Hey, you!

….yeah, you!

Life’s pretty full on, isn’t it?

I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and was struck by the thought that so many people I know are facing hard times at the moment.

Disappointments.  Sickness.  Health scares.  Family breakdowns.  Accidents. People letting people down. Financial issues.

There’s a whole heap of sadness just hovering over precious lives.

And if you’ve been a reader of this blog at all you’ll know that life’s been a little tough for me just lately.  I’m very real about the cost and the price that comes with following God, and choosing to serve and walk in obedience.

But along with the trials that I’ve been facing, and along with whatever you’re facing, there is no doubt in my heart and my mind and my soul, that God is so very faithful.

If you’re a Christian – your only chance is to hold into hope.  Cling to the promises we have in Him.

If you don’t know Jesus in a personal way, then ask Him to prove himself to you.  Put yourself in a place of openness, and just wait for the transformation. He’s real.  He’s kind.  And He’s there for each and every one of us.

Isaiah 41:10.  Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.

Whatever darkness you’re facing.  Whatever questions you have over your future and your beloved ones’.  Hold onto hope.  Hold onto those words we have from someone who loves us far more than we could ever imagine or dare to believe.

He is strengthening me.  He will strengthen you.

He is holding me with his righteous strong hand.  He will hold you.

Dear friend, hold onto hope.  Just cling to it.  Cling.

 

Leaning……

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

It is quite amazing the number of things that can go wrong, disappoint and cause hiccups along the way, when you’re walking in obedience.

I’ve already blogged a little about the cost of obedience.  But seriously – it is amazing the things we’ve encountered in the last two months and keep facing.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I could list all the details – but won’t.  God knows our trials and our needs.  We just need to keep on eyes and hearts facing Him.  Leaning into Him.  Leaning on Him.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Our pastor preached a fantastic sermon this morning.  No matter what you’re facing – keep leaning forward, keep running the race.  This one thing I know……..

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

You see where your eyes look to – your body follows.  There’s no forward momentum if you’re looking behind.  In my dancing days I learnt the art of  ‘spotting’ – fixing your eyes in a position, and then whipping your head around the find that same exact spot as fast as you can.  Essential in pirouettes – spinning.  A couple of days ago Brian Houston tweeted this:  Look down to get discouraged – Look around to get distracted – Look up to get direction!

So, although we’re tired.  We’re frustrated.  We’d like a break from the struggles we currently face – we’ll continue to look up.  We’ll continue to lean forward.  We’ll continue to lean on each other, and on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

dancer

 

On the cusp…..

This is to you, dear lady who is standing on the precipice of a new direction in your life.

This is to you, dear man, who struggles under the weight of responsibility and concern for your family, yet you know, that you know, that you know, that you are being called into something new.  Something different.

This is for the couple that are just feeling more and more unsettled with your status quo.  Your life is ticking along just fine now, things are good, things are great, but there’s just something inside of you that hopes you’re not settling for less. Something inside of you wishes to expose your kids to a new dependence on God, a new level of trust having to be established.

You’re not alone with your fears, misgivings, second-guessing and concerns.

But this is what I know, without a doubt, as sure as night follows day, as sure as a baby poops as you’re about to walk out the door, as sure as a seven year old’s eyes leak as he’s learning the discipline of graciously loosing…….WHEN you step out in faith, WHEN you follow God’s leading, WHEN you choose to obey what has been asked of you, He will be faithful.

So very faithful.

One of the beauties of this world is we’re all called to different things. As a body of Christ we all have different ministries to serve in, different capacities to fill. What God has called my family and I to, will look completely different to you and your family has been called to.  There is no ‘better’, there is definitely different.  There is no ‘holier’ or ‘more worthy’, obedience is obedience.  Serving is serving.

At the moment we are starting to pack up our lives here in Southern Oregon, and we’re researching and planning for a move to fulfill our new calling (in Australia of all places! You can read about that here) So, while your family may not be called to move geographically, or you may not be looking at fulltime Christian ministry, what you are being called to is of equal importance in the Kingdom.

And if you’re peeing your pants at the thought of something new, if you’re feeling that sense of doom over details that are way out of your control…..please know…..God has this.

God holds you in the palm of his hand.

His will is perfect.

Sheer and utter dependence on God is a scary thing, but a blessed thing.  That walking step by step in His will…..that’s the kinda walking that brings miracle answers.  That’s the kinda walking that shows God as the hero – because of ONLY God.

How do I know this?  Because of God’s track record in my life.  Because it is in the stretch and in the pull, where I think I’ve lost it all, where I think this time I’ve really done it, really gone crazy, really lost the plot….His track record shows the Lord provides.  The Lord opens doors.  The Lord makes crooked paths straight.

As a parent and as a trained teacher, one of the biggest concerns I have for my children is for their schooling.  We were hugely blessed with a great experience of school here, and with moving that has been a concern of mine – where to put my boys in school, with not knowing the system, not knowing the options and not knowing areas etc.

A very legitimate concern in the natural.

But you know what?  We *think* we have a school sorted. An amazing school at that. I did some internet research, chatted to a very wise and godly friend who was familiar with this one particular school that stood out from the others immediately, made some inquiries and we prayed and left it in God’s hands.  And now…..because God has made a way, where there seemed to be no way….as long as this particular school accepts the boys we have been blessed to be able to make it so this will work for our family.  Now we may never be able to save for a deposit for a house (ha!) – but that is not our concern at the moment – this big deal for me of where to place our kids in school – after a big move and after leaving all they have known for the last four and a half years – is in the process of being sorted for us.

