It’s Time To Rest

I’m one of those people that think they are invincible when it comes to overloading myself with stuff; lots and lots of different stuff. And recently I’ve been trying to teach myself the art of lightening my load a little bit.

As well as being one of those ‘Try to do everything’ kind of people, I’m also quite an extrovert. So letting people down and missing events where there are people kills me a little bit inside (okay maybe that’s a slight overreaction, but it does make me very sad!)

So, the combination of being a very busy person, and wanting to attend every event where there is a human present, on top of a full time job, running a youth club on a Friday night, trying to find time to spend with my boyfriend, friends, family and squeeze in many, many wonderful church activities, means that I find myself getting pretty tired.

It is great to get involved in as much as possible, and I’m a firm believer in keeping yourself busy and not sitting around all day. But sometimes, you need to take a break, have a Saturday sitting and watching Netflix, or taking a few days out to spend a holiday with your family, and the most important thing, take a few minutes each day to spend with God.

I talked a little bit about my church ‘stuff’ earlier. There is so much that goes on at church that is just so exciting! Sometimes I do just want to get involved in all of it! I want to be a part of everything! Which is great, and I would encourage anyone to go for it in Church and get involved with what you can, because serving is amazing fulfilling and exciting. But sometimes I feel like I miss out the point of it all.

Recently I have been reminded that your relationship with God is not built on the stuff you do for him, but the time you spend with him. Your foundations come from the intimate times; the times when it’s just you and him. The times that you open your bible and a verse speaks directly to you. The times you lie on your bed listening to worship music, the times you go crazy in your journal and write a 15 page essay to him. The times you dance around your room like a crazy lunatic with him, or when you sit and scream into your pillow and ask him what the heck he is doing. The times you lie in bed before you go to sleep and say a prayer, or that time you sat and watched the sunset, just marvelling at his wonderful creation.

A lot of us think that the most important part of our walk with God is all the stuff we do, and everything at church we get involved in, but even Jesus took time to put aside all of that and spend time with his Dad. One of the verses I always come back to is in Luke, where Jesus is in the middle of his craziness, and the height of his ministry…

‘Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’

Luke 5:15-16

When everything was getting a bit crazy, when people were talking about him everywhere, when most people at this point would make the most of it, or feel they should be constantly serving because the demand is so high… He ‘often’ took time out in the lonely places to pray.

Sometimes we just need to take some time out from all the things we are getting involved in, and focus on why we are doing all the stuff we are doing, and who we are doing it for. Even when we are at our busiest, and even when our diaries are completely full, we need to go ‘often’ to our lonely place to pray.

We need to find the time to cry on our beds, dance around the room, watch that sunset, or just sit, in the presence of Jesus. I write this blog after booking my flights to go join my family in France for four days, at one of my favourite, and one of the most peaceful places in my world. I am going to spend my week listening to worship songs and watching beautiful sunsets, and writing an awful lot in my journal.

There are many excuses I could have used to skip this holiday but I know that if Jesus needed His lonely places time with God, then I do too.

Target Reached

Last month we interviewed artist Simon Amadeus Pillario on his project to create the ‘Word for Word Bible Comic’. Starting with the Book of Judges, Simon aims to make an unabridged and true to content comic book version of the Bible. You can read the full interview here.

At the time of the interview Simon was running a Kickstarter to raise £15,000 so that he could work full time on this project for the next year.

We are so thrilled to report that since then the Kickstarter has overreached its target and Simon will now get to spend the next year working full time on writing and drawing a hard hitting, unabridged graphic novel of the Book of Judges. We are looking forward to getting our hands on a copy when it is done!

We want to thank any Creative Kingdom readers out there who read the interview and backed the Kickstarter. Our hope is that Creative Kingdom will one day be a thriving hub where artists share their work and support one another in their goals. We want this little corner of the internet to be a place of encouragement, inspiration and collaboration, so if we have contributed in even the smallest of ways to getting this project up and running we are very proud!

Thank you!

Breaking Through the ‘I Can’t Do That’ Barrier

A couple of years ago David, our worship team leader, challenged the team to each find one thing within our walk with God or within our music to improve and take up to the next level. We spent weeks talking and praying about what that could look like and each person set themselves a different goal to achieve.

For me, I knew it was time to work on harmonies.

Harmonising was something I had never been any good at. The few times I gave it a go I would simply get it wrong. It was frustrating and embarrassing to keep messing up in front of people and as there were plenty of other singers in the team who are amazing harmonisers; I found that I could get away with just singing the melody most of the time.

This spared me the embarrassment of making mistakes each week, but there were drawbacks. There were times when I knew the songs would sound better if there was just one more part in the mix. Even then I couldn’t bring myself to try a harmony, even when I could hear in my head what was missing from a song, I couldn’t fill the gap because stamped firmly in my mind was big block letters that said ‘I can’t do that’.

I had drawn a line over my singing that said I can never improve pass this point.

I think many of us can find ourselves contained by the words: ‘I can’t do that’. Now, some ‘I can’t do that’ phrases are completely unimportant; I can’t break dance, but I don’t lose much sleep over that one, but other ‘I can’t do that’ phrases have a far bigger impact on our lives, such as:


    I can’t control myself
    I can’t change
    I can’t do this anymore

Big or small things, the more we let our ‘I can’t do that’ barriers build up the more limited we become. ‘I can’t’ can take away our courage to try new things and diminish our confidence. It can be especially crippling in our creativity. It locks the door firmly shut before we have even tried the handle. ‘I can’t do that’ will erode our freedom a little bit at a time.

