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

brave

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

minimalisththought11

 

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’

picture

 

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.

 

Okay I’ll Plant The Tree!

trees-to-avoid

Really you want me to replant those trees by the side of the road? But that’s not my job, I’ll just ring the council and let them know, besides I have the dog with me, it will be too hard.

Well that was the conversation I had with God today as I took Buster for a walk. Strange conversation I know, so let me explain.

My 3D group has been reading the book ‘Forgotten God’, its all about the Holy Spirit and learning to let him guide your life. It has been a real challenge for all of us as we have navigated our way through the pages. I in particular have found parts of the book challenging. You see I really want to let God have 100% but there always seems to be this part of me that just wants to keep say 5% for me to control….just in case.

So after a light bulb moment with the girls yesterday as we worked our way through chapter 4, I finally realised I needed to start small, trusting God 100% with a small thing, then build up to the big things. So today I did just that.

I had a couple of hours to myself after work today and I decided to get some steps in and take the dog for a walk, I also decided that this would be a good place to start letting the Holy Spirit be in 100% control. So as I got to the end of my driveway I said ” okay Holy Spirit, left or right. I wanted to go right, but no he wanted to go left, so left it was. When we got to the top of my street I could have gone left, right, or straigead. Again I said okay Holy spirit which way, now I know this may all sound a bit weird but hang in there with me. Again we went left and walk along the main road that runs in and out of my suburb.

Now this main road has recently had the council plant a lot of Liquid Amber trees along the footpath, these trees are one of my favourite trees, so I was pretty happy they had done this. But as I walk up the road, much to my horror someone has come along and pulled out 6 of these new small trees and just thrown them up into a garden area that also runs along the footpath. I was pretty annoyed at this. I could see about 3 of the trees up in the garden, but not all of them. “I must ring the council when I get home” I thought to myself and I kept on walking wondering why God had taken me along this path.

I was about 2 meters up the road when I heard God say to me “Christina, go back and replant those 3 trees”. “Seriously God, this is a BUSY main road, what will people think?, what will I do with the dog?, I’ll just ring the council and let them know” So here was my first mistake, never argue with God as you will never win! But being the stubborn person I can be at times I just kept on walking, all the time repeating every justifiable excuse I thought I had as to why I didn’t do as God had asked me.

Now God is way more smarter than me and he was going to win this argument one way or another. I kept on enjoying my walk, still asking the Holy Spirit to guide my way. Clearly I was having some trouble realising that I was walking that way to replant those trees! About 3 meters up the road, I again was horrified to see another 3 trees had been ripped out, but this time I could only see one had been thrown in the garden. I stopped and looked, and thought to myself, far out God guess I need to replant this tree, because if I don’t these trees are just going to keep popping up in front of me till I do.

Now can I just say trying to replant a tree, without any garden tools, hanging onto a dog, using only one hand and your feet, next to a busy road is no easy task. But I did it, and I felt good. Yes I had asked the Holy Spirit to guide my walk and yes I had listened. Maybe not the first time but I got it the second time. the-holy-spirit-leads-us

I wonder as Christians how many times the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do things but we just don’t do it, because we think it is silly, or not the right thing, or to hard.The list of our humanly excuses could be endless. But one thing this book has taught me is that we just need to listen, what we may think is a silly thing to do, may be the thing God wants us to do. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come and guide us, to help us see what he wants us to see and do what he wants us to do. After all if we are 100% committed to God, it’s not us that is making the decisions, it’s God.

So I encourage you to give it a go, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your day, you never know what could happen, but what ever does happen you will know God put you in that situation for a reason.

 

 

 

 

 

A Victorious Warrior

13524348_10208101279302213_4457021498643463164_n[1]

 

Yesterday my two 3D buddies and myself got together for a long overdue catch up, after Sarah had been away for a month. These two amazing women have come into my life and changed it in so many ways, as they challenge and encourage me along my path.

As usual we fell back into easy conversation as if we had never been apart, and as usual our topics of conversation were varied and at times colourful. It was just so nice to be back with these two women that bless my life richly.

