Which one are you?

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Today was such an incredible day… and I feel like it’s only just begun. 

I woke up today feeling…ummm…loved. Just loved. Incredibly, beautifully LOVED. There is no better word than that. I woke up with two certain people going through my mind. I met these two people in India, when I went on a mission trip there, 3 years ago.

The first one was David. David was the pastor’s son. He was cute, loved and really privileged in comparison to some other children. Pastor Thomas (David’s dad), loved him so much. He would love just watching him be a typical kid. Running around, not a care in the world. Pastor Thomas loved the fact that his son felt free to be himself and ask for anything he wanted.

The second person that came in to my mind was Suresh. Suresh was an orphan who lived in the orphanage that I was serving during my time there. Suresh was a beautiful boy, 8 years old and although he was sweet, he was street smart. Because he had to be. Suresh lived comfortably in the orphanage. He had all the necessities… a bed, the chance to go to school, books for school, food and his hygiene needs were covered. 

So…with these two boys running through my mind, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between them. David was loved…genuinely. It wasn’t just about what he was given. He was truly loved because he was connected by blood. Having David live under the same roof as Pastor Thomas was a given. That was never in question, it was always going to be the case. But Suresh lived in another house. With hired carers to look after him and the others with him. He is not connected by blood to his carers and so their love only goes so far.

Then I felt God’s Spirit stir up in me… something painful but nourishing all at the same time. He showered me with HEAVY love, I felt completely surrounded by Him. I sat there, knees to my chest with my head down. It was as if His chest was against my back and His arms wrapped around me so much that he reached for the soles of my feet and brought me into Himself further.

Tears just rolled down as I tried to take in what He was saying to me.

You are a true daughter of mine…I bled for you. You are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I love you…you don’t live in an orphanage, you live with me, in my house. I have prepared a place for you.

Who is this? Who is this magnificent, loving, sweet and precious person who says these things to me? With all the love and affection I felt at that moment, I just knew who it must be. My Father. It was My Father. Not carer, not hired, not only my provider…He is my Dad. My heavenly, perfect, Dad. Oh! If only we knew what His love looked like! We would stop acting like orphans! We would feel free to be ourselves, we would never feel stupid for asking things from Him, we wouldn’t feel silly for raising our hands in worship and praising Him! He wouldn’t feel embarrassed for speaking up for Him.

May you be wrapped up in His love today! May He show you in a way that is special that you are a true child of His. No longer orphaned, no longer lost. You are His…be freed up in that sweet truth!

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. –John 14:3

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. –John 14:18 

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More than she could’ve imagined

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There are some things we may never understand about people. This particular woman was one of those people for me. She had a thick accent and I could never really read her facial expressions. I met her at Mary Andrews College last year and although I didn’t understand her much, I was drawn to her. I had a feeling she had a story but communication barriers got me stepping back. Shame.

But! Mary Andrews College sent out a newsletter this week and I had the privilege of reading her story on the front cover! So glad they got it out of her! 🙂

Her story is one of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks. It’s such a real battle, and one that many of us would often face. I think she had quite a while to think about why she was feeling the way she was. Interestingly enough…this is how she puts it:

Before I was a Christian, I was happy because I had no guilt. But as time passed I became more aware of my sin. I went from being a happy ‘good girl’ to feeling guilty all the time. Of course I knew about God’s forgiveness, but I couldn’t quite work out it’s personal implications for me. I struggled…my sin, forgiveness, God’s judgement…what did they all really mean? I couldn’t connect them together. So I couldn’t grow closer to God. And I couldn’t forgive myself.

There it was. And I know she’s not the only one because many times I have felt that same way. I struggle to pray because of the very fact that I don’t connect God’s truth to me personally. If my plug is not connecting, I’m not going to work. Know what I mean? Whoever is reading this right now, I might know you personally or I might not…but be sure God’s truth hits you. Not the person next to you…YOU. Let it connect, let it simmer down. Let it heal your bones and your mind. He loves you, has forgiven you, knows what you will do and what you have done and yet…He’s grip on you seems to only get tighter.

You’re not too far, you’re not too gone. Look around you, child, forgiveness and love surround you!

One of the books I had been reading said ‘Everything we have committed has been eternally paid for by Christ and eternally forgiven by God.’ The Bible tells us ‘The truth shall set you free’ and that truth did! After 28 years of anxiety, guilt and misery, on September 24th 2011, I was set free!

I’m sure every prisoner remembers the day they were set free. Finally seeing and feeling the sun’s rays warm their skin after being in darkness for so long. Will you remember this day? Let God’s truth set you free. You are beloved!

I guess you never know!

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I’m in my SUNDAY school room…on a FRIDAY!