When we look at the things we can’t do we can feel defeated from the start. But what we need to recognise is that when we say ‘I can’t do that’ what we actually mean is:

    I can’t do that easily

or

    I can’t do that quickly

and

    I can’t do that alone

To say ‘I can’t do this’ is defeatist but to recognise that ‘I can’t do this easily’ is realistic. It leaves room for hope and possibility.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’

Luke 14: 28-30

Jesus is saying here to think carefully before you commit to being His follower because there is a cost involved. This principle is true for lots of things in life. Any big goal comes at a price. There is a cost to breaking through an ‘I can’t do that’ barrier the same way as there is a cost to building a tower, or a cost to following Jesus.

In my goal to learn how to harmonise I knew that the price would be my pride. Reaching this goal would mean putting myself out there, making mistakes, slowing down in practices, and getting it wrong in front of people. My weaknesses as a singer were about to be exposed; that was the cost.

So apprehensive, but determined to finally tackle this, I asked the singers who were excellent at harmonising for advice and found that they were happy to help. Opening up and saying ‘I am struggling with this and I want to get better at it’ was the best thing I did because it allowed my friends to get behind me. They instantly put me at ease and gave me all the support I needed. Quite simply, they were fantastic.

I quickly learnt that the embarrassment of making a mistake wasn’t nearly as bad as the shame I had felt before on giving up on something just because it wasn’t coming easily to me. I also learnt how encouraging, patient and kind our worship team are.

I filled my days with singing and as I practiced I rediscovered how much I love music. I turned the radio up on every journey to and from work and tried to copy the harmonies on any song I could find. I recorded parts into my phone so I could listen to them over and over again at home. In practices I tried to add them, and when I made mistakes and got it wrong, I kept on trying.

Slowly, over the following months I got a little bit better at harmonising, and it got a little more easier. Then I got a little more confident, and it got a little easier. And making mistakes became less traumatizing each time I made one. And gradually finding and singing harmonies felt more and more natural.

Now I know that my harmonising goal was a really small, unimportant goal in the grand scheme of human accomplishment, but it mattered to me. This small achievement added a new lease of life for me in worship; I now had more choices in how I sing, I had new ways in which to worship God, I had more to contribute to our worship team. I was that much more flexible and more willing to take risks. I won a little victory over an ‘I can’t’ in my life and it simply made me want to sing more and more!

I have discovered that just because something is small, it doesn’t mean it’s not big enough for God to care about. God’s kindness and interest in us reaches all the way to smallest details of our lives; like the number of hairs on our heads.

God is with us in all things and I think it gives Him great pleasure to watch us take the skills He has given us and strengthen them; He is with us when we test our limits and He guides us to stretch them further. He is a good teacher who delights in us as we learn new things.

Galatians 5:1 says that ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free’. In Christ we are free; free from sin, free from condemnation, free from judgement. Jesus came to set us free from everything that makes us slaves. So if our own fear and insecurities are holding us captive, then Jesus can free us from them as well. His liberating power has no boundaries.

Sometimes we have all the faith in the world that God can do anything and still be crippled by doubts in ourselves. We need to recognize that the God who can do anything is at work in our lives too.
A part of living in the wonderful freedom we have in Christ, is to keep on pushing through the ‘I can’t do that’ barriers that keep us contained. From out tiniest hopes to our wildest dreams I am constantly amazed at what is achievable with God.

Once I tackled the ‘I can’t harmonise’ barrier I set about breaking free from some of the other insecurities that hold me back. Some battles are harder than others, many are on-going, but I am determined to live in the freedom Jesus has given me.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Cactus Blossoms

There are days when it feels like I am barely holding onto my sanity, when it feels like it would take very little to either make or break me. Last week our baby entered the world of teething. Friday was an especially bad day for him. Despite my best efforts he was miserable all day long. Nothing helped. Finally in desperation that evening I decided to pull out the hefty stroller (dirt roads are not kind to the strollers lacking in substance) and see if some fresh air and movement helped. It didn’t.

Darrow

I stood there at the end of my driveway wondering what I was going to do, how to help Darrow, and how to keep a shred of my sanity. “God, please help me.”

I was turning to push the stroller back up the driveway when I caught a flash of coral in the grass. Now, everything around here in southern New Mexico is usually brown, yellow, or a dusty green; coral is not a typical color to see poking through the grass unless it is windblown trash. I pulled the grass back to find a gorgeous Prickly Pear cactus with one single bloom. Darrow and I made the trip up to the house and back for my camera.

Prickly-Pear-Blossom-(5)

Prickly-Pear-Blossom-(6)

Prickly-Pear-Blossom-(2)

Prickly-Pear-Blossom-(3)

Most of the cactus blossoms around here are yellow. It has been a while since I saw one of these coral blossoms. It was there just when I needed it. I have a print ordered to hang in my home to serve as a reminder to myself that there is beauty everywhere, to take time to look for the good, and that God does indeed know me and watches over each of us.