Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So we meet again....

So what do you say to a man who has just been told he has a cancerous brain tumour?

Not something I was prepared to handle this morning, but when ever is it a good time to handle a diagnosis like this? A frail, elderly man now stood before me. And with all his fears, his thoughts of a tough ride ahead of him, the first thing that came out of his mouth was this:

"Please keep an eye on Jill, she's a bit down today."

Jill is his wife. His main worry was for her and her happiness. What a beautiful heart he has. Here he was, pumped full of heavy medication, unsteady on his feet and probably in a bit of pain, yet his main concern was for his wife and that she was sad today.

My heart aches for this sweet couple who I've come to know and love over these past several months. And for me it's like a visit from the past again. I feel like I'm standing on a dusty road infront of my nemisis Cancer and I've drawn my gun....again.

A familiar song filled my mouth as I vacuumed the floors of their home:


Sorrow came to visit us today
Was the longest day, was the loneliest day
Sorrow came to steal our hope away
Only tears can tell of this holy hour

This mountain's high, too high for us
This mountain's high, too high for us

Sorrow came quicker than a fire
Was the longest day, was the lonliest day
I feel your hand, the warmth, your sweetest smile
But you slipped away through the great divide

This mountain's high, too high for us
This mountain's high, too high for us

Your ways are high, too high for us
Your ways are high, too high for us

~(C)2003 Smith/Curious? Music UK

This song always brings me comfort with the fact that God is sovereign and that His ways are higher than ours, and although we don't always understand why things happen, we know that He is still God and God alone.

Everyone dies. Some die of old age. Some die as a result of an accident. Some die because they have their lives taken from them. Some die because they get sick. I will however continue to pray for this man that God will heal him and save him. Why? Because that is the difference between someone who trusts in God and someone who doesn't.

Whether we feel like it or not.
Whether the cancer is curable or not.
Whether the last prayer I prayed was answered or not.

"...is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen...."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

If you have ears...

I've been reading a book called "Coaching 101".

Although I haven't finished this book yet, one thing which keeps coming through is the point on how important it is to listen.

When I picked up the book originally, I thought "great, now I can learn how to help people and give them advice and coach them through their problems etc", but the book actually emphasizes NOT to give advice, but to simply listen and ask questions.

Wow. I thought a coach was someone who had all the answers. I thought they were a person who people came to because they were skilled in life and knew a whole heap about dealing with relationships and problems.

Not so. The book says to simply come alongside someone. To listen to them. To ask them questions that eventually lead them to figure things out on their own!

Man I wish I had read this book five years ago. I remember trying to lead a smallgroup of teens once a week. I had to throw in the towel and pass the group over to someone else as I was too overwhelmed. I believed that being a leader you needed to be able to answer all the hard questions and be a step ahead of those you were leading. How wrong was my thinking.

I must say that I think every smallgroup leader should read this book! It has taken so much pressure off of my shoulders to know that I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have a brain full of knowledge and wisdom to lead a group or help some friends through difficult decisions.

When was the last time someone sat down with you and just listened to you? How did it make you feel? Valued? Loved? And when was the last time you listened to somebody without jumping in with your advice or finishing their sentence?

A challenge isn't it?

Sometimes all people need is someone to listen to them. And often their problem doesn't seem too big anymore. I love that saying, "A problem shared, is a problem halved." So incredibly true.

My next question is, when was the last time you listened to God? Have you sat down with Him and just listened for a bit, or has your mouth rattled off a list of complaints or frustrations that you've been feeling?

I love the passage of scripture where Jesus takes His three disciples up the mountain and God overshadows them. Jesus is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear. Peter immediately gets up and wants to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah when suddenly God's voice interrupts him and says, "This is my beloved Son, HEAR Him!"


I know that I can get so caught up in life's busyness. My hands seem full of service and chores. My mind pre-occupied with the next three tasks at hand. My emotions stirred in many directions.

I want to do so much for God and that may be your heart's desire too. The best thing for us is to hear Him. How do we learn about someone and get to really know them? By listening to them. It's then that we discover their biggest dreams, their desires, their heart.

His heart.

If you have ears then let them hear...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Rug Doctor

Yes I agree with Little Dee. What has happened to everyone's blogs over the last couple of weeks? Busy - seems to be the answer for me! So as I catch my breath for a few moments, I will recall a little revelation.

There's a song we sing sometimes which I've battled to agree with. Some of the words go like this:

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lord lead me, lead me to the cross

A very heavy mouthful to sing. The line which hit me hard was 'rid me of myself'. I keep thinking "now that can't be right! Why would I want You to rid me of who I am." But now I realise that's not what the line is saying.

Let me explain.

I enter a home once a week. The people who live there have the most amazing rugs throughout their home, and I've come to notice that they are all from the same set. Same colours and patterns, just different sizes.

There's one that greets you as you come through the front door. It travels over the first set of stairs. It is bright red and very beautiful (I vacuum this rug on a regular basis - it hears my singing!)

Then there is a shorter version of the same rug stretched out over the lounge floor. It is terribly faded as is the big square rug underneath the dining room table and the tiny rug in one of the bedrooms. They have faded to a light red, slightly pinkish colour and even though the patterns and markings are still there, they have no vibrance quite like the first rug.

Why are they faded? It's because the afternoon sun hits them everyday, and has done so for many many years. Meanwhile the bold red rug lies in a dark hallway in perfect condition.

I've been considering 'the cost' over the last month. And while thinking back on those words 'rid me of myself' it has been a fear of mine that if I truly surrendered my whole self to God, that me, Nina, would be lost somewhere in this heart transformation (some of you reading this might just think that my brain is warped for thinking this - you are right).

So when visiting this home mentioned above, God broke through this thought with the basic illustration of these rugs. The rug left in the dark will always be it's true self. Bold in colour, glorious to look at, but it remains in the dark. The other rugs who are faded and pale have the mark of the sun on them, and while they have lost some of their colour, their greatest feature now is the fact that they have been hit by the sun and it has changed them.

Do you get where I am going with this? When you walk in the light as He is in the light, you will change because you carry the mark of the Son. His affect on you will be evident. Have you lost who you are because of this? No. Has God rid you of yourself? No. He has simply covered you with Himself and the world now sees more of Him and less of you (which as Christians this is our aim right?)

To be more Christlike should be every Christians main goal in life. Counting the cost and all of it's surrendering will not kill you (just all the bad stuff that comes along with you).

To me those faded rugs now seem more precious then the one left alone in the dark. There seems to be more life in those faded rugs, more depth to their character, more of a story to tell. And I want my life to be like that for God. I want Him to write His name all over me with a permanent vivid! I want Him to overshadow my character so much that I don't resemble me, but Him. I'm still me, but as John the baptist said, "I must decrease, so that He may increase."

So rid me of myself, I belong to You.
Lead me to the cross.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Further than the moon.

I used to lie in bed as a kid and pray that God would hold my hand. I remember doing this often as a child. I went to sleep praying and stretching out my hand to see if God would grab it. (I probably would have wet my pants if He did!)

He never did grab my hand, and I never stopped believing that He was real either.

At different times in our lives, our need for God increases within the different circumstances we find ourselves in. And He responds.

Several years ago I was doing a Teacher Aide Certificate. I did my training with a wonderful class of 7 and 8 year olds, and a class teacher who went beyond her job for those kids. At that time my mother was terminally ill and there were days when I went to school, that I wished I could rather be at home with her.

During those many years of illness, I learnt how to put on a brave face, slap on a genuine smile, and just do life no matter how bad she was. I still battled through fear and lonliness in that time, and while God knew it all, not many others did.

I remember a week which seemed harder than the others, but I took myself off to school to do my training. Being in a classroom with very vibrant children doesn't leave you any free headspace to get down, so I figured I'd made the right choice to continue my study.

The days progressed as normal. Children being rebellious, teacher being overworked, activities, stories, school assemblies, lunch breaks, reading time, then God broke into my world....

I suddenly felt His arms around me in the form of a 7 year old boy. Ben was his name and I will never forget him. That week he continued to give me hugs. He would come up behind me when I'd least expect him to and wrap his small little 7 year old arms around me and tell me that he loved me.

It makes me tear up even now that I think about it. I believe God used Ben during that week, to let me know that He was there. Ben didn't know what my family was going through. And some would say that he was just being a typical 7 year old boy who had a crush on the Teacher Aide. But for me, Ben's arms were God's arms and the timing was critical. And with my love language being 'touch' I really needed a hug from God - and He gave me those hugs!

