Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A good frost

Where we live, we have a few fruit trees in our backyard. We love it!

One of the trees is an orange tree. It's winter. The tree is full of ripe oranges and it looks beautiful. The oranges are juicy but they are still a bit sour. They haven't sweetened up yet.

We have been told that we need a good frost to sweeten the fruit. 

Frosts don't often appear to be good for much besides killing some plants and making a morning commute to work that little bit more frustrating when the car windows are iced up and need some work so you can see to drive. 

However, some have said that when a frost gets the orange tree, the oranges have been among the best they've ever tasted.

It got me thinking... There are times in our lives that we see as bleak and couldn't possibly produce anything good or 'sweet' and yet, just maybe, we are wrong.

I think - I know - that God can use those times to bring about very good things. Sometimes God sweetens our character or our relationship with him through those 'frosts' that occur in some seasons of our lives. God has changed me, drawn me closer to him and shown me his love in ways I may not have experienced had I not gone through seasons of grief, loss, loneliness, financial stresses, relationship strains.

Maybe you're in one of those 'frosty' seasons right now. Would you ask God to show you the sweetness in the midst of it all? I promise you it's there - he's there.

I'm looking forward to the oranges sweetening and sharing the fruit with family and friends. I'm praying that they will also see the sweetness of God at work in my life and maybe want to 'taste and see' him too (Ps 34.8 NLT).

Silence, a move, new things...

Once again, I have had a long break from the blog. I think the last time I wrote, I had come back from a big break and said I'd be blogging much more regularly. Hmmm... sorry about that. There has been a lot going on over the past 7 or so months but I really didn't think it would keep me away from here for so long.

It's been a bit of an unexpected journey...

About 7 or 8 months ago, my husband and I had been chatting and praying about where we felt God was leading for the coming year. Were we to stay where we were? Were we to move on and start a new church plant or move into ministry with an already-established church that wanted to see God do some new things? Were there some new schools and youth ministry areas to break into? How could we give the up and coming leaders where we were more opportunities to grow and serve?

Unexpectedly, friends emailed us a job description for a position at the church they attended. My husband and I took a look at it but quickly dismissed it. It was with a church that I had felt I never wanted to be a part of and my husband felt the job would be very limiting and the nature of the church would make ministry difficult to say the least.

God had other ideas... My husband investigated a few different options and as we chatted and prayed, he felt compelled to look again into the position at this other church. He called the Minister there and organised to meet and talk. One chat lead to more meetings which lead to us both going to a formal meeting with the rest of the church leaders where my husband was offered the position.

I had lots of reservations about leaving where we were and heading to this new town, church, ministry... I didn't want to leave my church family - the life and passion and moves of God that we were seeing. I felt that we were heading somewhere that lacked all of these things and did not want to go there (yes, judgemental of me, I know, but that's how I felt at the time...). And yet... In the conversations had with the church leaders, it appeared that they wanted these things; that they had glimpses but wanted more and thought we could have some part to play with God in bringing these things to this place.

My husband felt God definitely say 'go' and I didn't hear 'stay'. We said 'yes'.

God quickly provided a wonderful home to rent and we headed off to a new town, new church, new ministry.

I spent the first few weeks crying through each service at the new church, grieving the loss of my previous church family and all that we had known there. To be honest, there are days that I still do.

However, I have discovered that God has put some lovely, friendly, godly people in this place who have been kind and generous to us and want to see him move in new ways. We have seen people come to know Jesus over these past months and have seen God changing people's hearts, opening them up to Him in a way they haven't known before.

There's so much we want to see and there's a long road ahead but we're sure God has brought us here so we trust him and keep going.

Another unexpected turn that life has taken for us is that we have found out that we are expecting our second child at the end of the year. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around that but God has blessed us and we're excited and thankful (that journey is a story for another time).

So, life is different right now than I thought it was going to be 8 months ago but I do know that God's plans are better than mine and I'm grateful.

Our God who sings...

A few nights ago, I got up to one of my daughters in the early hours of the morning. She was upset and wanted a cuddle and asked me to sing to her.

She immediately calmed down and then asked for 'one more song'. Of course I sang. I love her.

I was then reminded of this verse in Zephaniah:

Zephaniah 3.17 (NLT)
"For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty Saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Oh how God loves his people! God reminded me, as I held my daughter in my arms and sang to her, just how much he loves me. I know that when I have been afraid, his love has calmed my fears and it is amazing to me, that the God of the universe, my Saviour, sings over me!

He loves you too. If you are afraid, know that he is with you - and is mighty to save. He delights in you. He will calm your fears and sing joyfully over you.

Let that sink in... I know I need to sit and let this wash over me again and again so my fears fade and I can hear my God singing...