International Women’s Day

I love marking International Women’s Day each year because I feel my life is enriched and challenged by the women I not only have around me but those that I either read or write about around the world too. This year, I’ve created an acrostic poem to highlight some of the qualities I find truly inspiring about women in the world today.

pic of women

Incredible strength of character;

Not afraid to speak their minds;

Tough on the outside, but tender-hearted too,

Enriching the lives of others by what they do.

Reality for so many is not what it should be,

Never allowed to choose – to be free.

At times I ache for women trapped in unjust lives,

Terrified for them – and feeling helpless besides.

In their response to life they inspire me:

Once more facing the day with determination;

Not allowing circumstances to dominate;

Always responding with dignity;

Loving those around them with such grace and mercy.

 

Women around the world

Overcoming hardship, injustice and prejudice daily.

My own world is cossetted by comparison – but still I face obstacles;

Endurance and education is key for us all.

Not settling but pushing ourselves to go far;

Solid faith in who we are.

 

Don’t ever stop believing in yourself,

Always aim high – you have what it takes to see it through;

Your very existence spurs me on to be the best I can be too.

women-in-india

Advertisements

Lessons from the cheese box

This morning I opened the fridge door and immediately spotted that the box that we keep our cheese in had moved shelves. My family had been staying for the weekend and had looked after our kids while we were out, so they had obviously put it back in a different place. I was intrigued by my response: I was both offended and surprised.

The offence came from my immediate reaction: “What’s the cheese box doing there? That’s not where it lives!” and the surprise, “Hmm, it looks neater there – perhaps that’s a better spot”.

As I shut the fridge door I felt God whisper to me, “That’s your response when people do things differently to you”. I knew He was talking about the ‘offended’ response. Ouch.

As part of a leadership training course I’m attending, we’ve spent time looking at how well we foster new leaders. I’ve started asking myself these sorts of questions:

Do I encourage others into new leadership roles or am I fearful of what that might mean for me?

Do I always ‘need’ to be involved in new initiatives or am I happy to see others bring them into fruition?

Do I gladly embrace new ways of doing things suggested by other people or do I do so half-heartedly, grumbling in my heart that it will never work and ‘knowing’ that mine is the better way?

Am I seeking to raise up other leaders who will be able to take over the roles I am currently in, or am I holding on too tightly?

To read the rest of this article please click here.

The weight – and joy – of leadership

Have you ever wanted to just hide away and not go to church? That’s how I felt on Saturday evening. The thought of getting up early in the morning and speaking to dozens of people, of worshipping God even (yes, it was a low moment) and of feeling the responsibility of needing to be stood next to my husband in the front row all weighed heavily on me.

I just needed a break.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this – and I know it is right to take time out at times.

But one of the burdens of leadership is living by example. And just hiding under my duvet when I don’t feel 100 per cent is not setting a good example. So I shot up a quick prayer asking that God would refresh me and I was immediately reminded of the Sunday before.

On that day, I was suffering from such severe back pain that I hadn’t slept all night. I was playing the main instrument in the worship team and we had a visiting speaker from Nigeria, who we were hosting a lunch for after the service. On that particular Sunday the whole of me was screaming “It isn’t fair! Why should I have to carry on? Why can’t someone else do it?”

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Why do we always want something different?

On Friday my two new books are published. I am taking a moment to celebrate that fact – to thank the editor who asked if I would like to write them, and to acknowledge all the hard work it took to put them together.

Learning with F21_Prayer Learning with F21_Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it also makes me long for the day when the book I have burning within me makes it out of my heart and mind and onto the bookshelves. You see, so far I have four books under my writerly belt. But each one I was asked to write. The ideas did not originally come from me. Yes, I ran with them, developed them, put my all into them – but they don’t feel like they are quite ‘mine’.

I also look around at the Christian non-fiction authors who have huge followings, bestsellers and sell-out tours. I look and wonder – will I ever get anywhere close to that? And does God even want me to? In the times when I get frustrated, I have to consciously take my eyes off of another’s path and focus on my own. Because God has called me to walk out my own life, not someone else’s.

God really challenged me recently. I was considering whether I could feasibly take on the leadership training that I had been offered. So often we are told to look at our priorities, to check where all our time goes (yes I’ve previously written about doing a time budget – we got partway there!). I know that working parents will probably relate to what I’m going to say next: most of the time I feel like my whole self is being simultaneously stretched in at least four different directions.

