Waiting … on or in?

Perhaps it’s because teacher me is marking and drafting at the moment or perhaps it’s because I’ve reached the time of year when my focus on things turns towards the hyper – but I’ve been thinking about the difference between waiting on and waiting in. What follows should not be considered a foray into some unchartered area of lexical discovery, nor should it be considered of academic value – it’s just one of the things I’ve been thinking.

The Christian life is one of waiting in God.

While waiting on God is what we are told to do, I’ve been thinking the way some of us talk about “waiting on God” seems a little passive. It sounds a bit more like wishful thinking. It often relates to the things we want … I think it rolls off the tongue too easily.  Comments like, “Oh well we’re waiting on God” are so often repeated and heard that they begin to sound a little empty, like platitudes. It’s difficult not to hear a bit of a negative tone to it – almost as though God is falling behind my plans – His timing is a little slack on this “thing” … and I’m waiting for Him to catch up with me.

I’ve been thinking that waiting in God perhaps has a better tone/connotation to it.  It seems less passive and more like a place of security,  a place of peace,  a place of comfort, a place of shelter, more like an act that is associated with relationship. In this case “in” is where you belong, where you are at home, where you are known, where you are a member of the family.

Waiting in God conjures the imagery of being surrounded by Him, the visual of being so close and so completely enveloped that neither of you has fallen behind the other. One is, in fact, carrying the other through the storms, trials, sorrows, and joys of life. The two are bound together, one is abiding in the other. In John 15 – there are some fairly clear guidelines regarding the life of a Christian – Abiding in the vine …. that has somewhat informed my thoughts around this idea – on the vine is something a passing beetle might do for a period of time.

Waiting in God through circumstances requires trust, you need to know Him to wait in Him. You need to know something about who He is,  and also something about who you are. It’s not possible to wait in someone, who you feel is inferior to you, and as long as you think God owes you something or God needs to work according to your time frame; whether or not you want to admit it, you view Him as inferior to you.  You won’t wait in someone who you feel has let you down, someone who has failed you, someone who is at your beck and call – that’s someone who is easier to wait on than wait in.

One more thing I have realised is when I am waiting in Him, the enemy can still take shots at me. In fact, you can guarantee the shots will keep coming. If I am in Him the shots aimed at me are absorbed by One who is greater. And maybe if they are really getting to me, I’m on the outside, like a passing beetle, instead of being inside — a member of the family.

IMG_2427

Maybe all I’m suggesting is that as we wait on Him, which we all do, those times afford us the opportunity to examine ourselves as to whether we are also waiting in Him.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scarred …

Scars are incongruous with the life of ease we desire.

A life of ease does not include scars or pain.

A life of ease is one where self is satisfied

A life of ease does not lend itself to compassion.

A life of ease does not need a Saviour.

A life of ease does not need a Mediator.

A life of ease does not need a Redeemer.

A life of ease needs no Creator.

A life of ease needs no Sacrifice.

A life of ease is not the life of Christ.

The closer you draw to Him, the clearer your vision of the hands that are healing and ministering to you becomes, and with that clarity you see those hands are scarred.

Scarred because of your shame, your pride, your fears, your wrongs. 

Some days we forget that we have been called to follow one who suffered.

One who suffered

Loss,

Humiliation,

Rejection,

Abandonment,

Abuse,

False accusations,

Pain,

Separation

IMG_3832

 

Scars are a sign of suffering, a sign that something went wrong – but they can also be a sign of reparation.

The life of ease you long for does await you.

It has been fought for and won for you. The scars He now bears are the scars He earned in that battle.

When we have difficult days that cause us to long for that life of ease, we need to remember that the difficult days are days that will be used to grow us more into His image. And the more we grow into His image, the more we have to recognise some of the most defining moments in our experience of being conformed to His image, result in scars.

After all, that’s how we truly came to know Him and His heart – through His scars. And it is our scars that draw us closer to Him.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Better days …

Dear one,

Some people seem to coast through life with ease, they seem to have a charmed existence, there are seemingly no storm clouds on their horizons, no waves on their ocean, no darkness in their days. They seemingly live trouble free.

Dear one, this has not been our experience — sometimes I wish it had been. But it has not, and I don’t know who we would be now if it had.

What I need you to know — and I know you do know this deep down — is that even these current clouds, waves and darkness will become clear, smooth and light in the end.

These moments will make you the person He has designed you to be.

These moments will equip you for the work He has for you.

These moments will be the making of you.

This does not mean that it will hurt any less. You will, one day, look back on this time and realise there was a purpose  — there was a reason.

