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.

 

Loving (and hurting ) Deeply

I’ve been quietly working on a blog post in my head. Grabbing little thoughts and inspirations from here and from there. I don’t know if anyone can relate, but you see the thing is, I feel things very deeply. Part of this is because I’m a woman. (And any blokes reading this immediately go duh). Part of this is just how I’m wired, my personality and God-given gifts.

I was going to write a blog post asking for help for how to diminish this ‘feeling deeply’ part of my life.

I was going to grab your ideas on how to work on turning my feelings off, of growing thicker skin and of not minding it so much when friendships aren’t reciprocated or when people don’t follow through on promises or when something hard and bad happens to my husband or children.

But you know the more I started to gather my thoughts and try to put into words my helplessness and frustrations at myself…….the more I felt that gentle tugging of the Holy Spirit.

Be still.

Know who you are is who you are for a reason.

It is ok to feel and to feel deeply.

I think it comes down to something as simple as this……how deep is the Father’s love for us…..how vast beyond all measure indeed……there is no limit to God’s love – we are promised this in the His word……as much as that love is so deep – what can I give, but to give all of myself?

How can I love my friends, and my family, if I’m not loving with all of myself.

And the deeper the love, the more fulfilling the relationship. The more honest. The more relate-able we are. The more help we can be to each other.

So really, the question that I really have, is not on how NOT to love deeply, but on how to handle the hurt that comes with it. Hand in hand – loving people deeply brings such amazing rewards; deep and meaningful friendships, cherished moments, shared joy, but there is also sadness and heartache that comes with loving people as we’re simply human at the end of the day.

And so far I’ve come up with – We can use hurt to build up barriers to prevent us from reaching out, or we can use hurt to propel us forward. To learn from. To change future behaviours/ reactions. Both actions are hard. Both actions are done intentionally…not just as a side effect. Both reactions are things I have knowingly and willingly done. And not just in the past – but recently. My husband and I have some people in our life who aren’t the best with communication. A lot of the time we have to repeat information, sometimes that information is misconstrued, oftentimes that communication is one-sided – us making the effort, time and time again. So what have we done as a result of our hurt and frustration? We’ve chosen to stop making an effort ourselves. This has then become a no-win situation. We’ve built up the barriers to prevent us from reaching out.

But what I’ve realized from this reaction is that no-one wins……no-one benefits and no-one learns anything. We certainly don’t, because we’re the ones holding on to the ‘big ball of ugly’, and other party in this scenario is clueless as to our hurt and our frustrations. So nothing changes.

I am rather slow on it……I take my time to learn these things you know….but I now know that hurt does nothing as long as it remains hurt. As long as those feelings of powerlessness and frustration remain – the hurts wins – division wins – and the enemy wins. Because he doesn’t want us to be united. He doesn’t want us working together. He doesn’t want joined forces, abounding in love….because that’s the very thing that is going to change the world. That’s the thing that makes me as a Christian, stand out from another who is not.

So I’m learning that what needs to happen is we need to change the hurt into something else: a chance to re-evaluate ourselves, a chance to learn from an experience, a chance to do better next time, a chance to see the good in all.

The hurt can’t win. The hurt can’t take over our hearts.

I do believe that we were made to love deeply. We are loved deeply. Hurt comes hand in hand with loving people – but the rewards of loving people far outweighs the damage this hurt can do – I’m learning that we just need to be intentional with how we react to this hurt….

fionapic

Five Minute Friday: Red

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.

RED.

Where to start?  What to start writing about?  Red. Red.  Red.

Red red wine.  There’s a song about that.

But no.

Tangent.

I was thinking on the red thing and flicking from open tab to open tab on my netbook…..and bam.  There in my facebok feed was a link to an article about a 19 week old baby who was born, survived a few minutes and then passed.  This tiny, red, human being, held in someone’s hands ever so carefully.  Perfectly formed, but too tiny to survive.

I can’t bring myself to the read the whole article.  I can see the first paragraph and the photo.  The red baby.  Someone’s hopes for the future, wrapped up in a precious bundle.  Someone’s heart, crushed by what was not to be.

Do you know what a miscarriage that happens after 12 weeks is called?  A spontaneous abortion.  I learnt that the hard way.   Those words, they sting.  They go down deep, into a deep dark well of hurt.

But the more I live this life and the more I grow as a Mother and a Wife, with me grows my love for my family, I realize how great is God’s love for us.  So much greater than my meager offerings.

His love is higher than the heavens.  Deeper than the oceans.

Who can pour life and healing balm into a deep well of hurt?  Only God.

What can refresh and renew dreams, and take the place of dreams no longer able to be fulfilled?  Only the hope we have in Him.

It isn’t possible for us to have all the answers, we’ll never ever know why some babies are taken too soon, but we can rest in the peace that as we grieve, the Lord grieves with us.

