Friday, 30 November 2012

Jesse Tree

Isaiah 11:1-5 Jesse Tree
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse
Isaiah 11:1-5
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Bible in a Year - Day 217

Day 214 - Psalm 65, 66 & 67; Romans 2
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.

When we were overwhelmed by sins,    you forgave our transgressions. (Psalm 65:2-3)
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas... (Psalm 65:5)
You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
 for so you have ordained it. (Psalm 65:9)
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him. (Psalm 66:6) 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Women Bishops

This is going to be unpopular, I'm afraid, but I don't agree with women bishops. I don't agree with women vicars either.

But you're a woman, I hear you saying. How can you agree that women are second class citizens?
I don't. I firmly believe that men and women are equal. But they are also different. Just as 3+5 and 2x4 are equal but different. We have different roles to play.

How did I come to hold this highly unpopular viewpoint? I grew up in a Catholic family, so for the majority of my life I only saw male, unmarried priests. At my Catholic secondary school, all girls, I was taught my value as a woman, and even encouraged to question the seemingly inferior role of women in the church. And, as a teenager, I very firmly believed that women should be allowed to be priests too. Hadn't we been told that in Christ there is no male or female? I went to university and joined the Christian Union which was led by a fantastic female president. I went to various Protestant churches, all with varying views on female pastors - some encouraged, some refused, some allowed joint pastoring from a married couple with the husband the ultimate leader of that church. My mum became a Catholic chaplain, able to do much of a priest's role apart from the sacraments. This has frustrated her, because she must rely on frequently unreliable men, and be treated as though her 'thoughts' on the Word are not as important or helpful.

And I became increasingly aware of the lack of strong, masculine, Christian males in the Church. There were, still are, many strong Christian women, the majority of whom are single. I was blessed to snap up one of the few eligible, single men in my church. Of the other men, most were wishy-washy in one way or another - hen-pecked, soppy, heterosexual but not particularly masculine. Where are the Christian men of the New Testament? Strong, passionate, fiery. The Church has become the refuge of women and weak men.

I began to change my mind about women in leadership within the Church. I heard some female preachers and was impressed. I loved preaching and speaking myself. But I struggled to see how a woman could lead a man successfully.

There are many ridiculous arguments against women priests - outdated opinions, bible verses taken out of context, traditions. And I don't agree with them. But all the same, I just don't think women should be priests. I'm not saying they can't, but that they shouldn't. I believe we need to hear from men and women preaching the Word. I believe that women have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to offer. But I am quite convinced that if we are to enable Christian men to be strong warriors for Christ, then we have to stop feminising the Church and emasculating them.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 213

Day 207 - Psalm 44, 45 & 46; Acts 25
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
 and the light of your face, for you loved them. (Psalm 44:3)
God is our refuge and strength,     
an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 206

Day 200 - Psalm 25, 26 & 27; Acts 20:17-38
He guides the humble in what is right    
 and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25:9)
The Lord is my light and my salvation –
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –

 of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) 
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent

and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
Though my father and mother forsake me,     
the Lord will receive me. (Psalm 27:10) 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - My NCT Group

Today I want to tell you why I love my NCT group. We met when we all did the NCT Antenatal course together, back in the summer of 2011. We try to meet up as much as we can, and it is so encouraging when we do. B is entering the tantrum phase, and when we're at home alone I find it so stressful, even isolating. But when I get together with our NCT group, I'm encouraged because their babies are at the same stage. It's wonderful to know you're not alone, especially in the difficult stages.

I also love the fact that these 9 children will grow up knowing one another, and will hopefully all be friends for a good long time. They are so lovely together now, and while I know some parents feel competitive over their children, this group isn't like that at all. Everyone is so supportive and kind to each other.

It's also good to have these mums as friends. When we moved here, I knew no one but the hubby's family, so the NCT Antenatal course was perfect for meeting new people, and now I feel I have 8 lovely friends that I didn't have before.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Empowering My Daughter

An article I wrote for Plus Parents Magazine:
Personal Stories November 2012
By: Laura Moore

Being overweight has been a constant issue in my life. I worked hard at school; I learnt how to make people laugh; I was friendly to everyone; but I never felt comfortable. It was always a case of making myself seem as small as possible, in the hope that people wouldn't notice me, or of being over-the-top funny in order to take the attention away from my size. I absolutely hated my body, and I knew it was the reason I never had a boyfriend. There was no way any man would ever be attracted to me. I was wrong, of course. In 2009 I married a tall, handsome man, in whom all my husband requirements were fulfilled. And he thinks I'm beautiful.

