Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lent: The Story so far

I used to use the story of a potato as a sermon illustration.
It was about a man asking God for some sense of meaning in his life.
He thought and prayed about it
Until one day he was in the kitchen,
And he heard God say

"What have you got in your hands?"

He looked down
And there in his hand was a potato.
His first thoughts were quite limited.
What can I do with a potato?
Chipped
Boiled
Mashed
Roast
Saute

Then

Potato printing
Stain removal
Peelings in the garden

And so he went on
Until,
legend has it
he wrote a book entitled
'101 uses of a potato.'

The beauty of sermon illustrations
is we never let the whole truth get in the way of a good story...

Of course we would never wilfully lie...
However:

Lent has been a bit like that for me so far.
You may remember a decision I made on Shrove Tuesday,
that every day of Lent I would de-clutter something
Physically
Emotionally
or
Spiritually.

You can read about it here
http://karensandford.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/taking-up-not-giving-up-for-lent.html

And the exercise has led me to keep on considering the question
What have you got in your hands?

What has God given me that I don't use?
It's brought me to the food-stuffs that inhabit the depths of my freezer
And dwell at the back of my kitchen cupboards.
The toiletries I stock-pile and keep for a special occasion that often doesn't arrive.
The books I haven't read.
The 'stuff' I buy on impulse.

And I've found myself taking time every day to just
stand
and stare.

Virginia Water Spring 2014















Seeing my life with fresh eyes
And a different perspective
can only be a good thing as far as I can see.

An English Springtime

Every day has brought something new.
A realisation that God is in this life I live.
Every little detail.
I have a veritable treasure-trove at my disposal.

It's Him.
All Him.

And just as a postscript.

This is my 100th post on this blog.
With every post I've shared something of my story and God's.
And how they intertwine.

'My life is hidden with Christ in God.'
I had no inkling of what that meant when I started.

Now I know.

How I know...

His grace
His love
His comfort
His blessing
His leading
His joy
His silence

Have all shown me that

'Earth is crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes...'
(Elizabeth Barrett-Browning)

Reigate Hill, Surrey, February 2014

Looking forward to continuing the journey with you

My fellow 'seer'

My fellow 'shoe-remover'

My fellow-traveller.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Taking it up for Lent 2

Well that was an interesting week!

Last week you may recall I decided to spend Lent de-cluttering
Physically
Emotionally
Spiritually.

If you missed it,
you can read about it here
http://karensandford.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/taking-up-not-giving-up-for-lent.html

I have been
reading
thinking
praying.

Walking
running
playing.

I've taken warm baths;
mooched by the sea;
and spent 5 hours de-cluttering...

wait for it...

1 corner!

ONE CORNER!

Anyway.
I have also worked during that time
And been involved in ministry of one kind or another.

And on the whole it's been a good week.

I've heard God.

And enjoyed spending time with him.

On Wednesdays I do Parent & Toddlers.

After crawling through traffic at some ungodly hour,
then dropping Chris at the station;
I was on my way to the hall this morning
when I realised I couldn't do it.

I had nothing to offer.

Nothing to give.

Nothing.

We have a good team for Parent & Tots at Penge.
In many ways they don't need me.
And I needed a moment.

So I detoured for coffee
And porridge
And time.

I hid
worked
in the office for a while when I got there

But when I emerged
(for coffee again)
I saw one of the Mums was struggling.

She had suffered multiple bereavements a few years ago.
She knew I had too.

So we talked.

And she cried.

We spoke of the sustaining power of God.
We remembered that the valley of the shadow of death
can be long at times,
but we need fear no evil because God is there.

And we prayed.
In the middle of the clamor of little people,
we asked for God's Holy Spirit to fill her
with his strength,
his grace,
his comfort,
his peace.

She described me as one of the tokens of grace
that God had promised her in her grief,

But she was that for me too.
She understood.
No explanation required.

We ministered to each other as kindred spirits
united by shared experiences.

"And thanks be to God that He always...

Always...

ALWAYS leads us in triumphal procession.

And through us,

THROUGH US!

spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
(2 Corinthians 2:14)

In spite of everything.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Taking up for Lent.

How many pancakes have you had?
I only cooked about 20 this year
But I had one boy less at home
And no competition to see who could eat the most.

Tomorrow, I'm sure you know is the start of Lent.
I've seen plenty of statusses telling the world what they're giving up.
But you know I'm not sure that's what's required...

Is God glorified by us not eating chocolate?
Or whatever?
And isn't it something between us and God anyway?

Yesterday during my few hours retreat
I was encouraged to think about taking something up for Lent.
Last year I embarked on 40 days of feasting.
You can read about it in my archive should you so desire...
But the thing I keep coming back to is the idea of decluttering.

Those of you who know me well,
will know I'm not the most ordered of people.
And some parts of our house are full of clutter.

But I also think my life might benefit from a bit of a declutter too.

So here's the deal.
Every day during Lent I'm going to declutter something.
Either physically, emotionally or spiritually.
It will help me prepare my heart and mind for Easter.
A kind of Spring Cleaning for the mind as well as the home.

What about you?
Anyone fancy joining me?
At least this way we still get to eat chocolate!