"Sometimes you're further than the moon
Sometimes you're closer than my skin
You surround me like a winter fog
You've come and burned me with a kiss"

~Martin Smith, Delirious

God will never leave us or forsake us. And sometimes He will use those around us to show us just how much He loves us. So I encourage you today, if you're going through a hard time, don't dismiss a kind word, an act of love, or even a hug from a child. It may be God trying to show you His love.

Thank you Ben.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Yesterday I stubbed my toe on the edge of the washing machine. I rolled a vacuum cleaner over my foot. I hit my head on a shelf in a cupboard. And I nearly knocked over a very expensive looking china bowl from a table.

Why? Because I was tired.

When I am tired I get clumsly. This includes my speech which when I'm trying to explain something to someone it come's out slurry and all muddled up (or 'puddled mup' if you're me on a tired day).

I also find myself zoning out of conversations and I end up saying 'yes' to questions that don't require a 'yes' or 'no' for an answer! Now this venture can get someone into trouble, so I do not reccomend zoning out of conversations if you can help it.

I can also tend to get a little forgetful. Sometimes birthdays go amiss until the next day when I realise what I've done and try to make amends!

How are you when you're tired?

I guess my point here is, that when we are tired we are a lot more vulnerable. Some of us get 'short' with eachother. A nice friendly person such as yourself can easily turn into a grumpy bum. And if you're married or live at home with a family member or two, tiredness can turn NASTY.

I love the verse which says,

"Don't grow weary in doing well, for in due time you will reap your reward."

I've come to realise that not only can we get weary but we can get used to being tired and actually allow it to grow. Don't grow weary in doing well. It can be 'normal' for some of us to always be in a state of weariness, and this is NOT what God wants for our lives.

That's why there is a Sabbath day. And hey if God rested on the seventh day, how much more do we need to. Now a Sabbath day for me, isn't a Sunday. I work in the ministry on a Sunday, so my Sabbath is a Saturday. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so pick a day which is just for you, where you can just relax, 'play', or recreate, or kill a chicken, whatever it is that charges your batteries.

Some good advice a friend often tells people is to ask yourself these questions when life seems to be getting too full on:

How is my relationship with God?

Am I eating well?

Am I sleeping well?

Very good questions to be asking yourself. If one of these areas is out of balance, chances are you will be tired in an area, whether it is spiritually, emotionally or physically.

So take a break! (kit-kats help :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When pools rush in...

As mentioned before in a previous blog called "Up close and personal", I have a part-time cleaning job once a week for an elderely couple.

This couple is pretty special. They are in their 70's and have battled healthwise for many years, but they still live life and even take holidays overseas. I can't even name all the places that they've travelled to because they get around so much.

A week or two ago I was there doing my usual 3.25 hours of cleaning for them. We usually all sit down for morning tea together, so after drinking my cup of tea (which today had been mistakenly sugared three times), I headed upstairs to make a start on the bathroom.

I started cleaning the shower when Mr McCleod called me, "Nina are you there?" I got up off the floor and opened the bathroom door.

He came in with a concerned look on his face and said, "Can you hear that?"

I stood there in the bathroom with my bright pink cleaning gloves on, and listened. I thought to myself, "what am I listening for? A bird noise? A car outside?" So I stood there a while longer with an intellectual look on my face, and a far away gaze in my eyes.

"Come stand over here," he said and gestured for me to go into one of the spare rooms.

"Can you hear the neighbours pool filter?" he asked.

And sure enough there was a faint hum in the distance, nothing too noticeable, except he noticed it and it had become a growing concern.

"It's very loud isn't it?" he said. Of course I agreed with him. If it's important to him, it's important to me I thought. He is after all my boss!

"That hum is constant, and sometimes it 'pulses', " he went on to say. "I have spoken to the neighbour about it. I may have to have another word to him."

I personally didn't think the noise was too obvious, but I could understand his point of view. His concern was for his wife who might not be able to sleep well as the noise could disturb her. Fair enough.

I was oblivious to the hum of the neighbours pool filter. And now every time I go there to do my cleaning I can hear it. It is always there, as faint as the noise seems. Yes, it is a constant drone in the background of what seems to be a relatively quiet neighbourhood. And depending on which room I'm working in, the noise level differs.

It got me thinking about the voice of God. Sometimes we are oblivious to Him speaking to us in our every day lives. But He is always there like the faint hum of the pool filter. And just like that filter sometimes 'pulses', so does the heart of our God for us!

Sometimes we are not in the right 'room' (headspace) to hear Him clearly, but yet when someone else points Him out or we do hear Him, we learn to become more aware of His constant nature. He never changes, and longs to tell us things all the time. Secrets. Revelations. His heart for us.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars
And makes the deer give birth...

Just like I am now aware of a pool filter noise, so we can become more aware of the voice of God. And He speaks to us all so differently, but how wonderful is it, that the God who made us is so near that we can talk with Him!?

Let's listen in and see if we can discover His 'humming' in our lives. And when we've recognised the sound let's learn to tune our ears into the beating of His heart too.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

If the shoe fits...

I love stories about how people encounter God. I remember listening to Winky Pratney once as he told us a time in his life where he was so desperate for God to meet him. He wanted a personal revival and so he told the story of how he locked himself in his room, drew a circle around his body and cried out to God to meet him right there.

"I'm not going to move out of this circle until you meet me God!" And so there He stayed and sure enough God turned up and turned his life upside down.

After hearing such an amazing testimony, I thought to myself, "I want a personal revival too!" So off I went, locked myself in my bedroom, drew an imaginery cirlce around my body and waited.

And waited....

And waited...

And waited...


What was I forgetting here? I did the cirlce thing. I told God I wasn't going to move out of the circle until He met me there. Maybe I need to get down on my knees and be a bit more humble. So down I went, and I waited.

And waited...

And waited...

Still nothing! I must admit that I was a little discouraged in that moment. Howcome it worked for Winkey Pratney and not for me? I followed the 'formula' just as he explained. But that was the problem.

Sometimes when God moves in a certain way and peoples lives are transformed, we try to contain the move and put it into a formula. As if we can contain God with a set of rules! For the children of Israel they worshipped the 'form' of something and did so by making idols. For us in the modern day we make 'formulas' (an exerpt from Bill Johnson, Minfest Presence Conference 08).

It's not always the case, but in my case I had thought that if I did exactly what this preacher had done, I would encounter God.

"So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them.

And David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them." So David took them off. ~1 Sam 17:38,39

David was used to defeating the enemy with a sling and a few stones, not a heavy armour. This was not David's style. If he had walked out onto the battle field wearing what worked for King Saul, David may have lost his life that day.

Why? Because the sling and the stones brought glory to God. He had used these to kill bears and lions out in the field where he knew God. He had tested this in his life and this was what God had given him to carry and to 'wear.'

How often do we compare ourselves and the way we meet God with others?

I know a lady who worships God to Shania Twain music (shudder...). But she says that she sings these loves songs to God and has an amazing time!

I know a pastor who climbs up a hill and lies in the grass, and that's where he hears God (a helicopter nearly landed on him once, but that hasn't stopped him from going there!)

I know someone who can sit in silence for what seems like an eternity and that's how she meets and hears the voice of God (I tried that once and fell asleep).

My point is, is that we can't reduce God and confine Him to the experience of other people. We each meet God in different ways and that's how God would have it! We are all so different, so strange and so unique, of course there are going to be some differences in how we hear God and how we encounter Him.

Your life stems from those precious times where it's just you and Him. Whether it's a walk on the beach, a worship time with a cd, being immersed in the Word, or on your face in prayer, as long as you're with Him...


Friday, September 26, 2008

Rat practise...

When I lived at home with my folks, I used to go for walks beyond our section. I had a favourite spot which I'd often visit as there was a valley filled with 100's of huge trees. I'd spend a few moments with my eyes closed and just listen to the noise those trees made in the wind. It was very beautiful, almost like an ocean sound.

On one ocassion I started my walk to my favourite spot. This walk is not an easy one as the road is rugged, winding and steep but very scenic and great for exercise as well as a blast of fresh country air.

So off I went for my '30 minutes a day - you gotta push play', and half way through my walk I noticed a very dead rat lying there on the side of the path. I thought to myself, "that is soooo gross" and kept walking.

I got to my spot to appreciate the trees but just couldn't get that rat off my mind. "I wonder if I can raise this rat from the dead?" I thought. I also remembered a friend once saying that if you wanted to increase your faith in seeing the sick healed and the dead raised that it was a good idea to practise on sick animals and dead animals.

Rat practise...

