Colouring sheet // colour collective // creation

creation1_SMALL2This week’s #Colour_Collective colour is Forest Green. This is my third week taking part and I have loved being part of it. It’s a great community and I have some fab new people to follow on Twitter too! Not only that but it’s a real encouragement, with people retweeting and commenting on your design. If you are at all creative (and and I believe we all are) why not give it a go? Check out the hashtag above on Twitter and look for the different colour each week. Then everyone posts on Friday evening at 7.30pm (UK time) with the same hashtag. It’s amazing the things people come up with!

As it’s God that has brought me back to being creative I’m making mine scripture or God focussed.

This week, with ‘forest green’ I couldn’t help but think of creation. So this is mine based on Genesis 1: 11-13. I used The Message version which says:

God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants, every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
 And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants, all varieties, and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning— Day Three.

Genesis 1:11-13 (MSG)

I actually just drew the whole thing in forest green and I couldn’t decide whether to leave it as is, or colour in, so here it is before – and all ready to be used as another colouring sheet – just a green one! And above is the coloured in version. Two for the price of one for this weeks #colour_collective !

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Colouring Sheet and Meditation on Matthew 10:8 // Freely you have received

Here’s the latest colouring sheet and with a meditation or some guidelines on how you could use it, or of course do your own thing!

 

What ?

This is one of my fave scriptures ever! Matthew 10:7-8

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

If we want to see more of God’s kingdom, then this is for us! But today I wanted to focus on the ‘freely’ bit.

Henna fun

Henna fun

This one is inspired by henna designs which I have been doing with my daughter recently!

Why ?

 

Everything we have comes from God and it is freely given to us. We so often take things for granted and I’ve found that myself recently with my failing health. Even just wanting a cup of tea meant weighing up how much pain I would be in and whether the need for tea outweighed that pain (well yes, of course it did, I mean it is tea, right?!).

But more than that, this passage shows us the abundance God gives us. Jesus tells his disciples here to do amazing things in his name – healing people, casting out demons, raising the dead even! And all this is only possible by the amazing gift He has given them, to become children of God, to carry His power, His love and His light within them. And what’s more it’s given for free! They didn’t have to do anything to earn it. So today’s meditation is to think about the blessings God has bestowed upon you, the abundances in your life and how you can share them more freely.

How ?

As with the last sheet, there’s lots of scope to make it your own and I really envisaged it being more of a prayerful experience so here’s my suggestions of how to do it.

1) Find a comfortable space to colour in.

2) Spend a few minutes just in prayer and giving the time to God, asking him to show you the blessings in your life.

3) Think/pray about how you want to start. Is each flower or pattern representing something in your life? an abundance or blessing God has given you?

4) Take time as you go, allowing God to lead you in your colouring. As you colour each section, be thankful for what God has given to you, offering it back to Him. You might find this is all you want to do, just creating something beautiful as a thank offering.

6) If you feel led to, ask God to reveal to you how you can share what He has given to you with those around you. He might highlight one thing you could do or one person to speak to.

7) Alternatively you might want to colour each section, or use one colour, to represent something you want to share, or one person you want to share it with. As you colour, lift them up to God and ask for His guidance in this.

8) One idea would be to colour the sheet in and then give it to someone else as a gift. Or print out a few copies and give them to friends. Freely you have received now freely give…

 

When you have finished, don’t rush off. Offer it back to God in prayer, a simple prayer is below for you to use or find your own words as you feel led.

 

Father God,

I thank you for being with me as I colour this sheet. I thank you for all you have given to me. You are the God of abundance and blessing, and I delight in the blessings you pour out on me. Help me Lord to give as you have given to me.

You are the God of creation and I thank you for this gift of creativity, enabling me to draw closer to you.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

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Discernment Guide is go!

And we are go! 

Follow this link to see the discernment guide and intro to it :) Or you can click on ‘Discernment Guide’ on the bar above…

(And if there is anything that isn’t working please do let me know!)

#ThatIsAll

Discernment Guide, coming soon…

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The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a new tab on the bar above. I’m afraid for the time being its not yet viewable, I’m just getting some last min checks done, proof reading and so on. But I am so delighted that finally it’s almost ready to go, the ‘Short guide to the discernment process in the Church of England’ – snappy title I know… Some of you will know I started this 2 years ago and I’ve just not had enough time to finish it until now. So with weeks of lying on my back I’ve been able to get the last bits done. I did look originally at the possibility of publishing this in print, but for several reasons I’m going to put it on my blog for now. Firstly, because it has taken so darn long I just want to be able to share it, and secondly because I actually think it will reach more people publishing online rather than in print. Ultimately the reason behind writing this was to help others in the process so the more that can be reached the better!

