Sunday, August 19, 2012

Flourish 2012 continued... Fighting for our Daughters

One of the practical workshops that I attended at Flourish 2012 was with Letitia Shelton, entitled "Fighting for our Daughters". It was an incredibly challenging workshop that really inspired me to get more involved with ministry to girls in our community.  Letitia spoke about how she started working with a small group of girls and how that initial contact with teenage girls demonstrated so clearly to her how much teenage girls need to hear about the love of Jesus and to be shown love. 

Letitia now leads a group of 10 churches in Toowoomba, which has formed a group called City Women who work together to provide a range of opportunities for teenage girls and young single Mum's in the community.  Girl's Getaway camps are one of these such events and since they first started, 800 girls in the local area have heard the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bella Chicks is a Friday night fun filled group which meets in a local shopping centre, it is designed for girls in year 6 and 7 and  is aimed at building positive relationships. Also, Bella Sistahs offers mentorship and discipleship for girls keen to develop their own personal values and beliefs – to truly live out what they believe.

Another initiative that Letitia Shelton is involved with is, the creation of a positive magazine for girls, Bella which provides girls with an alternative to "Dolly" and "Cleo". Bella reinforces positive images and role models for teenage girls without exposing them to inappropriate sexualization and harmful messages.

 Bella is a non-profit magazine that is a catalyst for a cultural revolution, reversing the tide of self-damaging attitudes and trends imposed upon our young women.

In August Bella Magazine was launched in Launceston, Tasmania by MP Michael Ferguson & his daughter Eloise. In Tasmania Bella is available at Koorong and Birchalls. Bella subcriptions are available here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Created to create...

Have you ever wondered where the creative part of you comes from? Maybe you don’t think of yourself as creative? But do you bake? Are you good at organising? Can you sing? Do you enjoy writing? Are you clever with wit? Do you enjoy making your house a home? Do you like to teach? Are you a wizz on the computer? Can you make people feel welcome in your home? Are you good at your job? Do you invest in the lives of your children? Creativity takes so many forms! 

The Bible starts with God the creator... we all know the opening lines of the bible so well... “in the beginning God created...” the heavens and the earth, the sky, the sea, the plants, the fish, the animals... and last of all he created mankind... and you know, he looked around, and everything he saw was good... but mankind was VERY good! I wonder if you’ve ever imagined the creative process for God... do you look at the range of fish, for example? I get blow away when I think about their differences... did he laugh as he created the cat fish or the electric eel... did he think of the power of the shark and the whale... when he made the tiny fish he considered their need for community... did he invent new colours to paint these creatures with... of course he did... he took time and imagination... we are still discovering the hidden depths of the world... beauty that is even now undiscovered... you could study a whole lifetime and never see every type of creature... plant... bird... planet... that God has created! His creative powers are limitless! God loves beauty! “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”

The bible says “he alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea... he made the stars, the causes the mountains to move at his will... “. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hostls. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever... praise the lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds and do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord...” All through the bible God’s creative talents are evident! 

But when he’d finished making all the natural world and the creatures in it he made mankind in His image! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well!... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  God fashioned mankind with love and care, shaping us in his image... making us to love and enjoy relationship... to celebrate life... to enjoy the wind on our faces... to smell the beauty of the flowers... to taste... to see glorious colour... it wasn’t random... it took the creative power of the God of the universe to make that happen! 

I’m sure you’ve thought about the way the body works, how we are built full of such complex emotions, depth of feelings, gifts and talents, how the muscles in our bodies work, how the tiniest part of the brain can move something so far away, how the body fights illness, there are so many depths of the human we haven’t even begun to fully understand. The bible say “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well!... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” You know, God does more than look and enjoy us... he delights in us! Yep! Our lives can get really messy, we can feel unloved, we can stuff things up and beat up on ourselves... but God delights in us! We bring joy to him... can you imagine! The God who created all things looks and he sees YOU! Yes, you! And he takes pleasure, and even more when you acknowledge him and come to him for love. 

There’s a great example in Exodus where the temple is needing building and God said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.” Do you notice there that God gives each one skills and creative ability that suits us and that we can use... every one of us have creativity built into us... 

That’s where you get your creativity from... the one who made you... who looks at you and sees something that is VERY good! The one who has given each of us gifts and talents to use... The one who considered you worth sending His Son to die on the cross for so that you could be made perfect one day! He is the one who puts creativity in you! If that doesn’t move you, nothing will! 

And one day his creation will be made perfect so we can enjoy it in peace and harmony forever. Revelation talks about the new creation... God’s ultimate creative demonstration... “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth”, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Imagine a world where there is no sadness, no war, no destruction, no pain...
So next time you get creative... in whatever way rocks your boat... think about the One who made you and loves you... and think about how you can use your creativity to help those around you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dear Stay at Home Mum!

My dad sent me this to encourage me today... and I thought I'd share it with you (apologies for the narrow demographic!)