I grew up in a Christian family. We were brought up to believe that God doesn't make mistakes, and that we were "fearfully and wonderfully made." My body is "a temple of the Holy Spirit," and as such I ought to treat it with the utmost respect and care. But from the age of five years old I steadily increased in weight. I was put on steroids for my asthma, and despite only eating what the rest of my (slim and slender) family were eating, I got bigger and bigger. There were clear signs that my hormones were at fault, though doctor after doctor failed to pick up or acknowledge that, until I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 27. One doctor even told me that perhaps I was just meant to be fat! I was bullied at school. I couldn't find fashionable clothes to fit me. I felt decidedly ugly. How could I reconcile what I saw in the mirror with this idea that my body was a perfect creation?

It wasn't until just over a year ago that I finally saw my body for what it really is...

I still don't see the beauty that my husband tells me is there, though I'm working on it. I'm four sizes bigger than the average UK or US woman; my stomach is big and hangs down; I have bingo-wings. However, I now have deep respect, pride and love for my body. Yes, I love my body - not for how it looks, but for what it has achieved. It is imperfect, but it is incredible. This body grew a baby, and birthed her naturally. For 9 months a little person lived inside me. She grew healthy and strong, and she is absolutely perfect. She's only a year old, so she has no hang ups about her body. I don't know at what age she will start to notice herself or begin to doubt her own beauty. News articles speak of seven year olds going on diets; my friend's three year old is worried that she isn't pretty; I was five when I was called a witch because I had black hair.

For now she is safe, but the older my daughter gets, the less I will be able to shield her. I can keep fashion magazines out of our house, but I won't be able to control what other people say to her. I can tell her every day how beautiful she is, but I can't dictate how other children will treat her.  What I can do is give her the tools to deal with those words and the feelings they will evoke; I can teach her the truth about her body; and I can model good self esteem. I will teach her about the sanctity of life; that all people are to be valued and respected regardless of how they look or what they can and can't do; and that no matter what someone else says, it is how God sees her and how she feels about herself that are paramount. But the most important thing I can do for her is to be constantly affirmative and positive about myself.

Everywhere we look, women are being told what is beautiful, and if we don't live up to the airbrushed images we see, then we fall short of beauty. I do not know a single woman who is happy with the way she looks. We are striving for unattainable perfection, and even when others do not criticise, we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes I have to check myself as I become aware that if I spoke about someone else the way I speak about myself, then I would be the rudest, most unkind and insensitive person I have ever met. As Kate Winslet said in a recent interview, "When I was growing up there wasn't one woman in my environment who I heard saying something positive about her body. Everything I heard was negative, negative, negative." I have made the decision to be different, for if my daughter is to grow up thinking positively of herself and her body, I must model this behaviour myself. I must accept and love the way I look, and talk only well of it. I must be positive for her sake

Through her birth, my perfect daughter has enabled me to accept that I am a perfect creation, and I in turn will help her to grow up knowing that she too is perfect.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 199

Day 193 - Psalm 4, 5 & 6; Acts 16:16-40
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    towards your holy temple. (Psalm 5:7)

 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;    save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 6:4)
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;    the Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)
...he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole household. (Acts 16:34) 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 192

Day 186 - Job 29 & 30; Acts 12
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. (Acts 12:7)
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” (Acts 12:11)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - The Right Support

Today I want to say how grateful I am for the Attachment Parenting group I am a part of. It's so wonderful to be with people who don't make me feel weird for 'still' breastfeeding. (Seriously, why would I give up the easiest way of calming a tantrum, easing the pain of a bumped head and settling to sleep?!) I love being able to discuss slings and cloth nappies. And it's so encouraging to be able to talk about frequent night wakings without hearing the dubious advice of controlled crying or cry it out; to learn what normal child behaviour is; and to feel reassured about the parenting choices the hubby and I are making.

I am also grateful for Attachment Parenting, because it helps me to understand how God parents us. He meets our needs, and never leaves us to cry alone. Even when we need to 'cry', He holds us throughout. I think I shall write a post about God as the Ultimate Attachment Parent one day!

If you're interested in Attachment Parenting, check out the following sites:

What are you grateful for this week?