I aim to publish this publicly on Thursday this week, so check back then if you are interested!

 

Discovering Sabbath Rest

IMG_20150719_130510I’ve been struggling in the last few weeks to find my rhythm. Having been in a wonderful place of resting in God for weeks on end, suddenly I have been dragged from this bliss into ‘the summer holidays’. Cue loud crashing organ music ‘dun-dun-derrrrrr’…

Normally I have planned for the hols with military precision, as we are both working this means organising our diaries very carefully, deciding who is taking which days off, when can the grannies help out, what activities they can be booked into, and so on. This year it was only when my son announced ‘we break up in a week’ that I actually became aware it was about to happen. In fact my response was. ‘no you don’t you’ve got about 3 weeks yet’. Apparently not, as they are now buzzing around the house daily with the joy and exuberance of ones only just released from the monotony of school for 8 long weeks. This is of course a delight and actually it’s more of a delight this year as I get enjoy more of it with them. However the thing that I’m struggling with is the immediacy of going from one extreme to the other. I didn’t really have time to prepare myself mentally or otherwise, and as I’m still having to rest a lot, my days now need to be carefully structured around the kids to avoid boredom setting in, rather than being structured around God. So now I’m at the point of struggling to work out how on earth I can keep hold of this amazing peace and presence of God I’ve been wallowing in, in my daily life, and it’s not easy!

…oo0O0oo…

I recently signed up to Sabbath Society – a group of people committed to finding sabbath rest each week. It’s run by Shelly Miller who you may remember I met at the HTB conference last year as, in a God-incidence, we ended up sitting next to each other and became friends, keeping in touch ‘virtually’ online. This week’s email was my first one and boy did it resound with me, as Shelly talked about a ‘new normal’. She says this:

That new thing God is doing in us cannot be accomplished by continuing to live in the way we’ve always done it. New seasons, new calling, new purpose – they require new rhythms, new risk, new levels of surrender and sacrifice.

We cannot enter into God’s intended rest by continuing to add things to our lives and then pretend life is as it always has been. It’s idealistic and may I suggest, self-sabatoge, to think you will be able to Sabbath when _______.

 

So, I guess I have been trying to work out how life will continue from here. September is looming when things shall truly be ‘back to normal’ in the sense that I shall be back in the office, the kids will be back at school, college will start again and not only do I have to manage that in terms of looking after my back, but I also have to squeeze in new things like: going for physio, doing my back exercises, getting to the gym, all to make sure I don’t injure it again. PLUS the fact that I am determined to retain some of this precious time with God (which actually is no.1 on the list).

and, so, err, HOW ?

…oo0O0oo…

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This little corner of my garden has been my refuge in recent times (note my wonderful new ‘back friend’ chair support – so comfy but I do feel like I’m about 90). Being stuck indoors for long periods of time, I have carefully chosen my allotted ‘sitting time’ each day and sat outside whenever I could. From this view point I have watched the garden come into bloom, especially sitting almost amongst the lavender. I have watched as new shoots have appeared from its autumn prune, new vivid lime green buds have appeared and finally the flowers have begun to open. Lavender is a funny thing because it doesn’t so much as bloom as just waft scent into the air. The flowers are so tiny and hardly seem to come out at all so you generally just see the recognisable seed shaped purple ‘pods’. But as I’ve sat watching this plant come into it’s own, I’ve really appreciated seeing the changes each day and this week seeing how much the bumble bees adore it too. This morning I sat for 20 mins waiting to get a shot of a bee on a flower, my phone filled to bursting with blurred yellow and brown streaks as the moment I clicked the bee would be off to the next flower. So busy. Isn’t that the saying, busy as a bee? And yet such a simple life a bee has. It has one goal and it fulfils it with rhythm and with purpose. Growing up I lived next door to a bee farm and one of the joys of my childhood was extracting time when we would go next door and sample bits of honeycomb, still with traces of honey dripping from them, fresh from the hive. But I digress…

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Our lives are always so complicated aren’t they? not just one purpose, as many. So much is expected of us, but we expect so much of ourselves too. And as Shelly noted in her Sabbath post, how we can totally overestimate what we can capably do in any given time slot.

…oo0O0oo…

So the challenge for me is to discover a new normal. I don’t have any idea yet what that will be like and I guess it will evolve as I begin to recover, rather than just being something I decide upon. But as I sat watching the bees this morning I realised that God has it all under control. If I have become the kind of person who can sit for half an hour just watching bees, in the space of a few short weeks, then with God I can accomplish anything, or in fact accomplish nothing, it doesn’t actually matter. I don’t know if my Sabbath rest will be something I can ‘schedule in’ or whether it will simply be a new rule of life,  but one thing’s for sure, things will never be the same again.

