Changing Colour of Our Leaves

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As a child growing up in a colder climate area I remember our next door neighbour’s driveway was lined with Liquid Amber trees. I loved these trees, particularly in Autumn as I watched their leaves turn from green to orange to red before dropping off and leaving bare branches ready for a fresh growth of lush green leaves in spring. I always find myself each Autumn seeking out the few Liquid Amber trees in the area I live now,  being a warmer climate area there isn’t as many, so I can once again watch the leaves change colour and to take in the beauty of my favourite tree.

At times our walk with Christ can be like the changing colours of these trees. We start out as strong excited Christians, full of fresh green leaves spreading our love to others just like the leaves of the trees spread shade in the summer sun. But then life gets in the road and hard seasons come and God challenges us as we learn to depend on him. Our ‘leaves’ start to get tested and our colours change as we learn to seek God. Old habits and ways begin to dry up and fall away, just like the leaves of the tree become brittle and drop to the ground to be blown away by the wind. In the end all that is left is the tree totally exposed of bare branches.

Once our brittle leaves have fallen off and God has blown them away, we too are left with exposed bare branches. But the good news is that just like my favourite tree; our bare branches will again grow lush green leaves, leaves filled with Gods love and compassion ready for us to spread over the people we meet. Leaves that have learnt to seek God and depend on him, at all times. Leaves that are strong and healthy.

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My encouragement to you today would be to let God change your colours and blow away your brittle leaves, be brave and show your bare branches because God will replace your brittle leaves and bare branches with strong lush green leaves as you as seek and trust in him through all seasons of life.

Why I Won’t Cry This Mothers Day

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Today’s is Mothers Day, and for many women it can bring up all types of emotions. For some it’s a day of love and happiness, for others it’s a day of remembering. For some mothers the day is a day of mourning, to remember a child that has died, or one, they no longer have contact with.

Some think about the mother they wish they had had, upset at being let down by a mother that just didn’t mother them the way other mothers did with their children. For others the lack of a child in their life is just to upsetting for a day like today, so they tend to avoid Mothers Day altogether.

Then there are many like myself, who no longer have a mum here on earth. My mum died 5 years ago this October, and yes the first few Mothers Days after her death where hard and upsetting, however today I will cry no more.

Some may read this and think, “how heartless”, but no I’m not being heartless at all. I have just come to realise that yes I miss my mum everyday, but that’s my point. I miss her EVERY day, not just on Mothers Day. I think of my mum everyday, not just on Mothers Day.

I have felt guilty at times because there seems to be this idea that I should be sad on Mothers Day and that it should be a really hard day for me. But I just don’t feel that, I have 2 wonderful boys of my own, who love me very much, why would I want to be sad on this day, when I have them. Then I think what would my mum want me to be today?. I can confidently say she would want me to be happy, in fact she would probably say something like ” Christina, why are you sad, look at my grandsons, don’t waste your special day with tears over me, just keep me in your thoughts and rejoice, be thankful for the blessing of your boys”.

There will be some that won’t understand my thoughts, and that’s ok, we all see things differently. But for me, I’m totally okay with not being sad on Mothets Day, it’s taken me nearly 5 years to get to this point. It doesn’t mean I don’t love mum, what it does mean is that I’m at peace with my feelings, my mum knew I did and always will love her, she would be happy knowing I was happy, she never was one to make a fuss about things.

So there wasn’t any tears this Mothers Day, just quiet reflections about my mum I miss, my mum I love, and a hope that she would be proud of the mum I have become!

Forgive Me Father….

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Forgive me Father for I have gossiped…..

Yes that was me two days ago, when God very clearly convicted me on some behaviour I had displayed with a couple of friends. God showed me not once, not twice but three times in the few days that followed just how I had sinned.

I had had a couple of rough weeks, a few things had happened that left me frustrated, hurt and in a very defensive mood. My Mumma hat was firmly on and I was going to fix this problem my way. So, to a couple of friends I vented loudly about how frustrated I was, what I believed needed to happen and how I was going to have my say about it all, I also decided to tell my friends everything else that was wrong and how it should be fixed. Oh yes I was on the war path.

