Monday, 29 June 2009

(wo)Man in the Mirror


Tomorrow is my last day at school until September - yay!!! Our lovely Coda is all settled in, church is growing, hubby and child are happy...so why am I feeling a bit yuck?

It's the whole weight issue again. I just happened to see a photo of myself taken a while back in Slovakia - skinny, tanned, with beautiful clothes that no longer fit me. Out of the blue (like a punch in the face) I started to panic - I physically started to shake. Instantly I felt disgusting, my jeans were too tight, I could pinch at least 15 inches, my face felt bloated - believe me I could go on, but I won't. I'm training myself to take these thoughts captive - I feel a bit like Coda, having to be disciplined. It's not easy - I really want to jump on the scales, design an intensive exercise regime, skip meals etc - but I won't. I do want to lose some weight but I'm still not sure if I can do that sensibly yet. Once I see the weight coming off, will the addiction grab me again? I couldn't put my family or myself through that again.

I've always wanted this blog to be real, to be honest, take off the mask - that's why I'm sharing these thoughts. Surprisingly, writing it all down and reading it back is helping me to see just how insane this thought pattern is.

I'm going to find something productive to do now - turn my thoughts and focus onto someone else - and fight for my joy.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Coda BFF


Well we finally did it! After many months of deliberation, research and persistent whines from our dear daughter (and myself!) we finally own a dog! She is 9 months old, a Japanese Akita Inu, a show dog with all the papers and although she is worth up to £1000 or more, we were blessed with just having to cover the cost of her injections. Her name is Coda and she is snuggled up beside me having a wee snooze - she's snoring away!

Japanese history, both verbal and written, describe the ancestors of the Akita Inu, the Matagi dog, as one of the oldest of the native dogs. Originally, Akita Inus were bred to serve as guard dogs, but they have also been used for a number of other working purposes. They have excellent hunting abilities. Did you know that Helen Keller first brought the Akita to the United States? The Akita possesses an easy going, laid back temperament that makes them a great family house pet. They are also commonly known to be quiet dogs that bark only when something necessitates them to bark. Many people commonly report that the Akita makes people feel relaxed and calm and is the ideal pet to own if you suffer from stress.
In addition to being easy going, quiet, life enhancing pets, the Akita breed is also known for being easy to house break and very clean dogs. The Akita is known for being so clean that many people have described the breed as "cat like" for their odorless and cleanly appearance.
The Akita breed is also a very patient, loyal and devoted breed that protects children. They are gentle with children so much so, that it is known that mothers in Japan have left their children alone in the care of an Akita.

Sorry if this has bored you all but I love my dog and Emily is thrilled to have her. Even David is besotted with her!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Retire from work, but not from life. ~M.K. Soni


Yesterday we had a party for our Vice Principal, Linda Bruce. She is retiring after 36 years teaching! Wow, that's a long time! As much as I adore teaching, I'm excited about my future in full time ministry.
This has been a dream I've kept in my heart since I was 16 - and now steps are being taken, plans made, strategies outlined to put the dream into action. It's going to take some time and adjustments but I'm so excited about the future. David and Emily will be instrumental to the way forward and they have been incredibly supportive. I love my church so much and just want to keep on building the vision - we are a house that will continue! Roy (pastor, father-in-law, friend) has believed in me from I was a teen in the house - giving me loads of opportunities to grow and develop gifting - I'm so blessed!

So I'm on the eve of the summer months - I'm looking forward to being in the church at this time and chatting to folk over lovely cappuccinos - who knows what surprises God has up His sleeve for us!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Catch the spirit of a leader


Most occurrences of honour in the Old Testament are translations of some form of kabod – the root of which literally means heavy or weighty – ‘to give weight to someone’. To honour someone, then, is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and authority in one’s life.

