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