On being seen.

Hagar.  Now that’s a girl’s name you won’t ever see in the top 100 most popular list.  Nope.  It doesn’t even join the ranks of other biblical names still used today.  Give me an Abigail, a Sarah, Naomi or Ruth any day.  But Hagar?  No thanks.

Poor lady.  Yes she had an unfortunate name, but an even more unfortunate calling upon her life.

At the start of this month my dear blogger friend Ashley wrote so thoughtfully about Hagar here and I’ve been thinking about her ever since.  And pondering on what it is to be seen.

You see Hagar was given to Abram as a substitute wife when Sarai wasn’t doing very well in the flourishing and multiplying department.  So Hagar did what was required of her, she had no choice.  Then Sarai went and beat her…..how’s that for a thank you very much?  No wonder Hagar then ran away.  But in her darkest hour – there an angel of the Lord met with her, comforted her and commanded her.  Hagar was to go back to her mistress, to have Abram’s child and she was to call him ‘Ishamel’ (God hears).  God confirmed that he had heard her woes.  He had seen her tears.  He did realize that life isn’t fair.

Once Hagar knew that she was being seen, she could handle life so much better.

And aren’t we just the same?

We cry out to be seen.

We desire to be understood.

We get frustrated when we feel alone.  Marginalized.  Not taken seriously.

Sometimes God himself steps in and puts feet to feelings….I have my own special story of what I believe to be an angel visitation when I was about to have a d&c, probably my darkest moment ever, made better because I knew I was seen.  I knew I was not alone.

You see God cares for us so much more than we will ever know.  He sees the words we write, he hears the words we speak.  And sometimes we just need a big fat reminder of that.

Most Thursdays and Fridays I join in with Five Minute Friday, organized by Lisa-Jo Baker.  A bunch of bloggers all use the same word prompt and we write for five minutes on that prompt and then click publish before we edit or think too hard about what we’ve written.  It is fascinating to see what over 200 bloggers all write about, and how many different paths are taken from that one same prompt.  The deal with Five Minute Friday is you link up and read what other people write and you encourage and you notice the differences.  As a writer, or wannabe writer, it is a chance to be seen.  And it is in the being seen, that I think makes this so popular and such a joy to be a part of.  A lot of people blog for self-enjoyment, a chance to journal and a lot of people don’t have massive followings.  People like me don’t get a lot of comment love on their blogs.  And that’s fine – that’s not why I blog.  But my point here…….why do we put our own blog address down when we comment on other people’s blogs?  Why do we link up on others blogs?  We simply sometimes just want to be seen.  Just like Hagar.  We want to know that our words matter.  That what we say can encourage, can impart some love and discernment and can indeed make a difference for the better.

But I’d like to remind myself right here and now.  My written words don’t make me who I am.  I am not a product of my writing capability or inability.

My value comes from nothing I have done, but everything that He has done.

I am seen by the one who matters most because He loves me with an everlasting love.  Not for what I do or don’t do.  I am loved.  I am seen.

Hagar was seen by God and that made all the difference in the world for her coping abilities.

You are seen dear friend, no matter what life is throwing you at the moment, you are seen.

 

 

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Building Your Lifeboat

storms

I’ve been marinating on this little ditty, this little nugget of truth since I saw it on pinterest a couple of weeks ago.

You see it is all very good and well to read these words and to believe them.  It is another thing to actually live them out.  And gee……there is absolutely no denying the truth of these words when you see someone living it out…..when the truth they have stored up in the silence is the only thing that gives them hope, it helps them carry on, sees them through the hard times, when the storms come.

This past week I’ve had the honour to walk alongside a friend as she has encountered one of life’s curveballs.

You know that mixture of feelings you get when you go for your big anatomical ultrasound scan, when you’re about 20 – 22 weeks pregnant?  You’re thrilled to actually see this little person for the first time, you may or may not be eager to know the baby’s gender, but you also have that slight uneasiness..hoping everything is ok with that baby.  Wanting a good report for everything.  Well Lindsay didn’t get that all clear that we all hope for, not then anyway, and she has another wait of a few more weeks before she gets definitive results from more tests done this week.  You can read this part of her story here, and she writes it beautifully, so much better than I ever could.

I said it is an honour to walk alongside her through this and I truly mean that.  I can see the fruit and the evidence of what Lindsay and her husband build up in the silence, carrying them through the uncertainty.  Giving them hope and that peace that passes understanding.  You see it is not that Lindsay and CJ are perfect – nope – they are human, just like the rest of us – it is because they serve a perfect Lord.  They are conduits of the Holy Spirit – vessels – that’s all.

