Sunday, 6 January 2019

Passion and Purpose continues

It's been a funny old year.....
At the tail end of last year (2017) I got a prophetic word from reliable friends that this year would be a year of change.... but not in the way I thought.

It was nearly a year after mum's death and I was beginning to feel more positive.

Then came this word...

You will need to go through a process, your instinct will be to walk away BUT don't, go through the process but there will be a time of endings.

Boy was that true. I can honestly say that is a good summary of my year.

Horrendous is an
understatement.

24 hrs before this word I was told I had to go through a process, I had no real choice in. (I had not said that to those who gave me the word)

If it had not been for this word, I would have told people to get lost.

In the months that followed I thought about it many times.

It very nearly broke me.

What is perhaps worse people I trusted stuck the knife in.

I got a good old kicking.

BUT

I am a weeble....

and tempted as I was to punch a few people's lights out, I managed to centre on the Word and push through.

I don't always share what I have been through in my life but I know what I have overcome.

Some people probably don't see me in the right way at times.... I am not theologically trained, I call a spade a spade and well frankly

I am just a wee assertive woman at times who shoots from the hip

and well that can get people's hackles up.

That was not the only prophetic word I got this year though.

A Pig Farmer came up to me and shared a word about Dog walking and ministry.

He said something like this.

A dog walker picks up the dog Poo. But its not even their dogs dirt.... It's other people's dirt. Somewhat silently you follow behind picking up the mess others have created and left behind.

He then said

That is what you do in ministry. You go to the people no one else goes to. You roll up your sleeves and muck in. You don't pretend to have it sorted or pretend to be better.

That is what makes you have authority.

Now that sounds good doesn't it?

Well it does except my ministry as I knew it has been ripped to shreds.

Have you ever been in a place where you feel in the centre of His Will but at the same time a bit lost?

The stress and exhaustion of what I have been put through has knocked the stuffing out of me....slowly trying to rebuild my life.

I am acutely aware that this is not exactly a great advert to come to church.

A missionary being honest about hard stuff.

But you see people are people.... they make mistakes..... even christians mess up. (You just have to have a look at church history and you will find a multitude of bad choices)

In fact the mistakes of the church is often the reason people won't darken the door.

But God comes through.

You see it is my deep rooted passion for God that keeps me getting out of bed. It does not mean I don't have times that I think I could just walk away on life today...

God has been with me in every dark place I have been in. He never promised me an easy life....

You know its easy to be a missionary when you have exciting outreaches and miracles and people paying for your car..... but when you have had a ministry has been Tough and lots of people have put you down....  it takes real strength to know WHO you are and Be who you are called to Be.

I would even say that if all you are teaching is the WOW factor... you won't get people to last the race.

I can say that as I have had experience of spending a few hours with people with my honest shoot from the hip style.... it is me they skype if they need an ear.... they know that I make time for people. One person is important.

God does not promise people an easy ministry - it can be hard, very hard.

Some even have hard more constantly than fab and wow... and the thing is we seem to have contorted things and said that if you don't see the prosperity then it is YOU that is wrong.

Can I tell you that is a lie.

In my time as a  missionary I have had very poor financial support and many would have given up a long time ago. There have been people in that time that have challenged my call over that.

You know what God has always been faithful, He should be how to be creative and provided solutions.

Only sometimes people did not like the solution. They said oh you can't do it that way that is not right.... why not? If the people of God have not responded and if God shows you how to bridge the Gap why not?

You see we all too often want to keep God in a box.

We all too often want to have a nice life and not be sacrificial.

Give up your foreign holiday....downsize your car.....give your kid second hand goods for their Christmas.... give up having a salary........

And still people criticize...

Of course God may not ask you to do that... but are you willing to do it if it means you can be part of something bigger.

How much is to much? What would you be prepared to do for God?

Love until it hurts...

Passion with a purpose.

Happy New year folks

May you love have a year where you grow stronger, know who God created you to be and learn to be confident in being who you are.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Transitions - Stepping Out not looking Back

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day, so I thought I would jot down a few thoughts.

Transitions can be scary.

Since the tail end of last year, I have been aware that I would be entering a new phase this year.
I did not know then that it would be so painful. For the last 13 years I have faithfully worked at pioneering a ministry. It is hard to let something you grafted over fall to the ground.

Sometimes you just need to let things fall and walk away.

Christian ministry can be the most peculiar thing. In one sense the joy and privilege of getting to connect with people and journey with them through life in the hard times as well as the good is just brilliant.
The demands that Christian organisations can put on you however can be unrealistic, soul destroying and to be quite frankly, very un-christian.

When all the weight is put at one end of a scale, one side is weighed down.
An uneven yoke is hard to carry.