Bottles of Tears // Colouring Sheet and meditation

Here’s the latest Colouring Sheet – I decided to try and make these a bit more constructive – like a meditation or just offering some guidelines on how you could use each sheet. So here goes, and as always I’d love feedback, either here or via FB or Twitter. What would you like to see on these sheets or how can I make them better?

What ?

I love the scripture Psalm 56:8, which reflects how God mourns with us. In the NLT version it reads:

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

What a wonderful picture this gives, and has always made me think, I wonder what that would look like? collecting our tears. What would the bottle be like? Where would it be? What would He do with it? is it actually just one bottle? (Ok so I know the word is actually singular, whether translated as scroll or bottle but go with me…). Or how about what would the tears look like? Do they look different when God has them, or would they just be like liquid? just one big bottle of salty water?

Why ?

Well, if you look at things God creates they are usually beautiful and I just had this picture of each tear being like a beautiful jewel, a bit like how snowflakes are individual and just stunning in their design. I came across this article recently where a researcher, Rose-Lynn Fisher, had looked at tears under a microscope and found that in different circumstances they actually look different. Have a look at the docs in the article, it’s fascinating stuff!

So this picture came from thinking on those questions, I pictured everyone having their own bottle, some would be fuller that others, maybe each persons tears would look different. My daughter said, it looks like bottles full of marbles and I guess that’s a bit like what I saw. I love how marbles can be so beautiful in each design and yet together create something more lovely.

Tears_sketch2This week I also came across ‘Colour Collective’ on Twitter, where designers and illustrators are encouraged to draw or create an image each week based on that week’s colour, then everyone tweets them at the same time on Friday eve. I thought it was such a fab idea and having been creatively rekindled recently I thought I’d take part. This is my offering for this week, under #CyanBlueAzure, but do check out the hashtag: #colour_collective to see all the others.

How ?

So I’ve done this sheet a bit differently. There’s lots of scope to make it your own and I really envisaged it being more of a prayerful experience so here’s my suggestions of how to do it.

1) Find a quiet space. I have a feeling this might be the kind of sheet you want to colour in your own space away from others – not one for the train for example!

2) Spend a few minutes just in prayer and giving the time to God, asking him to show you what the tears on this sheet represent.

3) Think/pray about how you want to start. Is each bottle a person or are they all yours? Perhaps each bottle is a season in your life or a difficult time, an experience you have encountered? Or is each tear representing something? The bottle labels are blank for you to add whatever you feel.

4) Don’t forget tears aren’t always sad (see the article highlighted above!) sometimes they are in joy, at an amazingly happy occasion, or they can be at a time of change or uncertainty (or even chopping onions).

5) Take time as you go, allowing God to lead you in your colouring. If you are focussing on your own experiences, think through each situation as you colour, allowing emotions to flow and questions to be raised. When you feel ready, then move on to the next tear or the next bottle.

6) Equally it doesn’t have to be all about you – maybe you could focus on the experiences of others? A sick friend, or a loved one having a difficult time, or a wonderfully joyous time! Again, take time for God to guide you, perhaps praying for each person as you colour each tear.

7) I have deliberately left the last bottle empty for you to fill in as you feel led. You might want to finish with this one, allowing God to lead you to it. Perhaps it represents your life as a whole – are happy tears a different colour or a different pattern to those of sadness and difficulty?

8) When you have finished, don’t rush off. Offer it back to God in prayer, a simple prayer is below for you to use or find your own words as you feel led.

Father God,

I thank you for being with me as I colour this sheet. I thank you for helping me to find my way through the emotions and situations you have raised, as I colour. As I finish it now, Lord I offer it back to you. I lift up to you the people and situations I have thought through and ask for your continued presence with them. You are the God of creation and I thank you for this gift of creativity, enabling me to draw closer to you.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

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Selfies of God…

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My husband tells me that he loves seeing me first thing in the morning, because my curly hair seems to take on a life of it’s own overnight, meaning that when I get up I pretty much look like I’ve stuck my finger in an electric socket. He says because I usually take time with my appearance and how I look, so he is the only one who gets to see me in this crazy unkempt state and he loves it. I, on the other hand, look in the mirror each morning and praise God for the gift of GHDs…

..oo0O0oo…

Self image, what we think of ourselves, how we style ourselves – it’s hard to imagine women 100 years ago worrying about this stuff but I’m sure they did, perhaps just to a lesser degree. Our generation, the technology brigade, means that our innermost fears about wrinkles and spots and crazy curly hair are exacerbated hugely. A while ago I was sat on the beach with my kids as I watched a young girl (I guess aged about 13) take an incessant number of selfies on her phone, all in the same place just shifting her gaze or her pose slightly each time, seeking out the perfect shot.