I like to think of ‘the truth that we build up in the silence’ as being the things we build our lifeboats out of.  Lifeboats to keep us afloat when our ships are capsized by life and life’s curveballs.

*  The word of God = the body of the boat, the hull.  Knowing God’s word means knowing God, knowing his heart, and who wouldn’t want to know the creator of the world’s heart?  In Ephesians 6 Paul talks about the armour of God and of putting on the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  The bible illuminates, it reveals to us the good and the bad, it gives clarity to the wise and the unwise.  The sword, the bible, is used for offensive and defensive purposes.  Jesus used the bible to counter Satan’s attacks when in the wilderness.  The word of God deep down in our souls is going to keep us afloat when storms come.  We can depend on God’s word and the promises in his word.

*  Prayer = the gps/ radio in your lifeboat.  The prayers that you pray in the silence come back to you in the storm, when you don’t have the words to say, when you can only muster up that Holy moan. An utterance. Prayer is just communication with the Lord and the *best* thing about prayer to me, is it keeps your perspective right, it keeps you looking up and out so that you’re not consumed by your here and now.

No relationship survives without communication, including our relationship with the Lord.  Prayer – communication is necessary for growth and intimacy.

*  The companionship of Godly friends = the outboard engines on our boats.  Sometimes when we walk through the trials of life we can walk that ever bit faster with a friend by our side.  Things can be so much more bearable when you have a shoulder to cry on.  Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.  Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to make good friendships great.  It involves a lot of vulnerability, on both persons part, a lot of trust and a lot of wisdom.  It is never a good thing to just spill your guts to just anyone, but when you know who can be a great friend to you, and when you make room in your life for them and them for you……friendship is one of those things that can get you through anything.  C.S Lewis said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
You know this past week the easy thing for Lindsay to do would have been to hide away.  To just hibernate with her husband while working through the emotions and seeking a Godly perspective in all the waiting.  But in doing that she would have been denying her friends the opportunity to reach out to her, to uphold her family in prayer and the opportunity to partake in a miracle.  The harder thing for her was to share with people where she was at – and God was glorified.  She could call on these friendships because they have been established in the silence.  When life was a little easier.  And then, when the storm came, the outboard engine of friendship helped to push her along a little….reassuring her….

Now here’s the scoop, the latest on Lindsay’s baby, Charlie.  Lindsay’s OB (who also happened to be my amazing OB, a great man of God) emailed her today with the news that the fact that the ultrasound that Lindsay had yesterday showed no abnormalities in the baby’s heart, that it was normal, was a gift from God.  The ultrasound yesterday was so different from the bizarre one from the previous week shows that the baby was healed.  This was not a technical glitch, but a healing.  Praise God.  Praise Him.

And here’s the thing – because Lindsay chose to include others in her journey, both in her real life and through her writing, others have been blessed.  My own faith has been boosted.  What my husband and I prayed for, in the quiet of our time with the Lord, has been heard.  Countless others have likewise stood in faith with her about this too and prayed for healing – they have been touched and who is glorified?  Not Lindsay, not CJ, even though they are strong leaders and amazing people in their own right.  No, the Lord is glorified in this healing of baby Charlie, because the Lord is the reason for their peace and their very purpose.

Lindsay and CJ still have a few question marks hovering over their little Charlie’s life – but nothing can take away from the fact that this life is God-ordained, this life has a purpose, this life already has an amazing testimony of God’s healing power and this life is loved.  Loved by the people around him already, but even more so by the one who created him.

Whatever the next weeks or indeed the years to come bring my dear friends, they will be riding out the storms just fine.  They have a lifeboat.  They are building their lifeboat……prayer by prayer, bible verse by bible verse, friend by friend, they are building their boat.

All of us will encounter storms in our lives, it is not a matter of if, but of when……when will you need your lifeboat to hold you afloat until your seas become smoother?  And will that lifeboat be ready for when you need it?

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: What mama did

Five Minute Friday

 

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START.

 What Mama did.

Mama got her finger stuck in the wet wipe canister, that’s what she did.  We were going home from a family trip to see Grandad in Queenstown.  We’d pulled over at one of the most picturesque roadside stops in the land, right there in Middle Earth, the five of us crammed into our old maroon coloured Peugeot 404 (can’t beat a European car kids, says Dad), and what does Mama do?  Gets her finger stuck in the wet wipe canister, that’s what she did.

The three of us kids laughed.  We giggled and then we snorted and then we hollered.  Poor Mama started a little laugh, while Dad, ever the rescuer got our his trusty pocket knife and came to her rescue.

