Serious Kingdom Business

In 1991 Amy Grant released a song titled ‘Hats’. In the song lyrics it talks about the different ‘hats’ women wear. hats

‘One day I’m a mother, next day I’m a lover, what am I supposed to do’

Even though this song is over 20 years old it could still be just as relevant today, as we juggle all the different ‘hats’ we as women wear. We are mums. wives, workers, aunties, grandma’s, nanna’s, students the list goes on. It can be very easy to lose sight of who you really are and what your identity really is. Throw in a good dose of ‘reality’ TV with unattainable expectations and we can be left thinking and wondering just what do we need to do to measure up to societies standards.

God’s been talking a lot to me lately about my worth and identity and just where I see myself and to whom I measure myself against. Is my worth and identity measured or seen in my ability to be a loving wife, or is it how well I do at being a mother. Is it my job, am I judged by society for being less now that I don’t nurse anymore and work as a School Officer, a job I love but very much different to the responsibilities I use to have on a busy post-op surgical ward. Do I get a mark against me for having a child on the Autism Spectrum? Some parts of society would like me to believe that it’s my fault…..it’s those vaccinations I carelessly gave him you know!

You know how it is, with the world at our feet by simply pushing a button it can be very easy to fall into the trap of measuring yourself against those not only physically around us but those many miles away that just happen to pop up on our Facebook news feeds. I think we as women really need to put down our phones and pick up our bibles and read how God sees us.

So lets look and see how God sees us.

“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from inside you –the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear and it is worth very much to God.”
— 1 Peter 3:3-4

So God isn’t worried wether I have the latest look, because God sees my beauty from within, he sees and is more interested in what my heart looks like.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.   Proverbs 31:26

Does God need me to have an all powerful job? No, I can speak wisdom and show kindness no matter what my occupation, this is what God is happy with.

There are many more verses that speak of how God sees us, and that he sees us very differently to how we see ourselves, he created us in his image so why would he think we aren’t worthy?

For me I’ve decided it’s time to do some serious Kingdom business. So in December I’ll be heading down to NSW to spend 4 days at the Captivating Australia Retreat. Along with many other women, I’m taking time to be with God, let him deal with the thoughts and ideas I insist on hanging onto. It’s going to be tough, I have no doubt about it. I’m a real home girl so just being away from my family will be tough. I have trouble keeping still long enough to hear God at times, 4 days of this will be a challenge. Apart from one other lady, I’ll be with women I don’t know, staying in cabins with women I don’t know. This will really be out of my comfort zone.cap

But I know this is what I need to do, I know I will come away stronger, more faithful, more happy, more confident and more peaceful in being reassured that God loves me and I’m his daughter and Princess. But for now I will count the days till my adventure begins!

 

 

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Conquering Brave!

Back in January I wrote about my word that God had given me for the year, it was the word Brave. I ended that blog with saying that I was sure God was going to take me on an adventure as I lived out my word.

Well true to his word, God has taken me an adventure and I still have five months of the year left! I remember back in January writing that I was certain God was asking me to be brave about a calling he had placed on my heart, little did I realise that I was going to be ‘brave’ in so many other ways.

At the beginning of the year I was happy and comfortable with my life, I was comfortable at church not overly challenged with my walk with Christ but just enough to keep searching, but not to much to make me go searching out of my comfort zone. Fast forward to the start of July and I found myself leaving my church I had called home for the past 10 years and starting a new season in a big church where I knew no-one, not a soul. You may think that this is no big deal, but for me this was terrifying. We knew as a family that this is where God was asking us to go and to many things fell in place for that not to be true, but it also meant that I had to go way, way out of my comfort zone and make connection.

So I found myself a life group, and I put my big girl pants on and went along, to be very honest I nearly didn’t make the first time, I had a thousand excuses for not going, but I did it and I’m happy to say they are a lovely group of ladies who have made me feel very welcome. Any one who knows me well knows I have a heart for Women’s ministry. After meeting the Women’s leader last week, I surprised myself when I emailed her saying once we have settled into our new church home, that I would like to be involved in the women’s ministry in some way, again very out of character for me to just ‘put it out there’ usually I wait till someone asks me.

I know of another situation at present where my view isn’t overly popular, but I will stand firm on my convictions and what I believe. This may cause some to not be overly nice to me, however I will stand bravely and be respectful to those who may feel the need to be disrespectful toward me.