Please understand, this is very uncommon for me. There is a lot of work to do for Kidz Club and I thought coming here, where all the resources are, would help me make some substantial progress.

Driving here gave me some time to think. I hate to admit it but all my thoughts weren’t mysterious or important to even begin reporting them to you. But ONE thought was…

What are we doing Kids outreach for? Is it to run a good program? To show the pastor I’m committed? …Seriously?

There are times when I’m working in children’s ministry and I just want to throw my hands up in the air in frustration (with a bunch of papers to add effect, of course). That’s when I know something has gone wrong in this head of mine. I forget the problems that kids face each day. I forget how God desires better for them. I forget how He saved me and loves me.

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglectful parents, putting up with bullying at school, wanting to belong… and if that wasn’t enough…trying to meet media’s standards for ‘cool’.

There is a God who loves them. A God who waits for them. A God who longs to free them in truth.

I can almost here children laughing, running around on luscious, green grass. The sun shining on their sweet faces. No tears, no pain. I can imagine children knowing God and being in love with Jesus. I’m in tears as I share with you my vision for children.

Sadly, kids still go through living in this sinful world. So…as much as I can, I will dedicate to showing kids who Jesus is and what He has done for them in love.
What’s the point of kids outreach? Program? I don’t think so! It’s for the gospel…so that the chains holding them now can fall off and they can live in freedom…knowing and loving God.
So, although I may never know the fruits of kids club, well…it’s so worth it. He’s so worth it. So I guess you’ll never know and that’s ok…

Are tablets taking over bedtime stories?

Walking through the children’s section of the library; I couldn’t help but spot those old-time, classic books that my mum used to read to me as a child. It brought back so many memories and made me wonder if those memories are the very reason I enjoy books so much. Many adults would recall being read to when they were younger. But with the change in technology, children are constantly accessing tablets and smart phones, making bedtime reading with loved ones a thing of the past.

 Many studies have concluded and psychologists agree that the emotional connection between parents and children could just be what births in them a desire to read.

“In my experience, children love books and will engage with them if they have a role model in their life who encourages reading, whether that be a teacher or a relative or a friend.” Said Kylie Fornasier, newly found author.

As a result of an easy-to-use interface, children do not need a family member’s help in reading and learning. Children are being entertained by educational games and activities on technology; the fear is that when reading a book, kids will be easily distracted and will not engage.

“I think that with our busy lifestyle, less parents are reading and sharing books with their children and this has the biggest impact on the next generation’s reading habits.” Said Fornasier.

The Literary Trust (www.literarytrust.org.uk) recently published the results of their survey into the reading habits of 34,910 children aged between 8 and 16 and discovered that: “Those who read daily on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those children reading in print and that those who read eBooks are also three times less likely to enjoy reading.”

Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age” agrees that tablets and computers offer access to an entire world of knowledge but worries that the emotional connection to family can be lost when everyone is glued to their own devices.

Not only for children but also as they grow into adults, there are some negative impacts on the brain when reading online.

Author of “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”, Nicholas Carr, has investigated these studies and observed that the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently.

It was found that navigating through a document that lead to many different links only halts understanding and gives the reader a shallow knowledge of the topic. As a result of disrupting concentration, such activity weakens comprehension.

So, could a visit to the local library every now and then really improve your child’s reading habits and concentration? According to newly found author, Kylie Fornasier, it could very well help. “I think that if I hadn’t grown up surrounded by books, I wouldn’t have started writing my own or be where I am today.”

“There was a strong culture of reading in my family when I was growing up. I had a library card before I began school. I remember going to the library as a family and coming home with the car full of books.  Reading before bedtime was a nightly ritual when I was young. My mother would read to my brother and I, and later as we got older, everyone would sit around the lounge room reading their own book. My favourite books are still the ones I remember being read before bedtime.

Lee Castledine, a professional storyteller, has had 25 years of experience in public libraries. The last 6 years, she has been working in Blacktown max Webber library, taking part in initiatives such as story time and baby rhyme time.

professional storyteller... Lee Castledine
professional storyteller…
Lee Castledine

“I can’t remember not reading, I had a really good carer who gave me a love of books growing up. We do the same thing here, we give parents and children an exposure to books and stories.”

“It’s important to teach children stories and to teach parents that sharing stories with their kids is a great bonding time and an opportunity to help them learn.” Said Castledine.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age”, believes that what can help our children’s imagination and learning could just be our tech habits. “Since so many young children consider screens competition for their parents’ attention and, as they grow older, our tech habits establish a baseline norm for them.”

All that’s left to do now is hope that they don’t pick the longest book tonight for their bedtime story!