Poor Mama.  It hurt her finger.  It hurt her pride.  We shouldn’t have laughed, but we did and once we had started, it was hard to stop.

Just one more example of the many times she sacrificed.

Sacrificed.  That’s what Mama did.  Her pride.  We laughed at her expense.  With food.  Always the last to take her share, always a smaller share than anyone else.  Her time.  She’d stay up late for days on end to sew my pretty dresses to surprise me come Christmas morning.  Her own needs and wants and desires.  Put on the back-burner for us.

Who trotted off to serve the Lord in a third world nation, while pregnant with me, and already mothering a four year old and a six year old?  Who had to deal with dysentary and boils, typhoid and hepatitus, sending her own children away to boarding school that was two days train ride away because that was the very best option available to her?  Mama.  That’s what Mama did.

Time and time again.

She sacrificed.

That’s what Mama did.

That’s what Mama still does.

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A trip, a song and promises.

At the ripe old age of nineteen I decided to blow a big chunk of some inheritance money and planned a big trip that took me from my University town of Dunedin in New Zealand, to the USA and then onto visit the land I was born in, Nepal.

Being young and adventurous I decided to visit the places I really wanted to visit.  The things that were important to me at the time.  I started off in Arizona where my brother was at a University, completing his Ph.D.  From Tucson we were supposed to road trip to the Grand Canyon but an unfortunate incident in a little hick town with a sewerage truck not stopping at a stop sign and our rental car coming off worse quickly put a halt to that.  I went on to Colorado Springs to visit  Focus on the Family (this is an indication of how unique a thinker I was….I mean isn’t Focus on the Family HQ on all 19 year old’s bucket lists?), then I went to a summer camp way over on the East Coast that a New Zealander I knew was speaking at, and then it was on to my final American destination.  Brownsville, Pensacola, Florida.

Yep.  Right then, revival was happening at the Brownsville Assembly of God and I wanted in on it.  So I went.  And I participated.  I went to a school of intercessory prayer.  I learnt a lot.  I saw a lot.  I loved a lot.

So if you can remember what I’m talking about with this big revival, you’ll most likely remember some of the worship songs coming out of there led by Lindell Cooley.  One of my favs back then was ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign God’.  It is still is a fav.  Based on the words of Isaiah 61: 1 – 3  –

‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives and to open the eyes of the blind.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favour to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies.  To all who mourn in Israel he will give: Beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness.  For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory’.

Now, I’m no bible scholar but I know that this is the prophet Isaiah speaking.  And I know that Jesus quoted these words in Luke 4.  And I know that the same Holy Spirit that was upon Mr Isaiah here, is also upon me.

Which really means…..

I am anointed to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted.

God has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, announce freedom to captives and I’m also sent to open the eyes of the blind.

I have been sent to share with those who mourn that God will take away their ashes and give them beauty, and give them joy instead of mourning, praise instead of heaviness.

And you know what?

Acts 10: 34 tells us God is no respecter of persons, in other words, he doesn’t play favourites.

Yes I am anointed to bring good news – God’s good news to the suffering and afflicted – but here’s the thing…so are you.

You are anointed to bring good news.

You are being sent to comfort the brokenhearted.

You can announce liberty to the captives.

Yes there are always ways available to help us do these things ‘better’.  We can attend courses and do bible college lessons and attend sessions on ‘how to share our faith’, we can read up on the latest books of how to reach our generation, listen to the best podcasts, go the best conferences….and this is all very good and well, but sometimes there is the danger it just delaying the DOING.

This is my challenge to myself at the moment.  To just do it.  This.  It.  Walking and living in the knowledge that I am anointed to share the good news that I know so well.

Let’s just do it.

Let’s live in God’s many promises, and keep reaching out and looking up – knowing we’re not doing it in our strength but His and when we step out – He meets us and works in and through us.

isaiah

Five Minute Friday: Beloved

Five Minute Friday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START.

Beloved.

My beloved is mine and I am His.  Together we’re writing our love story of epic proportions.

Epic not because of grand gestures, although there have been a few of those over the years, no epic because of the multitude of actions, words and deeds that filter into our everyday living, that speak of love, that speak of undivided devotion.

My beloved is writing his part of our story every time he rides his bike to work, while the day is still dark and very cold, just so I can have the car for the day.

Every time he climbs the stairs to deliver another nightcap to a thirsty child.  Every dentist appointment he takes a boy to, as I take care of doctors, therapists and everything else, but refuse the dentistry.

