What’s the fuel to your fire?

Ever had that moment when someone catches you off guard, says the rudest thing and then walks away? Then you’re left completing the conversation in your head of how you imagine it ending? “Damn it! I could’ve said…”. Maybe you imagined it so that you even put in a “yo’ mama” insult in there somewhere? Don’t lie!

Honestly, there are many times that I am so angry that it chokes me and I come up with nothing to say. Just the frustration is enough to eat at me. I’ve realised a few things after becoming a mum. Anger doesn’t fuel you; it stops you dead in your tracks. Anger doesn’t refresh you; it only gives you sleepless nights and a cluttered mind. Anger is not the key. Anger does nothing to get the job done.

Compassion. Compassion makes us respond. Compassion brings on momentum. Compassion is not sitting down and feeling sorry for someone…it’s strong. It’s action.

After forgiving and healing a paralysed man, raising a dead girl, healing a sick woman, healing the blind and healing the mute, “…he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus was full of action and He still is today. Because, although God can get angry, He is not fueled by it. He is fueled by compassion and love for people.

One thing that makes me absolutely sick to the stomach is when humans use humans. We’re surrounded by it every day. It appears in small forms and escalates very quickly. Watch children play and you’ll notice quite early on that it’s imbedded in us to use others to get what we want. It starts off small but when a heart is not guarded, it can easily inflate to something much more serious. Bullying, child abuse, sex-trafficking, slavery, forced labour, terrorism. The list is quite extensive. But anger should not be our stance. It wasn’t Jesus’.

There are people who are strategic, purposed and make it their life to speak up for the oppressed. The story of Malala is definitely an inspiration. She speaks up for women in Pakistan to be educated. She makes it her life and even her name is prophetic. I really recommend you watch her story! Here’s the trailer. People like William Willberforce, Nelson Mandela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Amy Carmichael…just to name a few, who dared to speak up for the weak.

Jesus is the greatest of them all. His Spirit was the one who spurred some of those I mentioned above and the one that can spur us on too. It’s in our nature to oppress for selfish gain. Heck! It’s easy to do good things for selfish gain too. But when we speak up for justice simply because we are moved with compassion and love…that’s when we seriously make a difference.

Our Jesus is good and it takes guts to be like Him. But we don’t do it alone. We who believe in Him have the same power that raised Christ from the dead within us (Romans 8:11). Who is it your heart beats for? May it beat and be filled with compassion for the oppressed and the captive all around the world. Lean in to His word, be filled and speak up!

“…for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,

that the blind will see,

that the oppressed will be set free.” —Jesus (Luke 4:18)

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Until the final trumpet sounds…

Return to the One.
Return to the One.

Have you ever found yourself looking at others and thinking you’re probably the only one that struggles the way you do? Or even convinced yourself that somehow there is no way some one could see good in you the way they see it in others? It’s strange how we can convince ourselves that we’re the minority… every time.

For goodness sake…I was sweating and smashing it in a gym class and I thought… “I’m probably the only one who’s losing my breath right now”. Never mind that the instructor is sweating like a pig right in front of me!

Well, I don’t think I’m alone here. I always think I’m too far-gone, too messed up, too complicated and just too much like the exception. But just when you thought it was too late, or you’ve already stuffed up yet another day of your life… God comes through and says two beautiful words…

EVEN NOW.

These words of hope break through a time of a horrific plague that gripped the Israelites. A plague of locusts…so many that they cover the sun and the sound of them is like listening to a jet plane right up close. They have turned their backs away from God and these locusts are about to eat everything in their land and leave it barren.

Then He speaks hope…”even now”.

Even now, when you feel like all hope is lost.

Even now, when you are convinced you will never amount to anything.

Even now, when even those around you agree.

Even now, when you know you can’t do anything to make it right.

He says “return to me with all your heart.” (Joel 2:12a).

“The LORD has never changed: from that evening in the garden of Eden when he called out to Adam, ‘Where are you?’ (Gn 3:9), right through to the closing invitation of the book of Revelation, ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “come” (Rev. 22:17). The invitation is the same return to me.” (David Prior, 1988)

This is our God. He has never given up and He will never give up on you. No matter how dark it may seem or lost you may feel…His words will forever echo

“Even now”

And they will keep echoing. Why? Because it’s never too late with Jesus. Never.

That is… until the final trumpet sounds.

Take him up on the invitation today and you won’t regret it.