Lets’ be real – we’re very often too thick or too stubborn to understand God’s moves. Sometimes authorities say things that are good for us but we can’t understand it – however we must obey the authority God’s given them. King David was under Saul’s authority and David wouldn’t go against him. David knew the authority of God and submitted to it. He even addressed Saul as ‘my lord’ or ‘the Lord’s anointed’. This reveals an important fact: subjection to authority is not being subject to a person, but being subject to the authority which is upon that person. If our submission is merely directed to a man the whole meaning of authority is lost. Even when Saul disobeyed God, David’s responsibility was to be subject to the Lord’s anointed. Because David maintained the authority of God, God acknowledged him as a man after his own heart. Only those who are subject to authority can be authority.
Now I hear all the time, “What if the authority is wrong?” (like Saul) Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since he is responsible to God – now if there is a genuine complaint, you have the right to appeal to the leadership (on grounds of it being immoral, unethical, illegal or unbiblical). The Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience. Insubordination, however, is rebellion, and for this the one under authority must answer to God.

We often misunderstand authority as something which oppresses us, hurts us, and troubles us. God does not have such a concept. His motive in instituting authority is to replenish our lack. Roy Lessin said, ‘A Godly leader…finds strength by realising his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honour by being faithful and finds greatness by being a servant.’
I’m discovering more and more in life that people are taking their faults and turning them into virtues (e.g. I’m not procrastinating, I’m just a perfectionist and want to get it exactly right – anything less would be unacceptable.) This fault-into-virtue syndrome is a common defence when people are called upon to discuss their weaknesses, but in the end it’s just a very pious kind of excuse making. I find people also do this when they don’t want to recognise and submit to authority, the famous excuse being, “God has told me…” They say they have God’s direct authority to drop out of a project, to be a missionary etc. We cannot bypass the chain of command and God’s delegated authority. Having delegated His authority to men, God Himself will not supersede delegated authority. God does not look at how many times we’re sharing the gospel, how many acts of kindness are we cramming into our day, how well we’re getting on with one another; He looks to see how obedient we are.
Here’s the secret – the church is maintained by two essentials: life and authority. The indwelling life we have received is a life of submission, enabling us to obey authority.
For those of us who lay aside our insecurities and dare to trust and yield to God’s authority (including his delegated authority here on earth) there is a peace that genuinely passes all understanding.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Schools (nearly) Out For Summer!



I am absolutely loving my last few days of school. Loads of art work being undertaken as our VP is retiring this year. We are having a huge party on Friday at school (hence the artwork) and then bopping the night away at the golf club - photos will be posted!!!

My class are just so attentive at the moment. I'm being showered with food and gifts - even little love notes and thank you cards! This is the time of the year when all teachers feel really special. Our school magazine came out this week and I was blown away with how many 'mentions' I received from the children - apparently I'm 'the bestest teacher in the whole wide world'! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't full of pride - but it's a good pride! I'm so proud of my school and the children who have come through my classes are taught more than academic subjects - they are taught to believe in themselves, to reach for their dreams, that anything is possible and that I will always be their friend long after I've been their teacher.

This is always an emotional time for me - I'm so looking forward to the summer - no break for me as I will be working in the church (please visit for a coffee!) - but i will miss the children who will be leaving me.

Bittersweet X

Monday, 22 June 2009

OUCH!


I've spoken to lots of people this past week who have shared that they are really struggling with anger. So tonight I've been thinking about anger, rage and the link they can have to our physical well-being.

There is a strong link between emotional and physical pain. When we speak of a person who is annoying or irritating, we sometimes call that person a 'pain in the neck'. When we have great sorrow over a loss, we often say we experience 'heartache'. When someone angers us, rejects us or criticizes us, we sometimes say the person 'hurt' us.
Many parents tell their children that it is wrong for them to fully express their emotions. The kids hear that 'boys don't cry' or that girls shouldn't be 'crybabies'. Psychiatric studies have shown that children who experience a lack of approval and respect for their feelings, when they are very young, automatically develop a tendency to suppress emotions. When they feel their parents, teachers, or others in authority don't value what they think or feel, they tend to shut down their own value of emotions.

