Grocery shopping … 

(I posted this on the Facebook page today – then I remembered a number of you don’t do Facebook – so I’m leaving it here for you – it may resonate for one or two of you...)

Dear parents trying to do the grocery shopping, with small children: 
It gets better! 

Today, I did the grocery shopping with my 13yr old boy. He pushed the trolley for me from start to finish, he loaded the groceries back into the trolley once they were bagged, he unloaded the groceries from the trolley into the boot of the car. 

The days of buying a “cheesy-mite” scroll or a finger bun (bribe) from the bakery before heading into the grocery store are done. 

The days of; “please just hold onto the trolley”, “look out for the lady”, “please stop leaping onto every post we walk past”, “please stop jumping from black square to black square, you can walk on the white ones too”, “either get in the trolley or stay on the trolley you can’t keep alternating”, “please don’t stick your leg out as we pass people”, “no, we don’t need any kinder surprises today”, “don’t run across in front of people’s trolleys”, are gone. 
Today, as we did our grocery shopping I felt a little nostalgic for those days. Days like the one when we somehow lost “wibbly pig” in the freezer section of Coles, the day the boy jumped onto the trolley and I caught it mid flip. The tantrum on the floor of the grocery store when I said “no” to stopping at Donut King on the way out. Which was, coincidentally, the day of my greatest parenting bluff ever as I stepped over him and said “I’m going to count to three and you’d better get up and follow me” … he did … I sighed with relief. (I don’t ever recommend doing that one, I only ever did it once).

Today, he was the consummate grocery shopping professional, well, the trolley did double as transport for him once or twice, it did also do a couple of unnecessary 360s at the end of an aisle or two, and he did make some helpful suggestions that made it into the trolley … (I was weak, hungry and a little nostalgic at the time). 

My boy is growing up … I’m still not sure how I feel about it. 

Parents of young children, you will look back on those difficult shopping expeditions with some nostalgia. You may even remember them when you have a helpful teenager (not an oxymoron) and you witness someone in the middle of the worst grocery shopping expedition of her/his life. At that point I recommend that you give them a sympathetic smile, tell them to hang in there, it gets better! 

In the meantime, you’re making memories… Happy grocery shopping !!!

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The year behind, and the year ahead…

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I guess we all come to a point each year when we look back and assess the year that has been. I think we all have a desire to see where we’ve been, in order to be able to see what impact we have made.

The reason (one of the reasons) why my husband loves to do the mowing is that he can, very clearly, see where he’s been and, I guess, what is yet to be done.

I believe that we all have a drive, on some level, to be able to measure our success. We want a bigger house, a better car, we want our children to be successful, we want promotions, we tear down our barns to build greater ones, we seek to upgrade what we have. I think we desire this because this type of success is measurable, we can look at it and see. Better still, others can look at it and measure our success.

As Christians, our instructions are pretty straight forward… we are to upgrade, we are to build, we are to add to what we have … just not in the way many of us do.

giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember, what seems a life time ago, I was at a New Years Eve get-together with my cousins, I was visiting from out of town. Carloads of teenagers and twenty somethings descended on the home of one of the church families, and we saw the new year in together. It was the end of year 12 for me, the number I’d received in the mail (in those days) wasn’t what I’d wanted, it wasn’t what I was capable of, it was what I’d earned. I was looking at the year ahead without a clue, as to what I was going to do.

Just before the New Year began, one of the guys there gave a short message. It was simple, or at least what I remember of it was simple, he encouraged us to make the passage above our New Year’s resolution, to build on something that mattered. That was twenty three years ago, at the end of each year that message comes back to me.

So maybe, for you, this year hasn’t been one that you’d classify as a raging success …
Maybe you are still carrying the extra 10kg that you had made it your goal to lose this year.
Maybe you are facing another year alone when you’d really hoped and prayed that this would be the year that you’d meet the partner of God’s providing for you.
Maybe you’d hoped and prayed that this year God would reveal His will to you with regard to your purpose in your service of Him… but you still can’t see it.
Maybe this year you missed out on that job you were really hoping for.
Maybe, worse still, this year you lost the job you believed was your way to serve Him.
Maybe your kids are still making choices that break your heart.
Maybe your spouse has broken a promise that has fractured your family, your life, your heart and your home.
Maybe this year, you prayed for the healing of, but lost, a loved one.
Maybe this year, you have a loved one who has received a heartbreaking diagnosis, or maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your heartbreaking diagnosis.
Maybe you still feel that those who are against you massively outnumber those who are for you.

