Small Group Blessings
I have written before about how the 2007 recession affected us, along with a substantial drop in income. I wrote about how God provided for us in that time and I thought I would share an example of how God blessed us with money.
At the churches we attend, they have all offered small group studies. A small group is when a smaller group of people from church, meet together to study Gods word or explore the sermons at greater depth. It goes under many names - small group, home group, life group etc. Its a chance to get to know others, ask questions, learn about our faith and basically 'do life' together by helping and supporting one another. I enjoy small groups - its a great way to get to know other people and make friends with other Christians outside of age barriers etc.
At around this time (2008/09) as often happens, small groups come under review, which means the leaders look at how they operate and can they be improved. So the leaders came up with a new idea - Life Group. We were asked to be leaders and we were excited to do so. Our congregation signed up to the leaders they wanted, I remember being so nervous that no one would sign up to us but they did - we had a group of 22. That meant I needed to cook for 24 people each week!!! Aarrgghh - I'd never cooked for that many before but I wanted to rise up to the challenge. I took advice on how to cook for large numbers from some more experienced women within the church, we borrowed tables and chairs and asked people to bring cutlery/cups as we didn't have that many to begin with. Although our home was in renovation mode, we were pleased that God wanted us to use the space we had to serve Him. We thankfully had a massive conservatory which could seat 24 and in time, we were donated cups and cutlery etc. I was also thankful that the first part of the renovation we did was the kitchen, so I had a large Stoves double oven to cook on.
I didn't want to ask people to contribute to the dinner, as I had asked people to bring bread/salad/puddings for the meal, so it didn't feel right. We were on a tight budget at the time but I budgeted for the meals and prayed that it wouldn't happen if it would be too much for us or its Gods will for us not to lead. However, it happened and we were blessed, we enjoyed hosting and getting to know our small group. We lead for 8 weeks, then there would be a break and a chance to sign up to a completely fresh group. There were 3 life groups per year and then leaders were asked to step down and have at least a turn's break. I learnt new skills and felt that offering food really blessed our group and made them feel treasured. It felt good to open up our home to others, especially with it not being completed and our guests could see we were a work in progress. Some of our guests enjoyed seeing what we had done next/working on next.
We were also blessed by people giving anonymous gifts of money/supermarket gift cards. They had been left at the church for us. This really helped us out budget wise and our children were always excited by the left over puddings in the morning. We had told our young children, if they stayed in bed and didn't get up through the evening they could have a treat the next morning. This worked really well - for my boys their stomachs are the key to their hearts and there always seemed to be left over pudding.
Our small group also blessed us by helping to clear a load of mud/mini hill to make the garden safe for our young children too. We provided tea and bacon sandwiches. It was a massive help and we were so amazed at how many people came to help. It was hard work and I needed to be inside the house with our little ones so it only left my husband to help alongside. Many hands made lighter work and we were so grateful for the help.
Our church was a great network and through them we found friends to help us with fencing the garden and stairs, plastering the walls, carpets, plumbing and electrical work. We had family who came down to help us and we spent a lot of our spare time and money making our house a home.
I don't want to paint a picture that life was all rosy at this time because it was hard. It was hard work restoring a home and looking after children who had specialist needs - which we weren't aware of, so therefore just coping with that on our own. I really had to keep giving the state of our home over to God and tried so hard not to pick it up again. I think a lot of this time, whilst I enjoyed serving, I felt I owed God. I have now learnt and know for myself that I can't pay Him back for what He did for me on the cross, other than by accepting Him as my Lord and Saviour. He chooses to bless His children, not because we earned it or He wants us to do something in return but because He loves us and He wants too. Whilst we didn't get to stay in that house, we are forever grateful for all the help and support we did receive during this time.
We are in a small group today at our new church and we are so blessed getting to know Gods family, for companionship and growing in our relationships together. Thank you Lord, for small groups.
Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.