Sarah had been visiting the country she and her family were missionary’s in for many years, so it was encouraging to hear how things were going and how God was moving amongst the people there.  We talked about life back here at home and what we had been up to, and I told Sarah and Charlotte about how Charlotte’s wise words had prompted me to finally make the decision to have some prayer ministry. Something I had been thinking about for some time but for various reasons had always put it off. I then began to enlighten them at the tricks Satan had been up to, to try and de-rail my plans.

Not long after I had finished talking, Sarah told us she had a gift for us. While away she had done some Prophetic drawing with the help from a good friend of hers. She gave Charlotte hers and explained what it was and then she gave me mine. At first glance I didn’t quite see my picture correctly and yes I did think the person was an old man with a walking stick! But once I took the time to really look at it, I could see what it was.

About 18 months ago I had a very, very vivid dream that I was lying in an open field gazing up at the sky watching this beautiful, majestic eagle soar with the wind currents. It was incredibly peaceful and amazingly powerful all at the same time. When I took a better look at my drawing I could see the bold eye of an eagle, and that the person standing in the middle of the eye was a victorious warrior with a sword of victory.

Sarah explained to me that the drawing was saying to ” stop and look in the eye of the beholder and see what he sees, and that this is how God sees me. A victorious warrior” I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t often see myself as a victorious warrior, more like a small part in the battle. But I’m hoping my prayer ministry will help with the way I see myself and that my confidence will grow as I finally put to bed hurtful words from the past.

So my picture now hangs on my bedroom wall, it’s the first thing I see when I get up and the last thing I see at night. It is a constant reminder of how God sees me and with prayer and meditation how I will start to see myself.

That is a women who is a victorious warrior for the kingdom of God!

 

Ordinary Is Extraordinary

About 12 months ago I wrote a blog about learning to be happy where God had placed me at that time. This week I found myself going down this path again.

My eldest son turned 17 this week and as I sat and thought about the last 17 years I wondered just where the time had gone. It only seems like yesterday that I was holding him in my arms as a new born baby and the realization that I had become a mum was sinking in.

I again started to think that my life had become so predictable and somewhat boring. Yes sure I am the mother of two boys, and along with Wayne we are raising them well, but that’s nothing earth shattering. Yes I’m lucky enough to have a job that for the most part I like going to, but again so do lots of other people. Yes we are a family that have had our ups and downs and survived, but really isn’t that what life is all about?

So really my life is pretty ordinary, I’m just getting on with it trying along the way to love like Christ, acted like Christ, and treat others as Christ would have treated them. Sometimes I do a good job, and then at other times I’m not so good. I sat and thought about this for a while and wondered how God saw ‘ordinary’ and if in fact he sees ‘ordinary’ at all.840817_orig[1]

I don’t think God does see people as just ordinary, I think he sees us all as extraordinary, all playing our part in sharing his love and building his kingdom. I believe God has given us all different gifts and talents, I don’t believe that he favours the person out the front speaking any more than the person up the back cleaning up after serving cups of tea.

I don’t believe that just because someone is a qualified Pastor/Minister or Priest that they have a greater place in Heaven waiting for them, above the lay person who happily talks about what Christ has done in their life to a person they work with or perhaps even a total stranger.

We can’t be all up the front in the spot light, in fact if we were who would be down the back talking to the shy people that find the spotlight area a little scary? God needs people doing all different things in all different situations; he needs us to use the gifts and talents he has given us in a way that will have the biggest impact and for some that will be getting on with life, doing the everyday ‘boring’ tasks.

While these predictable day in day out tasks may not be as exciting as those who travel the globe spreading Gods love, or someone who composes a moving worship song, or a person that pens a life changing novel, never underestimate the impact they have. Your friendly face as you serve someone coffee after church one morning may be just the love that person needs at that time. At times it’s the unseen acts of kindness and love that have the greatest affect.

So for me I’m going to start and thank God for the ‘ordinary’ and I’m going to spend more time looking for ways to show Gods love in these situations and I’m going to remember that God sees me as extraordinary, regardless of what I’m doing because if I’m doing what God has asked me to do, then I’m doing the right thing.