One Bible verse speaks of the fact that we need to deal with those issues and situations that cause us to feel anger, rather than stuff our feelings inside: "Be angry, and do not sin" (Eph 4:26) Emotions that become trapped inside us seek resolution and expression. That's part of the nature of emotions - they are meant to be felt and expressed.

I find it interesting that while we often learn to repress emotions in childhood, that period of life is when emotion-triggering experiences bombard us. Even cartoons seem to teach children to react to life with anger and rage.

After someone firebombed his home, DR Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "The chain of reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, war producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of an annihilation...Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend...By it's very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by it's very nature love creates and builds up".

Walking in love is a choice. Acting on that choice takes effort. Love means choosing to turn yourself inside out for others, to turn your thinking upside down from the way the vast majority of people in the world think, and to go radically against what many people perceive to be basic human nature and pursue instead the nature of God. Loving as God loves requires practice, practice, practice.

Mother Teresa said that the greatest disease of mankind is the absence of love. I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

To Thine Own Self Be True!


I had the absolute pleasure of finally meeting (face to face) a girl I had met via Facebook. We arranged to meet this morning for coffee and I must admit I was a tiny bit nervous about it - what if I wasn't what she had expected?

There's been a lot of chat recently about the problems with e-communication - the fact that you can't see the person's face or hear the tone with which things are said, can lead you to misinterpreting information.

Anyway, I met my friend and we clicked instantly! Such a lovely girl and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better during summer hols.

Take a risk today - we can become so afraid to show who we really are in case people don't like us. I prayed with a group of girls I meet with regularly and said that I felt God saying we should be confident to look good naked (now I don't mean physically, but emotionally - show the real 'us' without any cover-up) So God's a bit like Gok Wan then! Let's banish the 'Fake-Bake' and let our true selves shine forth. You are beautiful X

Thursday, 18 June 2009

NOT just another brick in the wall.


Well I'm sitting in class - prepared and ready for 20 children to come storming into our room - reflecting on how the school year has gone. When I received this class in September, I must admit, I had my doubts. 16 boys and 4 girls, many with ADHD, some with acute learning difficulties and behaviour problems. Arrrghhhh, I thought! However this year has not been what I expected.

I'm not sure when or how exactly, but each one of the children has wiggled their way into my heart (and once you're in there, there's no getting rid of you) and become my friend. Sure we've had our ups and downs, but all good relationships do. I love these kids and will sorely miss them next year (I can hardly believe it myself!)

There have been classic moments - a boy, who never smiled, lights up my room with enthusiasm when we do creative play and art, a boy who found it difficult to express emotion has given me a hug, a girl who's confidence was on the floor now speaks out with boldness, a group of boys who have daily made it their mission to make me laugh (from jumping out and scaring me to leaving funny little notes around the room for me to find) - and BONUS they've all dramatically improved in their school work!

I'm sitting like a proud mother hen - reluctant to let them go, but knowing I have to release them into the care of another. Well there's the bell - I'm off to gather my chicks and enjoy the time I have left with them.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Are you listening?


"Are you listening?" seems to be a phrase I say over and over and over as a teacher. But lately I've been applying it to my own life.

Over and over again, Proverbs says, “The wise person heeds counsel. The wise person listens to counsel. The wise person listens to instruction.” So the challenge here is always to be a learner. Have a teachable spirit. Be willing to listen—to have humility when you listen.

'Listen' to some of these verses from Proverbs: “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil” (1:33).
Proverbs 7: “Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth” (verse 24).
Proverbs 8: “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. . . . Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates” (verses 32-34).
Proverbs 13:1: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Proverbs 19: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days” (verse 20).
Proverbs 23: “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (verse 22).