Every time he initiates ‘man school’ and shows them how to do practical ‘schtuff’ while all the time teaching them what it is to love God and be Jesus with skin on.

Every time we make decisions for our boys, putting them first and their needs way ahead of our own.

Although budgets and unknowns, and massive question marks hang over our heads we’re choosing to trust and obey, come what may.  To live a life of adventure for the King…..chapter by chapter, our epic love story is being written.  And even though we don’t know what the future holds, together, my beloved and I, we both know who the hero of our story is.

STOP.

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Five Minute Friday: Bare

Five Minute Friday

 

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START.

Bare.

I recently asked my Facebook friends ‘if one was born with a limited supply of toenails?’.  I said I was asking for a friend….but if you know me you would know that was completely tongue in cheek and ohh my goodness……I am big toenail-less.

Gross huh.

This not a foreign phenomena for me….when I danced I lost several pairs of toenails due to pointe work.  Ohh the joys of it.  But they always grew back.

Now.  Nada.  No proper nail there. Just a very thin layer of something that could resemble a nail, but isn’t, so I squawk if a child happens to stand on my feet and demand ‘up’.

I’m not quite sure why this has happened…and after I got over the initial ickiness of it all….my thoughts turned to summer and ‘ohhhhh no..what will I do?’  Our particular valley gets warm.  Scratch that.  Its gets hot here!!  We have multiple days in a row where the thermometer tips over the 100 mark.

Little fact:  one cannot wear covered toe shoes in over 100 degree weather.  Well this one cannot.

I am gonna have to wear flip flips at some point or another and expose my ugly big toes to the world.  Well this little world I live in, anyway.

Me in all my bareness.  Baring my vulnerable spot to others.  Showing my deformities.  Ewwww.

But isn’t this what God asks of us?

To come before him – in all of our true selves – the fingernails kept in ok shape, as well as the big toes baring no nails.  We can’t expose only the good parts of us to the Lord and think that’s ok.

Nope.  He wants to change us – to transform us – to become more like Him.  The more we hold back from Him, the less He is able to invade us – every nook and cranny of us.

Bare.  Lord I come before you, bare, every part of me, with my selfishness, my pride, my controlling nature exposed and I ask you to change me.  To shine your light in and through me.  I pray that I never try to hide parts of me from you.

PS.  Lord, may I have a pair of new big toe nails just happen to appear by June?

toes

Holding on to the glorious

There’s much to be said about the glamorous life of a parent.

Yep.  I’m writing this as I sit in the hallway between two bedrooms where two little toddlers are drifting off to sleep.  Little Miss has just discovered she can climb out of the port-a-crib, so I’m here to keep an eye on that.  Little Mr has just discovered he can open doors and could go adventuring if he wanted, so I’m here to keep an eye on that.

Downstairs the remnants of fallen towers litter the carpet.  Half transformed transformers are guarding the train table.

The air is thick with that all too lovely eu de poo…..mingled with tonight’s dinner in the crock-pot.  Yep.  The glamorous life of a parent.

Sometimes it is hard to feel it.  Sometimes it is hard to see it.  Sometimes it is hard to hear it.  Sometimes it is hard to know it.  But, by golly, as hard as it is, this parenting gig……there is nothing like it in the world.

It is so easy to focus on who has snot, who needs to be changed, who needs an appointment to be made, who needs help with their homework….all here and now stuff…..but we’re shaping these little people.  We’re shaping little people who will one day be big people.

It is not a job to be overwhelmed by.

It is a job to be delighted by.

We have this chance to create, to shape, to mould.  God has given us the tools, we need not lament that there is no handbook for growing children.  There is.  The good book.  We also have each other.  We have generations that have gone on before us.  They have wisdom in their hearts, a knowledge of what works and doesn’t work.

Let us not be dismayed by the hard times, the words we regret coming out of our mouths, the times we wish we could turn back time.  Let’s be overjoyed by this glorious task that God has given us.

It is easy to read things where we as parents feel judged.  It is easy to fall into the comparison trap and see our own failings.  It is easy become overwhelmed by challenges and misgivings.  It is harder to bend down to our young ones’ level, to look them in the eyes, to say to them ‘I’m sorry.  I’ll do better next time’.  And that is all that is required of us.

To hold on to the glorious.  To realize these little people love us with an unconditional love.  These little people are our own miniature selves. These little people will go places we haven’t been, speak to people we have no reach with, create technology we can’t imagine.  It is a fantastic task we have.

And God trusts us because He has entrusted us with them.  He knows we’re capable. He has no doubt.

We just need to hold on to the glorious, keeping our eyes on Him.

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