God is most certainly in the details.

If it weren’t for looking back at all God has done in our lives – all he has provided – all those details we’ve seen his hand at work in – it would be easy to say no to our next God adventure.  it would be more appealing to go back to where we’ve come from.  Back to familiarity and all the comforts that brings.  Back to what we know and to where we’re known.  But God.  But God’s track record shows He loves us and cares for us – for our every need and then some.  God’s track record shows I fret and I worry and I falter every step of the way – but He doesn’t.  He is patient and kind, his love is everlasting.

It doesn’t matter what the crowd thinks of what you’re called to do.  it doesn’t matter if your heart skips beats and you can’t sleep and you mutter grumpy words to yourself…..it doesn’t matter….because in and through our weaknesses, He is made strong.

What is God asking of you right now?

Live in the stretch my friends.  Allow opportunities for your kids to see you thanking God for his provision.  Step out into his glorious unknown – step from the cusp – into the scary.  He’s there.  It is not unknown to Him.

 

 

 

 

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: 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.

A7

A good reminder…..

Isaiah 26:3,4
He will keep in perfect peace all who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!  Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.

 

This would have to be one of my top ten verses of all time!  It is a beautiful promise from the Lord…….you choose to trust Him, in return you get perfect peace.

Not a peace that comes and goes, like the changing tides.  No.  Perfect peace.  Consistent.  Even-keeled.  A certainty.

When this world is full of trouble, turmoil and chaos, we have at our fingertips the offer of perfect peace.

When we can’t see the path before us, we can still have perfect peace.

When people hurt us, and harsh words are spoken.  When family units dissolve and sickness strikes.  When bills pile up, cars break down and the expectations of others and obligations get all too much, we can still have peace.  Perfect peace.

If we trust in the Lord always, then the Lord will be our everlasting strength.  Though our flesh is weak, in and through Him we can have the strength to face whatever comes our way.

Sounds like a sweet deal.  I’m in.  Who’s with me?

Boiling frogs, accents and phone plans

From my title today you can see that my brain is going on a bit of a wacko ride at the moment, and I’m going to attempt to take you with me.  Lucky you.  Or not.

You will have heard that story of how if you try to put a frog into boiling water it is of course going to try everything in its power to get out of that water.  How you would try this in the first place, I have no idea. However, if you have some frogs in a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature, they don’t notice the change and…well…voila…frogs legs for dinner, anyone?

That picture is often used in describing the idea of desensitization and how we can become used to our environments and we morph and change with them.

A couple of weeks ago we were in San Francisco and on the boat to Alcatraz we meet three fellow New Zealanders.  It’s not often you see kiwis around here, so we struck up a friendly conversation with them.  We had to tell them we are New Zealanders.  Seriously.  They  could tell we knew they were New Zealanders but we had to actually tell them we’re New Zealanders. I was mortified.  They said our accents have taken on an American twang.  Mate.  Not good.

Now my American friends would laugh at this – as all they hear is a foreign accent.  But to someone from our homeland, they can hear the slight difference in speech, a few different words being used and they can tell – we’ve been living in a different environment.  We are morphing.  We’re always in the process of adapting.  Of trying to be understood. And slowly, over time, there has been some desensitizing going on in our lives.  It’s no longer foreign to flick the lights the ‘wrong’ way around.  I can quite happily drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.  There aren’t as many things that jump out and surprise us now, although we’re always living with cultural differences.

We can’t help that we have become a little bit desensitized.  It is what happens, gradually, over time, sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad.

Sometimes my ‘outside’ eyes see things and they get me into trouble.  Not everyone always appreciates it when I see ‘stuff’ and I say ‘stuff’ – because from my experience, from looking from the outside in, life here – or anywhere for that matter – sometimes needs some questions to be asked of it.

 And that’s my challenge to myself and to you, today.  Ask yourself the ‘why?’ questions.  The tricky questions.  Don’t just blindly follow the things of your culture – don’t be desensitized by what you see around you, by all the haves that people have.  Be intentional with all you do.

Take i-phone/ smart phone payment plans.  Is it really that important to you to always be in touch with your social media apps?  Does  $70 a month really enhance your life, when you’re striving to be that ‘hands-free Mama’ that everyone was oohing and aahing about a few months ago?  Now before I get a whole bunch of defensive comments all in favour of your fancy pants phones, this really isn’t about the phone and the benefits or the ins and outs of having one.  I’m really not judging.  Hear my heart.  It is not about Suri or Sari or Sara. It is about being intentional.  It is about knowing what you stand for and why you buy/need/ want/avoid/ desire certain things in your life.

It is about living your life in such a way because that is what God desires of your life  because HE has your HEART.  (And isn’t that something we’re all, constantly working on?)

It is about protecting yourself from becoming sucked into and thrown out of the whole desensitization vacuum so that the Moms at school pick up do know you love Jesus.  The Moms watching their little Princesses at Ballet know you care about how their day was.  The teens in your life know you have something better to offer them, than the false promises of the world.

It is about tuning our ears, our eyes and our hearts towards someone who cares a lot more about US and how our hearts are, than the car we drive, the fall decorations we do or don’t have in our houses and the fact that I still, after all this time have quite the Brook Shields look going on.

Frogs may not survive in their environments, if the water gets too hot, but for us – we can do more than survive when the going gets tough.  If we’re intentional and determined not to become desensitized….the tough in us will get going.