.  My husband Earl and I have been married 17 years.  We have three children- Kathryn is 13, Thomas is 10, and Nathan is 6. We have served in Malta with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Church (USA) since 1998.

How did you feel called to work here?
Earl and I both go back to times in our lives before we met each other to speak about our call to international missions, but our call to Malta was also very clear.  We had a list of several things we felt interested in doing but we went to the interview week end with our company with open hearts ready to go wherever God sent us.  The minute someone began to describe the job opening in Malta, we were amazed at how clearly it fit us. It seemed like they were saying, "Earl and Robin Pinkston, come forward!"

What are the biggest cultural differences you've had to adjust to?
I'd say TRAFFIC and the stores being closed in the afternoons and after 7:00 pm are two things that after fifteen years can still manage to annoy me.
 :-D

How do you live a life of love where you are? 
My role is primarily of wife and mother and then I also lead out in the areas of children and women's work as well as prayer advocacy.  Mainly I'm just trying to be as whole and complete in Jesus as I can be, as that will make me more like Him and THAT will make me most effective in all those areas!

How can we pray for you? 
Please do pray that I (Robin) will be whole and complete in Him and grow more like Him each day, remembering that His mercies are new every morning when I inevitably fail! :-D  Also lift up the Women's ministry in Malta in particular and ask that our upcoming Evangelical Women's Retreat on July 4th and 5th will be well-attended and very significant.  




Thank you so much Robin for being the first of our special guests, and we will definitely be praying for you over the next weeks and months as you prepare for and during your ladies retreat. Thank you for being so faithful to God's call In your lives and for being such an example and inspiration to the rest of us as we seek to shine for Him. You rock!!! :) 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Words.....




“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”.
 Puddleglum, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis


Saturday, 3 May 2014

May challenges

As you all know by now, I am a great list maker so I decided to make life more difficult for myself - as you do - I would set myself a challenge or two to complete each month. So my challenges in May are these -


• Money matters - no unnecessary spending at all this month.





"Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, 
and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 
So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content."
1 Timothy 6:6-8

Considering My husband does the main weekly shops, that should mean no spending by me at all. I am not bad with money - in fact I can tell you to the penny what we have spent and where, but I do sometimes buy things that I think we desperately need but we really can survive without. An example of this would be the lovely bread maker that my hubby bought me for my birthday 3 years ago, because I was convinced I would love to make our own bread each day. I haven't been able to make an edible loaf yet!!! No more!! If we can do without it for a whole month, we can probably do without it forever! 


• Move more - do at least 15 minutes of exercise each day.




"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? 
So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. 
They do it to win a prize that will fade away, 
but we do it for an eternal prize." 
1 Corinthians 9:24, 25

As you know I am on a healthy eating journey which started on my 38th birthday on February. I am doing ok but the one thing I need to do so much more of is move!! Hence this challenge! Can't wait to see the results!!


• Manage your junk - get rid of 10 things each day.




"For everything there is a season, 
a time for every activity under heaven... 
a time to keep and a time to throw away."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6 

I figure by the end of May I will have thrown out / given away / donated / sold 310 items. That's 310 things that will no longer be cluttering up my house but will be piling up dust somewhere else! I'm looking forward to this one!! Spring cleaning is not my strong point so this will help no end!! 


So those are my May challenges. I'll let you know at the end of the month how I got on!! What are you hope to achieve this month? 
Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Living a life of love


"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his 
dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example 
of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a 
sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God."
Ephesians 5 v 1-2

One of the groups of people that I think exhibit an ability to live a life of love more than most are missionaries. Now I'm not saying that missionaries are superhuman, should be placed on a special pedestal or are any better at this than the rest of us, but I am saying that most of the missionaries that I know do this as second nature, primarily because they are called to live a life different from the norm and one that points people all over the world to God. 

I do believe we are all called to be missionaries in our little corner of the globe, but the people I wanted to highlight here are those who are called to leave their family and friends in order to serve God overseas. I'm talking about the people who automatically sacrifice the home comforts, having a support network right around them and who have to learn to live, work and share in a culture totally different to their own. 

So over the next few weeks I want to introduce you to someone new - some of my friends who live this kind of life day in day out. I want to ask them 5 questions each and hopefully we'll give you an insight into how they live, what the culture is like and what makes them live a life of love right where they are. 

And to start things off I thought I'd share a little about me!!



With my mum :)

1. Can you introduce yourself?

Hi!!! I'm Tanya, and I'm a 38 year old house-wife/missionary/support to my hubby. I've been married to Alan for nearly 14 years and we have 4 wonderful boys. We work together doing sports ministry - well hubby does the sports ministry and I support him, host lunches for those he works with and do all his admin!! Thankfully, we are slightly different from the rest of the missionaries I'll feature, in that we work and still live in our home town of Newtownards, just outside Belfast, which means we do have all of our support network on our doorstep! 

2. How did you feel called to work here?

My husband had been a teacher but was also a footballer (a very good one too) until he damaged his knee badly in a match. As he was thinking about what direction his life would take he got involved in doing some summer soccer camps with an organisation called Athletes in Action - part of Campus Crusade for Christ International. We realised that the job they were doing - using football to share the Gospel - really combined Alan's two greatest loves and after praying about it felt led to join staff. I'm not particularly sporty but I was able to work with women players and physics while he worked with footballers, rugby players and basketball players, to name a few. We left AIA a couple of years ago so we could enjoy working with a range of organisations (AIA included) and my husband works all over the world doing clinics while I concentrate on opening our home, meeting the WAGs and encouraging women. 

3. What are the biggest cultural differences you've had to adjust to?

I grew up in a house where my mum was a great hostess, always welcoming everyone so the idea of opening my house up to people isn't a strange one. But the idea of bringing my boys up where we had people coming in and out has been interesting! They all love having lots of people and we are so thankful for that - it could have been so different! And I'm not sporty so to actually be in a job/life surrounded by very sporty people can be challenging enough. I do have to remind myself that my self-worth is not in how I look but in God's love for me. 

4.  How do you live a life of love where you are? 

We live by faith - totally reliant on God to supple our needs - and we have a wonderful support team around us to support us prayerfully and financially. But one thing that we make certain of each and every day is that we give, give a little more and then keep on giving. It's not unusual for us to be given a gift and automatically take some of it out for someone we have been dying to give a gift to or do something for. We believe that through living a life of love in front of those around us, whether it's making them a Sunday roast, or inviting them for supper and making loads of food, doing something practical for them, or taking phone calls at all hours of the day - being there when they need us - we hope to show them that there is a much greater One who loves them even more and is always there waiting for them to turn to Him. Little things can make a big difference in someone's life, especially when you have made an effort with them. 

5. How can we pray for you? 

I would ask you just to pray for my husband as he travels, especially when he travels to countries that aren't as safe as I'd like - but they do seem to be the countries he loves!! I'd ask for prayer for the teams and families we work with here, that they will see something different about our lives, and for our boys as we seek to bring them up in a lifestyle that honours God and welcomes everyone into our home. Thanks!! :)


We also would love to hear some of your stories, on how YOU live a life of love in your community. If you have any stories please email me at shinefortheking@hotmail.co.uk - looking forward to hearing from you!!! 
Keep shining xx