STOP.

 

 

On being robbed.

Violated.

Uneasy.

Sick to the stomach.

Anxious.

Nervous.

I’ve never been robbed, but have been told that these are the feelings one feels after such an event.

Not a good mix of feelings at all.

While I’ve never actually been robbed, just lately I’ve been realizing, very clearly, that my days are robbed from me.

And I’m the one who is leaving the door wide open to my intruders.

My front door has been wide open – and I’ve been robbed of peace.  Robbed of joy.  Robbed of hope.

And I kinda reckon, I’m not the only one who has been welcoming intruders.

Your intruders may have a different root cause, or motivation than mine.  But they are real enough.  They come in through the front door, and not only do they take a wander through your jewelry box, they have the nerve to help themselves to a drink from the fridge, sit down on the sofa and make themselves well and truly at home.  They are there to stay. Until they have eaten you out of house and home, taken all your treasures, and left you completely at your whit’s end.

Well I’m saying enough.

No more.

No more worry eating at me.

No more doubt cracking through my peace.

No more.

Enough.

First I’ve needed to recognize what it is that has been intruding my home, my heart.  One of those things for me, is worry over my third son and his speech delay.  If you’re a Mother of a child who doesn’t fit within the range of ‘normal’ you’ll get this.  You’ll get this.  It hurts.  It is hard.  For me, something happens to my heart whenever I hear of a friend’s child telling them something cute, and all I want is a simple sentence from my own cherub.  So I think of what he doesn’t say, and I dwell on how far he has to come, to be considered ‘normal’.  And then I doubt my own parenting skills, and I play the stupid comparison game and so on.

It is a vicious cycle and a slippery slope down, down to basically being down in the dumps.

I forget who is ultimately in control.

I forget the progress already made.

I forget how uniquely different and wonderfully made my own child is.

I forget to notice the giftings he has.

I choose to look at what he’s not – instead of looking at who he is…..all because that intruder of worry, that intruder of self-doubt, has taken up residence in my home.

So how do I stop the intruder from coming in?  I simply need to lock that front door. By golly that intruder may knock, but no way can that intruder enter.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ – 2 Corinthians 10: 5

You see I know what God says about fear.  He says not to.  Just don’t.  Many, many, many times in the bible.  And worry is driven by fear, and I don’t want either of them in my house.  And if I’m worrying, then I not obeying Christ, simple as that.  And not obeying is sinning.  Simple as that.  So to obey Christ, I need to take every thought captive.

By taking every thought captive, I’m not letting it in the front door.

By taking every thought captive, I’m not letting the negativity take root, and take possession of my mind.

By taking every thought captive, I’m choosing to believe that God is in control and his ways are not our ways,

So while your intruder will most likely have a different name to mine, is the nasty perp getting past your front door?

Do you keep leaving your door open a little?  Cos once that big toe is in the door, the intruder muscles its way in…it doesn’t need much convincing.

How about you join me, as I learn to deadbolt my front door.  As I say to fear, doubt and worry ‘Not my house, not my heart.  Not today and not any day’.

Taking every thought captive. That’s my best defense against intruders.

deadbolt

 

Five Minute Friday: After

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….

AFTER.

So often it is the after that brings with it sheer pain and anguish.

The muscles, after an out of shape attempt at some exercise.

The stomach, after an evening of over-indulgence.

The bank account, after an afternoon of retail therapy.

And the heart, bent, forever torn, after the passing of a loved one.

The after hurts.  The after smarts and stings and penetrates down deep.  But the after teaches and the after changes us.  The life lessons from the after are priceless, totally immeasureable.  Not something someone else can tell us.

But most importantly – the Lord is with us – in the now and in the after.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  Nothing.  The God of Angels armies is by our side.

In the now, whatever your now is.

And He’ll be there in your after.

IMG_1390

When you’re at a Zero.

Our car, ‘Frankie’ (doesn’t everyone name their car?) is facing a bit of an identity crisis at the moment.  She’s lashing out with some erratic behaviour.  Today her back window wiper started going very randomly.  It would wipe and wipe and then stop.  And then start-up again and continue, until I pushed the button that is supposed to make it start, to stop it.  Something weird going on with the electrics no doubt.  Where’s McGyver when you need him?

Along with the crazy window wiping, there’s another indicator playing up.  The fuel gauge is showing we have zero gas and the ‘need to fill up’ light is on and the DTE (drive til empty) screen thingy shows up as zero as well.

Now ever since I started driving I have had this crazy fear of running out of petrol/ gas.  I can’t explain it – but the thought just petrifies me.  To be driving along, and all of a sudden to stop.  Just not be able to go any further.  And knowing my luck it would be on a busy road, with car full of boys one, two and three.  Not my idea of fun.

So to have the fuel gauge playing tricks on me…..not cool.