It was painful, it was difficult, but it was ultimately for your good.   

The other thing you need to remember is – that while this may have taken you by surprise, it has not taken Him by surprise. 

When you have these kind of turbulent experiences what you need to know is that your Creator, the One who has created you for good works, the One who knew you before He laid the foundation of the world knew this was coming your way.

He will also carry you through it, He will bring you out the other side, He will make sure that you do not get lost in it – or buried by it.

He does not simply know your name, dear one, He knows your hurts, He keeps your tears in a bottle, He knows the number of hairs on your head, He can see the thoughts of your heart, He knows the days of your life — more than that, He has written them in His book even before you were.

This might make you wonder why there is a day like that day or a day like this day … all I can tell you is one day all of those days will make sense. That may sound defeatist to some — but to me it is hopeful.

It is biblical. 

It is Joseph being wrongly accused and thrown into prison,

it is Abraham preparing to sacrifice his long promised son,

it is Hannah praying year after year for a child,

it is David, the anointed one, being pursued and hunted,

it is Hagar calling out for water in the desert,

it is the three being thrown into the fire,

it is Daniel in the lion’s den,

it is the lame man unable to get to the healing water,

it is Jesus suffering silent before His false accusers,

it is Jesus going to the cross for wrongs he has not committed,

it is the women going to where His body was laid,

all of these days point to a better day.

All of these kind of days point to a better day … a clear, bright and glorious day.

Lift up your eyes, look it up, it is on the horizon.


 

IMG_1455.JPG

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s December the 24th …

… and I’m trying to work out where 2018 has gone.

Our community Christmas carols event has been and gone again, already, and that for us, really signals that the year is almost wrapped up – once again.

There are presents to be wrapped, cards to be written and if I’m honest, presents still to be bought and a few groceries to be purchased too.

The goal this year has been to keep it all under control, to avoid that frantic gift buying that, at this point each year, sees me thinking that everyone needs “just one more little thing”. This year we are each buying for one family member – we had a vote, we decided this was the way to go – however over the past few days I’ve been struggling a little with this largely self imposed restriction. Part of it is that I think I might love giving gifts, the other part is this time of year is a bombardment of things/stuff that your loved ones; might want, do want or, would want if they knew it existed. However, after all the dust settles on Christmas morning or afternoon — what is left behind is a mountain of discarded wrapping paper, cards, half sticky sticky-tape and a pile of new things that now need a home.

IMG_1061.JPGYesterday I found myself riding that wave again … maybe I should just get one more thing. Thankfully in the back of my mind was the message my husband gave at the aforementioned carols night, I’m going to include the text here – it was one of those messages that came out of a big discussion we had as he prepared for the evening.  Truth be told, it happened on the day, he had a whole other message ready to go — but two of his most trusted critics, myself and someone reading this right now – you know who you are … thought maybe it wasn’t yet quite the right message.  Every extrovert needs to know a good introvert or two … and every introvert needs a good extrovert. ( Yes, I said one..! 😉 )

Before I hand over to him — yesterday in my processing time I realised two things:

  1. The need to buy “one more thing” stems from the desire to ensure that no one walks away from Christmas disappointed …
  2. Christmas is about joy, hope, peace — if we walk away from Christmas feeling disappointed, then we’ve made it about something else.

IMG_8988.JPG

And with that, I direct you to Scott’s message: He may have used a little poetic licence with dates, and I may have edited a little but the message remains the same.

 


 

Who loves Christmas?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours was doing some Christmas shopping and came across a mum who was trying to deal with her little girl chucking a tantrum because she wasn’t allowed to get the things she wanted. The mum got so overwhelmed by it all that she pretended to call Santa to tell him to cancel Christmas because her child was being so naughty … Now I am going to assume that in a week or so, that kid will still get some great gifts … even if she doesn’t deserve them.

You see, I think this is part of why we love Christmas so much … I think there is something in our hearts that draws us to Christmas … and part of this is a little word HOPE.

IMG_6257-3.jpg

The hope that we won’t get what we deserve.

The hope that the bad things we may have done have been forgiven and forgotten.

The hope that those arguments and differences we’ve had with others can be put aside even for just a day.

We all know that we haven’t been perfect but we still HOPE to have a wonderful time at Christmas.

Let me take you back to 1984 … I was 10 years old … Let’s just say, it wasn’t my finest year! My family lived on a Lucerne farm in the Lockyer Valley and our only source of drinking water was from rain water tanks. They were old, corrugated-iron water tanks that were getting a bit rusty … all part of the taste!

