Saturday, 29 October 2011

Rice and Beans

As part of Kerith Community Church I was challenged to make a choice this week, to live on Rice and Beans. Now initially this didn't strike me as a great choice to be honest, as I love my food, and in particular meat. However as I heard more about the reasons behind it all, and as Gemma had already made the decision to do this, and let us say, enthusiastically encouraged me to join her (!!) I felt I should give it a go.

This choice however was one which helped me appreciate life a bit more. It made me look at all we have in this country and the amount of variety of food and possessions we are exposed to. As a church the Kerith are supporting Serenje, a village in Zambia. It's a 5 year project in which we are partnering with Tearfund and EFZ to provide practical assistance for those living with HIV. To read more about the whole project click here.

In taking up this Rice and Beans challenge, we were encouraged to empathize with, and pray for those people (particularly in Serenje of course) who don't have the choices we have. Who can't just nip down to Tesco and get a ready meal or phone for a pizza or Chinese takeaway. The exercise in itself was not a difficult one as I didn't go hungry, but it did make me appreciate all I have access to on a daily basis. The variety and amount of supermarkets, takeaways and restaurants we have to choose from. It also made me appreciate the balance of diet we eat and what an effect that has on your digestive system!!

A great encouragement to me over the week was the way others in our community joined the challenge and shared their experiences and recipes (thanks Stacey!) on facebook. This joining of hearts and minds is what this whole Serenje project is about, and having got involved with this Rice and Beans challenge it helped me connect more with the whole ethos of the venture. We also had the privilege of hearing firsthand what a difference our connection with Serenje is making as we had two Zambian pastors come and visit recently and share at our Serenje celebration meeting. They were so encouraging and so positive about how we had helped it was truly inspirational.

Also during the Celebration meeting we heard about all that had been done in Serenje, and the many ways our community had got involved with raising money for the project. It was fantastic to hear how our young people had got so on board with it all and how local schools had taken up the challenge too. I had the privilege of playing at all three meetings so got to hear firsthand from local teachers about how this project had affected them, as well as hearing from the CEO of Tearfund himself about what a difference we were making.

Our combined vision is not just to provide short term financial support for the African village, but to link the two communities of Serenje and Bracknell in a long term sharing of hopes and dreams. In blessing Serenje we in turn are blessed.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Top of the League

Well I can't let the week end without mentioning football. I know most of you will stop reading now but hey I just wanted to express the complete and utter joy I feel every time I think about my beloved Man City!!

For those of you who haven't heard, we played Man United on Sunday and beat them 6-1....yes 6-1!!!!!
Not only did we beat our arch rivals at the weekend but we came from a goal down last night against Wolves in the Carling Cup to win 5-2 scoring 3 of the goals in 3 minutes!!! So we're not only top of the Premiership and 5 points clear, we're in the last 8 of the Carling Cup too. A great week's work!!

Now even if you don't know anything about football or indeed don't care, bear with me as I try and explain what this means to me. I have blogged previously trying to explain some of the tension between the two Manchester teams so I won't go there again. What I would like to say is the fact that my hometown has two extremely talented football teams, and it makes me feel proud to be Mancunian.

I know people will quote the figures and announce how much City are worth, but all the money in the world doesn't make a team play as a team. You need good leadership, hard work and good influential players to make it successful. Mancini has done a remarkable job buying the right players and managing their egos well. Players like Aguerro have added not only talent, but influence and hard work to the team. My prayer is that the money being invested in the club will serve as a legacy to the city as a whole. As the Commonwealth Games left a decent legacy I hope and pray the same can be said of Man City's current success.

I can remember all too well going through all the emotions possible while watching City play Gillingham in the promotion playoff final to get us back into the top flight of football in 1999. All the years of watching with uncertainty while Kevin Keegan was manager not knowing if we'd win or lose, a true rollercoaster. Some part of me deep inside misses the anxious moments wondering what kind of performance we'd give. However most of me is enjoying watching slick professional football, solid defending, outstanding passing and movement on and off the ball and wonderful goals. True team work.

I know it's only a game, and there are more important things in life I could be discussing, but it's part of me, it's in my blood. Having followed the blues for some 38 years, most of those living in the south, I've had to cope with ridicule on a number of occasions. So to all those who might want to have a go, or negate Man City's recent achievements or indeed my feelings of joy at the moment, I'd just like you to consider how you'd feel if the boot was on the other foot.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Let Go and Let God

Well October is nearly over and such a lot has happened since I last blogged!!
  • My kitchen has been demolished and rebuilt
  • I've completed two work projects
  • My computer died and has been resurrected!! 
  • The Willow Creek DVD conference held at Kerith Community Church has been and gone
All of these events are reasons for my not blogging for a while and have all had an impact on my life.

The chaos created by losing my kitchen and having walls knocked down has meant life's routines are a little out of kilter. Getting packed lunches ready for Gemma is challenging in a makeshift kitchen situated in the dining room. Entertaining is obviously not an option....... for now anyway!!! Cooking meals using the barbecue, slow cooker and microwave is all ....well interesting!!!

However the wait is nearly over and I will soon be posting pictures of the fantastic changes that I believe will not only bless us as a family, but many other people too, some of whom I don't even know yet. Hospitality is something we as a family love and we're all looking forward to being able to use our new kitchen as a true blessing.

The work projects have been relatively straightforward, which for those of you who've been following my blog will hopefully find encouraging, as I've never really found it that easy before now. However they do take time and so other projects in the house like cleaning and ironing do tend to get put on the back burner, although cleaning at the moment is a bit of a waste of time anyway, with floor tiling and decorating yet to be done!!! I'm really pleased though that I don't seem to have panicked too much and have managed my time quite well fitting in rest times, coffees with friends and taxiing Gems around as usual!!

Losing my computer for a while threw me a little, but again I coped with it ok I think (Wayne may beg to differ at this point!!). The main irritation was having to reload all the programmes I lost Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Adobe, reconnecting the printer etc etc etc...

I played in the Worship band at the Willow Creek conference at the beginning of October. This had a huge impact on me emotionally, physically and spiritually. The conference is a two day event and was attended by around 450 delegates. I've played for these events before on many occasions and have always come away challenged by the speakers. However this year was different.

The lead up to the conference involved three main rehearsals (on top of our usual Sound Professors rehearsals) and lots of practice on my part to be able to play with any kind of efficiency and longevity!!
The whole atmosphere at these events is amazing and you really feel you are part of something bigger, something that God wants you to add to, and be involved with.
However what I didn't know was that God was going to speak directly to me!! He used a very good friend of mine to basically give me a kick up the backside!!

Over the summer I'd been reassessing my purpose and place in the church and hadn't really come to any decision. I was struggling with where I fitted in and yet knew that if God wanted me to be part of the Kerith He'd sort it!! Well He did.
I was given an ultimatum, which to be honest rocked my world. It was kinda like someone taking you by the shoulders and giving you a good shake. I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach and left to process it all. However I'm finding God rarely tries to make a point by using only one person. After receiving my ultimatum, I had a number of  friends encourage me and pray with me and  help me process everything I needed to deal with.

The consequences of all of this are a new attitude, a new focus on my purpose and self worth and the start of a new chapter. I read this morning that we have to be prepared to let go of things that God takes away from us, but we should never let go of His hand. There were things that I wasn't letting go of which God had taken away from me. They were blocking my relationship with God, and holding me back from developing my faith and purpose in Him. However I never let go of His hand, and even though sometimes it might have felt like only our fingertips were touching, I knew He was always there.

So are there things you need to let go of and let God work in you?