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,
You are a gift of God to your husband and your kids.
But you don’t always feel that way, do you?
There’s a low-level feeling of guilt that creeps into your heart from time to time. Sometimes it bubbles over into tears, usually on lonely, difficult days.
You scan blogs and read books about being a good mom. You find some helpful tidbits here and there, often from women who are grandmothers now. Women you can learn from but who seem to have forgotten the struggle. They seem to have it all together.
In your heart, you want to be the kind of mom who trains up kids to make a difference for the kingdom. You know it’s an honor to be entrusted with these kids. You know you’ve only got one shot. You want to be the mom who teaches them the Bible, models how to pray, and trains them up in the fear of the Lord.
But most of the time you feel like you’re barely holding it all together.
Your house cleaning can’t keep up with your kids’ mess-making.
The kids embarrass you by acting up right when your guests arrive.
Your husband doesn’t get just how worn out you are by the end of the day.
You come to the end of your patience. You lose your temper. Then you feel worse.
The last thing you consider yourself to be is a “good mom.” And you think to yourself, It’ll be a miracle if my kids turn out okay.
And – surprisingly – that’s right where God wants to meet you. The place where you admit your powerlessness and your need for Him.
It’s only by God’s grace that any kid grows up to be a force for the kingdom.
You see, there are no perfect kids and no perfect mothers. No matter what you read in blogs, see in magazines, and learn in books. There are sinful kids and sinful moms and dads.
And the only thing greater than both is the grace of God. The God who says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The God who loves to forgive, to transform, and empower.
God loves you – not because you are a good mother but just because you are His precious child.
God loves you – not because you’ve mastered all the skills of parenting but because He has.
It’s divine grace that will transform your parenting – not guilt.
It’s grace that will keep you going and serving and scrubbing when you’re exhausted and worn out.
It’s grace that will conquer your feelings of inadequacy and remind you of God’s love for you in Christ.
It’s grace that goes for the heart of your kids, not just their behavior.
God has demonstrated the fullness of His love for you through the cross of His Son, even while you were still a sinner.
He has promised you His presence.
He has spoken His approval over you in Christ.
He is the perfect Father who delights in you as a daughter.
Find in Him your Treasure and Joy. Be to others what He is to you.
So walk in freedom. Let Him hold you together when everything seems to be falling apart.
Bask in His unfailing love for you. And rest in His promise of power.

by Trevin Wax

(you can find the direct link at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reflecting on Flourish 2012

Life is crazy! Often it's tough! Sometimes it seems impossible! Encouragement isn't always as easy to find as it should be! But, you know what, Flourish was like a little oasis in the midst of life! It was so good to get alongside such a wonderful assortment of gifted, enthusiastic, Christ-centred women (and men!). It felt good to have one's soul enriched and to go back home feeling glad to have come, full of ideas, ready to get back into it!

So, what were some of the highlights for me!?

I was so encouraged to be around some godly men in leadership who wanted to be there to encourage women's ministries, to build up not tear down. It's not always obvious but it makes such a difference when women feel supported, heard, and encouraged by male leaders in a teamwork kind of way.To be respected as equals, to be given opportunity, to be valued... is indeed something we long to have more of... we yearn to see the Body of Christ built up... how can we do that better while celebrating unity yet difference in healthy ways?! (And, just in passing, pretty sure I heard something about the Moderator dyeing his hair purple!?)

I was encouraged by the ministry of Letitia Shelton who is heading up a ministry to young girls in Toowoomba. It's so easy to stay comfortable. We may not feel called to that specific ministry but it made me think about where I am willing to give myself to ministry that costs? There was a lovely story she told about a group of women who said they'd like to help by producing a cookbook. She swallowed her reservations and encouraged them to do that... a beautiful cookbook and over $44,000 of money earned for the ministry later... she was prepared to acknowledge that God will use things we often don't see the big picture about! I loved that! How often do we put our blinkers on and decide there's only one way to do ministry... ours!?! I want to make sure ministry has cost in my life... and that it reaches beyond the safety of my church walls!

I found the interview with Karen Thornton got me really thinking about how often the person we sit next to in the pew is struggling with a whole lot of stuff they have heavily guarded behind a wall of protection. Are we going to be willing to sit long enough to be the person who reaches into someone else's hardship and provides encouragement, support, prayer, and practical help. It's easy to be self-focussed... it takes courage to look outside ourselves. Will we be Christ to our neighbour?

I was deeply encouraged to hear Ros Barrett encouraging us from God's Word at the QLD welcome breakfast... when God gifts a woman with teaching we should encourage her to use those gifts in appropriate ways so that we can be built up. When we see women using their gifts let's encourage them to use them... maybe that means we think outside the box a little... it's time we did a little more inviting around... being built up and inspired by what God can do! Get excited! 

I shared some things about church conflict that were challenging for me and was deeply encouraged by a fellow christian who shared their struggles and sought to live in a way honouring to God. It made me think about all the times I've been afraid to speak for fear of rejection or more hurt... and yet when we share our struggles in a healthy way God so often uses us to bring healing in the lives of others. I wish we did that more in our churches. Sometimes the Body of Christ feels more like a science lab than a living, beating, unified being. We all hurt... but will we use our hurt to bring healing... or to bring destruction?

I loved the round-table concept... ordinary people sharing from their heart... what a blessing! If we could just learn to learn from each other more! How much richer would our lives be!? Makes me want to go home and interview all the saints around me! In honesty can we be encouraged to strive for greater holiness, knowing that, as David Jones reminded us so aptly, we have been made righteous through Christ... challenging each other to see God's workings in our lives day by day, through the hard stuff especially... and the older women amongst us... what a blessing to have you share so richly...
And the singing... how enriching was that... oh to capture a sense of heaven... pretty sure we need "The Voice" Pressie style... stay tuned!?  Rachel I want to hear a whole lot more about some of those songs on this blog soon! Not to mention a little interview with a certain talented writer... just saying!

And finally... I loved the food... the coffee... the buzz of discussion over meals... what a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over! I got so much encouragement from 2 days that I'm still living on the blessing of it! We need more of this connectedness and unity! We all have so much that God has given us, so many gifts, so many stories to build each other up with... I can't wait for what God is going to do next...

What will it look like in your part of the world?! Love to hear about it on this blog soon!