Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Story and a Giveaway

Sometimes we quote Bible verses and agree with them but perhaps don’t really believe them because we haven’t seen God at work in the way the verse says.

Let me tell you a story about this verse:
‘God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!’ (Ephesians 3:20)

It’s a long story, so grab yourself a coffee, sit in a comfortable chair and get ready to see what God can do!

I have been running online art challenge blogs for a while and then started to host online creative Bible Studies. Since I started these challenges I had wanted to do an Advent one but it probably took me 12 months of thinking about it before I could see how it could work. In 2010 I came across Diane Marra in an online Christian community and she shared an Advent Study. It was one of those projects that I started and didn’t finish.

I started to follow Diane’s blog and one day she wrote about how she was moving to Palm Bay in Florida. That’s Palm Bay, not Palm Beach! And not so many people have heard of Palm Bay.  But over here in the UK, I had.  Because my daughter-in-law’s parents are Pastors of a church there and I go to visit them regularly even though my son and d-i-l live in Australia.

At the beginning of 2014 I contacted Diane to see what she thought about collaborating with me for the Advent blog – her study and my ideas for an Advent calendar.   In the April I went to stay in Palm Bay and was able to spend the day with Diane.  We talked about the ideas for Advent and worked on it over the following months and it launched on November 1st 2014.

Whilst I was with Diane she talked about how she wanted to set up a year long, weekly devotional for creative people and left me to think about it and how we could make it work. We had both done the Documented Life Project and I was really stuck as how we could develop something that wasn’t a faith-based copy of that. I thought about it on and off from April to August and then one day as I was out walking I asked God about it.

Of course I know other people would have asked God earlier in the thinking process but hey ho I’m not one of those people.

And immediately I knew what we were supposed to do. Now this wasn’t the audible word of God, or a sign in the sky or a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ moment – it was a thought that germinated and grew and that I felt a peace about. It was that rather than just a faith based project we should set up a faith-based online Christian Community run by a team of people not just Diane and I. Whoa!

This was way beyond anything I could imagine or ask for but nevertheless I continued to think and pray. I started by contacting a few ladies whose blogs I have followed for quite a while about their church backgrounds and ran the community idea past Diane. She encouraged me to send an email giving a brief outline and asking these people if they were interested. I was amazed by the responses I got. God had got there before me and they were excited by the prospect.

Diane invited another two ladies to the ‘table’ and emails were flying about the States, Canada and the UK discussing Statements of Faith, the structure of the group, how we would host it etc etc.   I didn’t want to rush people into things so I was taking it quite slowly but then Diane and Shonna ‘caught fire’ and with my blessing they started to plan the Ning site – we actually took over Shonna’s existing Ning site.

Meanwhile Diane & I were still planning the Advent blog which we planned to run from November 1st. And then it was decided that His Kingdom Come would be launched on the same day.

The Foundation Team has eventually settled down to a small team of people who are building relationships together and we are planning to get together in April.  We are currently reassigning roles amongst us but we would be nowhere without those who work in the background – often unsung!  Merri works with Shonna on keeping the Ning website going and she sends out the newsletter and the emails. Communication is so important in building a community!  Mary is looking after the weekly devotionals and making sure our theology is sound. She keeps us on the straight and narrow.  We all have more roles but I don't want you to drop off before I get to the end.

We knew however that we would need lots more people to help us run the groups on the site. Part of the vision had been to have all sorts of different groups for different types of media. Currently we have groups for Photography, Textiles, Mixed Media, Art Journaling, Digital Art Journaling, Bible Journaling, Scrapbooking and Creative Writing.  I’m hoping at some point we will have a group for songwriters.  And so we started recruiting Moderators or Hosts for the groups and they have definitely been a gift to us from God.

Our plan was always to host both free and fee-based online courses within the community and we are just beginning to see that happen. On January 2nd we launched the project that had started all this – Take Me Deeper – 52 weeks of devotionals.

In order for the site to receive money Diane & Shonna set up an LLC which will deal with the tax situation in the States.  I would never have thought of that. Admittedly at the moment I don’t think we’re going to trouble the IRS too much as currently the site is running at a loss.  Ning is quite expensive to run and setting up an LLC isn’t cheap. However God has it in hand.

My vision was for a small community – cosy and manageable!  But that wasn’t God’s plan and here we are only 12 weeks since the launch and we have nearly 1550 members in our His Kingdom Come community.  And he has put together a team of people to run it who have complementary skills.

So let’s return to this: ‘God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!’ God has done something amazing beyond my wildest dreams and we are praying that He will continue to move the community forward.  We want to see a grace-filled community where Christians can encourage, share, and learn about Christianity and explore the God-given creativity that he has put in us all.  And we believe that is His plan.

Well done if you've made it this far!

Now for the giveaway.
Leave a comment below for the opportunity to win this aluminium 'angel' wing pendant with a chain.  The winner can choose a name or a word to be added to the wing to personalise it and also choose the length of the chain.  You can choose from a 16", 18" or 20" chain.  The pendant comes from Jo's Handmade Jewellery.   I'm happy to post to anywhere in the world.

I will announce the winner on Sunday 25th January.

Update:  This giveaway is now closed.  Click here to find out the winner.

Thanks for stopping by.
Bernice



63 comments:

  1. Fantastic that things have worked out well for you. Love the necklace, thanks for the chance to win :)

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  2. Fantastic story that I only knew bits of. I love how God's vision is so vastly bigger than ours. You prayed for a single project, God inspired a whole community.

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  3. Wow Bernice, so good to hear the creation/birth story of HKC! I knew you were busy, but I had no idea just how much! Thanks for your faith and courage, stepping out and starting things. HKC is a wonderful community, I love it, and am very grateful to all the ladies who put so much into it. I really look forward to the emails and seeing where God may be leading, it is very encouraging. Bless you!