This time around though, I know I’m ok. I know my husband filled up the car yesterday. I know the gauge was at full first thing this morning.  I saw the gauge at full and I saw the receipt from the gas station. I know I didn’t leave a big puddle of gas anywhere earlier today.  I know that even though the signs say that poor ‘Frankie’ is empty….I know she’s not.

This got me thinking about the times in our lives when we feel truly empty.  We feel like we’ve run out of steam.  We’ve had our boat load of physical illness, financial strain, people issues, future worries and past concerns.  We are spent.  We feel like we could sleep for a week.  We feel like we have nothing to offer people.  We’re done.  We’re past it.  We are running on empty.

But here’s the thing……even when our gauge is indicating empty, empty, empty…….we’re not.  We have the Holy Spirit, our helper, with us.  Always.  Even when people let us down, and they will.  We have the promise of hope, always.  How we FEEL doesn’t change a thing about how HE feels about us, and what HE  is able to accomplish in and through us.  God IS our ever-present helper.

‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ – Isaiah 41:10
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ – John 14:27
‘I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.’ – Psalm 120:1
  All the signs around us may indicate that we are running on empty, and we may feel like that, but we’re never ever empty.  Just like I can’t trust ‘Frankie’s’ fuel gauge at the moment, neither can I rely on my feelings, and thoughts.  Our God is greater, Our God is stronger.

Developing hinds’ feet

Hot on the heels of my last two posts about how to deal with curveballs when they come your way and keeping your relationship with God fresh, here is some insight from a dear friend Sheri who has dealt just recently with the big C.  (Words in italics are Sheri’s own words).

The big C = cancer.  Yick.  Scary.  Nasty.  Painful. Grueling. Stealer of time, energy and people.

However, our God is greater, our God is stronger, God is higher than any other – that is what Sheri can still sing with all her heart and mind and soul, even after enduring two surgeries, a staph infection, chemotherapy, radiation, and now is still taking a special pill a day.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud 

   and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails 
   and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
   and no cattle in the stalls, 
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, 
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; 
   he makes my feet like the hinds’ feet, 
   he enables me to tread on the heights.

– Habakkuk 3: 17- 19

 I’ve been reading a bit of Joyce (Meyer) lately, she’s really quite choice.  Joyce says ‘that the way we develop hind’s feet (a hind is an animal that can climb mountains swiftly) is “to walk not to stand still in terror”, to walk and make spiritual progress upon the high places of trouble, suffering or responsibility’. Which is what needs to happen, when curveballs come our way.

It seems to me that often we don’t realize how strong we really are until we have to be strong.  We don’t know how tight we have to cling onto God’s promises, until they are the only things left to cling onto.  When all around us seems uncertain.

 When I was waiting for the biopsy results, an acquaintance was expressing her fear on my behalf and I could honestly tell her that it didn’t change anything. Whether it was benign or malignant, treatable or not, live or die – my future is the same. I am a child of the most high King.

I love that Sheri said this.  Nothing can change that.  Whatever situations we’re in – we’re His and we have that blessed assurance.

God has been so close. So incredibly close. Scripture says count it all joy, so we don’t get to decide what we count as joy.

Ugh…..we don’t get to decide what we count as joy…..me….I’d rather not even have to learn how to count major sickness and illness as joy…..but, as Sheri says…we just don’t get to choose.

And the support system He placed around me. I can never express enough how clearly I saw Jesus in the people around me.

This makes my heart sing – that Sheri does have good support around her, but my heart bleeds for people who don’t have a good support system around them….community is just sooo sooo important.

One day, early on, before chemo and you couldn’t tell that I was a cancer patient. I was in my surgeon’s office- he does all surgeries so again no reason to assume I am a cancer patient. And this lady, in her 30-40s looks at me and said, cancer is a slow way to die. And for a half a second I felt fear, and then the voice of God whispered “it’s not about you”. And I prayed with her. Her name is Sara, she has a seven year old.

During radiation, I met two sisters I would guess in their 70’s. They live together in a manufactured home in Phoenix. Joyce has lung cancer, and Gaylene drives her to her treatments. We sent them cookies – they both have sweet tooths! We invited them to Easter. When Rick is recovered we are taking them to dinner.

Isn’t this just God?  In the midst of her own pain, issues, uncertainties and treatments and all the trauma that they place on the body and mind, Sheri’s heart was turned towards others and their issues and their scenarios.  Why?  Because that’s how God works – when a heart is already in love with Him and when we have peace and know He is for us and not against us, then our eyes and ears are tuned into others needs and hurts, no matter what we are going through.  And along the journey…….we are developing hind’s feet.

Everywhere we look, we see God’s fingerprints. I have heard people say cancer is a gift. I have heard people say cancer is a curse. To me it is neither, it is a disease. And I have a Healer.

Many thanks to Sheri for sharing part of her journey with me.  xx