Rosa – The KitchenAid Stand Mixer

This is about a ‘thing’, but it is about more than the ‘thing’.

I do realize it is not normal behaviour to name a kitchen appliance. Not normal at all. But here’s the scoop – I welcomed a brand new KitchenAid mixer into my family last night. And her name is Rosa.

For the last four and a bit years I’ve had my eye out for a stand mixer. You see I do a lot of baking and once we moved to America I realized the huge difference in price in mixers here….just under a thousand dollars in NZ dollars for the very same thing that I got last night. More than three times the amount it costs here in America.

So for the last four years I’ve been entering every competition I could see on blogs to try to win one. For a while there I would tweet sometimes daily to @KitchenAidUSA, sometimes weekly. Just crazy little comments along the lines of ‘I still have a KitchenAid mixer sized hole in my heart’. I would have friends send me links to competitions. I would write silly facebook statuses along the lines of ‘KitchenAid mixer – the perfect Father’s Day present’. But there was no way I could ever justify buying one for myself.

I was a little over the top I know. But it was fun.

Last night I was invited up to a friend’s house under the guise of ‘cleaning’ in preparation for a new baby’s imminent arrival. Yeah well that house didn’t need no cleaning. Already spotless. Instead the kitchen was full of a bunch of amazing friends who had gathered for a bit of a ‘do’ and to present me with my very own ‘Rosa’ – a shiny red mixer.

Amazing.

Now while I will love using this appliance and will use it all the time – like ALL the time – at the end of the day the mixer is just a ‘thing’ I know…and the meaning behind receiving this gift is more than just being gifted a very handy appliance – that I may or may not have harped on about for over four years….

For me, Rosa will sit on my kitchen counter for years to come and serve as a reminder of just how faithful our Lord is.

Moving to America has been tough. Settling here has not been all smooth sailing.

But we’ve persisted. And God has blessed us tremendously. God has been so very faithful. Every step of the way. In the good times and the bad times. He has been our strength.

Three years ago I never dreamed that people would gather in a beautiful home, one summer’s night, to bless me with a gift – a gift that I can use to serve others. To bless others.

Two years ago I never dreamed that would happen.

But in the midst of just getting on with life, and reaching out and initiating and just being real and raw and learning to not hide who I am……..relationship has happened. Lifelong friendships now exist. ‘Community’ has happened.

Not because of me. Because I say stupid things and I have fierce and strong opinions, and I second guess myself all the time, but IN SPITE of me – God has been so very faithful.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19: 29

Those words in Matthew, they are a very special promise.  To be perfectly honest with you, it isn’t the funnest thing in the world to yard sale a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff you actually use and are gonna have to replace once you move countries again.  It isn’t the funnest thing in the world to realize one day you have plenty of friends with kids your baby’s age, but hey, that tween, that tween of yours is seriously lacking in the friendship department and you failed miserably in that area.  It isn’t the funnest thing in the world to say goodbye to family and friends – and to miss special events, for years on end.

BUT God.

But God is faithful.  He does promise that if and when we give up ‘things’ and proximity of relationships for His name’s sake, for ministry purposes, then we will receive many things in return.  According to His purpose.

Whatever God is asking of you – be assured, He does provide all we need – as well as things we don’t actually need.  Like a mixer.  If you are being called to do something for His sake – he will not abandon you.  His will = His bill.

The very fact that I’ll be sad to leave friends behind when we leave in three months time is a very good thing – again it shows the Lord’s faithfulness.  If I left and I wasn’t going to miss anyone – then that would have been a terrible shame.

And for me, right now I can see the Lord’s goodness – represented by a shiny red mixer.  Others may see a powerful kitchen appliance that will churn out whipped cream in a flash and make the best pavlovas, but not me.  I see it as a symbol of God’s goodness.  That He cares about the details of my life.  He wants to bless us – abundantly.  And friendships matter.  They really do matter.

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Five Minute Friday: Song

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 –

SONG.

I love that God made birds to sing.  I love that different species of bird have different calls and sounds and songs.

There’s something so magical about waking up in a new and foreign to you country and hearing the native birds singing.  The chorus at first light.  Welcoming the new day.

Even after natural disasters, birds sing on.

If someone is listening or if no-one is listening, birds sing on.

Birds don’t need score cards or record deals, they don’t require positive feedback or constructive criticism.  They just sing on.

I think we all could learn from the birds.  The games we play and all.

I can’t help but wonder what our worlds would look like if we just sang the songs we were supposed to.  What if we didn’t look to the left or the right, but just up?

What if we didn’t check stats or facebook comments and likes, retweets and responses?  What if we just wrote the lyrics of our songs, the words God places on our hearts?

What if, like the birds who don’t need to sow or reap, for their heavenly Father looks after them, what if we didn’t worry about how we would be received?

What if we all sang the songs we were created to sing – because we couldn’t not do that?  What a mighty sound that would be.

STOP.

birds

 

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.

 

 

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?

 

 

 

The lifting of my hands as sacrifice

I love the line of my title today.  The lifting of my hands as sacrifice.  It is as simple as that.  To me – a servant of God – the lifting of my hands in worship is a posturing of sacrifice.  Not my will, Lord, but yours.

Read the words of this song and then listen to it.  You may already know the chorus.

Such truths.  Such power.

If you’ve been struggling with anything – just stop – and focus on these words.  And how about you raising your hands? I know it goes against the grain with a lot of people and how they prefer to worship…..but I reckon  it does something to your heart when you lift your hands to praise.  The lifting of my hands as sacrifice.  Yep.

It is Friday.  Time to get yer praise on.

[Verse 1]
May my prayer like incense rise before You
The lifting of my hands as sacrifice
Oh Lord Jesus turn Your eyes upon me
For I know there is mercy in Your sight

Your statutes are my heritage forever
My heart is set on keeping Your decrees
Please still my anxious urge toward rebellion
Let Love keep my will upon its knees

[Chorus]
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

[Verse 2]
To all creation I can see a limit
But Your commands are boundless and have none
So Your Word is my joy and meditation
From the rising to the setting of the sun

All Your ways are loving and are faithful
The road is narrow but Your burden light
Because You gladly lean to lead the humble
I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride

 

Like Incense

Puttin’ my Praise On

There is something for me, about the power of music to lift my soul.  I can’t sing.  I’m an awful singer.  My kids tell me to stop.  But give me something to listen to that praises God, and I am a happy mama.

There is something about taking my focus off me, and focussing on Him.

There is something about declaring aloud the wonders of our Lord.

There is something about remembering all He has done and all His is capable of, and all He has promised.

There is something about praise being the answer to heaviness of spirit.  We are told to ‘put on a garment of praise’.

There is something about praise being a form of self-medication.  Praise breaks chains and opens doors.