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.