God's Geek

Reflections and random thoughts of a geeky youth worker in North London...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sheer Grit, Determinination and Stupidity

I have a stubborn streak, or, on a more positive note, a determined nature. A good example of this happened yesterday, when I was looking after Daniel for the day so that Neil could study. I decided that it would be a good idea to take him on a long walk to a place called Crews Hill where there are various garden nurseries and pet shops aka free zoos. We had a great time, and had various adventures, including meeting a bird that could say hello, seeing some fish, meeting a snake and Daniel finding some tennis balls, which appeared to be more interesting than the cute puppies. I also discovered that the going rate for a rabbit is £35, compared to the £5 when I was young...

This sounds lovely, but is slightly more stupid when you consider that I had been ill over the Easter weekend and was still not eating much yesterday. And it is called Crews Hill for a reason, which I was reminded of as I pushed my 2 stone son up it in his buggy. By the time we had found the animals, gave Daniel a hearty lunch and FINALLY found somewhere to change his nappy (don't get me started on that one..), I was absolutely shattered and not feeling too good. And wondering why on earth I make things so difficult on myself. It was a long walk home, and it was only when a bus went past in the opposite direction that I wondered why I hadn't even considered getting one!

The truth is, that when I really decide I want to do something, I do it, or at least try very hard to, despite what may be more sensible or easier. This, like most things can be a strength and a weakness, and it led me to think about our God-given giftings and strengths and weaknesses of our characters. Has God given me this (sometimes) steely grit to serve him and do the work of his kingdom, or does it act as a barrier from listening and following after what God wants of me? The truth seems to be somewhere down the middle. Sometimes it is a great characteristic and sometimes it is a reminder to re-focus on God and let my desires melt away and follow His instead. Stubborn or determined? Or just a bit silly?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Examening things

On Saturday, I went along to a training day that was led by Jenny Baker and organised by Urban Saints. The day was called 'Leading Young People into the Presence of God' and was exploring the use of contemplative prayer in our own lives and in youth ministry. As I expected, Mark Yaconelli's book Contemplative Youth Ministry was referred to a lot, which is good, as I think it is great and I am still working through some of the things that the book brought up for me personally and in youth ministry.

The training itself was great - well presented, with brilliant notes and excellent visuals. SOmeone I was with commented that this really helped her to focus. However, the best bit was that we didn't just hear about these things but were led through the Awareness Examen, Lectio Divinae and left to explore some prayer stations.

I wasn't expecting to hear much that was new and in a sense, I didn't but I have come away deeply affected by the Awareness Examen. In its simplest form, it is a way of reflecting and praying through life. It is best done daily, and takes the form of 2 questions:

For what moment was I most grateful for today?
For what moment was I least grateful?

Praying through these things can help to discover not more about ourselves, where God is leading us and perhaps, most importantly for me at this time, where God is during the good, hard, ugly and uplifting moments of each day. A much better explanation of the examen can be found in the book 'Sleeping with Bread.' I haven't finished reading it, but it feels like its words are gently watering my soul and is just the ticket for me at this moment!

Here's how I hope to see it used:
After having used this off and on before, I want to use this daily on my own
I also want to introduce this to my family - me and Neil, but as Daniel grows, I think it will really benefit him as well
We always share News of the Week in youth groups, but I would love to structure it more to focus it on the Awareness Examen.
I plan to use the Examen to focus and help in meetings. I think this will help review things as well as provide a place for everyone to be listened to.

Also, I saw these LED rechargeable candles on Saturday - they are fantastic and I really want some!

There are other training days across the country. If you are nearby, I would recommend going along...