Why not? No one was around to see me try. I didn't have to try to impress anybody with my praying. And I could look ridiculous all by myself. And if the rat came back to life? Well then I'd have a story to tell wouldn't I?!!

So off I went with a little excitement to find that dead rat.

Sure enough there it was (obviously it hadn't moved from it's place of rest) and it looked bigger than I remembered it to be. "Here goes", I thought, and crouching down I placed my index finger on the rat and began praying.

Now let me remind you that this was a very dead rat. It had that "I've been dead for a week" smell hanging about it, and there it lay on it's back. No life at all.

I prayed for a little while and then decided that I needed some Holy Ghost empowerment so off I went into tongues. I decided that I was going to give this rat half an hour of my time (I timed it). And so I prayed......

Nothing happened.

I looked at this rat again after the half hour was up and realised that this rat was not coming back! It was covered in flies, it had started decomposing and it's scary ratty teeth weren't twitching with any sign of life whatsoever!

So I stood up. Walked home. Washed my index finger.

And while nothing seemed to have happened that day, I really felt the smile of God on my life. I'm sure that He had a little giggle to Himself too. But the main thing was, I gave it a go! Little did I know that I would be praying for a dead body a couple of years later.

Was my praying for a rat in vain? I believe not. I believe that our faith can grow even when we can't see the outcome.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I hoped that day, when I practised on the rat. And in my spirit I know that one day I will see a dead body raised.

So if you've tried something new and failed, don't give up! If you remain faithful with little, God will give you more. Give something a go. Step out and hope for something supernatural. Let God increase your faith and smile on your life!


(No rats were harmed in the writing of this blog...)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Today I went with a friend to a local cafe (which will remain anonymous for the sake of what I am about to reveal!)

We stood in line to place our order. She asked me if I had ever tried one of their 'very berry, chocolate muffins' before. Then suddenly a scary memory flooded my mind and I wanted to yell at the top of my voice, "Don't do it! Don't do it, it's a trap!" But I witheld from embarrassing her in a public place and instead began to tell her the story...

When my husband and I were engaged, we visited this particluar cafe for an afternoon of coffee and catchups (as well as some much needed wedding planning, but he didn't know that!) We placed our order, "We'll have a mocha, a latte and two of those very berry chocolate muffins thanks."

Now anyone who is a coffee coniseur knows that a good cup of coffee takes time. So as we waited for our drinks I decided to have a little piece of my yummy looking muffin. I broke a mouthful off and to my amazement found a hair sticking out of the side of the muffin. "Ew gross, " I said and began to pull the hair out of the muffin.

I pulled...and pulled...and pulled....this was a long one! (I began thinking that the Muffin Man who lives down Drury Lane must be a woman or a hippie man with long hair). I looked up at my husband who had a look of disgust on his face. "Do you want me to ask them to replace it?" he said.

"No it's okay, it's just one hair." I said and proceeded to examine my very berry chocolate muffin a little more closely.

No sooner had the words come out of my mouth, when I saw another long hair sticking out of the bottom of the muffin. This one seemed to be curled into a spiral and was quite visible on the bottom of the plate.

"NO WAY! Check this out!" I said to him, and pulling the hair away, it revealed yet another long hair. We began to get the giggles at this stage. I mean how often does a person find two hairs (and two long hairs to be exact) in one meal?

Eating the muffin now seemed to be the last thing on my mind. I was quite fascinated by my unusual find and now I had the lady behind the coffee machine intrigued. I continued looking at my very berry chocolate muffin when a third hair appeared! And once again as I pulled at it, it was another long hair.

By now the coffee lady was just about dry wrenching and apologizing. She seemed more grossed out then we were and offered to replace the muffin. I accepted.

I stood there absolutely amazed with a picture in my head of someone mixing muffin dough in the early hours of the morning. Did they forget to tie their hair up? Did they not want to wear their silly 'must be hygienic and food safety is a must' hat that day? Did they hate their job and want revenge on their boss for some reason?

Whatever the deal was, I had pulled three very long hairs out of a muffin. And now I have renamed that muffin the 'very HAIRY chocolate muffin'. And it will remain that name FOREVER!

But then I began to think, "why have one hair when you can have three?" It made our afternoon so much more fun, despite the muffin replacement.

And it made me think on that verse:

"...but I have come so that you might have life, and life more abundantly.." Jn 10:10 (Jesus)

Life happens to us all the time, whether it's good, bad or ugly. Now while we all know that God is a good God, and gives good gifts to His children, bad things do happen to good people, and God seems to allow it for a reason.

While three hairs aren't really something to get all upitty about, other things like a horrible doctor's diagnosis, a car accident, or just some bad news, can really send you into a downward spiral - we must remember that God will never allow us to go through anything that He knows we can't handle (by His grace).

For in these things we find Him and we find His goodness. We grow. We learn lessons about the character of God and our character which usually needs major adjusting. And we come to realise that life cannot be lived to the full unless there is a mountain to climb, a season to grieve, or a time to allow Him to heal us.

Do you know the Muffin Man?...

(cheesy ending sorry! :))

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toes versus sky...

"The best view in the world" can be found in a tiny little South Island town called Kaikoura. A 5 minute walk uphill reveals a sight that cannot be explained with words. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and ocean wherever you turn, it literally takes your breath away.

This peninsula was a favourite spot in which Kate and I would always take our visiting friends. The walk up the hill was a total body workout, and everyone would complain, "ow my legs!", or "are we there yet?" But once they got to the top all the complaining stopped. The only sound you would hear would be the sound of waves breaking, wind through your hair and people trying to catch their breath.

Pictures would be taken, moments of silence would come, and they would often be found lost in His amazing creation.

Well this particular day stands out in my mind. Kate and I had met up with a friend and so off we went to take them up the peninsula walkway. We were all smiles on the outside, but for me there was a war going on in my spirit.

I was battling through a turmoil of emotions. Every weakness that I had seemed to be doing a little dance infront of me, and I found myself rushing up the hill, wanting to get the tour over with so I could go home and deal with myself. Ever felt like this?

So we got to the top of the hill and we hung about for a while. The usual "ooooohs" and "aaaahs" fell on my deaf ears as my battle seemed bigger than the joy of my friend (now how selfish is that!?)

I led the charge back down the hill. Now this hill is pretty steep with nothing to grab onto, so if you slip you could die! (Or if you rolled down that hill and landed on the rocks, you could be bitten by a pack of hungry seals.) So carefully and very thoughtfully, step by step, I walked down the dusty path. I became very aware of my feet. How they were placed. How slippery the path actually was on the way down.

And then God's voice suddenly pierced my heart and He whispered (as only He can): "Nina, look up. You're missing the view."

I knew that He wasn't only talking about the ocean and the sky at that point. He was telling me to take my eyes off of the battle I was in, and to look up to Him. And as I looked up in the natural, and as I beheld the beauty that surroundered me, it seemed that my steps seemed easier. The path although steep and winding didn't seem as overwhelming anymore. Instead I was greeted with a salty breeze.

Something happened in my spirit that day. I am often reminded of that moment. I want to encourage you who read this, that our weaknesses will always be there. Our failures. Our pasts. Our vulnerabilities. But God doesn't call us to embrace them or even focus on them. Yes it's good to have a healthy awareness of what they are, but whatever we focus on for too long becomes bigger in our lives.

We have the choice to look at our toes or to look to the sky.

"I look up to the hills
From where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
Maker of heaven and earth"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kid on a Leash...

I spent yesterday morning in town doing a few things that needed to be done. As I was walking through the outside mall area I passed a father with his little toddler boy attached to one of those kid leashes.

Now there are a few opinions about these things such as:

How cruel to put your child in one of these contraptions - they are not animals!


This parent has tried everything to keep this kid disciplined - this is the only thing that works!


What the?....

It made me think how quick we are to judge people on first impressions. I don't know the history of this toddler. Maybe he has run into the road before and nearly got hit by a grey van. Maybe he has got lost in a supermarket before. Maybe he has been kidnapped before. I just don't know what this family's story is.

This kid leash was there as protection as well as for discipline. And it made me remember that verse in Psalm 23: ..."Thy rod and thy staff will comfort me..." The rod was there to ward off the enemy, the staff was there to hook the sheep's neck and pull them back into the flock when they were going astray.

There was both protection and discipline coming from the Shepherd.

I think that sometime's we need to embrace our 'kid leashes' - whatever they maybe. The boundaries God has put on our lives. The different convictions he has impressed on us individually. The doors He has closed infront of us. Discipline isn't always fun. But it is for our utmost best.

He chastises those whom He loves.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shoulda Coulda Woulda Didn't...