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  4. Great to hear how it all came together Bernice. No idea what LLC is though.

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    1. Thank you. It's the US equivalent of LTD

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  5. Your post is amazing. How wonderful how everything works together! This giveaway is lovely. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.

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  6. What an amazing story. When you invited me to join Bernice, I hadn't realised you had only just started the group. Remember I said (well probably not as you have so many people now) that one of my verses Isaiah 43 v19 look I am doing a new thing..... New Beginings........ well it's true for you too. I just love how God puts us all together and confirms our daily walk with him.

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  7. Well, this was a wonderful first read of my day. ANd I have a picture Bernice of you at a fun fair. You are going to in and ride. You really want to bu, well, let's go on that lovely looking "safe" ride over there. And the Lord steps in and says-nope, see hat big one over there? see the highest highs? Woldn't you rather be up there? AND, I'll give you friends to ride with you! On you all get, the ride starts and all the hands are up in the air-praising the Lord for taking you all along and showing you HIS vision for how big and how exhilarating this will be. (PS-the angel wing is lovely and I would be honored to wear it)

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    1. BritChicNY if you only knew how funny that is!!! I know Bernice well now and she would NOT get on the ride~ Thanks all for the wonderful comments and love and encouragement. It is a wonderful God blessed ride!

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  8. It is so amazing to experience God work through His willing people! Thank you for dreaming and letting Him have control. I love being part of this community.

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  9. WOW what an amazing sequence of events I hope you enjoyed it and weren't too daunted. I had no idea so much was going on - thank you for sharing your time with me whilst I dithered about my faith and commitment and thank you so much for giving me the push when I needed it. I'm having an interesting journey myself via HKC and learning so much about what I have hidden inside of me and I have never had the courage to tap into. It's a wonderful community and I've probably only touched the tip of the iceberg!

    The necklace is beautiful it would be wonderful to remind me of my Logo :)

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  10. Your story is such an encouragement. Isn't it awesome to see what God does in our lives when we follow Him. Thank all of you for your hard work. Blessings!

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  11. What an amazing story. I can't wait to April. I hope also to be planning another meet up in Florida later this year. Crazy that God spoke to me many months ago in a dream about doing an art retreat with faith-filled women and soon it will be coming true!

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  12. I'm so enjoying this community even though I am so far behind in the study. This wing is so cool.

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  13. I am a newer member. I love what I see within this community of God loving people. I totally enjoyed the art and study that Take Me Deeper is guiding me through. Hearing the beginnings of His Kingdom Come gave me a sense of adoption into the group. It is personal to me. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. Thank you for listening to the Lord and for being bold in stepping out in faith! I have already been so blessed in participating in the studies, the art and the community as a whole!

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  15. I am so glad I found this community! Thank you for being the earthen vessel for God to pour His ideas into. Thank you to each of the very committed ladies that scrambled and launched this endeavor. I look forward to this year and beyond. We are creatives!!!

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  16. Your verse has always encouraged me when I am involved in any project where I feel inadequate. Thank you for stepping out and creating this great site.

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  17. I am amazed about how the Lord has put together HKC...you have NO idea of what I am feeling about this...I hope to one day talk to you about it personally! Thanks for sharing! May the Lord bless this community!!

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  18. HKC is a God-timed thing for me, too! I was so tired of online art classes that got "New Age-y" and wanted an "Art and Jesus" place. Suddenly, HKC was there. This verse is so true to what is happening with the site - and with other things. It is a good fit for my Logos365: Enough. His Enough for me is more than I can comprehend. Thanks for reminding me of that.

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  19. In December I was shopping at my local craft store and a sweet lady in the same aisle started telling me about all sorts of things and mentioned HKC. I had been praying for a way to connect to others that enjoy art and Jesus as much as I do. Thanks to Karen Wynott And God's divine appointment in the middle of the craft store aisle to have met her and blessed to have been told about HKC. Sometimes we can just be doing our regular chores, errands, and such when we can have wonderful encounters as I did with Karen. How sweet and divine it is to have heard about HKC and TMD's year long project. Thank you to you and the team who are making HKC a sweet place to use our creativity to connect deeper to God through this community. Thanks for taking your time and talents to teach and bring God glory. Blessings and love to all. 💞

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  20. I am so grateful for this community, and the opportunity to participate with such lovely people.

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  21. I am so blessed to have the site and all the people here... thanks be to God !!!!

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  22. It was nice to read the back story to His Kingdom Come, Bernice. You and the team have done a wonderful job of putting it together. Thanks for the opportunity to explore whatever creativity I have along with studying the Word- a lovely combination! The wing necklace is lovely too, and will be a blessing for whomever wins it. God bless. Sherry

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  23. Kudos to you and the team. It's evident you all have a heart for the Lord and he has blessed this community. Loving all the creativity that is happening.

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  24. His plans are amazing! Bless you!

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  25. It's great to see how this all came together. Thank you so much for everything you all are doing to make this possible. Even when I don't have anything ro post I still make time to do the studies and look at all the wonderful work that people share. Thank you again. Big Hugs!

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  26. I am so enjoying all the back stories on the creation of the site. I am enjoying every moment of my study time. Thanks be to God for all you wonderful people involved in this creative mission. Thank you

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  27. Amazing story!! This community has definitely been a blessing to me!

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  28. Bernice thank you for telling us the full story of how HKC came to life. I'm so thankful for all the work you all have put into this site. I love all the encouraging words from everyone. It is a blessing to me and to many people. Thank you for listening to God & letting Him guide you. I look forward to seeing where God takes us on this journey!

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I would love you to leave me an encouraging comment. Thanks.