Read more at:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/singletons/201308/the-big-disconnect

Clean thinking

If you’re anything like me, you think a lot! About…everything! My husband would know this better than anyone else. He’s always told me not to think too much.
But…how can you not?
If I just had a conversation with you, chances are an hour later I’m still thinking about what you said and if I can manage to find a hidden meaning behind your words. 😉
We all have thoughts that plague us. I know I tend to find myself staring at the ceiling some nights; unable to fall asleep.
This week, I’m making a resolution to pray about everything that goes through my mind. I know there are some thoughts that will last for a second, and I probably won’t even remember thinking them. But my worries and my recurring thoughts; I will resolve to give them up to God. He cares for me and I have to believe that it will make a difference.
I guess you could call it food for thought!
Jesus had His thoughts focused on the Father’s will…

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34 NIV)

My resolution is to feed my mind with the things of God. My husband recently took to memorising Philippians 4:8…

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

His way of doing that was to write it up on our mini blackboard…

I’ve noticed just a little before that verse, the apostle Paul encourages us to bring our prayers, petition and requests to God. Guys, we can’t think on the things of God when we’re too busy being anxious about other things.
So clear the junk and think on the truth! I’m sure our lives would be much more pleasant if we resolved to speak to Him more and think on Him more…after all… What is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy more than Jesus Christ Himself?

Resolution Sunday… Clear the junk, feed on good thoughts.

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Finding it hard to pray?

20130822-111736.jpgEver had that niggling feeling? Like there’s something you need to do, but you don’t want to? I have this experience a lot. Especially in the car with the radio on. Sometimes it’s just background noise to help drown out the thought going through my head… “Pray”. It’s just a thought. But, I don’t know about you but it takes so much strength to turn that radio off and even more strength to start speaking to Him.

I struggle to pray sometimes. However, even when I do finally muster up the courage to pray, I ask for things that are spiritual only. Believe me…that’s not because I’m over spiritual! I get scared to pray for something that I can actually have evidence of. Just in case He doesn’t come through. I don’t ask for things that require a dead-line, so that I don’t get disappointed if He doesn’t answer. When I do ask for something tangible… I feel stupid for even asking in the first place.

I was reading Daniel 9 this morning and I only got up to verse 4 because something stood out to me and I couldn’t ignore it…

“Darius, son of Ahasuerus, born a Mede, became king over the land of Babylon. In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy. I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God: (Daniel 9:1-4 MSG)

If you didn’t get that…just read through it slowly. Honestly, this is crazy!
Daniel read the book of Jeremiah and when he understood from the text that the desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years, he was filled with sorrow and he asked God for an answer.
Don’t you think that whatever is written in God’s word is pretty final? Set in stone? But even then, Daniel gets on his knees and prays to God.

Now that is faith! I wouldn’t even start…I’d feel stupid for even thinking I can talk to God about this. But what I’m starting to realise is ‘faith’ is based on God and God alone. It’s not on how good I’ve got things figured out. It comes down to how I see God and who I think He is.

When I was younger, there were some nights that I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t feel too well. In the middle of the night, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to my father and complain. I didn’t feel like I was being a burden, I didn’t feel like I was asking too much. I didn’t feel stupid! I was just being a daughter.

And when I opened his door and called to him… You know what his response was?

What is it, apple of my eye?

That was dad’s response every time. That’s my earthly father.

How much more?! I can’t even begin to explain. I’m not going to try. All I know is our God is loving and He cares for us.

Praying with ease comes when we get the right perception of God. He is loving, ready to give and shower us with good things. Things that are good for us.

So when your radio is on and you have a few moments out on the road…don’t be afraid to turn the radio off. Don’t be afraid to be His daughter or son…you are not a burden and you’re not asking too much. He waits for you to call on Him…He will answer…

What is it, apple of my eye?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

 

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‘The Road’ is such a well written piece. There are no chapters, therefore nothing there to encourage you to have a break from the story. He has a wayof forming his sentences that can give you the wrong idea which made it hard to put the book down. With the stench of death smeared on every page, it was refreshing and an absolute delight to see glimmers of hope shared between a father and son. Even with such chaotic circumstances, Cormac beautifully depicts a loving relationship between the two main characters.

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.” A brutal story of a father and son trying to survive a country that’s been ravished by war.

I was amazed at how the characters’ tiredness and haze toward the end was actually being transferred on to me as Cormac deliberately writes less and less about the day, time, where they are, how long they’ve been there. This made it scarier and even more gripping as you feared for their lives, not being able to make out what their surroundings might look like and who might be around.

I give this book a 5/5. I can see myself coming back to read it again down the track. I have not seen the movie. Yet.