A friend reminded me of this story I shared once upon a twice a few years ago at Zealchurch. So I thought I'd share it here for all of those people who can look back at a time in their lives when there was a 'shoulda coulda woulda, but didn't' moment.

Sigh, if only I could go back in time, but 'tsk tsk' I cannot....

I was an ordinary 5 year old living in South Africa, East London. We had a favourite dairy that mom and dad would take us to, to buy a treat or just the normal bread and milk. Now in South Africa it is not uncommon to see beggars and lame people at supermarkets asking for money. And on one dairy outing, I saw an old man in a wheelchair sitting right by the door of the shop. He had no legs, and just sat there the whole day.

My heart went out to him and I wanted to give him some money, so I started saving. I can't remember if it was a month's worth of pocket money or the generosity of my parents but I managed to put together about R5.00 (5 rand = about $1 these days).

Great! I had some money to give to this poor man and now all I had to do was get to the dairy. My master plan was to tell him that Jesus loved him, give him the money and then go.

So on our next trip to the dairy my grand mission of "give money to wheelchair man" had begun. I must say that I was nervous! I had never done anything this brave before and so on the way to the shop I rehearsed in my head how it would all go.

We arrived and sure enough there sat the old man. All alone. Thin as can be with a look of pleading in his eyes.

I sat frozen in my carseat.

I decided to just sit for a bit and psych myself up.

My family went inside the shop while I gathered all the courage I could muster.

I then decided to get out of the car. That would be the next big step.

I then decided that it would probably be better if I went into the dairy. That way I was closer to the man sitting just outside.

I went inside and joined my family.

The wheelchair man remained at his post.

I held my money in my little hand and then...........


That was my 'shoulda coulda woulda didn't' moment. I never saw that man again. I sometimes think "what if' I had gone through with my plan?" Could a little 5 year old change a man's life by a simple kind gesture? I'm sure there would have been an impact, but I'll never know.

I went to the dairy that day with the intention to give something away. And while I never did, I know that God saw my heart and my genuine concern for the 'wheelchair man'. Does God bless good intentions if we don't follow through with them? I'll leave that question open for your comments below.

I do know that now I am more obedient when I feel to give to others. Sometimes it's inconvenient. Sometimes I'm the one who goes without. But it's better to be obedient, then to sacrifice.

I read the story in Luke the other day about "Feeding the Five Thousand." And while this is such a well known story about the 5 loaves and 2 fishes feeding thousands of people, I saw something new.

Now I don't know if the boy who gave his food to Jesus had packed it to last him for the whole day. Maybe he was a big eater - 5 loaves and 2 fishes?!! My thoughts on this was "Man that seems like a lot of food for one individual, maybe he packed extra food that day with the intention to share it with someone?"

Just my thoughts anyway. But if I'm right about this, then this boy went with the intention to give. And when he gave look at the amazing outcome!

We can choose to live a life ready to share what we have. Ready to give. Or we can spend all our money on chocolate!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What the?

When I was younger, I used to absolutely LOVE getting the hicupps. It's a strange thing to love getting the hicupps, yes, because I am strange I've come to realise. God surprised me one day in this very unbelievable but true story...

My mom and I were walking through a shopping centre when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was one of those mother-daughter hangout days which I relished, and I remember that time vividly.

We were chatting away when I suddenly got the hicupps. "Yay!" I said with glee. Yes glee. I turned to my mom who had that "is this really my crazy offspring" look on her face, and I said with delight, "I'm going to pray and ask God if I can have the hicupps forever."

And so I did. I sent up my little faithfilled prayer, and the funny thing is, God heard my little faithfilled prayer - AND ANSWERED IT! For the next full hour those hicupps accompanied us into shops, and out of shops and I was so excited! (for the first 10 minutes of it.) Then I started freaking out with the thought that I would live a life of hicupps. I would be known as the 'hicupp kid' at school and I'd probably loose my friends cos I'd become a freak.

"The hicupps aren't going away!", I said to my mom with a worried look on my face.

"Well, ask God to take them away then." she said with a sparkle in her eye.

And so I did. And so He did. And the strange thing about that day (and you can ask my closest friends and family on this), is that I don't EVER get the hicupps. When I hicupp, I hicupp once or twice and that's it, done. One solitary hicupp and it's over. Now how's that for answered prayers?

I'll always remember that day as a lesson on childlike faith and the power of a fervent prayer (and then the power of a reversed even more fervent prayer.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good and clean and fresh tra la la...

So I've had the mega flu for about a week (Symon I repent and take back my 'man flu' comment. This thing has no mercy), and I'm thinking that I can't see a spiritual lesson in it yet (my eyeballs feel like someone is squeezing them and there's an annoying drummer going berserk in my head), so I've dragged up an incident to share which happened a couple of weeks ago.

There was the sun, and all my energy that day was put into doing a few loads of washing. I was getting so much satisfaction out of seeing clothes scraped off the floor that had been there for a week or two, that I decided that as long as the sun was out, the washing machine would keep going until all the washing was done. Yes I need to get a hobby or something.

I went in to hang out my second last load and noticed a wet laundry floor. As I glanced down I realised that I was not merely standing in a little puddle, but I had successfully flooded our laundry! (this brought back a memory when I flooded the laundry in Kaikoura - there was a bag of frozen steak sitting in the laundry sink. Mmmmm soapy steak.)

I looked round for the culprit only to find that it was a pair of my undies that must have fallen into the sink when I unloaded the last lot of clothes. Aw man! Dumb undies!

So the cleanup began. There were some little saviours I discovered. A pile of towels in the corner of the laundry had soaked up a lot of the water. The newspaper that was to be recycled also helped a bit, and I was grateful that the hallway carpet didn't get too soaked.

The mop and I became well acquainted that day, and I remember using this mop to help Tim clean up his flooded laundry when he was flatting. Now the score here people is 2 all. He has managed to flood a laundry twice and so have I. Sigh...it's not easy being a clumsy couple...but it sure makes life a little funner than usual. (By the way Tim has ripped off another handle in our new house, just thought I would mention that to all of his Nephilim fans! :)

The laundry was clean and sparkling. One job that I don't think we ever do is to clean the laundry. Funny that. But I learnt something very clear that day about - BLOCKAGES. It can be the little things in our lives like a silly attitude, a grudge, a stubborn act, a selfish motive, that if left for a period of time can cause a mess!

And it's the people that are always in our lives (just like those towels on the floor that we take for granted), that are there to help absorb the mess and prevent further damage - if we let them of course. The hard thing is, is sometimes we don't realise that there is a blockage until it causes a flood. That's why it's always a good thing to check the sink!

Search me and know my heart
Test me and know my thoughts
Point out anything in me that offends You
I want to please You

~I Want To Please You by Symon Drake (and the Bible)

Dumb undies...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Eye spy...

So the other day I accompanied a friend to the hospital. We have become 'hospital buddies' and now go with eachother in support. Well out of the two of us, I do the fainting and she loves pain, so we're a great mix.

It was her turn to go, and she said that she may need a driver as they were taking a look at her eyes and might be putting some drops in.

So off we went. She was excited. I was praying that even though it wasn't my turn that I wouldn't pass out.

Her name was called and we walked into the eye doctors office. We met the eye doctor who reminded me of a potato with attitude. No offense to this guy at all but he had no personality whatsoever! Each time he asked my friend to sit down or move her chin or lean back, he did so in robotic fashion. (Maybe that's what you get for operating those flash eye machines on a regular basis, I dunno...)

But seriously I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing. I then had a look around at his office and it all began to make sense to me. A very cold, plain office. The only pictures on the walls were that of the inside workings of the human eyeball. The most interesting thing in that room was the giant plastic eyeball sitting on his desk (I really wanted to touch it, but feared that Mr Personality might scold me or at the worst squirt me with eyedrops!).

And I thought to myself no wonder. This guys has no sunlight, no colour, no aquarium or pot plants to make him smile. That office was just plain old boring, and it had taken it's toll on this poor eye doctor.

You can tell alot about a person by seeing their bedroom, or favourite place of the house. And I guess a little spiritual lesson I get out of this, is what you surround yourself does effect your life. Whether it is music, people or any other outside influence, it will show up somewhere in your life.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Warm and toasty...

So I've been away at a conference this week, and while some amazing things happened for me and some of my family, once again I managed to embarrass us.

As some of my friends know, I seem to have a thing with fire alarms. I thought it was just restricted to Whangarei, but now I know for sure that I carry an anointing in this area.