For some strange reason, and I still don’t know what was going on in my head, I decided to use the water tank as a dart board. So, I was throwing darts at the tanks and if they hit a rusty spot, they stuck in. And this seemed fun. The problem was, when I pulled them out, a little spout of water would shoot out. Let’s just say my mum and dad weren’t impressed with my dart throwing skills.

If that wasn’t bad enough, later that year, my sister and I decided to prank call the emergency services and tell them there were fires happening at our friend’s farms. A visit to the police station and getting to meet some very angry policemen was enough to deter me from trying that prank ever again. And once again my mum and dad were, let’s just say, a little disappointed in me. As I said, it wasn’t my finest year!

However, something weird happened at Christmas time … this thing called Hope emerged again. I certainly wasn’t deserving of anything … maybe I should have got a lump of coal for Christmas.

Yet that Christmas I received one of the best presents ever … the thing I most wished for – TEST MATCH!

Do you remember your favourite Christmas? What happened to make it that way? Was it the gifts? Or was it the holiday time with family? Was it the great feast you had?

I am pretty sure it wasn’t because you’d had a perfect year… In fact maybe it was one of the worst years for you and yet Christmas brought hope and peace and joy …maybe this year has been the worst year for you, and you are not looking forward to Christmas at all … but somewhere deep inside of you there is still that hope that things are going to get better.

You see this is why Christmas day is one of the most significant days in history … the day Jesus Christ was born.

Christmas day didn’t get cancelled because we were bad.

Christmas day exists because we are bad!

God loved us so much that He gave as a gift his son Jesus.

He was born into this world as a little baby – and He was given the name “Jesus” because He came to save us from our sins (our dart-throwing and prank-calling; our ‘badness’). The bible tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. God loved us so much that He became one of us; to be like us; to experience life like us; and to live life perfectly because we can’t.

And He is the best gift we can receive.

You see we are part of God’s ultimate story…that is why that within us, no matter what we have done or who we are, there is Hope because of Jesus. Jesus Himself said,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come.”

God has given us the best gift; in fact He has given us the only gift we need – and that is Jesus.

Our prayer for you this Christmas season is that you will think seriously about Jesus, because it is His birthday we celebrate.

Please consider who He is, what He has done for you and your part in God’s ultimate story.


 

IMG_6338.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Finding gems …

At some point in your life or maybe many points in your life you are going to have to just grit your teeth, suck it up, and stick to it in a difficult situation.

One of our children was recently expressing a little discontentment with a situation he/she found herself/himself in — enter Anne and her inspirational speech mode — but before I subject you to it, first allow me to give you a little context.

Last school holidays we did a road trip to Emerald to visit my husband’s parents. Now if you know Emerald at all, you’ll know it’s quite close (the kids didn’t really think so) to the gem fields, so a trip to the gem fields was expected – mostly by me. I was hoping for an amazing piece of jewellery without the bank balance to go with it! At least one of the teens had visions of finding an amazing gem 💎 another expressed skepticism in the whole endeavour – “they’ll just be giving us stuff they’ve looked through with nothing in it” … “what a scam to pay for a bucket of dirt that has nothing in it”. We as parents were hoping that at the least, all those hours invested in Minecraft were at last going to pay off … but I digress..

We visited the first gem field and wandered around the shop for a while. I quickly discovered that with our holiday budget, if I was going to find the Australian version of the heart of the ocean, I was going to have to purchase a claim and find the sapphire myself. Unfortunately time would not permit this, so we decided to buy a bucket of gravel/dirt/sand and start panning.IMG_5570.JPG

We headed out to the hot sun (as the only one who forgot to take a hat it’s important I mention the heat of the sun at this juncture because, should you decide to hit the fields you’ll want to take a hat) and were talked through the process.

For the more procedural amongst you I’ve laid it out below:

Materials:

one bucket of gravel

two sieves

one wheelbarrow

one water trough

two sorting tables

two scrubbing brush

a few tiny little ziplock bags to house the treasures (I was a little concerned – the heart of the ocean wasn’t going to fit in this.)

We were then talked through the method:

Method:

1. Pour dirt/gravel from bucket into sieve. No .. not all of it. 

2. Shake sieve over wheelbarrow to remove excess sand etc 

IMG_5575.JPG

3. Move to the trough.

4. Put sieve into trough and move sieve up and down – this will move heavier pieces to the bottom – and hopefully remove clay etcIMG_5585.JPG

5. Remove from trough – let water drain out.

6. Over to the sorting table.

7. Now the for the trickiest part of the exercise – the sieve needs to flipped and the contents emptied on to the table (not the ground)

8. At this point it’s time to start searching … the gems should be sparkling on the top of the heap.

IMG_5580.JPG

Yep, that’s a sapphire!