I find it very interesting at the moment that there is social media trending and discussions on how the church will evolve in a post Bill Hybels era, along with discussions about Christians with mental health issues. People seem surprised that mental health is an issue for people in ministry.

I am quite surprised that Christians are quite surprised about this.

A church/Christian organisation has to marry different organisational entities. In one sense it is a corporate body and business structures need to be applied... but in another sense those organisations should operate with a different value base. Getting the balance right is so hard.

I have seen some organisations lift and lay business theory and plop it into church culture... This can work but the reality is quite often that these practices are plopped in without making the necessary culture modifications. The result is that you have a man made business mentality with absolutely no allowance for seeking God's heart.

The opposite can often be as bad. The opposite is that you have a Christian organisation that sees any plan or structure as a worldly mindset and does such things out of necessity. No forward planning can set you adrift.

Getting the equilibrium would be wonderful.... an organisation that is both prophetic, organised and oozing with the Love of God.... people may even be attracted to that.

My experience or Christian organisations is that they can be hard task masters.
Who has not heard comments like "It's okay, you will get your reward in heaven"
(Yeah thanks but if you drive people too hard  they may get to heaven faster than they should)

Or who has not had that colleague or person who has an uncanny knack of sending you an email on your holiday and starts by "Sorry to bother you when you are off" but still expects you to reply or grant whatever request they have at the click of a button. (I don't care its a holiday period, I want my needs met now...next week or 2 weeks is too long to wait)

The problem with being a good natured person is that some people take advantage of your good nature.

So then you need to put boundaries in. We need to reset our heartbeat to be in time with the Father.... no running away with ourselves... just getting back to basics.

Sounds simple but if you start with new boundaries, some people react to the fact that the culture has changed.

If an organisation has an existing bad organisational culture, one person trying to get people to think differently is like a salmon swimming upstream.
 Constant knocking against the tide can really take it out of you, even when you are doing the right thing.

Structure can be a good thing, but if the pendulum swings too far either way you can have a controlling culture or a rootless, drifting and messy structure.

As Christians getting the balance right is so important and that is why we have to constantly align to God. We are also so different. Some are prophetic and some are apostolic. These characteristics often clash.... but both are needed in the church. Too much of one and not the other can adjust the pendulum.

I am sorry to say that even in this day and age its hard to be a woman leading things, even in organisations that outwardly promote women in leadership... there is still resistance.

If a man is confident, it is assumed he is a good leader. If a woman is confident..... she's okay, as long as she knows her place.

I know that some people reading this might even be objecting to my honest reflection and opinion in the blog..... after all organisations don't like to think that they  have a bad organisational culture....Ironically it tends to be good organisations that recognise they have practises that they need to change.

So I am letting go of the balloon. The visions, they dreams, the broken promises....

That can be scary too...

It is often after you step away or stop that you can see the true damage, trauma and exhaustion that you have allowed to happen to yourself.

You have to look after SELF and care for self.

When you have done so much for others and others have let you do it - it can be hard to say, actually I am doing this a different way now.

So, I am starting on a new adventure with God. How to continue my call with a different hat on.
The dynamics of that are still fuzzy. Like do I use my skills with other organisations as a volunteer or do I work towards consultancy and freelance work?

As a business owner already , a dog walking business, for now I think it is fine to use community worker gifts  for people or organisations that appreciate them... and I get involved in ministry that I feel called to, not what others think I should do.

There is a lot of freedom in that.

As a lifelong learner, I am always open to the new.... and with God as my lead... I am happy to go along with him on the journey.
 

Just me, God and a dog... ( or a few) makes for a better balanced day.

Take Care Of your Mental Wellbeing.
 

 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Prophetic Word from a Pig Farmer

At the end of last year I decided to book a Prophetic conference. I went myself and did not invite friends to go. I just went. I knew I had to.
As those of you who know me, you know that I find being a home based missionary hard. I have often wondered how a home based missionary gets a break.

Things got to breaking point the week before the conference. I decided the only way to take a break was to actually do it. With no time scale in mind.

So I arrived at the conference, with relief and uncertainty.

When I got there I wondered if there would be faces I know.... in one way that is nice but in another way I just wanted to be me.

On the second day I saw someone from my mission organisation. I thought I would say "Hello" but at the same time I did not expect word would have got out that I was on Sabbatical.

So I said Hello.

The person I knew was talking to people I did not know. There was a kinda awkward moment where the man she had been talking to asked me what I did.

I hummed and hawed for a few seconds as I explained I lead a team of missionaries but I am on sabbatical.... so I guess I run a business as a dog walker.

The man and I started to chat about how dog walking is just as much part of my ministry. It helps me to  grieve. It is also a way people connect with me. It is a way I connect with God.

The man laughed.

