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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Still My Story, Still My Song

It’s been one of those days, after one of those weeks, after one of those months. The kind you literally only get through by the grace and strength of God.

One daughter grumpy, the other not listening to a word I said. My arm burning from carrying my overtired eight-month-old son around for the past two and a half hours since he screamed almost to the point of choking every time I put him down.

Trying to get dinner cooked (one-handed), the table set, the house back to tidy enough that we weren’t tripping over everything. My ankle was throbbing because some mosquito had had the audacity to bite me on it – three times. And it was raining. Not that nice, cool, ‘go find a good book and snuggle up’ rain but rather the ‘just enough to make the air so thick with humidity that we all drown in it’ rain.

As I often do in such situations, I turned on some music to distract myself from the feeling that my world and I were completely falling apart. I chose an album of hymns because, to be honest, much as I love them, I was in desperate need of the godly truths they contained.

I let out a wry laugh when it got to the chorus of Blessed Assurance.

This is my story, this is my song.
Praising my Saviour all the day long.

I couldn’t help but think of the last blog post I’d written with that title, all about my grand testimony of God’s love in my life. Ah, those were the days, I thought to myself wryly as I stood there aching, frustrated and sweaty with a wriggly overtired baby on my hip. Out there, telling the world about God, encouraging teens, impacting lives.

But just as quickly, another thought challenged that one – that this, right here, was as much my story as that one. And just as powerful.

I was an aching mess. But I was an aching mess praising God. Temperamental kids, one-handed dinner prep, messy house, my tired body fighting depression to stay afloat – this is my current story.

And it’s a story of God’s faithfulness.

I couldn’t get through these days without God, and I’ll tell that to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. I’m under no illusions that I can do life without him. He is my rock, my reason, my joy and my hope.

Messy as my days feel at times, God is using my story – even in the mess – to show others his heart. He is using my testimony to encourage others in ways I’ll probably never know.

Don’t be afraid of mess. And don’t for one second think that God can’t use it or that God can’t use you. No matter what your story looks like today, God can and will use it to bring him glory.

Mess is my story but this is my song:
Praising my Saviour all the day long.

So ... what's your story? :)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Who Are You Leading?

I’ve been incredibly privileged to have some great opportunities thrown my way over the years. One of them would easily be the chance my sisters and I were given to lead a kids’ program during family camps at the holiday centre we stayed at every Christmas. Aka Mapleton Kids’ Program.

For an hour and a half every morning, while their parents were otherwise occupied, we’d play games, do activities, run challenges and generally have a whole stack of fun with twenty or so school-aged kids.

It’s probably an acquired taste – no doubt there are many people who couldn’t think of anything worse than spending their holidays corralling a bunch of overactive kids who weren’t even related to them – but for me, it was pretty much a dream come true. I loved it.

I’ve also never felt the responsibility of leadership as strongly as when we were playing a particular game there one day.

We’d just finished a story and, to check if the kids had been listening or not, were playing a True and False game. Basically, the leader up the front said something about the story and, if it was true, the kids would run to one side of the room and, if it was false, to the other. Get it wrong, or take too long, and you were out until one child remained. Simple.

We only needed one person to ask the questions so the rest of us leaders joined in the game, mostly to help out the littlest kids but also, toward the end, to purposely choose the wrong side and ensure the kids were really listening.

The first question that day was so easy it was impossible to get wrong. Think something along the lines of ‘it’s daytime, true or false?’, when it was 9 in the morning and we’d all just come from breakfast. Not even the youngest kids needed our help on that one, so another leader and I (who were ‘playing’ the game) picked False.

Only we weren’t the only ones. Our littlest sister, who was probably five or six years old at the time – was standing beside us. Needless to say, I was shocked and slightly confused, especially since I knew she knew the right answer.

I’ll never forget what she said when I asked her why she’d chosen the wrong one. 

“I knew it was wrong, but you were both here and I trust you so I came.”

Oh. Talk about a hit to the heart.

It was just a silly game we were playing that day, but through it God taught me something I’ll never forget again. People are watching and, whether I’m purposely leading or not, they’re following and copying the choices I make.  

I knew the choice I made during that game was the wrong one. She knew it too. But she followed me all the same, because she trusted me to do the right thing.

No matter who you are, you have influence – whether it’s with your own kids, someone else’s kids, friends at school, younger siblings, workmates, or those you specifically lead. They are watching you and the decisions you make, even when you’re not aware. And they’re copying what you do.

So, who are you leading and what are you teaching them?