Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ash Wednesday

Tonight we had our youth group as usual in our home - we combined Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and made pancakes followed by some Lent reflections and imposition of ashes. It was fun; great to just hang out over food and enjoy a bit of silliness as well as the more serious business of considering the season of Lent. Andy did a great job leading us.
So we/I made some decisions about how we're going to approach Lent this year. As Andy heads off to Tanzania tomorrow for a trip with his college and Tearfund, we've been thinking ahead to some of how that might impact us. I have decided to try and live, as much as is feasible, on £1 a day for Lent. For me this is about recognising the poverty of the world, particularly the part of the world where Andy will be next week. I don't want to just get absorbed in parenting, holding the fort and getting through til he comes back and I hope having this challenge will enable me to journey a bit with him in a small way. Alongside that, I also want to acknowledge that I don't think very carefully about the random little purchases I make, most of which are unnecessary. I want to try and curb my luxury spending.
We have a veg box delivered each week and our food shopping is pretty standard to complement that, same stuff each week. At present our freezer is in a good place so during Lent I will be cooking from our veg box contents and food that's in the freezer and will be attempting to buy as little extra as possible. Setting myself a £1 limit will also mean I think more carefully about impulse buying a bar of chocolate, although I recognise that need may hit at some point! After the day I have had today, I'm just grateful for pancakes to satisfy my need for comfort food! My plan is also to make a packed lunch when I do the kids lunches - unless I'm fortunate enough to be fed at work which I will be tomorrow.
We're obviously not including the kids in this - plenty of healthy, nutritious and balanced meals for them to come! But I do hope that some conversation will spring from it for Matilda who doesn't miss a trick!
Blogging this Lent is something I want to do more regularly...your feedback, comments, questions always welcomed to keep me motivated!

Love this prayer from Everyday Liturgy

Almighty and everlasting God,
We come before you with unclean lips, as the saints before us.
We come before you and request that you touch us and heal us,
that you stir the waters and make us whole again,
that whomever seeks you should find living water,
and never thirst again.
You will mix the dust of our sin and darkness with your healing water,
you will heal our blindness, and we will see you
as the God who bore our iniquities and conquered the grave,
who scattered all evil, malice and shadow,
and claimed victory over sin and death.
Be victorious over our sins, for they are many.
And give us the hope of your salvation,
that having been cleansed we may offer your grace
to all we know and meet.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Lenten Disciplines - a work in progress...

I was on a Retreat Day on Saturday with some women from church. We had teaching input from Jeannie Saggs, Pastor at CGC Maldon (our old church, new pastor!) about how our thought patterns and hidden beliefs about ourselves can affect the way we walk in faith and with God. It really struck me that I often feel overwhelmed by my thought patterns, lots of ideas or re-runs of conversations, endlessly going round in circles trying to work out a best next step or deciding on how to handle a particular situation. In fact, if I'm honest, I'm more comfortable and at ease when my mind is whirring. Not a good place to be...

Alongside that 'overwhelmed' sense on Saturday came a recognition, a word from God about how He desires for me to be overwhelmed in Him. That the flood of love, peace and comfort He promises cuts through all those random, jumbled thoughts and worries. And now comes the church's calendar and we're heading, already, into Lent. In previous years, I've done various things like coming off Facebook. Still deciding on that at present.
But what I am thinking is that, despite failing abysmally in December, I may set myself a Lenten writing challenge and bring in a few friends to help. Members of TOM ( are taking part in a twice weekly devotional online, with various members contributing via Facebook and the website and so I hope to connect in with that. It's prayer focus is on the TOM Project ( - fruitful kingdom communities amongst young adults on university campuses. As our path beyond summer 2014 is currently uncertain, it seems pertinent to be praying for such wide, big purposes of God rather than the stuff which I've found is filling my head. I have a few things in the pipeline at the moment - work projects and other future stuff which I need to give adequate prayer and focused space too rather than seeing them as a task. Just need to document that process of asking 'What is God saying and what am I going to do about it' on a more regular basis.

So, a variety of disciplines are being prompted this year. I know my jumbled thoughts often seem so minimal when written down and articulated to my journal, to those I Huddle, to this random collection of blog readers so I hope that as I write, I will feel less overwhelmed by myself and more by God.