Friday, June 08, 2012
Face into the Sunflower
Life just got really, really exciting. Word is beginning to get out about the book and the first book launch is one week tomorrow. A couple of national reviews have been done and the physical books - my share of them - arrived today.
I think what I am most excited about is that "it is finished". I have been obedient to what I believe God asked me to do. Read back here, wow, I can hardly believe it myself!
I have just realised that I have not written anywhere on this personal blog what happened at the HTB Leadership conference in February 2011 that was really a catalyst for all that you may have been tracking. At the end of one of the session (and to be honest, coffee was being served, there was no remarkable encounter/ministry time happening for me), a chap I knew vaguely but who I had never, ever had a conversation with came up to me and asked, out of the blue: "what's God saying to you just now?"
I was taken aback, its true I hadn't left the front where worship and prayer had been happening, but I was just standing quietly, alone. I said: "God is saying to me once again that I will write a book to prepare the UK for the coming influx of children and their families and I will write this to help church leaders know how to handle this from a number of different angles. The book will take many different topics but will ground it in practical theology and real life stories " (or something like this).
I didn't expect him to be that interested, to be honest, but he stood back and said: "the time is now. You need to write this now". I explained that I had a demanding job on staff at the large church I was part of and came home exhausted, just wanting to be with my children and husband and I couldn't see how I could fit this in until the children were bigger.
He paused for a moment and said: "you need to ask for a sabbatical." At this point I burst into tears as I had been feeling the same and had asked my employers who had not responded favourably to my request for a number of reasons - so that door was shut. I had been a children and family pastor for 8 years; I had worked hard, I loved those I served deeply and I knew hand on heart that I was not asking for selfish reasons.
We exchanged a little more on this and then he prayed for me. I can only explain what felt like lightening strike me - and him - and - I don't know how you will take this readers, but all I can say that what happened in the natural PHYSICALLY felt like a decisive 'strike' to act. I had no idea how I could afford to do what I was going to end up doing a few weeks later and the mechanics of what happened next I will leave there. Suffice to say, the friends with prophetic ministry confirmed the compulsion I felt to do this thing. And as you read back you will see how much pain was in the birth of this book, but it meant my face was pressed hard against the throne of God; all I could do was look at him and bring all that I felt, all that I wanted, all that I had risked and given up, at his feet. Hence the sunflower picture at the top of this post - face into the beauty!
I was misunderstood and misjudged and the pain of having to leave the children and families whom I loved was incredibly deep. Yet I didn't feel free to be myself and minister the way God had wired me to. That's recorded in April 2011 posts and I don't intend to go back to those days and those reasons. I tried my best and I couldn't fix it. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this statement are, I did the right thing by leaving as it was the catalyst to step into what had been stirred up in London. Immediately I felt a sense of relief although very sad. But we received HUGE support from an army of bystanders and observers who had seen what was happening - oh wow, how the saints prayed over this book! .
I would rather please my heavenly Father who gave all he had for me, than live out of a fear of getting it wrong - and under pressure (that was a biggie) or misplaced loyalty. People and ideas and (gasp) even vision can be an idol in the church of Jesus. I had become obsessed by the pressure of trying to please, trying to get it right and I was becoming unhappy because I just couldn't do it. Obsession with this was taking the first place God wanted. And so I was called back to the Place of the Knees. All that's just to say that each word in the book has been 'felt' - this was not written lightly nor in a hurry! For the first month of writing I cried every morning and pressed my face against my bed asking God for the strength to keep on going and for his hand on me, cleansing me, refining me, redefining me for what he has made be to BE rather than what I do for people
Getting the Book
If you live in the States you will be able to order Children, Families and God: Drawing the Generations Together to Change the World here
If you live in the UK, order using my personal website below in the first instance, and/or ask your local Christian bookstore to stock the book (this would help get other people to buy it?) - you may need to let them know the publisher is Evangelista Media, formerly Destiny Image Europe, and it has just been published (June 2012)
If you happen to be reading this and are attending PilgrimageUK in Sheffield, 11th to 14th June, you can also buy it there!
If you would like a copy to review for a national publication, contact me via the website.
Orders/contacts/endorsements/diary - all do-able now through this website.
Thank you for standing with me.