On the first night of the conference we came back to our motel and started warming up some soup and making some toast. I popped two slices of bread in the toaster and didn't think anything of it. It wasn't long before I could smell burning toast and when I popped the toast up, sure enough, black charcoal was there to meet my gaze.

I noticed the dial on the toaster was set to it's maximum heat - I was not impressed! Then the familiar beeping of the room's smoke detector began. "Oh no!" I did my usual routine of running around like a mad woman and began opening doors and windows. Kate was already fanning the alarm with a tea-towel, my mum soon joined suit and I jumped up on a chair to join the fanning parade.

I'm sure God was having a little chuckle to Himself...

"Turn it off!" my mum said, so like a good step-daughter, that's exactly what I did. I reached up and twisted the alarm and (sigh) the beeping stopped. 3 seconds passed and then the worst thing EVER happened!

We were greeted with the deafening sound of the building's main fire alarm going off!!!

"Quick, switch it back on!" my mum said, but alas, my efforts to restore all sanity to the motel was in vain. And so we joined the whole building and evacuated to the carpark (keep in mind that this all happened around the hour of 11pm, so there were certain individuals standing outside in their pj's! Some pj's being scarier than others).

Kate owned up on behalf of us to the motel's manager who was running around trying to find the cause of the fire, and we all went back to our rooms. I must say that all the residents were quite forgiving - most of them being delegates from the same conference. God bless forgiving Christians.

My spiritual lesson which I think is quite fitting (and I'm sure Symon will agree with me on this) is that you have no idea how much you can influence others round you. Just like burnt toast can cause 30 people to leave a building, so can one life on fire cause those around you to leave their place of comfort.

"The Kingdom of God in you, is greater than the kingdom around you" ~ Bill Johnson

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Human Pin Cushion

I awoke in a daze. Above me stood a little lady holding my legs above my head. Next to her was her superior fussing over me with needles and band aides in hand.

Yes I had fainted - again.

You see, I hate needles. And I don't do well with bloodtests. It's a combination of childhood trauma, teenage drama and family life tragedy. These things come to try us, and I will not let the fear of needles get me down.

So I went to go get a routine bloodtest the other day. I prayed on the way "please don't let me faint, please don't let me faint." The vampire guy who did it was great. Of course I mean 'vampire' in the nicest of ways. He tried one arm but couldn't find a vein (I know that I definately have veins). He then tried the other arm and said to me, "just make a fist" (and by this stage I knew where I wanted to put that fist!!!). Again, he couldn't find a vein.

He then referred me to his other colleage friend, who I could tell really wanted to go on his lunch break. But I took a deep breath and again made a fist as I was told.

Again, no vein. This time my vein apparently was moving! Never knew I had super powers. Anyway, needles went in, needles went out, I bled, I bruised but with no success. I smiled and told the guy I would be happy to come back and try again next week. His advice to me was to drink alot of water. (How come no one tells you before you get treated like a pin cushion?).

It all makes sense - afterwards of course. Drink lots of water so the veins swell and can be found.

I love the thought of drinking heaps of water so the blood flow is better. It makes me think of our wonderful Holy Spirit and His living water. How badly we need to be filled on a daily basis, to have His flow working in and through us.

Maybe we wouldn't bleed, bruise and hurt as much if we seek him first before going about our day which could end up being a day of battle or a day of building.

"Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water..."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

aka Zena!

So back in highschool I played hockey.

I loved hockey because even though it was a team sport, you had permission to be a little bit more aggressive with the opposing team (or enemy as I looked at it!). I'm sure that as soon as I picked up my hockey stick, adjusted my shin guards, and put in my mouth guard that I turned into Zena the warrior princess! It wasn't often that I got to run after people and hit them with a stick, so I relished every game I got to play (this probably explains why I am like I am today).

Anyway, my position on the team was either a left-link or a back. I think I preferred being on defense as I get a kick out of protecting something or someone.

I remember a game several years ago. We were playing on a hockey field and not a turf so the going was tough. The game was nearing the end and both teams hadn't scored a single point. It was one of those incredibly frustrating games when you put your life on the line for your team and nothing seemed to be happening.

So there I was, soaked in sweat, tired from running round in a girly school uniform skirt, and frustrated that our team hadn't scored. Even though we were all over playing that game, whatever happened, there was no way that I was letting the enemy get past me to score a goal that day!

A brave girl ran towards our goal with the ball and as I was on defense that day she met me head on. I put my stick down, and being drained of all my energy I just stood there, with my stick on the ball.

She couldn't budge it. She hit the ball, she manourvered round the ball, but she couldn't get it out of my grasp. I was amazed as I wasn't actually doing a thing except standing my ground with my stick in hand.

The more the girl swung at me, the funnier it got. I started giggling as her face reddened with exassperation and desperation, and it seemed that the more I giggled the more she swung (at this stage I thought she was going to pop an ovary or something!).

The whistle blew and our game ended.

Even though no one had scored, I felt like I had conquered all, just by standing there.

Eph 6 "...and when you have done all, to stand."

I look back on that game and am encouraged as a Christian who goes through battles, that sometimes all God requires of us is to stand. To stand in our faith. To stand in His grace. To hold on to Him and just STAND.

So when you've done all; read the book, got prayer, got anointed with oil, gone to the conference, fasted and prayed, stuck scriptures up all over your home - just stand, and let God be God in your situation.

You may even be in a team of some sorts and while you've spent years fighting for that team's cause, nothing seems to be happening. My encouragement for you today is just put your stick down and stand your ground.

Learn to laugh at the enemy, because God has already won the game!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lessons from a 2 year old...

There's a 7 year old girl who I teach guitar once a week to and she is one of 4 other siblings. I've been asked at least 3 times to babysit those girls, but I've always had something on. Well, lastnight I had the opportunity of spending a few hours with them and had a glance into the life of their youngest sister named Katie, the 2 year old.

Now if I was wearing a hat, I'd take it off to any parent who has 4 kids or more (Symon and Kristy you are legends!). I must admit that I prayed all the way there before I got to the home, as I've witnessed first hand what this little 2 year old is capable of doing - yes she runs that household!!

So I arrived (with fear and trembling - but I hid it well cos kids can sense fear) and the eldest girl opened the front door for me. There they all were, kitted out in their pijamas, all cleaned up and nearly ready for bed.

I was told that little Katie didn't want to go to sleep just quite yet, but that I could try go put her down a bit later. The 5 year old took herself off promptly to bed after advising me that if they are hungry while mum and dad are out, they're only allowed to eat fruit or cheese! (I must remember that one for future reference).

The two oldest, one being 7, the other 9, were very relaxed and cruisy kids, so I wasn't too worried about them.

Well miss 2 made a grand entrance in her cute pj's - she was wearing a purple body suit which made her look like the most adorable blueberry ever (I could see what the parents were trying to do here...make me think she's all cute and innocent....mmmmm I see your plans Mr and Mrs).

After about 10 minutes of being in the house, little Katie was already sitting on my lap, showing me "Rabbit", her very much beloved toy puppet thing, which obviously goes everywhere with her, including her mouth. Ew. Poor Rabbit had holes in his arms and legs from her sucking the life out of him.

Anyway as the night progressed, I took little Katie off to her bed and we read stories. Well actually we read A story about 3 times. When she didn't settle down I tried to bribe her (as a desperate person does who knows nothing about parenthood) with another story if she goes to sleep. NOPE! She was not going to have a bar of it, and so little miss followed me out of her bedroom and back into the lounge where the other girls were.

The other two girls didn't seem to preturbed about the situation - they knew what this little mite was able to do to her babysitters! (It's times like these when you realise that sin is still in the world...)

I was relieved when the oldest girl came to help try and conquer a very tired 2 year old's battle. So off us 3 went, leaving second eldest in the lounge eating marshmallows. (Marshmallows are a fruit aren't they?) I stood in miss Blueberries room while her and her big sister had a showdown. Katie was crying and throwing a tantrum and I decided that I might as well give them some space and go to the loo.

I came out of the loo and what do you know? Big sister had conquered! Not only had Katie got into bed, but she was asleep! Sheeesh, she's good.

Of course I asked her how she did it and she told me that as soon as you get Katie's head to touch the pillow she gets drousy and falls asleep (again, another thing to remember for later.) So what I had failed to do earlier on was to actually make her lie down. If I knew that she would fall asleep easily that way then I would have tried to be a little more assertive.

Lesson learnt.

And my spiritual lesson out of this little situation was the fact that "He makes me lie down in green pastures..." Ever suddenly been 'made to lie down' by God? Sometimes your situation suddenly changes. Or you seem to hit a brick wall. Or you even get sick. Or maybe all your friendships seem to come to a grinding halt.