Looking back on your year, compared with year of others, yours is not a successful one. 2016 will not go down in the book of your days as being one of the best.

Maybe you need to look at all of this from a different perspective, as the fox tells the little prince at the end of the story of The Little Prince, it’s the things that are invisible that matter.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Maybe 2016 saw your faith grow.

Maybe in 2016, to your faith was added virtue,

to your virtue was added knowledge,

to your knowledge, self-control,

to your self-control, perseverance,

to your perseverance, godliness,

to your godliness, brotherly kindness

to your brotherly kindness, love.

Do you know what my friend? None of this fruit is easy to grow and in fact I’ve only ever seen it grow in difficult situations. But once grown – it will not need to be traded in, it will not go out of season, it cannot be taken from you. This fruit while invisible to the eye, creates more fruit, and if you are wise you will ask discerning people you know, if they can see it. If they can, they will no doubt tell you that you are not who you used to be.

So at the end of this year maybe don’t take stock of the stuff you’ve accumulated, or the successes others have praised you for. Instead, maybe read over this passage in 2 Peter 1:5-8, meditate on it, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the areas of your life where this fruit has grown and if you’re brave even ask that in the year ahead, He would develop more of that fruit in your life.

From this point on, build on the foundation that matters, and add to the things that matter …

… faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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One of the least …

He was probably 12 years old, he was distraught, trying to hide inside his shirt. He still had his bike helmet on, and he was pacing.

The three women working in the convenience store had him well and truly bailed up. They’d locked the front doors so that customers, in order to get in, had to go around the side. They were not letting him out.

It was the kind of dishevelled looking tradie in the bakery, with my son and I, who told us why.
The boy had been caught shoplifting – the three women, employees, in the store were letting people in, but not letting the boy out till the police arrived.

Another woman, clearly a mum, and I looked at each other,
They can’t do that surely? You can’t hold a child like that. They can’t do that.

I walked my son back to the car where my husband and his two kids were waiting.

I was struggling to hold back the tears.
The other woman was waiting outside the shop too. I think in the look we exchanged we’d both decided we had to do something.

I think I have to go back and do something.

My husband says he didn’t hear what I said.
I was upset – the tears were blurring my vision. The lump in my throat was massive, maybe it overwhelmed my vocal chords which is why he didn’t hear me.
All the while, one phrase from the tradie in the bakery, repeated in my ears.
No one at home’s looking after him if he has to steal his lunch.

I think I said it again – maybe I only thought it.

I have to go back and do something. I’m going to go and pay for it.”

In hind sight it doesn’t make much sense to someone who didn’t have the full story.
I guess my husband was wondering if I’d lost it, had I just stolen something? I have been under a fair bit of stress lately. I was obviously upset enough to go back to sort something out.

I walked back to the front door where the other woman was still waiting. One employee in the store gestured to the side door. I could enter there. So I did.

There he was – someone’s son. He was distraught, trying to hide his head inside his Year 6 shirt. He still had his bike helmet on, and he was pacing, and sobbing, and at one point banging his head on the wall in the store.

Can I pay for whatever he was taking?
She stared at me.
I repeated myself, waving my keycard at her.
Can I pay for what he’s taken?
No, he stole it.
But can I pay for it – then you can let him go.
She stared at me… open mouthed.
No!
Why not? Why can’t I pay, then it’s paid for.

One of the other employees left her place at the door. By now my husband had joined me – clearly I was up to something. He wasn’t sure what, then another person entered as well.
I guess at that point I became the difficult one or at least a diversion for the boy who was sobbing, bike helmet on, face cocooned in his shirt, trying desperately to vanish.

A second employee came over to me.

I asked her, “can I please pay for what he took?
No, he stole it, he ran out of the shop, we caught him and brought him back. He needs to learn.
Why won’t you let me pay for it?
It’s stolen you can’t – we’ve already called the school and the police ..
So … you seriously won’t let me pay?
No.
I’m not sure if, at this point, I asked “what is wrong with you?” That sounds like something I’d do.