 

9. The trick at this point is telling the difference between gems and sparkly rocks.

I’d like to say we nailed it … we didn’t …

We had two helpers for the first go – a guide probably in her 60s and a girl who was maybe 10 years old. They were spotting gems like experts … mainly because they were experts. But we didn’t have our “gem” eyes in yet.

We were not professionals, we found a few that’s for sure … but there was no heart of the ocean hidden in that bucket .. maybe were too far inland?

My lecture to the unfortunate child who had expressed discontentment was, sometimes you have to go searching for the gems – it’s going to take work … it’s going to take effort, you will need to go looking for them – they can be hidden in the mundane, in the dull, in the dusty, and in the grimy places. But in everything you should be able to find them – every bucket at that place has an assortment of zircons and sapphires some blue, some green, some yellow. You’ve just got to focus, and look for that glimmer, sometimes it’s oh so faint. In our every day, day to day, the glimmer can be found in a person, a conversation, a moment of peace in an otherwise busy day, a smile, a cheery hello, a moment that you would not have experienced had you been elsewhere.

At this point the hapless teen nodded with some enthusiasm and expressed agreement to the analogy I was labouring, and I think, probably hoped that it was one of my shorter lectures so he could get on with his day.

After we’d panned the contents of the bucket we went into have our haul inspected by the jeweller. 

We thought we’d done well – she was slightly less impressed – she thought we would/should have found more than we did, guess there were a few we threw away.

Then with her practised eye, her loupe (yep I looked that one up – though I’m not sure that’s what she is wearing in the photo below) a mirror and light source she got to the business of separating our haul into two groups.

    IMG_5594.JPG     IMG_5595.JPG     IMG_5635.jpg

One was the precious stones and the other a pile of what she called “pretty rocks”. At the end of the process our slightly crestfallen faces told the tale that’s been told time and time again, while searching for gems we’d been distracted by pretty rocks.

From that I took a few things away; one was how offended we were when she asked us if we wanted the pretty rocks … of course we didn’t … didn’t you just say they were worthless … honestly how silly do you think we are..!!!

Another was that one of the key things that helped her to distinguish a gem from a rock  — was how well it reflected light. When placed on a mirror did the light shine through it, or not?

Sometimes I think we throw the gems out with the rubbish because we don’t recognise them, we don’t spend enough time training our eyes to look for the Light.

From our experience on the gem fields we learned that the rocks and sand and clay are easy to find. And sometimes life is the same, all you have is clay and dirt, dust and gravel …. you search for the gems but the circumstances are such that maybe there aren’t even any pretty rocks to attract you, you’re holding it all up to the Light but there are no gems to be found. 

You could, on those days, try to keep hope, convinced that the precious things must be somewhere — but all the panning, rinsing, searching in the world isn’t drawing those gems to the top. Maybe on these days, and those days will come, maybe on those days … it’s you … the gem is you. Maybe you’re the one who’s been turned over and you’ve had all of the clay and sand and dirt washed off you, and you are the one the Light is shining through.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Infidelity, unfaithfulness, adultery …

These words come to mind again as the headlines in our newspapers, and in our online news services in Australia declare another fall from grace, and another couple goes through publicly what is an intensely private, searingly painful, shattering and life altering experience.

While the many who haven’t experienced this, watch in disbelief as all the sordid details unfold, and shake their heads in incredulity — all the while there is a woman, struggling to catch her breath, reminding her heart to beat and wondering how to take one step after another. Some who watch this unfold in this public forum may glance away from the headlines to see that their own wounds have opened a little, or find, perhaps, the scars are beginning to itch.

The moment:

For those of you who haven’t been granted membership to this particular club, there’s a level of betrayal that comes in the moment when you learn about infidelity that is unlike anything else you will ever experience…

you suddenly drop off a precipice, 

you plunge either flailing or with an eerie stillness into the freezing cold waters of rejection that suck the air out of your lungs

before you know it, you are hit hard by a merciless wave,

this somehow, at once, fills your nose and mouth

and pummels your core

you recoil only to discover that where your heart, stomach and internal organs once were is now, instead, a gnawing, gnarling, gaping void …

turbulent ocean

I vividly remember trying to get out of ear shot of the 3 and 1/2 year old in order to answer my mother’s shocked,

“What has happened?”

My strength failed just shy of the top step,

and I came to rest there with the “work” mobile in my hand,

while it was now peacefully sleeping …

the names of strangers danced in my mind’s eye,

and the messages, 

those messages,

… the incongruity of those messages and the protests of innocence still ringing in my ears.