He said I know exactly what you mean, I am a pig  farmer these days. My daughter dog walks and she started that after a traumatic time.

Infact, I felt God has spoken to me about dog walking. Can I share it with you? Can I share this word with you, and see if it resonates with you?

Of course you can.

You are going to think this strange, it involves dog poo.

Okay, I said, let me be the judge of that.

The man, (we will call Mark) proceeded to say this.

As a dog walker you follow an animal and pick up mess. It is not your animal, so you are essentially following this dog around picking up someone else's mess. It is not a job that most people would do. It is quite literally something that could get your hands messy. Some people may even turn their nose up at you, as its a job that is menial.

You are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get into the everyday mess of broken people's lives. You are community focussed. You care about people.
You do a kind of ministry that some people would not care to do. It may look small to some people, maybe even insignificant but it matters because people matter to God. Some might look at your ministry and think "What is that?" It's not big and brash and glossy. You are not afraid to work with brokenness and the down and out. The people on the fringe that could be lost or missed. You are at the heart of what matters.

I laughed.

"Isn't God good?" I said.

A pig farmer talking to a dog walker about servant hearted ministry. (You really could not make this up.)

I know some of you may read this and think "What?"

But I look at this and I smile.

I smile because God knows me. I smile because no more than 48 hrs before this encounter I decided to pause what I was doing. Tired and disillusioned.  Just to run my business for a bit.

Then Mark comes along with this insight. He does not know me, yet he spoke into the what was relevant at the time.

It most definitely resonated with me.

We parted company, a fleeting encounter, yet a meaningful one.




Tuesday, 10 April 2018

In it for the Long Haul - Being obedient in the midst of trial.

Around this time last year, I had the privilege of having a YWAM team come to my city. I had the opportunity to speak with them. Having a team visit is often a way for you to encourage, envision and sometimes even recruit long term staff to the city. So I thought of all the history of what we did and why we do it. The things that give me passion - loving someone without any conditions. Sharing the gospel by Word and by deed.

But then when I went to bed, I felt I had to share some of the hard stuff. Being on short term mission is different to being in it for the long haul.
Short term mission you can have long days that are packed with meeting after meeting. On the road... but then you go home or move on...

You don't have time for establishing long term relationships and you look for the outcomes, who made commitments... who was healed...

Long term you are home, you can not go at the pace you would as a short termer ( otherwise you would burn out pretty fast) and you are interested in relationship with your neighbours and local churches.

You have to be able to cope when the rough and the smooth.

So after a sleepless night, I felt I had to change what I was going to say.

The next morning, my son came down the stair and suddenly told me some events that had happened the previous day at school.. he did not want to go to school because of what happened. It required my immediate attention and so I had to arrange to see the Head Teacher and the team had to wait.

Running an hour late and sleep deprived, I knew more than ever that I had to be honest with this team how hard it is at times.

I have had a rough 4 years...with little let up. I won't go into what I said, if I am honest I am not entirely sure. It was passionate and from the heart.

What I do know is that several thanked me for my honesty. I also know that more than one of them connect with me from wherever they are in the world if the want to chat about or mull over decisions. They know I will listen... they know I love the nitty gritty of pastoral care. Helping people to evaluate their position and enable them to create a space where they can stand back and work out what God is saying to them. It is easy to tell students that full time mission is just the best ever... and it is at times. I am fortunate to be able to share my life everyday and share hope and love... but there are days that are hard. Sometimes even Christians don't get you. Or they want you to spend more time with them, instead of those who don't know God. Almost like you will fall off the wagon, if you don't set yourself apart.
All of these encounters with people matter, even if it is 30 minutes of my day (or more). Seeing people through these small things are just as important to the more visible parts of ministry. One person matters to God.


Life is messy, are you going to roll your sleeves up or stand back and pass judgement?

If we are going to train people to be in the mission field, we need to equip them how to stay when the going gets tough. My trials can not compare to that of missionaries in danger zones.

I was juggling the challenge of ageing parents, bereavement, the grief of your children, whilst the challenge of bullies. Being a mum and doing work. Not to mention feeling orphaned. Then the panic of being in a supermarket, when you are at the point of still trying to function..Every part of you at full stretch for years, whilst few noticed.

You just want to scream "Can anyone see me?"

Just like the dynamism of short term mission you can't sustain that without the cracks beginning to show.... but you are on this runaway train and you can't jump off.

Spinning plate syndrome occurs...

Until one day God says "BUCK"

So like a heavy laden donkey, the yoke that has been weighing it down has been thrown.

Have I given up? No chance, I know who called me and I know who will see me through. Some things will be picked up again and some things won't.

This might be a crossroads in the journey.... or the end of the chapter ....but its not the end of the story.... but it may be a new chapter is about to begin.

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