Cooking with a toddler in tow…

This morning I decided to utilise one of my favourite presents from last Christmas again – my slow cooker. For some reason I was feeling more relaxed than usual with my cooking, so I suggested my little boy ‘help’. Normally I’m cooking on the hop, taking a quick break from working, playing a game with the kids or one of the many chores that are piled up waiting and so I find it hard to cope with the extra time – and mess – that cooking with a toddler entails. I’m also a bit of a control freak (I graciously say ‘bit’ to describe myself now as having two small children has certainly forced me not to be quite so freakish about things!).

Stood on a chair next to me my son was ecstatic every time a new vegetable came out of the drawer. He gasped at the sound of the pork sizzling in the pan as I browned it off, found the steam that came out of the slow cooker when I then placed the meat in it fascinating and begged me to let him help me do some chopping. Taking the time to see things through his eyes really helped me focus too. I learned today that God really is with me in the mundane. He showed me how much pleasure can be found in listening to a toddler try and say ‘aubergine’ and ‘courgette’ for the first time. I looked around my kitchen, at the mess and pile of jobs left to do, but realised that slowing down, just for a few minutes, can make so much difference to my outlook for the rest of the day. Now to see how long it lasts – especially as my son is currently on my lap busy pushing keys and playing with the mouse as I try to write this!! ;D

Bleary-eyed but still serving

We are going through one of those seasons. You know the ones – where one of your children decides that waking up mega-early is fun and they are going to do it constantly, night after night. So you are surviving on at least three hours less sleep than normal.

It’s at times like these that I get tested to the limits. It always seems to come when we are at our busiest. I never quite know whether it is them showing their disdain for the extra work or church commitments we’ve taken on, or God’s wry way of asking us to check if our priorities are still round the right way. Whatever it is, I know I get more irritable, lose my patience more easily and generally feel more down. If I’m honest I can find dealing with the children an extra burden I could do without – and then when I realise that I’m overwhelmed by guilt – sometimes… And it sometimes also hits me what these seasons reveal to me about my character flaws. And I wonder how come they are all still there, when I thought I’d made some headway with some of them…

The worst night of all often happens right before a Sunday meeting – when my husband is obviously facilitating the meeting, I may be playing and singing but whatever else I’m doing I will probably be ministering to a few people. I often think how can I when I feel empty myself – when I’m drained and grumpy? And that’s when I find the miracle I’m so regularly thankful for – God steps in when I’m beyond it. I know others say it too – when you really aren’t in control because you are so tired, it is actually often easier for God to accomplish what He wants to because He doesn’t have to get past your own thoughts and feelings on the matter. That’s not to say I wouldn’t prefer to be serving from a more awake state – just that I’m extremely grateful for what He does when I am struggling to keep my eyes open and my brain focused on what I am supposed to be doing!

Time out with God

The last few weeks have been what I can only term mind-blowingly hectic. Thanks to both our mothers we were able to go to two conferences, staying away one night. I enjoyed my first – yes, unbelievable to so many I met there it was in fact my first – Newfrontiers prayer and fasting conference. It was such a privilege to be amongst so many other leaders praising and praying. I was struck once again by the great care of our Lord. While no agenda other than seeking His face and praying His will was set, time and time again there were words about taking this time out to enjoy resting and being refreshed in His spirit. I was also struck again by the humility of our movement’s leaders. They are so approachable, so down-to-earth. It is great to be reminded of why I am so happy to be a part of Newfrontiers, and so relieved at how trustworthy our leaders are. It is true that submission isn’t difficult when those you are submitting to are doing what they are called to!

Invited

I am not a new convert to the idea that worship is not about singing songs on a Sunday morning – it is about our whole lifestyle – a heart issue. I’ve been to a worship conference and a prayer and fasting conference in the last couple of weeks (no small feat given the fact I have two small children!). Worshipping with a great throng is a wonderful experience but even in the midst of that God can still call us intimately. I was amazed at His grace and mercy afresh in both conferences – for different reasons, but some similar things were highlighted. We must remember to be confident in who He is, and who we are in Him – we are invited into His presence. Invited by Him!! And it is His presence that is the most important thing of all – we talked about corporate gatherings and leading worship times within them (there will probably be more on that later, as our worship team get together to feedback our thoughts on the worship conference this week). Stepping back from what we usually do week in, week out, it is easy to see how much we can be distracted. As someone I admire greatly said to a group of us last year, make sure you keep the main thing, the main thing. That is so true – if God isn’t there, what is the point of a meeting?!! Do we even notice if He’s there or not?