As a pretty gawky pre-teen I got used to seeing photos in which I looked, well gawky, but that was the era of film and you just got the pictures you got, the excitement being in heading off to Boots to pick them up a week after your holiday. A week? flippin’ heck how we’ve moved on… Of course that didn’t stop me becoming self-conscious, worried about how I looked, what I ate and so on, but as I look at Instagram now and see the selfies of friends teenage daughters it worries me so much. What message are we sending our kids? sending each other?

shutterstock_230975479I’m writing this now because I woke up this morning and perusing my various feeds and timelines was struck by so many themes of ‘the self’. One magazine writer had written an article praising the selfie and had written from a ‘pseudo-feminist’ point of view to make it sound intelligent and wise – ‘girls, we have a responsibility, we are leaving behind a piece of history’ and all that… Frankly it was a load of bull… and made me rather cross. On another feed I saw a comment from someone declaring the oft used Christian phrase ‘less of me, more of you Lord’. Another thing that irks me slightly, you are who God made you, embrace it!

..oo0O0oo…

I write from the point of view of a woman, because well I am a woman, clearly I’ve no idea how men feel about this stuff but I’m sure for some it will be the same insecurities and anxieties. So women… what does the bible tell us about who we are? about who we should be? Is posting endless selfies a biblical crime? are we all becoming self-obsessed and less concerned with the world around us? Is technology the beginning of the end…? (ok perhaps slightly too far with that one). Well, let’s start at the beginning. At creation we read that humans are made ‘in the image of God’ (Gen 1:27) and take note, that’s male and female. God made us like him… is that something to pick at or to find the perfect angle for? Can’t really imagine Adam and Eve attempting to get a selfie with the apple tree and Adam just checking the positioning of his fig leaf to get the bet shot can we? Or perhaps we could, after all that would assume it was post apple-gate and therefore influenced by the enemy…

Ok so then how about this from Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being;
 you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
 your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body…

I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made? what, me? me, with the crazy hair that I try and straighten out each day? This Psalm says ‘your works are wonderful’ and it’s not just talking about Mount Everest here, it means himself, the human body, so why can’t we declare that about ourselves each day? Look in the mirror and whisper sweetly to your reflection ‘I… am… wonderful….’ ?  no? well perhaps not, we’d all turn into narcissists pretty quickly. Ah but hang on isn’t that what the selfie generation is accused of? being too focussed in on themselves? The Psalmist isn’t admiring himself for the sake of it, he is admiring God within himself. Recognising the wonder of what God has made, and we can all join in that, right? the amazing power of the human body, we often say that when a baby is born – it’s the miracle of life.

So then. Should it be less of me, more of you Lord? I’m not so sure. We were made in the image of God. As Christians we carry God within us, so perhaps it should be ‘more of the me you have made me to be’? Of course we all get swayed by wordly influence and that’s why I get anxious about all those teenage selfies, ‘like for like’, ‘rate me’ and so on,  what kind of message are they giving each other, giving themselves? The reality is simply seeking an acceptance, an approval that yes, even as adults we seek too. I’m not averse to a selfie myself, and I too will carefully pick which one I post, but we should be so careful about accepting this and pretending it is a source of ‘girl power’.

So how about instead of seeking to be the perfect self that the world seeks, or that we seek of ourselves, how about we seek to selfie the God in our lives? Where is the glory of God in who he has made us to be? the beauty, the wonder? Let’s embrace who we are in God and who God is in us, that is definitely something to selfie…

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I posted this, this week as a bit of a joke on Twitter, but here it is now as I give glory to God, my hair is totally crazy at times (especially when I’ve been laying in bed for weeks) but it’s how God made it (and yes I did take 4 and chose the best one…)

Talk 12/7/15 // John 14 // Trust in God’s promises

I usually blog the notes from my talks but I didn’t really have full notes this week it was just a list of points to talk about, but if you want to watch it it’s below.