Where do I sit?

Am I going to vomit?

Or cry?

Or just do … nothing … 

Hit by a wave of helplessness, suddenly you find yourself strangely disoriented in a place that was, until moments ago, a safe place.

Whether the moment of revelation was one that came as a complete surprise – or if it was something that you knew on an intuitive level; the moment when the realisation that those fears have been realised hits … numbness descends. Even if it was something that you had suspected, at this point there is no sense of vindication or relief. …

Your ears are humming, buzzing and ringing, yet you could swear that all the sound has drained from the world …

now they are burning and tingling as though pricked by hundreds of tiny pins and needles … 

then that tingling, prickling sensation begins to slowly travel down from the top of your head    

To the observer however, you are bereft of colour and beads of sweat glisten on your brow …

perhaps now you start to tremble, because despite the fact that you feel uncomfortably warm all over, in that same moment — you are also extremely cold.

It is shock, and I can only aim at describing it. In reality, it is an intensely emotional and visceral experience. 

Let’s not sugar coat it people, it is trauma – and the damage that this leaves is not visible because it resides in your heart, and mind.

The recovery:

If you have been there – what you know is, that while this is the worst moment, surprisingly this moment is also the beginning of your recovery. The waves that wash over you can’t be avoided — they must engulf and envelope you — but like all waves, these will ebb and flow away.

The tide retreats and you find yourself, just short of the top step, the water has subsided and now you have to get up.

Your colour slowly returns, your ears resume their function, your lungs remember they need air and your heart remembers its primary purpose — and while may have shattered into a million tiny pieces — it beats on.

The recovery can be very slow and it can be painful. From now on you will move from numbness to anger to rage to fear to shame to sadness and back again …. I know for some time I ran the gamut of emotions daily.

You will need a few things – a good counsellor,  some wise and good family and friends, and you will need my God. 

Before I go onto the hope, one more thing, even 11 years on – there is a feeling that descends on me at the beginning of Feb each year. I’m often puzzled as to why this feeling, mood, disquietness descends on me … I then eventually remember that it is that time of year again. It is a trauma – if you know someone in it or if you are someone in it … please recognise that this not just a “get over it” kind of thing.

The hope:

When it comes to the relationship some of you find that your partner has made the choice for you (he/she has gone), some find that the betrayal is such that you cannot salvage anything, while some of you have the opportunity to remain and move toward healing the relationship.

Whatever your present situation, the hope is the same for you – the source is the same and the promises remain the same …

Psalm 34:18.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 73:26

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted

And binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 42: 3 -4

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

He will not fail nor be discouraged …

Ezekiel 11:19

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 36:26

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

serene-710391_960_720

In closing, when you stand by and watch the shipwreck that is the end of someone else’s marriage try to remember that somewhere in there, is a person trying to remember how to breathe …

I owe many, many thanks to the family and friends who were there and helped me to remember to breathe … and to the man I married years later, who has stayed and prayed and breathes with me everyday.

I have deliberately excluded details despite the fact that Anne Lamott’s words keep springing to mind…

251906-Anne-Lamott-Quote-You-own-everything-that-happened-to-you-Tell


Links to read:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-about-trauma/201503/love-is-war-post-infidelity-stress-disorder

https://www.onlyyouforever.com/post-infidelity-stress-disorder/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A gift related question …

What was the one gift/thing/item you desperately wanted for Christmas (or your birthday), as a child, that you never received?

Warning #1: what follows has a number of references to the 80s and 90s.

Warning #2: there is nothing remotely deep, spiritual, insightful or inspiring to be found here today. It’s superficial, it’s a little nostalgic, and it’s just for fun. I may yet write a more serious one upon which I am currently ruminating … 

So with the warnings out of the way, and hopefully your expectations lowered somewhat, let me push on.

At our pre-grocery-shopping breakfast this morning my husband and I were chatting about the above question. I know the gift he’d never received was a train set. He even remembers having to give another kid a train set as a birthday present … ouch!! We gave him one for his birthday a few years back. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 4.36.50 pm.jpg

The train set… See the shock on his face!

He tried to guess what mine was … “did you want a pony?” that particularly inspiring guess I think was due, in part, to the fact that we had just seen three men walking two ponies down the road. But no, I don’t think I ever wanted a pony … I wasn’t really a horse kind of girl. I don’t think I ever received or wanted a My Little Pony, or a Rainbow Brite doll. I had a little collection of seven Strawberry Shortcake figurines (correction have somewhere) from my 7th birthday cake .. but that was about as far as I ever went when it came to collectables.  