Sadly though I was so busy having my say, that I failed to see that I was now dragging two other people into my sin. Two people that I’m sure didn’t want to spend their time listening to my problems and how I was going to fix it all. Two people that I love dearly, but I had somewhat betrayed our friendship and had put them in a place I’m sure they didn’t want to be.

But like the loving God he is, he gentle prompted my spirit showing me the error of my ways and gave me the opportunity to seek forgiveness. Once I had done that, I emailed my friends, told them of my conviction and let them know I was happy to take the blame for getting this ball rolling, through my own selfish wants. I needed to put this right, I needed my friends to know that I was sorry, that I value their friendship and that it was my fault we got so off track. I’m sure Jesus must of wept as he listened to me and the words I was saying, but he is gentle and forgiving, and showed me how much better I am  then the behaviour I displayed.

Words can build others up or they can cut others down. I have known this for a long time, but this experience has showed me just how easily you can get sucked into using words for gossip, words that cut and pull down. This is not what God wants, and this is not what I want from my life. This is something I will be taking a whole lot more serious from now on. I want my friends to hold me accountable if I start to get off track again, I don’t want to head down the wrong path.

I have had several people comment how God has given me the gift of words, the ability to speak from the heart, use my words for good. I can see now how very special that gift is and how I need to treasure that gift, using it to lift up, not put down. This experience has been a lesson well learnt, one that has humbled, one that has opened my eyes.

So from now on I’m going to try my hardest to use my words wisely, I know it won’t always be easy, but it needs to be down. I’m not about to waste my gift of words, I’m going to use it the way God intended me to…… by using words that lift up!

The Journey So Far

It’s nearly half way through Lent, which for me means I’m nearly half through my self imposed no (or at least very, very little) Facebook usage ban. It’s kinda funny though as I will need to get on Facebook later to share this….but I think that can be excused!

Each year I try to Lent something, I feel as a Christian it’s important to ‘give up’ something for 40 days, I mean Jesus gave up his life for me so really 40 days is no big deal. Normally I would take the easy option, no wine for 40 days, no chocolate for 40 days, something that really isn’t that hard. This year however God has been on my case about giving up something that is going to be more of a struggle.

I have heard the audible voice of God only on a few occasion, once he said “fill up the baptistery, you’re going to need it” this made no sense to me at the time, but I did as he asked, and well you guess it, that night at church a young girl was baptised, clothes and all. So I figured when I very clearly heard God say “give up Facebook” I better pay attention.

The last few weeks has indeed been an interesting journey, at first this no Facebook challenge wasn’t really that hard, but as the time has gone on it certainly has been a little more difficult. I never really realised how much I have depended on social media to get information, but it is teaching me some things about myself I had forgotten.

For instance, I had forgotten how much I like to cook, so my family has had a few extras to eat over the past week. Tonight my sister and her husband are coming over for tea. Normally I would take the easy way out and have a BBQ, but tonight we are having Chilli 17350919_10210346981523365_1836070724_n[1]Con Carne, believe it or not I have never made this, I have always been to ‘busy’ to look up a recipe, go buy the ingredients etc. But not tonight, it’s slowly cooking away in the slowcooker and I must say it smells pretty good.

I’ve got my craft stuff back out and I’m happily making candle holders for our next women’s event. I sort of nearly set the table cloth on fire at the last one, so I figured I’d better make something to help not do that again. But I’m really enjoying just the quietness as I use my God given talents.

The biggest thing though I am learning is I really have a passion for connecting with other women and doing life with them. I’m excited that the last women’s dinner saw many women relaxing and having fun. I’m excited to be planning, along with some other ladies the next one. I really don’t care if we have 1 or 100 women come along to the next one, what I care about is that the women who do come get a chance to leave the stresses of everyday life behind for a few hours and just relax. 16651774_10210346981683369_2086798525_n[1]

So how does giving up Facebook show me all this? It’s easy really, by not sitting scrolling through a screen where the time can pass in the blink of an eye, it lets me focus more on what God puts in front of me. It may be as simple as an idea for a candle holder, or listening to my spirit has he directs my decisions. It’s re-directing my priorities and writing a blessing for a friend in need, instead of reading the latest bit of Hollywood gossip. It’s taking the time to sit and be still and letting God talk to me, instead of wasting time staring at a screen then hurriedly making a couple of quick prayers.