It’s been a while…

Yep. I know. Typical hey? Start another blog only to later take up space in the virtual world that is completely inactive. Well, it’s been a complete roller coaster since I last posted.
I went on a family cruise and found out that it wasn’t motion sickness that was making me feel queasy. Hmmm…
Is this the way I should announce this? Meh, whatever.
Back to being queasy… Yeah. I was 6 weeks pregnant!
So, that was back in January 2014. Now, since it is February 2015… This is the result of the “motion sickness”…

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She’s pretty incredible. Everyday is filled with wonder and I’m simply amazed at how quickly and beautifully she is growing.
I’m learning so much as a mum. I’m questioning all my negative thoughts about myself because one day she will learn from mummy and I don’t ever want her to think less of herself than she should. So I gotta work with me first.
I’m looking forward to keeping you posted more into my findings and adventures as a mum because Lord knows there’s plenty to come! Spending this time at home has also helped me see more people. Strangely enough, more mums want to spend time with me now. It’s funny how we just automatically gravitate towards people at the same life stage as us.
Oh what?! I didn’t even mention her name. Pregnancy brain? I can’t still use that can I? Anyway, Isabel. Isabel is her name. Meaning ‘dedicated to God’.
I love her so much and the little munchkin hasn’t said more than 1 word to me (she has said nothing to be exact). But plenty of Aaaaa’s and Ooooo’s.

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This was our first meeting (apologies for the drugged up face). She was born on August 29th, 2.2 kg and 45 cm long. She was beautiful then and time is only adding to her beauty.

So, brace yourself for a flood of pictures and obsession with this little one from one very proud and grateful mum. 🙂

I just want to watch you do what you do…

How I long to sit beside you, watching. Hoping you won’t notice me.

That I could just watch you do what you do.

I’d love to just watch you from the side, observing every outline of you. Watching your eyes blink and lashes flutter as you pray to your father. I’d love to watch your hair move with the wind as you stare out across the land and tear up with compassion for the people. I’d love to see the early morning sunrise kiss your face. Just don’t take notice of me.

I just want to watch you do what you do.

As crowds come from near and far to see what all the fuss is about and religious leaders come to watch you fall…

I want to watch you do what you do.

My gaze will follow you as you get down and write on the sand. I’ll watch you…and long to know your deepest thoughts. Don’t take notice of me.

I just want to watch you do what you do.

I want to watch you sigh and look up to heaven. Pleading for heaven’s healing to fall. I long to see the kindness in your eyes as you look upon sinners. I want to watch your arms reach to the sick, the dying, the poor and the leper. Not a shake, not an ounce of hesitation…just love acted out in strength. Don’t take notice of me just yet,

I just want to watch you do what you do.

I just want to be a witness of your service. I want to watch you get up out of your seat, wrap a towel around your waist and wash their feet. I want to watch you laugh, eat and share stories around the table with tax collectors.

I pray they would never take notice of me.

But teach me to do what you do so well. So when others see me…they would just sit and stare…seeing you instead.

Not wanting to be noticed,

but happy to sit and watch YOU do what you do.

Crossing Boundaries

fence

Boundary |ˈbound(ə)rē|

noun ( pl. boundaries )

“a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

the boundaries of acceptable behavior”

When I was young and free in my mind, there was a particular place that seemed so spacious to me. I felt free to explore it and run freely in it. I longed to go to its deepest corners and rest there. Nothing, absolutely nothing was considered out of bounds or unopened to me. Even in the farthest edges, I never felt lost or far from home.

However, life has moved me far away from this place and I have been taught there are boundaries that I had apparently crossed time and time again. I was told the key to being free was logic and the way to be safe and secure was to build a shelter in the midst of my hurt.

Bounds, limits, margins, edges, fringes, periphery, perimeter… I feel my breath getting shorter and restricted…partition, fenceline, division, confines, borderline.

There is a place far from here, but it seems too far from the shelter I’ve built for myself. What if I get tired on the way? What if that ‘other’ place really doesn’t exist and I’m just let down again? What if that place is strangely not as comfortable as being here…in my confines? What if, like they say, I’ve experienced too much hurt to ever really be free again? So I’ll sit here and convince my self that this place is the best for me. These walls are protecting me and helping me live out these days the best way I possibly can. I’ll be…well. I’ll be ok. I’ll be fine right here. I may not be missing out on anything at all! Yeah, I’m probably not.

I feel a soft breeze dance into my shelter and surround me. Can I really risk staying here and never knowing what lies ahead…just beyond that boundary? What if it’s ultimate freedom and I miss out because my fear leaves me here; trapped in despair? I’m going to give it a try… It might actually be really quick and I’ll be back before anything goes wrong.

Squinting my eyes from light I have not known in so long; I can only just notice a figure in the distance. It seems like he’s waiting for me to come closer. Maybe he’ll help me to freedom. Maybe he’ll help me find better shelter. I hesitantly walk closer to him, hoping…wondering.

I am freedom

I could hear the words in the wind like they were meant just for me.

I am the way to freedom…follow me out of your darkness and into my light.

But…has life not taught me that I’m too old? Too weary and have known too much? Freedom surely is not for me to have.

I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly

My legs are weak. I’m afraid and unsure I can even go any further. Comfort is back there and the unknown surrounds me now.

With me there is freedom and I have come to set the captive free.

I don’t feel like a captive…I was absolutely fine. I was told I shouldn’t cross the boundaries and now I realize I should’ve obeyed. I should’ve done all the ‘acceptable’ and ‘right’ things.

The boundaries you’ve had were no more than prison bars. My burden is light and my yoke is easy. The world has put heavy burdens and back-breaking yokes on you…take mine.

He’s right. I feel strength come back to my feet and I can breathe freely again. As I get closer to him, I can see his face more clearly. His eyes are filled with tears. He sounded so strong and sure…why is he crying?

How I’ve longed for you to break free of the bondages that wrap around your neck. Now you are free…free indeed. Follow me.

I will follow you. Past the edges, confines, perimeters. Past the fence and way past my shelter. I will follow freedom; I will follow HIM.

A lady long ago pressed out of the boundaries of religion and rules. She found healing there. She found freedom there. SHE FOUND JESUS THERE.

Luke 8:42b-48

Is education failing our Children?

Strong opinions cannot be manufactured; they tend to stem from experiences and personal findings. For Tony Edwards, this is especially true as he has a strong perspective on Australia’s education system.

 Mr. Edwards, who was a teacher, left high school functionally illiterate but now looks back and believes education should take place of high importance. However, he believes that the current system only halts learning.

“Education to me is a bizarre thing, because at the age of five you learn to construct a sentence for the first time in your life. Then you’re sent to an institute that tells you to be quiet. Then at the age of 11 you develop good motor skills to run and play sport and you’re sent to another institute that only lets you move every 40 minutes to an hour. But if a student does not comply with these guidelines, they are suspended…”

Mr. Edwards thoughts and ideas come from a past of feeling like he was the “dumb kid” but now he knows that he learns differently, like many other children struggling with the school system.

 “Education at the moment, is only really focused on the top 5-10% and everybody else is in there somewhere.”

With a desire to help children just like him, Mr. Edwards sought teaching as a career. For 15 years, he took the initiative to make his class different so that students were encouraged to learn in an environment where they were not expected to be a certain way.

“I built desks that students could stand at and I had bean bags so that they could sit. No body was getting in trouble. Some of the kids who weren’t able to read or write in year 7 were able to take notes from a video in year 8, so it definitely helped their learning process.”

The education system could be the very reason why many students walk away from school believing that they are just “dumb”. But having been there himself, Mr. Edwards believes that different people learn in different ways.

“I was very proud of my students, they are probably my greatest heroes.”

Maryan Aziz

 

The ‘good guys’ are celebrated at Stella Fella

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Stephanie Lorenzo, CEO of Project Futures

With the Stella Fella Friday event held last week at the Beresford Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills, an organization known as Project Futures aim to raise funds for the Salvation Army.

Shining a light on the outstanding men across the Australian community, Project Futures has been successful in raising over $100,000 for their current campaign.  “A hundred thousand dollars means we can be alongside more people” the head of the Salvo’s Services, Melanie-Anne Holland said.

“We rely on partnerships like the one with Project Futures to keep our services up and running… It’s a step by step process but we see the results everyday”.

Purchasing a bowtie for Stella Fella contributes to the partnership with the Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking unit, an initiative designed to house up to ten women at one time.

The safe house provides victims of human trafficking with counseling, financial support, education opportunities, immigration and advocacy with legal proceedings. “[It’s] a holistic program to help them regain their confidence and take back their lives” said Holland.

CEO of Project Futures Stephanie Lorenzo, was able to take a positive spin on the issue. “The campaign aims to create male role models within the community to take the lead and set a precedent of support” said Stephanie.

One of the top finalists in the running for the Stella Fella award was finalist, Sasha Lawrence. One of five young leaders running workshops for more than ten thousand young people, the 23 year old nominee also runs the Mali institute (of which he is the CEO).

“I run a lot of workshops for young men and it’s all about being positive males in society… So I think this campaign [Stella Fella] is really clever in that regard”.

Amongst the Project Futures ambassadors was news presenter Matt Doran. “Once I stepped in there [safe house] everything changed for me because you think Australia’s immune entirely from this as a problem when in fact, we’re not.”

Human trafficking now takes place across a range of industries. A study conducted by Project Futures found that people are now being trafficked into domestic servitude, construction, retail and hospitality. It has grown into an industry of over $30 billion a year and has become the fastest growing crime in the world.

Tanya Rae & Maryan Aziz