80s-toys-strawberry-shortcake

I didn’t have the Barbie collection — I only ever had one Barbie, whose hair I “fixed”, and then she went on a long, long holiday.  From memory I’d been specifically instructed not to alter her hair – I had a better idea. So she went to live in the cupboard, at least that’s where I think she went. So I never wanted the Barbie car/house …

I did receive the greatly desired Cabbage Patch Kid (her name was Jacinta Gabrielle). Yes I still have her somewhere, and my husband has attempted to throw her in the bin (he says they freak him out) and yes I did rescue her.

2c1fde0cb8aa033f1aa1db228bf4eefb--vintage-cabbage-patch-dolls-cabbage-patch-kids-dolls

While this is not mine – she looks remarkably like mine.

Not sure why I rescued her other than I am ridiculously sentimental about some things, I’ve had trouble throwing toys out since hearing this poem as a kid.  I also received the distant relative of the Cabbage Patch slightly less popular but very close to it … Pumpkin Kid .. or something like that. It is important to note that I did not include this photo for the sole purpose of eliciting a response from my husband. 🙂 

I received the coveted “big girl’s” bike for my tenth birthday and then a while later fell off it, managing to break/fracture a rib.

But I think my favourite gift of my childhood/teen years happened during the Mickey Mouse watch outbreak of the early 90s. I was about 16 at the time – and I was one very happy girl (which was unusual for me at that age) when I opened my Christmas present to find this watch.

m22hi-h-cSpeUCyeCY9yqpw

Apparently this watch now qualifies as “vintage”, which, I guess, makes me ancient?

I knew I wasn’t getting  the Mickey Mouse watch —I was not getting one, there was nothing that size in the pile of presents. I even remember the night before having a chat with myself about not being disappointed – it’s just a watch … you’ll get some lovely gifts, don’t let the disappointment show on your face, Christmas isn’t all about what you get etc, etc, by the morning I’d resigned myself to missing out, little knowing Mum and Dad had done the whole “large box hiding a smaller gift” trick – if you’re reading this kids – we have not done that this year … or have we..??? No, we haven’t. 

But enough reminiscing and back to the initial question: for me – surprisingly, or not, the one thing that came to mind that I wanted and never received was a specific pair of shoes. I had some absolutely amazing shoes as a kid – I think my mother had/has a bit of a thing for shoes, that apparently must have been some of the genetic material that she passed on to me. Now she could’ve passed on some additional height, or the slimmer frame, which my brother received … Yes, Mum, Dad, little bro’, I know you are all reading this but if I say it now I don’t have to bring it up at our Christmas dinner and we can avoid the unpleasantness of last year. 😉 

So my unrealised dream was a pair of these … a pair of wooden clogs/sandals …

4c483eb9def53b2e9a7f0e69f3b3a4b1

I can understand, in part, why this dream remained unrealised. I can imagine that perhaps there might, on some occasions, have been a little noise created by them as I no doubt would have “clumped/clomped around the house”. In researching them it turns out that these ones in particular, are a souvenir from the Philippines !!

I now have no idea where I would have seen them or why I would have so desperately needed a pair … I would have been under 10 years of age at the time. 

Mum sent me a message last night asking for Christmas tips — yeah we like to shop up to the wire … that’s when the true inspiration comes!

So I gave her a vague list of things — world peace, the ability to nap during the day without feeling guilty … an olive tree – that one was serious, the others were too, but are perhaps more difficult to purchase and wrap.

I should have said, I want a pair of those wooden clogs, you remember the ones. 


Now over to you; what would you say to the initial question? 

Feel free to head over to the page on Facebook and write it up there – you never know who might be looking for last minute gift ideas!!

Have a wonderful Christmas if I don’t see you before then!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Storms …

We all find ourselves in trials and tribulations from time to time and there are a few things that we need to learn to take away from them, or bring to them with us.

If the truth be told, there are very few Christians we know at the moment who aren’t in some way experiencing some deep waters, or living through some storms.
We will all be confronted, at some point in time, with a trial or tribulation. The word of God is clear with regard to the purpose for/of these times and the intent of God’s heart as He permits us to pass through them.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

 

… count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5

On at least two occasions in our recent past I have found myself at a total loss as to how to move forward, how to solve certain problems and how to get through.
I was at the time very conscious that my spirit was restless, troubled, my eyes were fixed on circumstances and I was acutely aware of my inability to think or act my way out of it. It was beyond my control.

Today, after a lovely time in His presence, a time of worship, teaching and fellowship with His people it became clear to me — that none of us lives a life free from trials. In fact the people whose opinions thoughts and prayers we value most in our journey, are people for whom we are also on ours knees in prayer.