I guess at that point I’d created so much of a diversion that the boy saw him moment, seized it, and exited the shop.
Not sure if this is a good or bad thing.
I offered to pay once more, I was greeted with “No, he needs to learn.

At that point we also left the shop – through the side door. I was dumbfounded.
My mind was racing through the scenarios – if he is a repeat offender then they know who he is, there was no need to have him locked in the store, especially when he was clearly so distressed.
If this was his first offence I seriously doubt he’ll ever visit the store again, much less steal from it.

At any rate once he left the shop, he then ran into the other woman outside and she checked if he was okay – he wasn’t – but he jumped on his bike and, we assume, rode to school.

Our drive to school turned into an opportunity for us to talk about God, I hope that the boy who sparked our talk has the same chance to hear about Him.
I have been incredibly saddened today. I feel like that boy missed a chance to see Jesus, he missed a chance to see someone step in and pay his debt, he missed someone being able to set him free, to feed him and send him on his way.
Would it have been a turning point? We can’t tell.
Would it have been a time for him to see what grace looks like? Yes and isn’t that what we are called to do?
We are to love truth and grace, justice and mercy. We are meant to show the world who our Saviour is – who Jesus is ….
The one who came to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, to set the captives free.
Are we not encouraged to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give the thirsty a drink…?
Matthew 25:37-40

From the back seat of the car came the voice of my thirteen year old son,

I’m proud of you Mum, you were trying to do the righteous thing.

I’m not sure if he has a full understanding of what righteousness is – do any of us?

My distress today is nothing compared to how much it must pain the heart of God to offer His free gift to a broken, destitute, impoverished world, only to be told, “No thanks, I don’t need it.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on how we demand justice and mercy for ourselves but are less willing to demand it for others.
We expect respect for ourselves but often refuse to give it.
We expect to be honoured for who we are, but often fail to honour others.
We want what is ours, and theirs, and are happy to walk away from those who do without.

At the end of the day I can’t get this kid out of my mind … for now.
How long will this sadness remain? I know it will pass all too quickly, it will be a blip on my screen of ease and comfort.

How often does my heart break for the people with whom I share this time, this space and this place in world?

Not often enough I’d say.

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The Year 12 “Affirmation” Post…

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Dear Year 12s of Muellerland,

(To my usual readers – non year 12 students,  feel free to read on – you are not excluded from what follows – but this one is for a specific group of people.)

So back to you year 12s, a few of us got together and this is our affirmation note to you. If you are reading this now, it’s because you saw our very brief impersonal note in your affirmation bag and you became curious, you followed the link and here you are!!

Welcome!

Teaching for me has always been more about sparking interest, curiosity and encouraging you to learn and explore. So if you are reading this now – well done! ‘A’ s all round! A number of the students in your year level gave up straight away, I’m not surprised. :/

So you’ve asked us time and time again if we were going to write notes for your affirmation bags – we told you we weren’t. (Well I did anyway – the others may have been kinder and avoided the question.) What we’ve done instead is assemble some thoughts for you here, on the internet where you can never throw them away. 🙂

You are leaving us – in Muellerland – to venture out into “the great unknown”. For some of you the day couldn’t come quickly enough, others of you are a little less keen to depart. I understand that, I think I’d feel the same way.

For each of us there’s a few things we would like to have done for you:

We hope that for you students, Christian and not, that we’ve treated you in such a way that we, followers of Jesus, look like the good guys.
We hope that in some small way, we’ve done Him justice.
We pray that you have seen that being a Christian means we know that we aren’t perfect, we know that life isn’t smooth sailing but that we have trust in Someone who knows more than we do, who loves each and everyone of us more than we can comprehend.
We, each of us, hope that through the talks we’ve had over the years, you might have on more than one occasion, seen Him and that the times that you’ve seen Him outnumber the times that you haven’t.
We pray that we haven’t ever provided you with a reason to turn away from Him.
We pray that we have not turned any of you away from Him through our actions or words.

I guess that there are a few things we would like to say to you, a few things that we’d like you to remember, and a few things we’d love for you to do.

Our parting wisdom for you comes from the story of Josiah, you can read about him here

Our collective wisdom is as follows:

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young …

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem.

At this point, if you’ve listened in devotions at any point in time over your schooling years,   you  would know to read 1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

One way to look at it is: don’t behave in ways that give people reason to think less of you because of your youth. Don’t give them a reason to write you off because of your age.

Don’t let your history define who you are…

Manasseh [Josiah’s grandfather] was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem…But he did evil in the sight of the Lord…

Amon [Josiah’s father] was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem…But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

No matter what has happened to you, no matter the mistakes you have made, the poor choices, the awkward outfits on free dress days (I jest), these things do not define you. No matter what you have been told about your past, your heritage, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, this does not need to define you. Your home life, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant it is, should not define you. Josiah’s father and grandfather were horrible men, they did appalling things. He did not decide that he was a write-off because of his history, or his heritage. Neither should you.

Don’t let your culture or generation define who you are…

You can go to sites like WiReD which claim to be able to tell you “what you need to know to be culturally literate in 2016” … but I think you might be starting to notice that it’s kind of hard to keep up…
Your culture tells you that you need to be certain things, that you need to look certain ways, that you need to do certain things in order to matter.
The culture in which you live should not, must not define who you are. If you allow it to, you are robbing the world of the person God has created you to be.

Seek God…

This one is hard for some of us.

Mainly because it means that we have to acknowledge that He (God) IS. It also means that you and I have to acknowledge that we are NOT God, and for some of us that is tricky. The thing I want to say at this point is, seek God. He wants you to find Him. He’s not hiding, He’s not going to run away. He’s waiting for you to start looking for Him, He’s there. He is truth, He is love, He is real. He knows your name, He knows you and He’s waiting.

A.W Tozer, in his book, “The Pursuit of God” writes:

Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which, briefly stated, means that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man….We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit…The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him. All the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand…

Do what is right…

And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

You need to know what is right. What is right isn’t always easy, in fact, in my experience right can be downright hard and painful at times. But you should do it anyway.
What this means is you need to have given the idea of what is right some thought. What are your morals, what are your values? You know what ours are. At least we hope you do. But what are yours?  Outside of Muellerland things are different – some of you know just how different – others of you are going to be a little shocked by just how different things are. Find yourself friends that you can trust, people who will encourage you to do better and more importantly, find yourself some older, wiser people to whom you will listen and with whom you can be honest. If you aren’t sure what is right … ask someone who looks like they’ve made some good decisions or better still learned from some mistakes.

For the Christians among you it’s easier for you to know what is right but not always easier for you to DO what is right.
Charles Swindoll in his book “The Owner’s Manual for Christians” says first we must know what is right. We do this by reading God’s word; trusting in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and to listen to wise, godly Christians.

God’s word tells us very clearly what is right in Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Do this.

Get rid of your idols …

…in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, [Josiah] began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. (By the way – he’s 16 – 20 years old now – so … about your age)

Tim Keller tells us that an idol is; anything that becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity.

Think about that, ponder it for a moment.

What is of the utmost importance to you?

Is it your talents, your looks, your athletic ability, your intelligence, your status, your popularity, your job, your dream career, your OP, your university acceptance, your dreams, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your family, your car, your gaming, your money, your friends, your security, your pride, your religion, your goodness … your self? Are you, in fact, the god at the centre of your life?
Are you prepared to do what Josiah did? He removed the idols, destroyed them and then took the next step…

Follow God with all your heart and all your soul.

Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.

This is our prayer for each and everyone of you; that you would choose to accept the sacrifice Jesus made for you and that you would give Him your whole heart and all of your soul.
So while it’s not the affirmation you were perhaps hoping for, it is what we believe is most important and it is affirming in the best way. You’ve been a pleasure to teach … on the most part 😉 … take that as you will.

We have prayed for you often, and we continue to do so. Today (Tuesday) in our staff meeting you were prayed for – some of you audibly and by name – some of you inaudibly – but be certain that each and every one of you has been covered in prayer.

And with that we come to a close, we wish you all the best.

From:
a certain Art/English/History/Form/QCS teacher you may have once had,
a certain Science/Form teacher you may have once had,
a certain Science/Math/Form/Physics/Math B/QCS teacher you may have once had,
a certain Biology/Science 21 teacher you may have once had.

For further reading:

Books:

Josiah Road – Luke Harper

Counterfeit Gods – Tim Keller

The Owner’s Manual for Christians – Charles Swindoll

The Pursuit of God – A.W Tozer

Websites:

John Piper – desiringgod.org

Andy Stanley Sermon series – Who needs God? (Gods of the no testament)

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For you; if you are, right now, in the middle of a season of loneliness…

Loneliness is definitely one of the strongest and most difficult emotions to shake.

I know of a few friends who at the moment are in the middle of a lonely season. I say season, because I firmly believe that it will pass. Loneliness is something each one of us has experienced or will experience at one time or another. 

Loneliness is a season, that God will use to teach you things about yourself and about Himself.

What I learned in my season of loneliness is:

  1. God is the only one who can satisfy you. When you try to use people to fill the God shaped space in your heart – you will put too much pressure on yourself and them, they will fail as will you, you will get hurt and He will patiently wait for you to realise that.
  2. The pursuit of a relationship or the desire for romantic love, can become an idol. You really don’t want the type of relationship that you will settle for when you are at this point. You don’t want to make someone who you know doesn’t really fit the bill – fit the bill.
  3. God will give you His best when He can see that is what you want. Surrendering your own will to His is an ongoing daily practice – always.
  4. God will give you His best when you realise and acknowledge that He is all that you need. I believe we all reach Abraham and Isaac moments in our lives, sometimes we have them multiple times. God will ask you to show Him what it is that you truly believe you need. Hint: it’s Him.
  5. God doesn’t ever forget you – you forget Him. He wants your attention. He is, as His word says, a jealous God, talking about this recently I think all that phrase means started to come home to me. God is a jealous God, He is not envious, He is jealous. One definition of jealous is: fiercely protective of one’s rights or possessions. What this means for you, is that you are His, He does not like to see you placing more importance or significance on anyone or anything that is not Him. 
  6. Feeding on the entertainment offered by a world that does not value Him is going to do nothing other than stir up dissatisfaction within you. All it will do for you is leave you feeling discontent, unsatisfied, unhappy and … Our world places too much importance on who we are with romantically rather than who we are. We, none of us, should be defined by any relationship other than the one we have with our Saviour… If you are right now thinking the perfect relationship will make you complete, it won’t, it may, in fact, just highlight for you how incomplete you truly are without Him.
  7. You can’t short-cut this process – you can’t trick God into believing that you are through these steps. I know because I tried. My friend, He knows your heart. He sees the things that no one sees. He knows when you are ready.

Spend your time praying in the way a wise friend of mine always tells me to pray.

Ask God to remove desires from your heart that have not been placed there by Him.

Ask Him to strengthen you as you wait on Him.

Ask Him to help you to surrender your will to His.

Ask Him to prepare your heart for His will, whatever that may be. He will honour your prayer.

If you are at all like me my friends, it’s going to hurt, it will be worth it, you will get through it.

He will be with you.

At this time pray also that if there is a partner of His choice waiting for you that they too, will be doing this while they wait for you.

If, at the end of this season, God grants you the desire of your heart and you do end up with someone – you won’t end up with a perfect person ( sorry dear husband). As I heard a preacher once say “if you’re looking for the perfect person, what makes you think that they will be looking for you?” A little confronting – but true. God will place you with someone who will encourage you to continue to grow more into the image of His Son. In the experience of most, this does not happen in the days of wine and roses. This happens in times of adversity,  you won’t always make each other happy, you won’t always agree, but the one thing you want to be sure of is that you will always encourage each other to cling to Him, to trust in Him, to rely on Him, to turn to Him, and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Pray for this – while we pray for you. . .  and maybe have a read of this old one too. 

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But God planned it for good …

… those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Psalm 34: 10

All things work together for the good of those who love him. Romans 8: 28

Sometimes my friends, we find ourselves in the midst of situations where the good the verses above refer to, is difficult to see. There is no specific number of times that after hearing the words above, you can suddenly understand the complexity of what it all means, embrace the bad things, and move on happily to seek God’s good.

More often that not, you aren’t sure what God is doing in the midst of your difficulty and you can’t see any good in what is happening.

We can be certain that He makes even the worst situations turn out good for us in the end.
One of the biggest and most significant differences between God and us, is perhaps His definition of good.

We could question the good that comes out of a situation where a godly man loses his home, his livestock, his children, his wealth and his health. Yet it says of him that he was more blessed in the end than he had been in the beginning.

We would question how good it is for an innocent man to be accused of a crime he did not commit, convicted of said crime and end up imprisoned as a result – yet his story is the one from which we see the phrase emerge ‘you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.’

We could question where the good is, in an innocent man dying because His goodness was too much for those around him to bear.

Essentially what we are looking at is the difference between our definition of good and God’s. Our definition of good is probably very easily revealed when you look back on a day and classify it as having been “a good day”. To be honest, for me, a good day is one in which I have felt as though I’ve done well. And for me doing well sadly often means I did it all. I didn’t really have to rely on anyone – not even God. A good day is a day that I can look back on with pride and a sense of satisfaction. But for God, my Heavenly Father, a good day for me, in His books, doesn’t look like that. A good day doesn’t mean I got through it without Him – in fact if we consider it even on a superficial level, that definition should make for a bad day. A good day for me from His perspective is one in which He saw the fruit of the Spirit rise to the top rather than my pride and my effort. A good day for Him is one in which I was presented with the opportunity to behave in a more Christlike way and I took it, and I leaned on Him, His Son and the Holy Spirit to bring that to pass.
God’s desire, I’ve said it before, (I’m saying to myself again) is not for me to have good days apart from Him. His desire is that my days be spent with Him, the days when I lean on Him the most are the best of days, these are the good days.

I guess what it comes down to, for me – is redefining good.

If we are genuinely seeking Him as the verse suggests then we shall not lack or miss out on good things. Now, the good may be very cleverly disguised and concealed, it may after all present as bad. But we know that no matter how bent on our destruction others may be – they are able to do nothing without the permission of God. God allows bad to touch us in order to bring about good.

So, friends who are suffering at present, can I suggest that we reexamine our definition of good. We know God knows infinitely more than we do, we know that He knows the end from the beginning.

He knows what you would be like had He given you that relationship, career, home, family you so desperately believed would be for your good, He also knows where that would lead, He knows where you would end up and He knows who you then would be. Trust that He knows what is for your good. Take solace in the fact that because of this knowledge, because of His perspective, and because of the massive heart of love He has for you — He has said no, or not now. He wants you to focus somewhere else, He wants you to see Him more as He is, we know He has something that is better for you.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Remember you follow the One who is still waiting for His enemies to be made the footstool of His feet. Remember that we know those who lift themselves up will be humbled, remember that those who set themselves up will be brought low. You might not think right now that He has something better – but remember His better often isn’t just for your good – sometimes it’s for generations who follow after.

Sometimes God chooses to allow good things to happen to us, sometimes He permits the bad, as the psalmist in Psalm 73 suggests – sometimes it’s the bad that gives us the perspective we need. What we do need to know is that the bad is also part of His plan to bring us good. We know this because one day we’ll see the One who suffered the most and on that day we will be brought into the immense goodness that His suffering has brought about for us.

Yet the Lord was willing
To crush Him, causing Him to suffer;
If He would give Himself as a guilt offering [an atonement for sin],
He shall see His [spiritual] offspring,
He shall prolong His days,
And the will (good pleasure) of the Lord shall succeed and prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He shall see it and be satisfied…  (AMP )

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Happy weekend! 


A quick tour of our garden netted these beauties this morning … happy weekend everyone. 

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Out of the depths … 

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD; I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, More than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130:1, 5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We, each of us, have times we can look back on when we found ourselves at the bottom of what appeared to be a deep pit.
When we’re feeling like we are at the bottom of a pit – we have a few tendencies, one is to yell a bit. And that’s fine…but it doesn’t get you out of the pit. (If I wasn’t being serious now- I’d break into song … (Parks and Rec reference.) but I am being serious so I won’t. When in the pit you can just wait. I really love having to wait – you may have noticed that before now.

I think I’m getting better at it but I’m not sure- others may question that assertion.

When in a pit it’s always a good idea to look to God’s word, for my part, I return as I always must to my favourite of the Old Testament characters/ Joseph.  

God has great things prepared for Joseph – a role to play in the salvation of his family, the rescuing of a nation. God revealed some of this to him, Joseph however may have misinterpreted his own dreams initially – he thought that his role was limited to simply being “ruler” over his brothers and that his parents who would one day bow down before him.

God had more in mind, but as with everyone that God raised up to do great things there is a road of humility to walk first. A road down before the way up. How could we honestly expect anything different? Those of us who do, should reexamine our hearts. Who are we following if we expect to be met with reward upon reward and never have a single moment of difficulty. If our life has been a series of taps on the shoulder, we should take care – the time will come when the path up is actually the way down.

As Christians we follow the one who took the ultimate stoop. The One who literally stepped down. The word of God is replete with people who have been marked for greatness, humbled, in some cases humiliated, proved and then raised up. The word of God also has a little to say about those who are raised up by the people at a time when God was not yet ready.

Maybe at the moment you are in the bottom of that pit. While you are there listen. This is when you will hear that still small voice. Only in humility or as one has recently said humiliation can we truly draw alongside the One who humbled Himself, allowed Himself to be taken, the One who willingly stooped.
Humility is often hard to spot – sometimes it looks like hurt. Sometimes it looks like weakness, most of the time it’s not even noticed, it gets confused for other things … C.S Lewis says it beautifully.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

In a world where self promotion is the way forward – humility falls by the way side. Humility should not be confused with dependence on others, it should not be confused with a lack of vision, it should also not be misdiagnosed as a lack of verbosity, or an unwillingness to put oneself forward… it should be recognized for what it is…

A few people I know have felt the sting of humiliation recently, the truth is there’s nothing that will get you through – there are no words to be said – no one actually knows your unique pain other than the One who willingly took this on Himself so that right now you could come to Him and know that He understands. His humility is what has made Him the great high priest, the One who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities. His humility is exactly what made Him the saviour of His people. His heart was not for himself, His heart was for the world, His heart was for us – the ones who didn’t even know we needed Him, the ones who didn’t want Him.

My friend, let us not forget that your Father in heaven sees what is done in secret – He is the only one who can see into the bottom of that pit and He knows the way out, He will lead you out. He is not one to overlook or forget when the time is right. Our God, yours and mine, is no amnesiac.
If it’s not til the glory days – guess what? You’ll be okay with that.

After all we are yet to see our King in all his glory. I have a feeling though that the crowns of some of my friends are going to have an extra gem or two that many others there won’t have, and I hope that when I see them I can remember where they came from. They came from the days of humility, the days of hurt, the days of humiliation… the days when my friend you leaned on Him and He came through on the promise to bless those who overcome, the days when more than ever you demonstrated to me, to us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ” …

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Friendship…

I started the day today with breakfast with one of my best friends. We laughed, and for a change this time – I don’t think either of us cried! Yes!!

I traveled there alone with my thoughts (such great introvert time!) and reflected for a while about some of the people I have considered friends over the years. Some, I’ve been close to for a season, some for much longer. This reflection was in part due to a couple of conversations I’ve had recently. Our year 12 students (seniors), at school are about to say goodbye and head off into the world, and as per usual there are some friendships that are starting to wear thin.
The angst that we see daily in the high school and middle school over friendship issues always gets me thinking – as a teenager I didn’t have what I’d consider a large number of friends, maybe just one or two good friends. I remember when I left year 12 I was kind of pleased to say goodbye, that chapter of my life was done and I was keen to move on. I think I found it very difficult to be close friends with people that I had little in common with. School friends were never incredibly important to me. In primary school I had a couple of close friends. As a teenager, I attended a number of different high schools and we moved towns a few times. I had a few good church friends, some cousins I was close to and that was just about all I needed. Maybe this is because of my introversion and the fact that I’ve always been pretty happy with my own company. I really have no friends that I’ve known my whole life – and I don’t think this has effected me negatively. There’s really no one to remember all the stupid things I did or said when I was younger!

I think adulthood is where I’ve truly learned the value of friendship. The value of knowing and being known, and the value of investing in people.

The word of God highlights the importance of good companionship and it’s something that we are trying to help our children with. In an age when social media is constantly highlighting the importance of friends and followers, we need to help them to discern what kind of people we should be looking to being friends with.

The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Friendship is a key theme throughout the word of God, over and again we are reminded of the importance of choosing our companions wisely.

Job suffered quite a bit as a result of the words of his friends.
Just reading that passage today I was surprised to see that the moment at which Job’s losses were restored was when he prayed for his “friends”.

Haman consulted and plotted with this friends and it resulted in his own downfall.

Joseph was left alone and friendless, hated by his own brothers.

Jesus himself was on more than one occasion alone – they all “forsook him and fled”.

We do see however time and again the great gift that friendship can be – Adam and Eve before the fall, met and communed with God daily.

Abraham was called a friend of God.

Enoch walked with God.

Friendship is a great blessing bestowed on us by a God who has designed us to be in relationship with Himself and with each other. Introvert or extravert, we all need people who truly know us, build us up, challenge us and encourage us.
There are still too many lonely people out there in the world who do not know the joy of true friendship. I’m very much in love (I’m not even using hyperbole here) with Netflix’s The Little Prince (based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s book The Little Prince) and the lessons that it has to teach about responsibility, love and friendship.

One of the main reasons I love The Little Prince is that it encourages the reader (or viewer) to recognise that the most important things in life are the things that are invisible. Things like, the love that the little prince has for his rose and his friendship with the fox. De Saint-Exupery encourages the reader to be responsible not simply for self, but to realise that each of us is also responsible in some way for the people in whom we invest, those we “tame”.

to tame something means to establish ties …
… if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world …
One can only understand the things that one tames. Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy ready-made things in the shops. But since there are no shops anywhere where you can buy friends, men no longer have any friends. If you want a friend, tame me …

The book encourages us in a disposable, instant gratification, kind of society to focus on investing in others, in people, in what is invisible.

So my challenge to you this week is: set up that coffee date you’ve been postponing.
So what if you are the one who’s always trying to catch up, so what if you are the one who always makes the first move – just do it. And that person who just came to mind, the person who you think looks a little bit lonely? Maybe he/she is, maybe you should include them too. Or maybe you are lonely, maybe you should make the first step and be a friend to someone who’s lonely too…

Finally my unique and amazing friends, who challenge me, inspire me, provoke me to good, encourage me, lift me up, build up … thank you!! 🙂

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If you are yet to watch The Little Prince,  go and watch it now.

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Stones of remembrance…

Sometimes, you just have to look back and see what God has brought you through in order to step up and do the next thing.

I guess that’s why we are encouraged to share our stories – not to boast about how well we’ve done but to encourage others to see the amazing goodness of God, His unfailing faithfulness and the ways His strength is made perfect in our own weaknesses. Joshua 4 – shows us a very real concrete application of this. Prior to crossing the Jordan, the children of Israel were commanded to:

“Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ ”

We, all of us, who belong to Him have stones we should have gathered from moments when God allowed us to walk on dry ground in situations that would have, but for Him and His presence, overwhelmed us.

He’s off to hospital again today for the next few days. The next test in the series to uncover the source of the Primary Aldosteronism. Yes, those of you who know our complicated timetable will have worked out that these are our only child-free days of the holidays, and yes, he’s in hospital for them … yay!!!
I didn’t want to do the five days without him last time – I really don’t want to do the two days this time.
He’s packed Finding Peace by Charles Stanley … and I’m right now, dealing with some palpitations. Why, I’m not sure. But I’m feeling really anxious about it this time – and I’m not sure why.

This is not the biggest thing either of us has ever been through – it’s not even the biggest thing we’ve been through together but it’s the now thing – and therein lies the problem.
It’s not my choice for now. My choice for now is for us to actually have two days, just him and me. Selfish? Maybe. I know that we’ll get our time some other way at some time other than now.

For now I feel a little overwhelmed – he does too – neither of us is super keen on the time apart. I guess if we continue to focus on how we feel then it’s not going to be a great outcome for either of us. I’ll be miserable and I might just make everyone around me miserable too add to that the fact that I’m a little inclined to dig my heels in if I have to do something I don’t want to do.
Right now my mother and father, are probably reliving the highlights of my first year at school, either the screaming filled immunisations before school or the weeks when I had to be extricated from the post under the year one building because I’d decided I’d had enough of school. But I guess we can look back and see that five year-old Anne got through another few years of schooling without ill effects, some would even say it was beneficial. And the horror of the immunisations became a distant memory when in the same year at the age of six she was in hospital having an emergency appendectomy.

I know those were kind of amusing examples and you and I both know darker days have been and gone, and so for now it’s time to look back. To look at the way in which the Lord has brought us through deeper and darker waters than these before. Time to examine the stones that we’ve brought out of those times – and time to remember.

“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Yes, it’s time to get in the car and head off again.

And before I go – what are your stones? What are the things that you can look back on that give you strength for the difficulties ahead?

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