Writing and editing make up my ‘job’, but I also believe they are part of my calling. I also know that first and foremost I am to love my God above everything and everyone – and then my husband and my children. I also now have a deep passion for those who attend our church. I want to see them reach their full potential, walk free from those things that have bound them and be all they can be. I am also fired up by worship and long to see people engaging with God in new and creative ways.

And yet so often I feel like I’m only just scratching the surface with each of those areas. That I’m just treading water rather than taking ground. I wonder whether I’m selling people short by not giving more – but then I know that, realistically, I haven’t got any more to give. So how can I take on anything else? But then that quiet small voice whispers to me, encouraging me and telling me it could be the one thing that equips me to serve others better, and gives me the time to actually stop and check my priorities.

To read the rest of this post please click here.

 

 

International Women’s Day 2014

Happy International Women’s Day! We have so much to be thankful for – but there’s also much to reflect upon. I have had the huge privilege of writing some of my own reflections about IWD2014 for Christian Today. You can read them here.

Charlie_Davies_with_leatherworkers

I was also able to spend some time this week gathering quotes from some amazing, inspirational women who told me what IWD2014 means to them – either a day to celebrate or a day to think about a particular issue. One such woman is Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director, A Rocha UK, who told me that:

I’d like IWD to be a day when we celebrate the role of women in producing our food. Did you know that 60–80% of food in most developing countries is grown and/or processed by women and that women are the main producers of the world’s staple crops (rice, wheat and maize)? And yet, shockingly, they only own 2% of the world’s land. Let’s give thanks today for the women around the world who grow our food and use that to remind us to be mindful of each mouthful that we eat.

And here is what Julia Immonen, founder of Sport For Freedom, said:

International Women’s Day is a really exciting opportunity to celebrate what it is to be a woman – gentle, yet strong and determined, and to be thankful for those who have gone before to make so much possible and achievable for us as women today. It is also a day where we can stop to recognise the fact that many women within the UK and throughout the world are still subject to terrible injustices. Our work at Sport For Freedom focusses specifically on the injustice of human trafficking in the UK that we long to cease to exist by seeing an end to modern-day slavery in our generation. I believe that we all have a role to play in this mission; we can’t all do everything, but we can all do something. Let’s celebrate this International Women’s Day and also be challenged to use our freedom to fight for those who do not have theirs.

To read what the others shared with me please click here.

Women in worship

At the end of last year I had the privilege of putting together an article on women in worship for Woman Alive, which has just been published. As a worship leader myself, who is definitely in the minority as a woman amongst a male-dominated worship team, this is definitely a subject that is on my heart. I was in contact with some great worship leaders that I’m sure you will recognise. I’ve pasted the images of the article below, but they can also be found on the page of my site that includes other examples of my work: writing. As I know there are many women out there who need an extra boost of encouragement to carry on going I am hoping to develop this idea further. So I’d love to hear from any other female worship leaders about your experiences – and also from any women in local congregations. What is your experience of sung worship at your church? I hope and pray that all your giftings are encouraged and given space to be expressed 🙂

A pioneering woman, pt 5: women leaders

Wendy Virgo on women as leaders:

Within evangelical circles Newfrontiers is often labelled as being the movement who won’t let women be leaders. How would you respond to that label?

We have always been very diligent to discern what is a biblical way of conducting life in our churches. It has not always been comfortable, and this particular issue has often been completely misunderstood. The reality is that we probably have more women active in our churches, and also involved in leadership, than in most others. Other churches can have a very limited idea of leadership. They may have one pastor or a small team of deacons or leaders who do everything. From very early on, we discovered that the church is the Body of Christ with every member finding their gift and playing their part. So we encouraged everyone, men and women, to pray, prophesy, lead in singing, read scripture, share a testimony or vision and heal the sick when we came together on a Sunday or midweek.

Women in Newfrontiers churches lead worship, baptise new Christians, hand round communion, pray publicly, prophesy, teach, train counsellors, preach, run Alpha, steward, heal the sick, cast out demons, witness in the streets, administrate conferences…in fact everything men can do, so do they! But because we see in the Bible that overall responsibility both in the church and in the home has been designated by God to men, we do not have women elders.

The Bible shows that men and women are made in the image of God. That means that masculinity and femininity came out from God. Both express something of God, and have equal value. There is also order in the Godhead; the Son eternally submits to the Father, but is of equal worth. So also wives are of equal worth to their husbands, but honour them by godly submission. In turn, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, as Christ did for the church.