I’ve been thinking of Him more than I often do, I’m ashamed to admit how quickly and often my heart grows cold. I am ashamed to admit that I know, I too, would have been one of the ones He admonished for falling asleep when He had asked them to watch and pray with Him. This week I found myself back in that boat again, I’ve returned there a few times lately … “ Do you not care that we are perishing..?!!

IMG_0242

And a great windstorm arose … 

Today a few thoughts came to me as I thought about this once again. Maybe one of the reasons that Jesus was asleep in this boat in the storm that troubled the disciples, was not only to show them, and us, His power; but also to show them, and us, that storms of this type and magnitude did not trouble Him.
This was not the biggest storm He was to face. He, surely, was very aware of the power of the storm that would be God’s righteous anger when He became the offering for sin. He surely would have been aware of the force with which that storm would break over His righteous soul. He would surely have known that because of this storm God would see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.

Maybe when we find ourselves in the storms of life we need to remember this truth more readily, the truth that He has already borne the worst for us.

With this knowledge in our hearts and minds, we need to take the time to look at Him — the one asleep in the boat. The more closely we look at him, the more we contemplate Him, the more we see His peace. We should also see with greater clarity the storm He faced and conquered for us.
Through this look of faith our eyes should be opened more to the suffering He endured for us, and with that our hearts should swell all the more with love and gratitude for what He has done.

Let us take our eyes off the storms and the sea, and fix them on Him.

Looking to Jesus

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Forgiveness at its finest …

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you … Luke 6: 27 – 28

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matt 5:44

There’s something here that causes me recoil. I know what it is. It’s the fact that there is something here that I need to do, something that my nature rebels against – love for an enemy.

An enemy is defined as, a person who is actively opposed, or hostile, to someone or something.

This is not someone who insults you about your new hair cut. An enemy is not someone who gives you a dirty look, it’s not your neighbour who accidentally reverses into your rubbish bin for the second time in a fortnight … an enemy is not someone who disagrees with your opinion regarding puppy training.

An enemy is someone who is actively opposed to you, and hostile in their dealings with you. Some of us have these people in our lives, some of us do not. I think those who do not, find it very easy to agree with and perhaps adhere to this the principle without having to actively engage with it. There is no rubber hitting the road here, it purely an academic exercise, which is easy to jump on board with. In fact it’s even remarkably easy to advise others to do this – the words just roll off the tongue.

I’m sure you’ve read those amazing stories in which an individual shows forgiveness and sometimes even love for an enemy, and to some extent you are inspired but you are more often than not equally awestruck as you realise you’d struggle to do it. When it comes down to it most of us think we’d be able to do this under the right circumstances. People who have been wronged usually get to the point that they realise that forgiveness is the best (only) option if they want to move forward, if they want to be healthy and move on.

I know that one aspect of my sinful nature is that I sometimes (more often than not) struggle to forgive. Though at the same time I do know that while I can’t offer forgiveness immediately; if I let the Holy Spirit work in me — it happens. And then before I can feel too pleased with myself, I find myself right up against the verse where we started today.

Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, pray for them

How about we just leave it at forgiving them?

Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, pray for them 

What does this mean? For me it appears to ask the impossible. Love your enemy? I’m okay with “Love your neighbour as yourself” that at least, seems to be possible, until I look beneath the surface, and what I find is the same instruction. Love your neighbour as yourself – my thoughts echo the question the scribes asked of Jesus; who is my neighbour?
Now you know where we are heading … His answer came in the form of the story of The Good Samaritan.
He finds his enemy suffering by the roadside:

… when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Good Samaritan gives his time, his care, his possessions, his money and even takes responsibility for the well-being of someone who is essentially his enemy (in his case – from birth).
At this point I find it all a bit too difficult to envisage little ol’ me managing to do any of this. But then the self-righteous, perhaps Pharisaical part of me, wants to work out what that means … how can it be measured? Is it time? Is it possessions? Is it money?
When I begin to think this way it isn’t too long before I find myself looking at an imaginary balance sheet. On my side I have a list of things that I can classify as “good” that I could place on the credit side of this transaction … but is love being shown, or am I simply trying to balance the books ..?

Then the Holy Spirit leads me to Corinthians:

love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself,
love is not puffed up;
love does not behave rudely,
love does not seek its own,
love is not provoked,
love thinks no evil;
love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
love bears all things,
love believes all things,
love hopes all things,
love endures all things.

After reading this I need a whole new balance sheet.