You're left thinking, what on earth's going on here?

And sometimes all it is, is God 'lying you down.' In other words, He has allowed circumstances to come to a complete standstill. Why? Because He wants you to stop and rest. He wants you to take a look at your life. He wants you to grab a new perspective from Him. A new vision. A deeper understanding of who He is in you.

And just like little Katie, we throw a tanty or we moan and kick and complain, because we want things our way! But our way is not the best way. And to give in to God means to surrender our stubborn will. To yield. To handover even the crowns we wear and place them at His feet.

"Be it unto me according to Your word
According to Your promises
I can stand assured
Carve into my heart
The truth that sets me free
According to Your word oh Lord
Be it unto me..."

Oh and marshmallows are NOT a fruit by the way....sugar rush not good....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Show and tell...

Okay this post may not be everyone's cup of tea/coffee/milo/bundaberg, but it is one worth thinking about.

My family and friends know that I love them. Why? Because I tell them on a very regular basis. In fact my husband and I say "I love you" at least 5 times a day! No exaggeration here. I never used to do this until my mother died.

I remember the last hug that she gave me when she sat in her hospice bed. It wasn't a normal hug. In fact it was a hug that hurt me, but I took it and didn't want to let her go. It was as if she was using her last ounce of strength to give me a 100 hugs that would last for the rest of my life on this earth.

A couple of days later, just before 4am, I watched as my mom took her last breath. It was just me and God in the room that moment and I got up and went over to her bed. I whispered "I love you mom". It was the last thing that I said to her before she passed away.

A very wise, old friend of mine told me that people tend to say amazing things about people at their funerals, but hardly tell them face to face. So true.

I had to answer a question the other night: "What is love?" (everyone else got the easy questions like "are you afraid of dying" and "what do you do when you get jealous?")

I had so many things going around in my head and of course when I'm put on the spot I tend to say things that sound good for the moment - later on my mind goes "why didn't you say this instead?" Just the way I work I guess! Talk now and think later.....duh...

So I guess this is just a challenge. Do the people around you know that you love them? Do they know that you want the best for them? Do they know that you are their biggest fan? Do they know that you believe in them?

God told me and my husband very clearly that we do not fight for what we believe in - we fight for WHO we believe in. A very powerful statement that has totally revolutionised the way we live our lives and treat people.

It's easy to assume that the people around us know how we feel about them. "But they know that I love them" is often a thought that crosses our minds. Some people only know that they are loved because they are told - ie their love language is words (other love languages include: touch, gifts, acts of service, spending quality time with them). If our love languages are one or more of the above then we can't assume that people just 'know' that we love them.

We must show and tell.

So now for some loving:

To my Jesus, my God I LOVE YOU.

To my husband Tim I LOVE YOU.

To my family Dad, Ruth, Kate, Jess and Raymond I LOVE YOU.

To my heroes Symon and Kristy I LOVE YOU.

To my special friends (you know who you are) I LOVE YOU.

We love Him because He first loved us. Now to love a world that doesn't love Him or us...!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Toilet humour...

So we've been living in our new house for just over a week now and I've discovered a few quirks about this old house:

-Our washing line squeaks like a rat coming off caffeine - probably cos it sits on a hill and is on an angle.

-Our front door likes testing our muscle strength - of cos Tim (the Nephilim) loves this cos he doesn't have a problem opening the door!

-We have this creepy downstairs basement, including a small hideaway which has been spray painted with Metallica and ACDC signs (don't worry I have great plans to turn this little room into a prayer room!)

-And this is the cruncher - our toilet has issues!

Yep our toilet has issues and it's turned into a blog!

Now this house is old and I was expecting a few little quirks but I'm sure that this toilet has a mind of its own. You flush, you go, and it decides to keep filling up with water and making that 'after flushing' noise (which in the middle of the night makes you wonder if someone in the house has the runs!)

So we called the plumber - cos plumbers fix toilets of course. He comes round, has a look, pokes a few things and flushes the loo. We both stand there staring into the toilet bowl waiting for it to do its thing.


He then looks at me (with that male "I know things that you don't cos I have a toolbelt" kind of look) and says that there's nothing wrong with our toilet and that the buttons might occassionally stick when we flush.

And of course the toilet was working cos the plumber was there. He walks out of the bathroom laughing and on his way out the front door he says "It's okay, I have to go to a place every Friday, cos their pipes only leak on a Friday."


So I go to test the loo and no it's not fixed at all! Back to it's naughty self all over again. It was just playing nice when the plumber was there.

I even tried to fix it lastnight after been given a washer from an elderely man who attempted to teach me all about the anatomy of toilets! (I'd rather be shopping honestly). Nope the old washer in the toilet was just fine and dandy and I could hear Mr Toilet (yep the toilet is a guy I've decided) laugh at me again! "You can't fix me, you can't fix me! Ha ha ha ha...."

Little does Mr Toilet know, that I'm going to call my dad in! Yep cos my dad can fix ANYTHING! Oh you wait Mr Toilet - you've got it coming to you!

So my lesson from this exhilerating experience is this my friends:

We have things in our lives that we can't fix. None of us are exempt here. Whether it's a hurt, a physical healing we need, an emotional pain or a relational issue - sometimes we can't fix these on our own. We call in a professional even like this plumber. And maybe it's a pastor, or a friend or even a counsellor or a doctor that comes to our aid - but to no avail.

We're left wondering. Will I always battle with this? Will this always be a part of my life? The enemy comes in with his lies and says "You can't fix this, you can't fix this! Ha ha ha ha...

But our father can fix anything! In fact I wonder why we don't go to Him first? Sometimes He allows us to exhaust every other means before we realise that it is only Him who knows how to fix us.

I love the words of that song we've been singing lately:

And I know that You're alive
You came to fix
My broken life...

Oh there's going to be a showdown in that bathroom - and I'm going to win!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I love the sun...

I see the sun
The sun sees me
God bless the sun
And God bless me

Okay here's another little childhood ditty (although it used to be sung to the moon, I've changed it for todays purposes). And no I didn't ACTUALLY sing to the moon, although that would explain a few things...

The other day I realised that around 3ish the sun hits our bedroom like a fly hits a windscreen! SPLAT - all over the place. I shouted with glee (yes glee) as my bed was dripping with sunshiny goodness. So as it happened - a little voice in my head (the one that tells me to go shopping) told me to go and lie on my bed and soak up that glorious sun. The other little voice in my head (the one that tells me to be more responsible and not go shopping) told me that I had tons of housework to do and that lying on my bed would be a waste of time.

Glorious sun....

Washing to fold....

Warmness and a sense of peace....

Put those cleaning gloves on....

Body cold, sun warm...

Warm your hands while you wash the dishes...

DISHES SMISHES!! I WANT THAT SUN ON ME!!!! So I gave in and basked like cats do on my yummy sunkist bed! Oh where have you been my whole life? This is soooo good for soooo many reasons.

I heard husband get home from work and I'm sure when he found me he thought, "Sheeesh, I work all day and this is what you get to do?" Of course I told him that the voices made me do it. But after about 10 minutes of intense sunbathing I soon began to get hot and a little uncomfortable in that sunshine. I'm sure that I was getting a good dose of vitamin D (you can also get vitamin D from eating oily fish but sunshine just seems the nicer choice).

"This is too much", I thought. Too hot. Too uncomfortable. Too much. So off the bed I hopped all red-faced with perspiration (guys sweat, girls perspire by the way) and it got me thinking about the glory of God...

One of my life's cries is "God show me Your glory" - it's been one of those prayers I often pray because I totally believe that the glory of God is life-changing and undenyable. And while I have found myself at times in that quiet place literally burning after asking God for His glory, I know that we have not seen who He really is just quite yet.

And like the glorious hot sun that is so inviting, I know that our flesh will only be able to handle so much of His glory before we say, "Too much God," or "I'm uncomfortable". Although it will be in that state that we change or at least see our need to change.

"And we will kiss the Son"...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tweet Tweet part II

I really didn't think that birds could teach me this much - and yes I do get out! But there's more and if you're reading this then obviously you're curious about these little feathered creatures.

Ever been stalked? How about followed? Stared at? Well these little birds are getting used to feasting outside my window and now when I'm in the kitchen or sitting at the table THERE THEY ALL ARE! All perched on the fence staring, waiting, twittering away. It's like an alien presence - you know? When you just have that feeling that someone is watching you? Yep. I'm just glad I never watched that old horror movie about those birds....

