Investing Early


And then there were three.

You get the news that you’re going to be parents and there is no changing it. No going back. You are instantly and eternally… parents.

We often think that we parenthood begins when a child is born, but right now we are nurturing a young life. God is the one knitting them together, bringing all the right parts into place, double checking joints and values.
But equally there is a role for us during this unseen stage. We’ve started to invest in our little life. I don’t mean trading on the FSE100, rather investment by way of prayer. Declaring the promises of God over their life, praying for their character, the type of personality they will grow to develop.

For a few months we have a captive audience. Hotel accommodation is taken care of, single room with en-suite, and we have ample opportunity to prepare our heart and character for the upcoming arrival.

Using the time we have effectively is essential because it will slip through our fingers if we do not put it to good use.

The adventure of parenting has begun.

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OY! Language


The language that we use or hear is often indicative of our environment. When walking through Tokyo the language all around was unfamiliar and cryptic in the sense that it didn’t register with me and I could not be a part of the conversation.
Likewise, in certain environments the language used is unpalatable and can grate on you if you’ve not been a part of that typos of conversation for a while. So an environment has its own language set and structure wherever and with whomever it is designed for.

In leadership circles this principle also applies. The language that you use in your teams and in your team environment needs to be reflective of your aims, your heart and your mission. So there is no place for language that is contrary to your philosophy and the culture that you have designed and continue to implement.

In our home we consistently encourage each other only to speak positive language that builds, leads and affirms. If other language sets creep in we deal with it swiftly and graciously.

Whether it is in the home, a work place or church community, the language that you set and use will always be indicative of the resulting environment. Lets watch our language.

The Red Lines


The guilt was overwhelming, but the crowd still sniggered and jeered whilst watching and waiting. The ball tipped pen rolled across those forbidden words, the red line scorching and scarring the small square note. As the permanent trench dug itself from left to write it is another sign that it had simply been too tough.
The new year celebrations had not been much more than a month ago, so it seems heart-breaking that the intention of being resolute had just not been enough.

Those New Years resolutions seem so concrete. The power of a new chapter opening can hit us with an adrenalin of hope. That this will be the year that we keep those resolutions until the end of January or the end of the year; if we were being totally unrealistic.

At this point in the year those resolutions are down to ‘last man standing’ status on the, yet unused, Christmas notebook. The five other resolutions have already been crossed off and the red ink flowed so easily after the fifth strike.

But, there is still one resolution that remains unbroken. Standing proud in the black ink. It is at the top of the list, it was written first. It was always going to be written first because it had been on your mind. It had become more than a “good idea” or a “potential resolution”. It was a thought that had been planted and watered. It had taken root and grown into something much more than an idea.

Those resolutions that withstand the test of time become more habitual than good intention.

Make a habit of change.

2012 in review


2012 was a good blogging year and there were a few new posts. I plan to increase the output and reach this year, whilst pulling together an idea for a book.

In the meantime, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Shadowlands


There is a shadow in the corner of the room. The bookcase overhangs slightly so that the light glowing from the lamp is restricted. Blocked. Obstructed. It is where the light cannot shine, it cannot bring clarity or vision. The shadowlands seem to hold their ground.

All the most thrilling movies have shadowlands. It is in those dark corners or alleys where the villain waits. Hides. Lurks. In the shadowlands there is no light. It is restricted. blocked. Obstructed.

If, like me, you’ve walked down any street at night you will most probably walk where the street lamps beam touches the path. We avoid, even flee, the shadows, those corners where the light is not permitted.

There is something comforting about walking in the light. The light fights the shadowlands by bring clarity. The light welcomes with open arms, whilst the darkness pulls and draws on your fear. The light illuminates the very best if us and encourages the worst of us to live out of the shadowlands and in the glorious light.

The thoughts, behaviours and motives that pull us into the shadowlands can be transformed when we walk in the light. When we walk let light shine on and through our lives we cannot help but light those around us.
The shadowlands are not for you or I. We walk in the light, guided by the light, warmed by the light, corrected by the light, held accountable by…the light.

Flee the shadowlands. Walk in the light.

Asia Mission Trip 2013 – Guest Post by Paula Hogarth


For the first time I am pleased to have a guest author. Please give a few minutes of your time to read this challenging post, there are exciting times ahead.

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Guest Post by Paula Hogarth: -

I have had a heart for anyone who is vulnerable and needy for many years. I know what is it like to have a very small and meagre income and to be a single parent with no qualifications or skills to enable me to support myself and my child. However, I live in a country which has an amazing National Health Service, supports poorer families and single parents and offers free education and I benefited from all of these things and the support of the church both emotionally and spiritually and at times, financially. When I heard about Tearfund many years ago I thought that the work they were doing was fantastic and it still is. During the last couple of years I have given up some of my free time to promote the work of Tearfund, volunteer in their youth camp cafes and speak on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged wherever I can and to whoever wants to listen. This has included churches and community groups and the students at college where I work.

It’s just a little thing that I can offer, and it’s not much when you see the need, to help raise awareness of the needs and the amazing work that takes place through Tearfund, its partners and all the fantastic partners who give their money, time, resources and prayers to help those who are initially unable to help themselves.

This year, Tearfund asked me if I would like to visit some the projects in Asia among some of the most disadvantaged groups in India, Thailand and Nepal. I needed to get time off work and thought this would be impossible as I am a teacher and must work during term times. However, my employer has kindly agreed to release me with their blessing and this enables me to visit the Asia projects.

I hope to gain insight into the work undertaken in India, Nepal and Thailand and meet the people, the partners and see just where all the generous funds and financial gifts go and how they are used. I hope that along with the team of volunteers we can bring some encouragement to the people in the communities we visit and let them know that people in the UK care about them and pray for them, too. I also hope that I can share the life stories, the Good News and the great need with you all when I return and hope that this will generate more interest, prayer support and financial giving to those I visit.

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I am so grateful for you giving me your time to listen, your prayers and thoughts and any sponsorship you may wish to give to enable me to go on this amazing journey.

The schedule for the trip is packed solid with travelling, visiting and seeing the projects, staying with local families and hopefully being able to encourage those we stay with.

If you would like to sponsor me in any way, big or small, all donations are gratefully received, you can do this by clicking on the button below.

Thank you so much,

Paula Hogarth

‘Free Range’ God


It was just the other day that, as we were preparing for a morning gathering at my local church, the idea that we could welcome God into our gathering struck me as a little odd. For years I’ve known that the truth of the matter is; God will be there when He is invited. God will show up when He is allowed to be there. He will not force his way in, there is no foot in the door or scratching at the window. It just isn’t in His nature.

“But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].” (Psalm 22:3 AMP)

The God that I know created the Heavens, the Earth and everything in-between. Now, I made dinner tonight and that was hard enough, so I will forever be impressed by creating the Heavens and the Earth, especially in the time frame that He completed in. Kevin Mcloud should get in touch for a extra special edition of Grand Designs…

“so you’re going to build this on your own, without an architect or a team of builders or planning permission and you want to do it in…a week?”

I’ve always thought of God as quite…well, free range really. When you consider that God is omnipresent, omniscient and doesn’t have any problems getting around, He can go where He likes, yet He chose to be with us.

So as we were gearing up to go on stage on sunday morning, I had this overwhelming sense that God could have been anywhere in the world. Personally I would have chosen Auckland, Pismo or The Scottish Highlands, you get the idea, somewhere with stunning natural beautiful, rather than in rainy Preston.
But yet, on Sunday morning God had chosen to be with us. The God of all nations, higher that any other deity or god, my God, had decided to join us in Preston. It was a real and maybe quite personal message that He had decided to be there, because He wanted to be, because I wanted Him there and He wouldn’t have missed it for the world. God who occupies the Heavens had chosen to be with us, under our 180 year old roof.

It meant so much. I will not soon forget it.