But its just not at church and with my beliefs that I’m being brave. Our family has season passes to the local theme parks. I’m not a huge fan of fast rollercoaster rides and I definitely don’t go upside down. So last Sunday when the words “sure Thomas I’ll go on the Superman Escape ride with you” left my mouth I was starting to think I was going insane. This ride goes from zero to 100km in two seconds, yes you read right two seconds and its up this 60 meter climb that you drop down on the other side. I’m pretty sure people miles away heard me scream as we were shot up this climb, but I did it, would I do it again?….probably not!

Once I had recovered from my ordeal, my loveable boys decided I needed to go on the next ride, this one was an upside down ride. It took quite a lot of encouragement to get me on this ride, but again I found myself strapped in a seat and was swinging from side to side. Okay so this really isn’t this bad I was thinking, but then it got higher and I was being suspended mid air dangling and hoping with all hope that the harness doesn’t come un-clipped or that the ride doesn’t suddenly break down. I do believe the words “I hate you both” to my boys did escape my lips as I was hanging upside down, my boys on the other hand couldn’t stop laughing at me freaking out, neither could the poor stranger who unfortunately for him made up the fourth seat on our ride, he was highly amused at my reaction. Would I go on this ride again? Actually I think I would!

There have been many other stories where I’ve had to be brave and trust beyond what I normally would, and have faith far more then normal, but it’s been good….if not a little, okay a lot scary. The good thing though is I can really see Gods hand in it all, he hasn’t taken me or asked me to do anything that he knew I couldn’t do and he has walked every step with me.

So I wonder what the rest of the year has in-store for me? I have no idea, but like I said in January, I’m sure it will be in adventure!

At The Foot Of The Cross

There are times in your life when you are faced with a really hard season, no matter how hard you try, you just keep getting faced with one struggle after another. Your energy depletes, your optimism dies and you just long for the day you can wake up and not have to deal with yet another problem.

I have been in this type of season over the last few months. When family members start to age and new directions need to be taken but the admittance of needing some extra help doesn’t come easily, it can have a huge impact on those trying to sort everything out. I have found myself totally exhausted both physically and emotionally.

I was pulling myself out of bed each morning just wondering what disaster or problem today will bring. I found myself at times feeling very far away from God, wondering why he wasn’t answering my prayers, surly he can see my pain, why isn’t he taking it all away and making everything better.

I have learnt that in times of crisis there is no point in praying for God to ‘fix’ the situation and then as soon as you have finished your prayer, you just go about trying to fix it yourself. After doing this a few times I remembered some wise words I was told some time ago ‘give it to God and leave it at the foot of the cross’. You see I was giving it to God but I wasn’t leaving it there, so nothing really changed. I was still frustrated, still tired, still trying to fix it my own way.    cross

About a week ago when I had reached the end of my patience and really had nothing left to give, I again gave it to God BUT this time I left it at the foot of the cross. My anger, frustration and efforts weren’t making a huge difference, all it was doing was making me cranky and stressed out. I finally realised I couldn’t do this without God, I needed him to help me with this. There was no guarantee the situation was amazingly  going to become perfect and fixed, but that wasn’t what God was promising anyway.

Jesus never said living a Christian life and following him was going to make everything right. My situation is still there, yes at the moment it has settled but it’s still there. But I’ve left it at the foot of the cross, God’s helping me to have the strength to keep going, to know that he is walking right beside me, carrying me when I’m to tired to walk, wiping my tears and listening to my prayers.

I realise it may be hard to understand, but I feel like a weight has been lifted, it’s as though Jesus has taken what was weighing heavily on my shoulders and placed it on his. It’s like he has said to me, ” I’ve got this Christina, the road ahead may still be bumpy, but we will walk it together, and no matter what the end result, I will not leave your side”

I have had and continue to have the most amazing support from 4 very close friends, one of these friends texted a couple of days ago, my reply ended with this sentence. ” I am genuinely happy” and I am.

I have no idea what you may be facing at the moment. But can I encourage you to leave it at the foot of the cross. I can 100% guarantee you that if you give it all to God, he will walk with you, help you, and comfort you. He will never leave you to battle it all by yourself, if you let him take the lead.

 

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.