And so another month has flown by and, as usual, I welcome this opportunity to pause and reflect on highlights and lessons learned.
New Discoveries/ Highlights:
The focus for July, and definitely a highlight, was Music Camp: a week with a group of teenagers practising music, enjoying activities and exploring the Bible together- such a great combination! It is always amazing to see how they develop throughout the week. Every year at the first music rehearsal, I wonder if it will ever come together, and every year I am blown away by how good it sounds by the end of the week when they perform for friends and family. I was so proud of how hard they worked and how much they had grown in confidence that I was holding back tears on several occasions during the concert. It was exciting to see God at work in their lives too- to have the chance to answer their questions and speak with them about identity and holding to the truth of who they are in Christ.
On a less spiritual note, a highlight of the week, on our day trip to the beach, was discovering parma violet flavour ice cream. (I realise that probably only people from the UK will have any idea what I am talking about, but parma violets are a kind of sweet I loved as a child, and they are even better as an ice cream!)
OK, back to being spiritual… a few other highlights this month have been times when I have suddenly realised God has been at work when I had no idea. On one particular occasion, a conversation with someone just felt like hard work and I had no idea if anything I said was remotely helpful. Then later I found out that God had used it in ways far beyond what I had imagined. It reminds me to keep going and to trust God for the results.
If you’ve been following my monthly reviews from the start of this year, you might remember that for the first few months I included Bible verses I had been learning, but the last few months I haven’t listed any verses. It’s not that I had given up- I just found that learning unrelated verses wasn’t really working for me. Then I discovered a memory challenge to learn Colossians 3:1-17 and decided to give it a try. For some reason, learning an extended passage of Scripture was actually easier for me, and over the course of 3 months I’ve learned all 17 verses! Now I’m hoping to attempt to learn the whole of Romans 8 by the end of the year! If you’re interested in looking at this approach, there are lots of resources for learning various chapters of the Bible available here.
My word for the year (Voice):
I have loved having this word as my word for the year until now but, honestly, this month has been hard.
On a few occasions I’ve felt God calling me out of my comfort zone to speak up about something and I’ve done this, only to feel ignored, that no-one is interested or that it hasn’t made any difference. I’m holding on to the point I made above about God using us even when we’re not aware of it, but it has been discouraging at times.
Developing my writing voice has also been a focus this year and I’ve faced a few rejections this month. I know it’s part of writing and everyone has to deal with it, but it is not easy when you pour your heart and soul into something and it is rejected.
The challenge for now is to fight through the discouragement and keep speaking out. I love this quote from Jia Jiang:
“When we shy away from rejection, we reject ourselves and our ideas before the world ever has a chance to reject them. This is the worst form of rejection.”
This encourages me that I need to keep believing in my own voice and putting it out there, both in speaking and writing, and to trust God for the results.
(Jia Jiang also has a very interesting blog and TED talk on the topic of rejection. You can find out more here if you’re interested.)
What A Beautiful Name- Hillsong Worship
This has definitely been the song of the month for me. We finished each evening of Music Camp by singing this together just before the young people headed off to bed.
The Sound Of Surviving- Nichole Nordeman
How has July been for you? Feel free to share a reflection or highlight in the comments.