Have a receptive heart, a teachable heart, and a humble spirit. Always be a learner. Look for wise people. Ask them to teach you. I’ve been so thankful for the people God has brought into my life, in every season of my life, to help me be more effective in what I do.
Sometimes that counsel has been hard to receive. Sometimes it’s been hard to follow, but I’ve said, “Lord give me a humble heart, a teachable spirit. Make me a learner. Help me to listen to counsel. Help me to listen to reproof, to listen to correction.” It will save your life, and you hear this in Proverbs over and over again: “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (10:17, ESV).

I want to just take this opportunity to stress that you cannot be a lone ranger Christian and succeed at the Christian life. God has designed us to be a part of a body and we cannot be all God wants us to be if we are trying to do it alone. We have a covenant with Christ; He has a covenant with us. We're bound in an eternal covenantal relationship with Him and if we're part of Him that means we're also part of each other. You can't separate us from each other without doing damage to all the parts. We need those covenantal relationships.

Let's take responsibility for the oneness of that body. We're a part of each other, we need each other and it's in the context of that body that we can become all God intended us to be.

BTW I'm 14 years married today!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fab Feedback


I just want to share with you an email I got from a dear friend of mine...

"Really enjoyed your nicnac today, I think I know how to get on to it now. Living from your heart is exactly what God is teaching me among other things, I know it wont be easy but hey, I have the best teacher anyone could have.

You're right, Freedom is such a key word, I'm only now discovering what bondage is and how it has affected my life, funny how we consider ourselves free when we are anything but.

I was reading the book you gave me last night, both authors had asked God to show them how He loved them, John was on the beach and a massive whale came up very close to him, he knew that was God showing him His love, there was no one else on the beach it was all for him.
When he told his wife Stasi she too asked God the same question when see was out one night for a walk, she waited for over half an hour and there was nothing, on her way home she came across a beautiful star fish. She knew God had answered her question, just around the corner there were hundreds of them.

The author then encouraged the person reading the book to do the same, so I did, some thing I have never done before I asked God to show me how much He loved me, I prayed and went to bed.
When I awoke this morning I completely forgot about it, that was until I was in my room in work and felt God was kissing me.

I dismissed this at the start because I thought God wouldn't give us kisses - it didn't seem right, but I was punch drunk with kisses from God so many of them that I could neither push or wipe them away, nor did I want to.
It was amazing I've never experienced God in that way or His love, words can't explain how I felt, not only did He answer my question but in a way I thought wasn't possible if only because I wouldn't allow Him. He is a God of affection and so much more."

I so love that - being punch-drunk on God's love while being showered with kisses.

While spending the evening with a group of amazing women - and I'm so blessed to have a church full of incredible women of God! - and listening to their journey, their story - I was captivated by the beauty God has adorned on women. I'm not referring to the outward appearance (although they are all gorgeous) but to their hearts. That heart reflects on their face - they were truly radiant - beginning to believe God's truths about who they are.

A special thank-you to my mentor over the years - Jacqueline - looking back I realise how much of a rock she has been for me. She is always there to encourage me, challenge me, prod me into action - she believes in me. Thank you Jak - Love you X

Be Encouraged!


"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you." (William Arthur Ward)

My desire today is to give you a huge dose of encouragement!

Do you realise just how important you are? Do you know how crucial you are in the story of your life?
Think about THE MATRIX (one of my favourite films). For most of his life, Neo sees himself only as Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer for a large software corporation. As the drama really begins to heat up and the enemy hunts him down, he says to himself, “This is insane. Why is this happening to me? What did I do? I’m nobody. I didn’t do anything.”
A very dangerous conviction - though one shared by most of us. What he later comes to realize – and not a moment too soon – is that he is “the One” who will break the power of the Matrix.
We see this throughout scripture: a little boy will slay the giant, a loudmouthed fisherman who can’t hold down a job will lead the church, and a prostitute with a heart of gold is the one to perform the deed that Jesus asked us all to tell “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world”.

Things are not what they seem. We are not what we seem.

Out of all the truths we don’t believe, perhaps this is the one we doubt most of all. Our days are not extraordinary. They are filled with the mundane, with hassles mostly. And we? Nothing special really. Probably a disappointment to God.

Well can I tell you - you are not what you think you are. There is a glory to your life that your enemy fears, and he is hell-bent on destroying that glory before you act on it. We are in the process of being unveiled. We were created to reflect God’s glory, born to bear his image, and he ransomed us to reflect that glory again. St Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Our destiny is to come fully alive.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Nelson Mandela)

You cannot love another person from a false self. You cannot love another while you are still hiding. How can you help them to freedom while you remain captive? You cannot love another unless you offer your heart. It takes courage to live from your heart. To admit we do have a new heart and a glory from God, to begin to let it be unveiled and embrace it as true – that means the next thing God will do is ask us to live from it. Come out of the boat. Take the throne. Be what he meant us to be. And that feels risky - really risky.. But it is also exciting.

Are you encouraged?

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Sea Lion


The Sea Lion.

Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea.
He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen.
How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.

There was a time, many years back, when the sea lion knew he was lost. In those days, he would stop every traveller he met to see if he might help him find his way back to the sea.
But no one seemed to know the way.
On he searched, but never finding. After years without success, the sea lion took refuge beneath a solitary tree beside a very small water hole. The tree provided refuge from the burning rays of the sun, which was very fierce in that place. And the water hole, though small and muddy, was wet, in its own way. Here he settled down and got on as best he could.

Had you journeyed in those days through the barren lands, you might have seen the sea lion for yourself. Quit often in the evening, he would go and sit upon his favourite rock, a very large boulder, which lifted him off the burning sand and allowed him a view of the entire country.
There he would remain for hours into the night, silhouetted against the sky. And on the best nights, when the wind shifted to the east, a faint smell of salt air would come to him on the breeze. Then he would close his eyes and imagine himself once more at the sea. When he lay himself down to sleep, he would dream of a vast, deep ocean. Twisting and turning, diving and twirling, he would swim and swim and swim. When he woke, he thought he heard the sound of the breakers.
The sea was calling to him.

The sea lion loved his rock, and he even loved waiting night after night for the sea breezes that might come. Especially he loved the dreams those memories would stir. But as you know, even the best of dreams cannot go on, and in the morning when the sea lion woke, he was still in the barren lands. Sometimes he would close his eyes and try to fall back asleep. It never seemed to work, for the sun was always very bright.
Eventually, it became too much for him to bear. He began to visit his rock only on occasion. “I have too much to do,” he told himself. “I cannot waste my time just idling about.” He really did not have so much to do. The truth of it was, waking so far from home was such a disappointment, he did not want to have those wonderful dreams anymore. The day finally came when he stopped going to his rock altogether, and he no longer lifted his nose to the wind when the sea breezes blew.

The sea lion was not entirely alone in those parts. For it was there he met the tortoise. Now this tortoise was an ancient creature, so weathered by his life in the barren lands that at first, the sea lion mistook him for a rock. He told the tortoise of his plight, hoping that this wise one might be able to help him. “Perhaps,” the tortoise mused, “this is the sea.” His eyes appeared to be shut against the bright sun, but he was watching the sea lion very closely. The sea lion swept his flippers once against his side, gliding to the end of the water hole and back. “I don’t know,” he said. “It isn’t very deep.” “Isn’t it?” “Somehow, I thought the sea would be broader, deeper. At least, I hoped so.”
“You must learn to be happy here,” the tortoise told him one day. “For it is unlikely you shall ever find this sea of yours.” Deep in his old and shrivelled heart, the tortoise envied the sea lion and his sea. “But I belong to the sea. We are made for each other.” “Perhaps. But you have been gone so long now, the sea has probably forgotten you.” This thought had never occurred to the sea lion. But it was true, he had been gone for a long, long time. “If this is not my home, how can I ever feel at home here?” the sea lion asked. “You will, in time.” The tortoise appeared to be squinting, his eyes a thin slit. “I have seen the sea, and it is no better than what you have found here.” “You have seen the sea!” “Yes. Come closer,” whispered the tortoise, “and I will tell you a secret. I am not a tortoise. I am a sea turtle. But I left the sea of my own accord, many years ago, in search of better things. If you will stay with me, I will tell you stories of my adventures.”
The stories of the ancient tortoise were enchanting and soon cast their spell upon the sea lion. As weeks passed into months, his memory of the sea faded. “The desert,” whispered the tortoise, “is all that is, or was, or ever will be.” When the sun grew fierce and burned his skin, the sea lion would hide in the shade of the tree, listening to the tales woven by the tortoise. When the dry winds cracked his flippers and filled his eyes with dust, the sea lion would retreat to the water hole. And so the sea lion remained, living his days between water hole and tree. The sea no longer filled his dreams.

It was in May that the winds began to blow. The sea lion had grown used to wind, and at first he did not pay much heed at all. Years of desert life had taught him to turn his back in the direction from which the wind came and cover his eyes with his flippers, so that the dust would not get in. eventually, the winds would always pass.
But not this time. Day and night it came, howling across the barren lands. There was nothing to stop its fury, nothing to even slow it down. For forty days and forty nights the wind blew. And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped. The sea lion lifted himself to have a look around. He could hardly believe his eyes.
Every single leaf had been stripped from his tree. The branches that remained, with only a twig or two upon them, looked like an old scarecrow. And I do not need to tell you that there was no longer any shade in which to hide. But worse than this, much worse indeed, was what the sea lion saw next.
The water hole was completely dry.

Three weeks after the wind ceased to blow, the sea lion had a dream. Now, as I told you before, there were other nights in which he had dreamed of the sea. But those dreams were long ago and nearly forgotten. Even still, the ocean that filled his dreams this night was so beautiful and clear, so vast and deep, it was as he dived, the waters all around him shone like an emerald. If he swam quite deep, it turned to jade, cool and dark and mysterious. But he was never frightened, not at all. For I must tell you that in all his dreams of the sea, he had never before found himself in the company of other sea lions. This night there were many, round him, diving and turning, spinning and twirling. They were playing.
Oh, how he hated to wake from that wonderful dream. The tears running down his face were the first wet thing he had felt in three weeks. But he did not pause even to wipe them away, he did not pause, in fact, for anything at all. He set his face to the east, and he began to walk as best a sea lion can.
“Where are you going?” asked the tortoise.
“I am going to find the sea.”

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Relevance


I had a wonderful meal last night, cooked by my father-in-law (also my pastor) and got to know a couple who pastor a church in Portglenone. They are so like-minded in so many ways - we joked they were a twin church! Anyway, we were discussing various life and church issues and how to reach our community. A word that came up again and again was 'Relevance'. So this morning my prayer time has been filled with asking God how we can become more relevant in our world.

Relevance can be defined as 'connected to what is happening; useful or suitable for a purpose.' To be relevant requires us to be connected to the world we live in, and to be useful and suitable for God's purpose. The question we as Christians should constantly ask ourselves is this: Are we connected to the world around us? Are we useful to the world outside the church?

"Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, non-religious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralised - whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ - but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it, I wanted to be in on it." (1 Cor 9:19-23, MSG)

It's good to know that Paul had the same desire. To reach people we have to adapt our lives and our approach to them. We have to understand how they think, communicate, interact, and view the world. It’s impossible to reach someone without adapting the way we communicate to his or her understanding.

Just something to think about...

Friday, 12 June 2009

STRESS OR BLESSing?


At home today due to another horrible sinus infection - so I although I know I should be resting (doctor's orders) I'm trying to tie up loose ends (in paperwork) before the term finishes.

I really struggle to relax. It's a standing joke in our house that even when I'm watching a lovely film and all cosy, I still clench my jaw. I don't even realise I'm doing it - until David nudges me and tells me to chill. I've been to countless physios about neck and back pain and guess what, they all say the same thing - "Try to relax"!

I have no idea why I hold my muscles so tightly, why I clench my teeth or why I have to consciously tell my brain to slow down.
"Jaws stay clenched and teeth grind at night when a person is chronically stressed." (Dr Don Colbert)Hey tell me something I don't know.

Did you know that adrenaline creates as powerful a high as morphine, and it affects the body chemically in much the same way, using the same receptors? Stress hormones act a little like a carrot held out just in front of a donkey's nose. If we ever get the carrot, we feel let down. The carrot isn't nearly as satisfying as we expected, but the chase for it was invigorating.

Perhaps I do know why I can't seem to relax - maybe, just maybe I've become addicted to stress hormones. I've lived at a heightened state of emotion for much of my life - dad's illness, family deaths, stressful work conditions, my own battle with depression and illness - am I addicted to my own adrenaline and cortisol? Hmmmm. I'm discovering that when you burn the candle at both ends, eventually those two burning ends will met each other.

At the root of a stress addiction is the need to feel good, or at least to feel better.

All negative, deadly emotions, to some extent, derive from our attitudes. Good news alert!!! Attitudes are something we can control! I can choose how I will think and feel about any circumstance, event or relationship in my life. We can choose to a very great extent how we deal with grief, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, guilt, fear, worry, depression, anger, hostility - and other emotional situations that can trigger physical responses.

So what do I do now? I'm going to spend as long as it takes (because this may take a long time) talking to my heart. King David did it - "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him for the help of His countenance" (Ps 42:5)
I'm going to voice to myself what it is that I feel most deeply (no matter how silly I feel)
Notice that David did not only admit to himself that he was downcast in his soul. He went on to tell himself, "Hope in God!" He then went on to say of his chosen course of action, "I shall yet praise Him for the help of His continence" He praised God not for a specific act that God had taken or would take, but for the sheer help of knowing that God was there with him.

So we could put it like this...
3 Steps in a Soul Conversation
1. Admit to yourself - say it aloud - what you are feeling.
2. Voice aloud your decision to hope in God.
3. Voice aloud your decision to praise God for who He is in your life. Acknowledge His nearness and continual availability to you.

David went on to say, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me, therefore I will remember you" (Ps 42:6)
Turn from speaking to yourself to speaking to God. Admit how you feel to God - make a decision to trust Him.

I'm preparing for a supernatural heart-soaking so that the pendulum of my heart and God's own beating heart can fall into a synchronized rhythm. When you experience God's peace, the heart communicates peace to every fiber of your being. When love fills your heart, your entire body takes something of an emotional plunge into healing.
Take a daily 'heart-soak' - I am X

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Feelings


I've had a strange few days. I've battled with my emotions in a way I haven't experienced in years. Old ghosts of 'rejection', 'self pity', 'worthlessness', 'inadequacy' - all reared their ugly heads and whispered their poisonous suggestions in my ear. It's 'funny' that on Sunday Roy mentioned about living emotionally free and then I get a bit of an onslaught - coincidence? I think not!

Roy shared that the root source of the word 'emotion' is the Latin "ex-movere" - meaning to move away. Very interesting because this is what our fleshly emotions try to do - move us away from the will of God. If we allow them to do so, 'feelings' will stir up problems that will cause us to move out of the will of God for our lives. But hey, there's good news! We can resist these emotions. We can put on the garment of praise as the Bible teaches us in Is 61:3.

It's not easy. We have a fight on our hands. The Apostle Paul said that he did not take the grace of God in vain. (Gal 2:21) He did not expect God to do everything for him without doing his part too. God gives us the ability to do what we need to do, but we must choose right action.

So when the voices of past hurts etc started to invade my world I began to talk back. I fought back. When rejection and feelings of loneliness began to rise up to cause me misery, I had to stop and declare, "Stop! I'm not rejected or lonely! I may 'feel' I am but I am NOT."
The Bible tells us that the Lord our God who resides within us is "mighty". Mighty to do what? One way is "mighty" to help us overcome our emotions and be led by His unchangeable Word and Spirit and not by our shaky, unstable feelings and emotions.

"I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be in full measure and complete and overflowing" (John 15:11)
Did you know according to Strong's concordance, the actual meaning of the Greek word chara translated joy in this scripture is "calm delight"? - that's emotional stability.

I'm learning. I'm learning to take control of my emotions and avoid mood swings that would keep me from enjoying the continual calm delight that God has planned for me - and you X.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Daddy's girl






I'm getting ready to run the gauntlet of hospital visits once again as dad prepares to go into hospital tomorrow. The last time he was admitted (3 years ago) we were told that this would be 'the end'. It was the end of October and dad had sensed something was wrong. He had gone shopping early for my present that year - an angel, that now takes pride of place in my living room. He had really thought that would be his last Christmas - so did we. It was such an emotional time and I was in the throws of depression, so when I think back, it's all a bit of a blur.

This is something I've grown up with my whole life - sickness, hospitals, medication, surgery - putting life on hold. I didn't always deal with it well - got angry, resentful, jealous of friends with healthy parents, fearful, heartsick, worried. God has been very carefully handling and shaping my heart concerning this - He has bought me immense peace and I know He has a plan (even though I don't know the details) and I trust Him. I can't emphasis enough how many times that my dad has been told that he wouldn't survive - and yet he keeps pulling through - what's that all about? God knows and I'm content with that.

I'm praying that God transcends my dad's highly intellectual mind and impacts his heart. I'm praying for supernatural strength for my mum (who has her own illnesses) as she spends her days running to and fro and caring for dad. I'm praying for the consultant to finally pinpoint the problem and access a solution. I'm praying for the hospice nurse to get dad the correct pain relief for his nerve pains. I'm praying peace of mind to my family as we embark on another stage of this journey. I'm praying that I don't shut David and Emily out of my heart at this time and try to do everything myself. I'm praying I let God have every single part of me and hear His voice clearly and know His love deeply. I'm praying.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

There's no place like home


Well I'm back from 3 days of no sleep, constant talking, eating junk, rollercoasters, head counting, loud singing, rubbish joke telling, weird dance moves, water fights, late night parties, cramped bus journeys, cappuccinos and chocolate, accidentally falling and squashing a child (don't ask!), belly laughs, belly laughs and loads more belly laughs!

Don't get me wrong - these trips are exhausting - but I love seeing the other side to the children I spend most days with. They're funny, intelligent and highly entertaining! They really relax and you get to see their true personality shine through. Lots of photos to be posted on the school blog!!!

I am grateful to be back with my own family - who I seemed to miss more than ever this time. I arrived home last night to an empty house - Emily slept in my mum's house as it was after 11pm when I got back and David was rocking with David Crowder at Fuel. So I relished the quiet (for about 5 mins!) and then I craved my family's hugs and news. I was like an addict looking for my fix! It did help that David had left about 100 notes around the house for me - some hilariously funny and some so romantic they made me cry!

I'm looking forward to a weekend filled with family goodies and treats - love it!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Our Fab Leadership Team



Nichola (me!), Sharon, John, Allan, David, Roy and Jak

Race of Life


My mate Carly completed the Race For Life yesterday AND she's pregnant! Well done girl!! So proud of you X

I know it's a bit of a corny link but we are all participants in 'The Race of Life' (boom, boom!)
The Message 1Cor 9:24-27
"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athlete’s race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."

Heb 12:1 (The Message)
"Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!"

WOW - powerful, life-imparting scriptures! Run for it! Keep on running! (feel a song coming on!)