Once again the instruction is clear – this is how we love our enemies, it’s how we love our friends. The application of this passage is so much deeper and wider than simply being a suitable reading for a wedding ceremony. This is not meant to be limited to romantic love as its application in wedding ceremonies may suggest.
Maybe we should more readily and willingly apply this to all of the relationships we find ourselves in, the harmonious, the faltering, and the broken.

At the end of it all, this particular verse “love your enemies …” is meant to encourage us to move in a way that is more in line with the life of Christ, and I think it is meant to encourage us to be mindful of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We, none of us, is able to do this one in our own strength.

Yet, as weak and imperfect as the holiness of the best saints may be, it is a real true thing, and has a character about it as unmistakable as light and salt. It is not a thing which begins and ends with noisy profession; it will be seen much more than heard. Genuine Scriptural holiness will make a man do his duty at home and by the fireside, and adorn his doctrine in the little trials of daily life. It will exhibit itself in passive graces—as well as in active. It will make a man humble, kind, gentle, unselfish, good-tempered, considerate of others, loving, meek, and forgiving. It will not constrain him to go out of the world, and shut himself up in a cave, like a hermit. But it will make him do his duty in that state to which God has called him, on Christian principles, and after the pattern of Christ.
J.C Ryle

Don’t forget that we, as Christians, were, at one time, enemies of God.

Christ loved His enemies, didn’t He?

white-crucifixion-1938

White Crucifixion – Marc Chagall

It’s not as though He is telling us to do something He hasn’t already done.

It’s not as though He is leaving us to do it on our own, or in our own strength.


 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Parenting is a tough gig …

It has been a while I know,  it’s not that I haven’t thought about writing; I have a collection of incomplete thoughts, scribblings and ramblings saved under a variety of different titles most of which involve the word “thoughts”.

Today will not be incredibly insightful nor revealing, neither will it contain an earth shattering revelation, but I need to start writing properly again, and so this is my first step back in.

As you would know we have one tween and two teens – so soon to be three teens.

Unknown.jpegSome days are easier and better than others, on one of the “other” days in this week just past, my lovely husband suggested that we listen to a podcast or two (5 really) by Paul Tripp called “I Hate Parenting”. Each clip is three minutes long including a one minute advert at the end. In these little clips a few things that he said really hit the spot … I recommend that you have a listen/watch if you are finding the parenting journey is less than perfect at the moment.

Last week I struggled through a few things and the one I found the most difficult I think was what he mentions in the second episode — parenting is something that exposes your heart and who you are.

We, as you know, are one of those families where our kids travel between two homes with great regularity and they find themselves living in, and, sometimes between two different worlds. It is not always easy for them — it is not always easy for us. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t.
What is important in this, is for me to realise that even in this, I am able to learn more about myself, my heart, my Saviour and my need to trust Him and rely more fully on Him.

What I learned about myself this week just past, wasn’t flattering. I still love to be in control. I still think I know what is best (because usually I do) 😉 I still think what is best in the short term is also what is best in the long term.
What I forget more often than I’d care to mention, is that God wants not only for me to learn to trust Him, but He desires the same for everyone who is under our roof.
He wants our kids to see Him for who He is, He wants them to be converted, He wants them to trust Him, to love Him.
We pray each day that He will draw our kids closer to Him; that they will come to a saving knowledge of Him and then, when I see something coming their way that may cause hurt or disappointment, I try to stand in the way and block it.
The thing they need to learn more than anything, is that He alone is the one to trust in, He alone is the one who can save, He alone is the one who will never let them down.

This week as I watched things leave my realm of control and leave my sphere of influence, an ugliness began to come out in my heart, a resentment, and I had one of those painful epiphanies. I came to realise that I have tried to be God in my child’s life. I have tried to be the constant, the provider, the protector, the comforter, and guess what – I am very, very, very much under-qualified for that job – we all are – and the sooner we realise that the better.
I came to realise that I have been trying to parent as a Christian without fully relying on Christ — oxymoronic, right?
I’ve been trying to run the whole show based purely upon what is right in my own eyes, and my vision is very limited.

There are a number of things that we know to be true about parenting:

it is tough.
it reveals to us not only the inherently sinful nature of our child — but also our own inherently sinful nature.
it shows us who we are,
it shows us who God is,
it requires a close walk with God ,
it shows us our relationship with Christ is the first and foremost priority,
it requires surrender.

I think also as parents it is important to be friends with people who are parenting kids at the same stages and age as our own, as well as people who have been there before and emerged out the other side as sane, fully functioning human beings.
🙂

That’s it for today …

Now go and listen to Paul Tripp “I Hate Parenting

just-when-i-quote.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments