Monday, 10 April 2017

The Passing of my Parent

Ok, so, this blog is a little raw and not necessarily the best I have to offer, but it may explain why I have not blogged in a long while.
This is difficult to write and rather personal, so I invite you to skip it. I mostly share this because apparently it helps me mourn?

When my Paternal Grandmother passed away at 85years old, my Father did not attend her funeral. I thought it weird at the time, but I recall Dad saying over a glass of red wine that 'the worst thing about your parents passing, is that you know It's your turn next''. I now understand the depth of his sorrow.
Last year, my dear Father left us suddenly on the 28th September 2016, at 10:30am.
I knew Dad was unwell, I had spoken to him on the phone on the Saturday night and told him I would come in a week to help him 'get his affairs in order', so to speak.
On the Wednesday he felt good, he was going to take my niece into town for morning tea, he went out to the garage and lifted the roller door...... and that is all it took. He signalled to Mum to help him inside as he couldn't speak, she helped him on to his bed, ran to get him some water to wet his dry mouth; she put her fingers in his mouth to help his tongue which was stuck to the roof of his mouth, and that was it. He threw his hands in the air and grimaced in pain and died of a massive heart attack.

The grave is silent; death is final for those who are left behind.

I disagree with Dad on one thing - the 'worst thing' about losing him is not the knowledge that I am next, but the loss of the only person who saw me as important and special and gifted. He knew me so well. Sometimes he even drove me crazy, but we were so in touch with each other.

Yes, I have the Lord, and yes He loves me but it is not the same. He doesn't talk back and His wisdom requires a lot of searching. Parents are a gift from God, as are children. Great Fathers are few and far between. I called Dad daily to talk about nothing in particular, and Dad always listened and always gave me advice (even when not wanted).

I have been confronted with the fragility of life and how fast it passes, my mortality so to speak. I am not frightened by it as I am sure of my salvation and to Whom I shall go..... but I have been challenged in the way I am living and the things I am doing with this brief moment called my life.
I am taking a long service leave... a year off to concentrate on doing the things I enjoy. That means NOT doing the things I don't want to do or am obliged to do. Life is simply too short to waste on wood, hay and straw!

Luke 12:27-31 talks about how short life is and how good our God is to us, that we should simply seek His kingdom.
Because everything at the moment makes me profoundly sad that Dad is not here anymore, the sorrow is so immensely deep that there are no words for it. I have chosen to live quietly and simply. To BE....
Be still
Be available
Be willing
Be ready
Be open
Be quiet
I have finally learned to say no... except to things I enjoy like art, coffee dates, walking, reading - this is the best way for me to mourn as my mind is too active. It wakes me up for hours every night, everything I come across seems to make me want to call Dad which reminds me that he is not here anymore.
So that is my life in a nutshell at the moment.
I am sure it is of no help to anyone to share this part of my journey, and it doesn't really make me feel better, but it may help me to understand just a bit more.

Be brave, Stand at the crossroad and look, ask where the good way is and walk in it, there you will find rest for your soul (Jer 6:16)......

Friday, 29 April 2016

Jonah, The big picture.

It's early morning, 5am to be precise. I put my Joggers on, earphones in and off I go for a walk.
I cannot see in front of me due to the morning mist, but I know the sun is shining.

Jonah. Who are you? Time to listen to the 4 chapters that tell a story about an incredible man of God. 

Not unlike our own stories, the book of Jonah starts by him running away from God  - or more easily explained as making a deliberate decision to disobey an instruction. Boy! Can't we all relate to that.

Most people see Jonah and a whale, but I have to say this morning that I got far more out of this reading. I was left pondering. These thoughts are not in order.

The first chapter rang through my ears and mind so fast that I started it again and again. 4 times to be precise!!!

Reflection 1:
I am not sure of the time frame between when God gave Jonah the direction to go to Nineveh and when Jonah ran away, but I am going to assume that it caused Jonah to miss sleep, and probably more than one nights worth. I can't begin to imagine the turmoil and fear of going to Nineveh that caused him to jump on a boat with strangers and attempt to cross an ocean in the complete opposite direction. A deliberate choice of rebellion.

Reflection 2:
Amidst unbelievers, Jonah identifies as a Hebrew. That means he knew that he could not flee from God, because he knew God as Abba. This was deliberate rebellion to the God he identifies with. He even partook of a game of chance with the crew - the drawing of lots which God used to communicate to the uncircumcised that it was Jonah's God who was causing the storm due to his rebellion.

Reflection 3:

Jonah fell into a deep sleep. He slept through the boat tossing and turning in a violent storm, so much so that the crew fighting for survival above deck had exhausted all their means to survive - prayed to their gods, threw things overboard and finally querying if that other man below deck may be able to pray to his God for help - so they woke him up! How can any man sleep through that. Eventually these men came to believe in the God of the Hebrews Yehweh.

Reflection 4:

In one word Jonah's identity was realised. 'I am a Hebrew'.... That is all it took. These foreigners had done trade with Hebrews before, they knew what it meant. They were not going to hurt a Hebrew so they tried to throw things overboard to spare his life but in the end, they begged the God of the Hebrews to forgive them for what they were going to do to one of His children...
The storm calmed.
The men believed in the God of the Hebrews

Reflection 5:

Jonah tried to hide amongst unbelievers - as if God wouldn't be able to find him! We do this! Have you heard Christians say that sometimes it is better to do business with unbelievers because they are nicer? It does tend to be true that the body of Christ want's things cheaper, more discounts, service for nothing... But shouldn't it be that way anyway??????? If all things belong to our Father, and we truely are provided for by Him, should it be wrong to charge our brother or sister for things that rightfully belong to our Father anyway? And thus in turn rightfully belong to us? I struggle so much with this one because everyone just wants money......... you give and give and give, and people just take and take and take....
Jonah paid his way, stayed out of the way as a passenger, and owned up to the truth when it was required. He did what was right when in the presence of the uncircumcised.
A bigger magnifying glass may be needed the next time we 'take' from our Family in our Heavenly Father.

Jonah was such a good read that I expect to be feeding on this word for a while.
Be blessed! I know I am.

Mentor? Me? Yes you...

Throughout my life I have had many, and I mean many women impart their wisdom and life lessons into me, mentoring and inspiring me. Of special mention would be the long suffering women of the Emerald Christian Fellowship in Emerald, CQ - you know who you are!
Forgive me if I waffle - skip to the end if you just want the main point of this blog :)

A little about my mentoring journey.

From a strong confident young adult, a bit confused about life at times and just at the beginning of finding freedom in adulthood, I grew to understand the human condition and the hold it had on me (namely my own freewill and the sin that comes with it)
My testimony may not include addictions and abuse, however rebellion was bound up in this soul and opinion ran high. In my struggles I recall people telling me I was from Satan and others saying that my strength was from God. These viewpoints of myself confused my identity even more and concreted a self despising that I was to carry for decades, stealing my confidence around other people and in my abilities.
                      Constant comparisons with other women had me questioning myself - 'Can I?'; 'Can't I?'; "If they can then I can.'; 'If they approve then it must be ok'...... I weighed myself and my character up against others and therein sort acceptance within my own skin.

It wasn't until I was in my early 40's that I started to be the real me...
Though still lacking in confidence and identity, I began to ask ME what I was like rather than relying on other people's analysis.
                      I had a realisation one day. Just before my 40th birthday, it dawned on me...If God my Father had not seen fit to change me even though I had tearfully begged him, perhaps this is the person He had created me to be. So within that revelation, my journey of self discovery within the safe confines of my relationship with Jesus, I started to settle.

What does it look like to accept who we are? Can I be the created design of myself and still grow and change?
I now know that my build is a patented and unique design, not to be duplicated. I have heard comments on my abilities to do this or that, and I do believe that I have been created fearfully and wonderfully, what that looks like though I am still trying to figure out. 
I get on with most people if they could be bothered to sit and talk a while. I have encountered people who don't like me from the 'get go', and those that don't even want to meet me, fair enough. I understand now that I have an effect on people that I cannot control, but mostly I have grown to be aware of other people around me and work at loving.
I am so thankful to the likes of Mary S, Narelle P, My Mother-in-law, Jenny H, Pam, Ricki, Sheila, oh how that list can go on.. There are women who don't know they had an effect on me, Jan, Christine, Vera, Patty, Carol, Carolyn, Ruth.... And then there are those who have imparted so much to my life, yet would think otherwise - Esther, Elisha, Sarah, Jacky, Wendy F, Sue, Jenny, Jo, Helen... 
I simply can't mention them all.

I have held for a couple of decades that mentoring is a critical component of ministry. We could easily replace that word with 'discipleship'. To do as Jesus did, to be an imitator. There is no collective thought in Christianity as we are all unique and special, but there are the same guidelines and standards to which we have been called. Discipling is one of those directives and needs to be deliberate.
'Let the older women instruct the younger women how to...'
Some actively obey, some simply have open hearts/lives/arms. 

Here it is...
I want to call on those who are tired, lack confidence and feel they have nothing to offer. The enemy has stolen from you the joy that should be yours as the daughter of a King, to train up those who are yet to learn.
I sat in front of a dear lady at Church recently. She had a running commentary throughout the worship session and sermon. She commented on how it was done in her day and mocked and mimicked. It was sad, how could anyone have an open heart to hear Jesus while they harp on so much. If we have a strong opinion about everything how can we learn - a closed book or an old wine skin!
The Lord feeds us daily with new wine - but the old wine skin will burst as the new wine expands. Older people generally cannot cope with changes, however older Christians who should be renewed every morning seem to forget that when they were young they had to fight to even clap in Church, let alone pray! They hold on to the 'good old days' but seem to forget the lessons they also had to learn.

Let me finish with this - until your last breath you will be serving the Lord by loving others (or at least that is your calling), If not to receive and impart love, then what is life but existence. 
Answer His call to love - share deliberately. Mentor....... you can change a persons direction with your words, and their lives with your love, the love of Jesus.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Chocolate Cake & Sin

Would you eat a little piece of chocolate cake if I told you I put the tip of a teaspoon of 'poo' in it? Of course not!
But that is what sin is like - a little piece of 'poo' in a chocolate cake.
We were fearfully and wonderfully made. That's right, hand crafted. Loved so much that our Creator sacrificed Himself to eradicate that little piece of poo, that part of us that should not be there... sin.
We disobeyed an instruction, though we had the world we needed more. That disobedience led to disappointment, shame, fear, broken relationships and a changed path.

Though I am talking about the Garden of Eden, I am focusing on parenting. Our children do exactly that. They sin (as do we), and their hearts are also full of the same disappointment in themselves. As a parent it is important that we catch our children doing the wrong thing, because a little bit of 'poo' can contaminate the whole cake, we need to help them by taking off our rose coloured glasses as far as their cuteness to us, and putting on the belt of truth (as in the first part of the Armour of God) calling our children to account.
If we do not deal with our children's issues, they grow into adults with bigger issues.
Greed, mean speech, stealing, deceit, selfishness...... It is obviously not just our children that struggle with these things, clearly we do as well, however, it is our responsibility to teach our children and train them in the way they should go.
I love my children dearly, and because of that I want to give them the best that I can, in order to do that I need to hold them accountable, and in turn, grow them into lovely people so they can become the person they were meant to be..
This is a hard, tiring job, but rewarding. I love my children.

Be blessed today 

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Bumpy Road

A Bumpy Road

I must apologise! This last year has been a very difficult year to say the least. I have not felt so lonely yet the whole time I have been in fellowship with my loving Father. 

I will share a little of what has been going on - but please know that I fully accept that this is God's path for me.......

With my daughter being away all year on her own journey, I had to tackle the next biggest challenge as my son left home for the Army. The realisation that he would never live at home again hit hard.

Aged 17, he joined the Army, left home and moved interstate. We heard from him every few weeks, when he would inform us of all the hard things he had been doing... 
I wasn't there when he cut his finger and needed stitches...
I wasn't there when he cracked his tooth.. or when he was sleep deprived... or tear gassed.....

My maternal instinct has been in overdrive! Sleep left me for some months as I tossed and turned, woken in a fright for his safety. Never have I prayed so much. I stopped going out and would find myself sitting on the lounge all day waiting for my little girls to get home - a reason to get up and do something.

I have spent most of the year feeling lost as a Mother, the role I thought I was supposed to be doing but was being taken off me little by little, and I was not ready or prepared.

Did I prepare him well enough to be away from me? 
Did I teach him everything he needed to know about other people?
Was he eating enough, getting enough sleep, have any health issues?
Who was looking out for my boy?
Did people realise he was only 17? Still a kid, or were they treating him like the older men and yelling at him.. breaking him.....

My saving grace was doing Bible Study every week, being in the word and in fellowship with Older Sisters who had been through the same heart breaking loss. I know, I know - my kids were not/are not dead... but I couldn't check on their safety at night, tuck them in, or ask about their days, I was reminded they were not here everyday as I had to learn how to adjust my cooking for a family of 6 instead of 8.

Is this the way it is going to be now? One by one they grow up and leave...
I didn't sign up for that - I signed up for family... messy mucky busy intense noisy fun family. 

The Lord has pulled me through in the most gentlest of ways. He has confirmed that He loves them more then me and is strong enough to keep them.
I don't know how long it will take me to get through this stage of life but I will endeavour to start sharing my life lessons with the Lord from the Word again.... 

He is good and His mercies endures forever.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Simplicity of Beauty

The sum of me is not defined by the furniture I own, the car I drive, the clothes I wear or the money in my bank account.
The sum of me is defined by what comes out of my heart.

Paul tells us "Your beauty should not come from your outward adornment, such as the wearing of fine clothes, gold jewellery and braided hair, instead it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit which is of great worth in God's sight.' 1 Pe 3:3-5

It is very simple.
Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, rather be transformed by the renewing of your mind...

Ask yourself - when I look at my friend who does not fit the typical ideal of beauty.. what do I see?

Do I see what she sees? - Her fat rolls? Her scars? He big nose? Her ears? Her crooked teeth? Her weird toes?

No. When we look at the people we love, we see the whole picture, the sum of them. The only things we would pick out, are the things that come out of their hearts.. When they open their mouth.

This is a lesson for us. To stop wishing we were something or someone else, and come to terms with the fact it is what we put into our hearts and minds that make up our beauty. Perhaps we should concentrate more on our thinking then on our appearance.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Is It The Thought That Really Counts??

If it is truely the thought that counts, then who does it make feel good?
Obviously not the recipient, as they never knew you were thinking of them.
Therefore it must be the person thinking the thought - it satisfies them that they spent a little time thinking about another person, which in fact makes the thought counts for nothing except a self-focused good feeling..

Have I lost you yet?

Proverbs 31:27 "She watches over the affairs of her household, she doesn't eat the bread of idleness".

The Bread of Idleness is mostly interpreted as she is not lazy.
When we took a closer look at this as a group, we found another challenging thought.

Bread is a substance that when eaten it satisfies us, fills us up and makes us tired from the carb intake.

Idleness as an action is like a car being perpetually warmed up but never actually going anywhere. And in turn wearing out the engine and using up all the energy.

Put the two together and we have a person who is satisfied with the thought of doing something, but never actually getting around to doing it, because the thought of it has already worn her out.
When applying practical examples, we looked at:
 - making a meal for someone, starts with a thought and a good feeling but often stops there.
 - Saying we will pray for someone, walk away and the thought is gone.
 - Hearing that someone is struggling and thinking we will go and spend time with them - we just never get around to it.
 - Fulfilling a need for someone, but never actually getting the 'thing' to them when they need it.

The list goes on of course.. It is the simple act of putting other people before yourself.
I know a lady who thinks of other people all the time, she would just turn up on the doorstep with something she just saw and thought of me, so she bought it for me. Mary did this for every woman in the Church, never a day went by when you didn't hear of someone else being blessed by her.

She never ate the bread of idleness. That is the sort of woman I want to be - an excellent woman. I do not want to be self-absorbed like so many women... it is all about them. My focus is on what I can give, or do for others... Like the Mary I know, I want to be constantly mindful of how I can build another up and spur them on to love and good works, setting myself at naught.

This study was very challenging and i hope you enjoyed me sharing it with you.. now what your ears have heard and your eyes have seen... put this to practice and go love another.

May your cup be full to overflowing..