Besides being stalked and stared at by these little guys, I am actually quite flattered that they're getting used to me feeding them now. It's quite cute really to see them sitting there and waiting for a morsel to fall from the sky (or thrown from a window with very bad 'girl' aim! So what? I throw like a girl cos I am one.)

I think what I love the most about our current situation here in the back garden in the hood of Morningside, is their great expectation! They now expect to be fed. They come hungry. They've stopped their normal bird schedule because they want something from me. And it makes me want to feed them even more than before because I know that they've come for it. I want to start throwing out all sorts of goodies, not just bread, but yummier stuff, cos I want them to be full and puffy when they attempt to fly away after feasting.

And yes this is God's lesson to me and you about expectation. If I feel this way about feeding little birds every day, can you imagine what God feels for us when we come with an excitement and an expectation?! Wow. I believe He wants to give us so much more than what we expect. So much more than the usual 'manna' or 'daily bread' that we get used to.

My question for us then is are we asking God for more? Or have we settled for the norm in our prayer lives, in our Bible reading, in our worship?

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" Eph 3:20,21

Tweet tweet indeed....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tweet tweet...

Well Nana Nina's devotionals are back (after moving into a new house which hasn't got the phone working yet! COME ON RICHARD!!)

So I learnt a life lesson the other day while peering out of my kitchen window. I've decided not to waste food, but use it either as compost, or of course to feed the hungry birds outside my window. I've discovered at least three different kinds of birds and they all like bread (well mouldy, crusty bread, but they don't know that! Dumb little cute birds....)

Okay so I threw a whole heap of bread out the window, some on the grass and some right by the window, and then I waited.......

After a little while there was a bird party happening on my back lawn! I watched in wonder as my new little feathered friends sat on the wooden fence and looked at the bread. I didn't get it? There was so much food there for them but they just sat there on the fence!! What's wrong I thought?

I then remembered that the the tenants beforehand had a cat!

Oh, it all makes sense now! These birds were used to sharing the hood with a feline. No wonder they didn't want to move. I wanted to tell them that it was okay. That it was safe. That there was nothing to worry about. That I wouldn't hurt them. That this was a safe place to be and that I wanted them to come! But I can't speak bird (even though I try, believe me. My neighbours by now think I'm a nutter!)

So I stood there and watched them, and thought to myself, "am I like this God?" Am I afraid of what I think is still there (old fears, previous failures, things I can't control?) And just like I wanted those little sparrows, miners and wax-eyes (aren't I smart to name three kinds of birds? Yeah I know...) to come and feast - so does our wonderful Father, want us to come and feast. To know that it's safe. To know that the 'cat' won't hurt them, cos He is near. To know that with Him there really is nothing to worry about!

I continued to watch and one little brave sparrow took a dive and started devouring. The other birds followed suit. It only took one to take the plunge before the others felt they could do the same. That little sparrow made me think of our great pioneers who we have in our midst. The ones who when no one else is brave enough to start something, or to dive in when there may be danger or risk - DIVE in for the sake of their peers!

Man I love these birds!

"Aren't you worth more than the sparrows....." ~Father, God

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little boxes...

A song that came back to memory tonight:

Little boxes on a hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same
There are red ones
There are green ones
There are blue ones
There are yellow ones
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same

A cute fun song back in the day, but looking at the words now it kinda has a more sinister meaning - "And they all look just the same".

I've been packing boxes over the last couple of days for our big move this weekend. And I've come to realise that you can label your box with a big blue pen, you can pack it right, stack it right, transport it right, but you still don't really know what's inside that box until it's opened! "Ooh be careful, don't drop that one - it's fragile! I think it's fragile. Does it have fragile on the box? I'm sure I packed glasses in there. Or was it books...."
Yes even me, organisational queen (according to husband), still can't figure out what I've put in there!!!!!

So back to that creepy song.....

Have YOU ever felt like you're in a box? Like everyone has you figured out? They've put a label on you. They know your likes or dislikes. What turns you on or off. But all they see is the box. The red, green, blue or yellow colour made out of the same stuff as them.


I wonder sometimes what we'd all look like if we were turned inside out. Spirit and soul on the outside for a change - now that's an interesting concept! Your dreams, your fears, your hopes, your failings - all there for the world to see. Yikes. But then, also reality and freedom rolled into one.

Have you ever looked straight into a persons eyes when talking to them? You can see so much more than just eye balls and lashes. Sometimes you catch a teeny glimpse of wonder. A flash of a dream. A glance from a miracle. I dare you to search deeper than the 'boxes' you see around you. What's inside is more valuable and so much more precious than anyone will ever realise - although, God has already figured that one out!

My other thought on this, is to let people in. Obviously you can't go around having a deep and meaningful with every single person you talk to! In fact please don't do that!! But what I'm saying is, let YOU be the person they see. Not the 'label' on the box. Not the humanity that encloses the masterpiece, but the real you. Your vulnerability can bring freedom, healing and wholeness to others. And it also gives people permission to do the same.

Little boxes on a hillside...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up close and personal.

So I clean for this elderely couple up the road from us. And when I mean clean - I mean CLEAN! When I was interviewed for the job I was told that I'd be doing some vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the shower and basins and a bit of ironing. I thought "Sweet! I can do that", and the pay is great for 3 hours of work.

So I turn up for my first day and the cute little lady shows me round and fills me on the way she likes the mopping done. I'm standing there thinking, "yay I don't mind mopping floors, it will be done quickly" when all of a sudden her words interupt my thinking and she says, "hands and knees with a sponge, is that okay?"

I say "yep sure that's fine", but meanwhile I'm REALLY thinking "you have GOT TO be kidding me!" Her next words brought a little comfort, "I've got knee-pads for you to use". Oh yay. So here we go. Not just one floor to 'mop' (which for me mop now stands for Mean On Purpose!), but there are four floors for me to do.

After a month and a bit of cleaning for this couple I've got the hang of sponging down a couple of dirty floors, and I've even learnt how to iron properly. I forgot to tell them that I don't iron. I just put Tim's work shirts in the hot water cupboard and WALA. Warm and only slightly creased - sweet!

So I was on my hands and knees today as it was cleaning day. And I started thinking about sin. Well actually I first started thinking about being Cindarella cleaning for her wicked stepmother, and then I got more spiritual and thought about Joseph being a slave to Potiphar, cleaning his floors.

But back to the thought about sin....For the last couple of weeks I've felt the hand of God heavy on me. Can you relate to this? When sometimes you almost dread being in His presence cos you know He is dealing with you? You can't quite put your finger on what He is doing but You know He is doing something there? Yes I see that hand thank you!

Now the house I clean is already a clean house. I mean it's like brushing your teeth for the third time in a row. So I actually have come to enjoy cleaning it every Tuesday. I was thinking about our lives, and how sometimes we think our 'house' (our heart) is clean, and sometimes we believe that if we were any more righteous than we are we might get caught up into glory with Enoch! But I've come to realise that even the cleanest of houses still have dirt. And it's not until you're down on your hands and knees that you see the grime and there it is - right infront of your nose.

But my point is that you have to get down on your hands and knees. Up close and personal. When we humble ourselves before God, we are then able to see our sin for what it really is, because we allow Him in our vulnerability to do so.

Rod's comments last Sunday really took hold of me. When we ask for the fire of God, He is going to purge us. Sometimes it hurts to see the state of our hearts and I sometimes come away thinking "ew, is that really in me?" I'll never sponge a floor down again without thinking about this!

But the best bit is when God comes and washes over the dirt and (like the mopped floors) leaves a clean, shiny surface that He can see Himself in.

Thank you God for knee-pads...

(Did I mention the fact that I got to clean with a toothbrush today? Yep, I'm sure there's some revelation in that one...)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What NOT to wear...

So some of you have seen my fashion fo-par (spelling?) on Paisley Jade's sight. Bright pink socks with orange flowers, underneath a black and white paisley wrap dress (Kristy wanted to cut it up and make some bear or something out of it...MY dress!), and 'oh yuck' the bowling shoes - which by the way must have been designed by a man cos they are NASTY! Don't they realise that green and brown don't go with everyones outfits? Now black would be a cool colour for bowling shoes. Maybe I'll design some cos come on, they are EEEEEERRRGGGGGLLLLY!

Anway as we do with our blogs I've noticed, alot of our practical life experiences usually turn into some amazing spiritual insights. So here is mine which include my socks. Yes socks can bring revelation to your life. Just open up your hearts here people.

My socks which I probably would never show in public were (for the record) worn under my boots (which double as a weapon by the way, and no, I do not own a motorbike). So no harm done. No one can see my bright pink froggy socks because I was wearing boots thank you very much!