Will my ban last after Lent?, realistically no, but what will change is how much time I spend scrolling through my social media. I am determine to not waste this time and the lessons I have learnt. I don’t want to refill my head with the junk I have worked at getting rid of, I don’t want to sit down at 10am and next thing I know it’s midday and all I’ve done is stared at a screen. I’m enjoying getting back to basic and I plan to keep it that way.

 

 

BRAVE

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For the last two years in January I have spent time in pray to discover my one word to which I will live by for the year. Last year it was rest, and I think I did an okay job at living it out.

This year my word didn’t come in a time of prayer, this year it just happened. Last year I attempted to engage in what I strongly believe is an area of outreach and minisrty God has lead me to. But it didn’t quite happen the way I planned and it left me some what disillusion and defeated.

After having several people ask me when I was going to try again and having some people willing to help, I found myself gaining the courage to give it another go. It was at this time, I heard the reassuring voice of God say to me “Be brave Christina, this year I want you to be brave”.
So there it was my word for the year was going to be ‘brave’.

Brave is a big word, it’s not one you can hide from, or make up a reasonable excuse as to why it’s not working out to well. I mean really I can hardly say I was too this or too that to have time to be brave. I’m either brave or I’m chicken, end of story.

So just what has stopped me being brave in the past? I thought about this and I believe it has been a number of things. Fear, lazyness, happy to go with the crowd, lack of true commitment, all these things I have known for ages but have conveniently ignored them.

I think my biggest one is fear, so just what is it that I’m so fearful of? I have been giving this some serious thought over the past few days and I’ve come up with a short list.

Firstly it’s a fear of faliure, just say it doesn’t work, just say it’s a flop, what if people don’t like it. I have plenty more ‘just say fears’ but I think you get the picture.
Secondly a fear of looking stupid, people may laugh and make fun of my choices the way I live my life, and
Thirdly, a fear of trust. Perhaps God hasn’t got this right, maybe God doesn’t see the money I need to pay the bills. Maybe I should trust him 95% of the time but keep that 5% to myself……just in case. Yes it was becoming real clear why ‘brave’ was my word for the year.

So how do I plan to live out my word? Well clearly fear is a problem and I can’t start to be fearless if I don’t start to trust. So the other day out in the open with nothing to hide behind, I gave God 100%, and honestly it felt good but it also was scary and I’m going to have to work hard at keeping it 100%, but I do believe it will be so worth it. I feel I’m going to have to put all things to prayer, if I’m going to be brave well I’m going to need Gods help, so I plan to spend alot more time talking things over with him and listening to his answers. I think this is a good starting point.

I’m sure as 2017 goes on God is going to show me many areas the  I will need to be brave, fear less and trust more. The challenges ahead will be an adventure, I can guarantee that. But isn’t that what life is all about? My job now is to be ‘brave’ trust God, and his plans where every that may lead me.

 

Living With Less

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Most people at the end of each year tend to reflect on the year gone past. What could they change?, what will stay the same? and just where has the time gone!

I have found myself doing this over the past few days, having ended one of the busiest years we have had in a long time, with lots of changes and milestones for both our boys, I have sat and wondered just how did we get through it all. By the last couple of months of 2016, I found myself almost running on empty and I still had Christmas to go. My house was a mess, there was ‘stuff’ everywhere and everybody wanted or needed something. There was still plenty to do at work, and although I love my job, my family, my friends, I would of given my right arm to run away and hide, even if it was for a few moments.

With this in mind and after watching an amazing documentary on ‘Minimalism’ my approach to 2017 is going to be a whole lot different. This isn’t going to be one of those New Year resolutions, to lose weight, get healthy, exercise more….although that would probably be a good idea too 🙂 No this is going to be a life change, it’s time I learn to live with less, have less distractions and learn to take a simpler approach to life. I mean really, do I need so much stuff?

So last night my new way of living began. I sat and unsubscribed to heaps of emails. I was getting around 50 emails a day from various places, all of which 99% of the time I would just delete without even looking at them. The emails I kept I changed to only getting them weekly, if that was an option. In the next couple of days I will spend time cleaning up my work email, something I haven’t done for at least 2 years. I know this is going to take time but I’m determined to get it sorted.

This morning I tackled my walk-in robe, by the time I had finished I had two very large garbage bags full of clothing , shoes, handbags etc ready to donate. I found a pair of jeans I have been hanging onto for 20 years, why do I need these? I am seriously kidding myself if I ever thought I would fit into them again. My robe looks neater, my draws are tidy and I can actually see what items I kept.

Next on my list will be my kitchen, I have cupboards full of bowls, containers, pots, pans, cake tins and more that never get used but take up so much space. Why do I need to hang onto this stuff? I haven’t used it for years, so I doubt I will use it any time soon. I plan to slowly work my way through our house and sort out what stays and what goes. Generally I’m not a hoarder, however as the years have got busy with things I felt were important, keeping on top of the clutter has just become harder. I’m hoping by getting it all sorted it will be much easier to control.

So just what am I hoping to gain from my new way of living? Well there are a few things. Firstly I’m hoping that if I’m more organized, I’ll be less stressed and more at peace because there won’t be ‘stuff’ all over the place. Secondly my hope is less stuff will equate to less cleaning and housework, which will mean more time for fun. But mostly I’m hoping to learn to depend on God more to provide the things I need..not want..but need.

You see I’m also taking a pay cut this year, so less money to pay the same living expenses. Where in pervious years my wants and needs became a little confused, I don’t have the money to do that this year. I really need to start and think hard about whether an item is a need or just a want that will end up at the back of a cupboard never to be seen again. I will need to 100% trust God to provide my needs, this is something I am not good at doing, but really want to change.              83b92663107819f3044f27e23f9853ff1

I’m very determine to get this right, I’m determine to start this journey with a clean slate, rid of all the distraction and stuff that is just taking up space. I believe if I start with a clean slate it will make it easier to change my way of living, which will hopefully help me see clearer, be happier, think differently, and trust God more.

Feel free to join me on this journey, why not make a start today to reduce your stuff, feel the freedom of letting go, and sorting out just what really is important in life.

 

‘Switch Off’

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I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Facebook at the moment. I’ve often wondered what Facebook would look like if people really posted what life was like, both the good and bad. I figure it would go something like this:   Just had a fight with the wife, another boring day at the office, gosh my family drives me nuts, anybody want to buy my kids? I’ve had enough.

Honestly I don’t want to read all the bad stuff on Facebook, because there are many things that just shouldn’t be posted on social media. I think however it’s good to remind ourselves that Facebook at times may not be depicting  what someone’s life is really like. It’s pretty easy to read all the posts about wonderful holidays, relationships that just seem perfect, children that never do anything wrong etc, and feel you just don’t measure up. You have to be careful to not start and compare your life with someone else’s.

I read an interesting article a while back that was saying that no matter how many Facebook ‘friends’ you have it still doesn’t fill the void of a real relationship. Sure you may talk over the web, but it doesn’t fill that yearning for face to face conversation, and interaction.

We were created to have relationship. When God created Adam, he could see that he needed someone to do life with, so God created Eve. We were never meant to go through life by ourselves, we were created to share our journeys both the good and the bad with others. But not others over a social media site, we were created to have relationship, real living, person to person relationships. Humans need that type of close, loving contact, we need to feel loved, the touch of another, to be heard in face to face conversations.

So am I saying to delete your Facebook accounts and never use social media again? Of course not, I believe there is room for both. What I am saying though, is to turn your Facebook off at times. Spend time in real human relationship, tell someone face to face how much you love them or how much they mean to you instead of posting it. Go give someone a hug and feel the benefits of a human touch. Turn off your technology and spend time with family and friends having fun, interacting with each other.

I can be as guilty as anyone of getting caught up on Facebook and before I know it, hours have passed. But I really believe making an effort to ‘switch off’ and spend time with those that mean the most to you, has to be a better thing to do.

So I challenge you, ‘switch off’ for a while and reap the benefits of being with those you love.