Based on John 14, I talked about how I felt God with me in the last 2 months whilst I’ve been going through the mill with my back issues. We can trust on his promises…

 

Back Update // Week 4 Post-Op

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Small pleasures, brand new ‘TOMs’ for walking in…

Another update on my back…

So this week is week 4 since the op and it’s been a week of two halves. People told me at week 3 I’d start to feel a lot better and that was true, last week I felt I really turned a corner, stopped taking all pain killers (woop!) and was able to do quite a bit more. The result of this was (which I was also warned about) that I did too much and then was exhausted and in pain again. And when I say overdid it, I mean just a few outings of about an hour each. So then, Tuesday this week became a write off as I pretty much went back to bed. I’ve been quite taken aback just how tired I am and how the simplest of things takes so long to do. I get up, have breakfast or a shower, then have to go back to bed for an hour. Get up for a walk, then go back to bed… and so on, that’s the pattern of the day. Apparently this is normal but I still wasn’t prepared for it. Pre-op Googling that suggested some people were back to work after 2-3 weeks! frankly, they must have been lying…

On top of all that but last week we made the final decision to cancel our holiday, which was gutting as we had booked it a year ago and would have been going with friends. But to be honest it would have been too much of a risk and based on what I can do at the moment would probably have set me back in my recovery. So then we thought we’d just find somewhere local, maybe hire a cottage and just hang out together somewhere away from home. We miraculously found somewhere near the beach and then a day later (also on Tuesday) the owner decided they wanted it that week and they cancelled our booking. Gutted again.

So, Tuesday I think was the lowest point so far. Funny to think of all I, well we, have been through and it was 4 weeks post-op that that point came. I guess it was just a culmination of all these things, doing too much, being exhausted, the holiday fiasco and as the kids have now broken up from school too, realising that I was going to a pretty dull Mummy this summer.

Henna fun

So, in all that where was God? Of course right next to me as he always is! But I have to admit, I had a few moments of wondering. In the end all I could do was to go back to my iPod, and the ‘epic worship playlist’, set it going and fell asleep. Yet again the scripture ‘Be still and know that I am God’ has been my comfort. When all I could do was lay down and cry, I know that he was right with me. I refuse to give in to the enemy, whatever is thrown at me will just draw me closer to my heavenly Father. Matt Redman did an interview at our church a few weeks ago (available online here) and he talked of those tough times when you just pray ‘help me’, but also how important it is to also pray ‘hallelujah’. That’s what I choose, to seek him and praise him, whatever I ‘feel’.

I’ve been delving into John this week, I really love his more spiritual approach, and I’ve been struck in Chapter 3 where Jesus says again and again ‘I tell you the truth’, and finally in verse 21:
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‘but who ever lives by the truth comes into the light says it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God’.

The only way I can remain positive, full of faith and upbeat, is through the truth of Jesus Christ and who he is in my life. 

So, with that in mind, the positives… thankfully the week has improved and I have to remind myself (again) it’s only a few weeks since the op. I am now walking up to 1 1/2 miles each day and the weather is beautiful so this is a real joy. I mean it would be a joy anyway having been cooped up for so long but in the sunshine it is doubly so! Plus I can walk with the kids as they are off, stopping off at the village cafe for an ice cream each day. I’ve enjoyed spending time with the kids, playing card games in bed, watching cricket with them on the ipad (Hashtag TheAshes !) and having fun with henna with the youngest.

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Date ‘hour’ on the beautiful South Downs.

We also managed a date night (or date hour) for the first time in weeks having some time to hang out and chat with my lovely husband without discussing back pain, surgical intervention or how we would manage the week ahead. Chips on the South Downs, just for an hour, but lovely…

And finally I got my nails done this week! When I was first off I decided to get gel nails (never had them before) as a treat to cheer me up. Then I found out I couldn’t have them for the op, then I found I couldn’t sit long enough after it, so finally I got them done this week and they look fab – thanks Kim!

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funky nails!

I have also taken a decision to really focus on my health – if that’s not an obvious thing to say after all this! – but I realised having totally lost my appetite after the op I hadn’t yet re-gained it and just wasn’t feeling hungry, let alone enticed by any food. So I’ve set myself a little programme of healthy snacks and things to give me energy, and tried to get excited about cooking again – which I can now do to a certain extent (with the help of kids now on summer hols!) plus I’ve started talking multivitamins too.

And another big achievement this week (well it will be, as not yet happened!) is that I will be at church preaching on Sunday – all being well. My Vicar told me not to worry when he realised I was on the rota, but I really want to do this, simply so I can stand up there and give glory to God for all he has done in the last few weeks. I won’t be able to do the whole service but I am really excited about this!

So there were are. Still rather up and down but I am improving and God is still good!

Be Still // Colouring Sheet

Be Still

Still focussing on ‘being still’, here’s a sheet based on Psalm 46:10 ‘Be Still & know that I am God’. This has always been important to me but more than ever in recent weeks. 

The flowers are all drawn from ones in my garden, inspired by what is around me… 

I’m not sure if this one isn’t a bit too pale to see the lines for colouring, so would love feedback on it!

 

Be Still