So we go to 10-pin bowling to bond, as we do. And the boots come off, and the socks stand out like a sore thumb. Blend it with those 'make me gag' bowling shoes and WALA! Fashion disaster from Na'am. "No ones supposed to see these!" I'm thinking, but what can you do? The game continues.

So my thought for the day is, when our situation changes, our true colours show. Sometimes when things get tough or hard, what is REALLY in our heart comes out whether we like it or not! The outer layer comes off, and we show who we really are. And sometimes it's good. And sometimes (like these socks) it's bad.

Thankfully God wants us to come to Him just as we are. With our issues, with our heartaches, with our attitudes - just us. Isn't His love just amazing? I know I was judged for wearing those socks (sniff sniff). And I'm beginning to realise more and more just how conditional our love is towards eachother. Someone stuffs up, or hurts you and your attitude and 'love meter' drops towards them.

But God's love is unconditional. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died on the cross for us!" Wow. It blows me away to think that even while our backs were turned towards Jesus and all that He offered, His love has never changed towards us.

He loved us first. Socks and all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Outta here...

So I was lying in bed a couple of mornings ago when I hear this, "OH MY GOSH!!!!!"

My darling was in the bathroom having a moment. I'm wondering what on earth is going on in there? All he's meant to do is take a shower. Nothing technical, nothing too dramatic, just shower that's all.

So his "Oh my gosh" episode continues and while I'm lying there wondering, his exclamations grow in volume and intensity. (Let me remind you at this stage that I am the calm one in the relationship. It takes a lot to rattle me, so I find amusement at my husbands expense!).

"What did you do?" I say, still wondering how a simple shower can turn into chaos.

"The towel rail has just come off." So I go to have a look, and sure enough Mr has somehow ripped the left side of the towel rail off from the wall. Okay here comes an instant flashback from our Waipu holiday. I thought we were only into breaking other people's things. Apparently not.

"The towel was all bunched up in the one side so I just pulled it, and it came off."

"Of course." I said, examining the damage.

So we can't fix it. We're musicians. (This was a thought I have had many times before we got married by the way. None of us are fix-it type people. At least we know people.)

Okay lets see. Well the broken towel rail can go along with the cupboard handle that has come off which goes along with the front door that doesn't open or close properly which goes with the toilet door that sticks which goes with the two rooms which don't have curtain rails which goes with the tv which doesn't have an aerial which goes with the fire alarm we can't reach which goes with the door which we can't fit most furniture through which goes with our garage which we can't fit our car into.......

Nice....I'm adding it to my collection of why I want OUTTA HERE!

Needless to say, it has been a rather nice area to live in. At least we have a roof over our heads, so thank You God!

Can't wait to watch the guys hoist our furniture off the balcony again. Yep I'm serious! Will have to take pictures of that one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do you know who you REALLY are?

I knew someone once who wasn't afraid of failure. He was afraid of succeeding! How ironic is that? I then realised that he was not the only person who felt like this. I used to fear succeeding, because I thought that once I was in a place of success that I would fall from it and that I wouldn't be able to rise again. I am still shrugging that one off, but it does make me wonder just how many more people battle with 'being' who they truly are.
Have a read of this awesome quote from South Africa's president Nelson Mandela:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It’s our light - not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, “who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you.
We are born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."
It really made me think when I read it a few years ago about who we really are in God. I believe that the church is coming into a new freedom in Christ. As revival comes nearer, God is challenging our hearts on some very deep and personal issues. It is time for the church to realise who she is and what she is capable of doing when she steps into her rightful authority that God has given her.
Goodbye fear. We've have enough of you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daddy knows...

God has a funny way of speaking to us sometimes. Here's a story that hugely encouraged me yesterday, and I hope it encourages you too.

I was having a shower and thinking about the big day ahead when out of the blue God reminded me of a childhood experience:

Us 3 girls each had a bike, and one afternoon dad took us to our school yard to help us learn how to ride our bikes without training wheels. So off we went with high hopes and expectations - I was 8 of course. Anything can happen when you're 8!

After a little while of trying to balance, dad holding the bike seat and giving me a push, I got over my speed wabbles and off I went! I was riding my bike all by myself. I was so excited and couldn't wait to go home and show my mom what I could do.

As soon as we got home I pulled my mom outside and told her to watch me. I couldn't wait to see her face! I hopped back on my bike but couldn't balance. Over and over again I assured her, "I can do it, I CAN do it. Just watch me, just watch me, I can ride my bike." But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get the hang of it.

I was so upset and frustrated with myself. Of course my mom said, "It's okay I know you can do it, you can show me again another day," trying to re-assure me. Then the thought occurred to me. Daddy saw me do it! He knows that I can ride my bike.

And that my friends is what God is saying to you and to me. He knows. He knows what we are capable of. We don't have to strive and try and prove ourselves to anybody else. So let's try and remember that when we are having those days when we feel inadequate or faithless.

Daddy knows...

Sweet muffins from Heaven!

Well Kristy and Arna, you girls have inspired me to do some baking. I don't often bake but when I do I really enjoy it!

So, if you ever get to eat one muffin before you die, then this is THE muffin. White chocolate and date muffins. Wow. I had a baking sesh with a good friend of mine a week ago and she shared this amazing recipe with me. So yesterday I needed a distraction from the thought of having to preach, so into the kitchen I ventured! And wala....

The amazing thing about these muffins is that the white chocolate caramilizes on the outside of the muffins and goes all sticky! I know! Can it get any better than this?

Caution: You can only eat ONE of these muffins in a sitting. If you try to eat another you WILL throw up (or in an extreme case have a lot of gas - there are dates in these after all!) Very rich. Very deadly if you overdose.

So go on give it a go. Its just the basic muffin recipe, and then you chuck a whole heap of cut up dates and white chocolate buttons. And because it is a heavier muffin (full of daty goodness) it won't rise as much, but that's okay, we don't judge - we leave it up to our tastebuds!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tarewa Road - here we come!

Well miracles still do happen and some of them come in the shape of houses!

For ages we've been looking around for another place to rent. Something cheaper so we can save and pay off loans (Tim's loans of course - as I went up the aisle DEBT FREE! I just want to add that piece of information. But then he is in a profession, and I...am not...)

Anyway, we needed something close to town like in Maunu or Morningside or even Raumanga but just couldn't seem to find anything that we could afford.
On our weekend away Tim and I decided to bless someone financially (see peps - giving is go great!), and almost as soon as we walked through our front door the phone rang.
"It's Wyn here and I'm working for a mate in his house in Tarewa Road. They're looking for tenants are you interested?"
First of all I thought this just sounds too good to be true. And then I heard the asking price and yep it was more than we are paying now, so immediately my brain said 'no.' I then had the notion (I get these every now and then, sometimes they hurt) that if we had another flatmate we could sooooo live there. And we do....no prizes for guessing who.

So HALLELUJAH! and a dance of joy later, we pile into the car and go see the place. It's an older home but the atmosphere is homely and the landlords are busy painting it and doing some repairs. It has an open fire place and a massive lounge, not to mention two separate garages and heaps of storage space down below. It even has a lemon tree! Now that's a bonus!

So God is once again the hero of the day. He is faithful and He looks after His kids - even the ones who break other peoples stuff and nearly burn down their kitchens!
Now Tim can walk to school....tee hee....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waipu. Why not?

A weekend away - YAY!
My darling and I decided to 'disappear' for the weekend, so to Waipu we ventured. We have realised over the last year or so that we are one of those 'clumsy couples.' It seems that no matter where we go or where we stay or who we hang out with, we are bound to break something, embarrass ourselves, or cause bodily harm to eachother - by accident of course.

So we stayed at a lovely little bach. And on Tim's first shower, he managed to scold himself with hot water, jump out of the shower in shock and proceed to grab the towel rail and rip it from the wall in an attempt to steady himself by not revealing all to the elderley neighbours! (The shower being outside and all). Meanwhile I was wondering why his shower seemed so short and there was no singing accompaniment...

I of course nearly set a smoke alarm off by burning our french toast one night. Not wanting the alarm to scare our hosts I naturally (and normally) ran around like a mad woman opening windows, sliding doors and putting on fans. I made sure I had a towel nearby incase I needed to fan the smoke away from the alarm. Tim being in histerics not helping!!! (According to husband I have a 'thing' with smoke alarms). Whatever....

And out of everything we could have left behind, I left Tim's toothbrush! How on earth did I forget that?! It was right next to mine! Guess he needs a new one anyway.

To be continued...