I wonder if you have woken up every morning doing 'quiet time' for so long now, yet that routine has become an 'obligation' with no life whatsoever?
You pray at certain times and read the Bible regularly; still the good revelations and the deep findings remain in the past! You seem to have lost the 'crave' to reach out and get excited by these activities and what is left at the moment is thirst unquenchable. The days flash-by in front of your eyes carrying little difference from each other. You wonder how long this stage will continue and if you ever will get to that point of enjoyment again!
I have seen that, with time God has stressed and dried these very noble habits in my life, always bringing me into a wilderness spot. The things that worked before did not make the slightest difference now and the water that I have drunk for so long has lost its taste and become uninspired. This can be a confusing time as we think "something must be wrong, these habits are good and godly habits, I mustn't feel this way!"
Right away the urge is to be more diligent with the habit and force yourself into another program perhaps, but the real answer stands within the habit itself!
This very noble Habit stands tall and shouts in its corner "look at me”! I could hear people often say “how good of you Lea, to wake up early, read and study diligently ...... I felt very good about myself, but my habit had swallowed up all my desire and I had left God as the purpose, the motive behind the habit, to be pleased with just me showing up! I had paid more attention to the habit than to God and that approach could not quench my thirst, I was parched and dry.
God does not want good habits from us, he wants to change our hearts so that through that process the habit disappears and Christ appears!
Our lives are not meant to be a collection of good habits, but lives without habits, just Jesus all along! We are not supposed to master ourselves, but let Christ master us through the Holy Spirit!
If our habits after a while have not turned into a virtue, becoming who we really are starting at home, church, street, work and everywhere somehow along the way the habit has become bigger than the purpose and has left us with nothing than its outside badge!
If you feel dry and unmotivated today see if your habit has taken the Lord's place. After a while our habits should be so immersed in Jesus that what we do is who we are. The practice of those habits has become 'flesh' and you are feeling at home with The Lord!
Habits can complicate our lives when they become the focus and sometimes hinder God and His work in our life!
For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (2 Peter 1:8 AMP)
I like tomorrow! It's the day when I will eat less cake and more salad and grilled fish! It's the day when I will take my running shoes out of the downstairs store cupboard, blow the sedentary dust away and finally 'break them in'. It's the perfect day to start to deal with those broken relationship issues that have been lingering for far too long, their grey clouds following me around everywhere.
I have decided it will be the day to forgive and let go of so many past and present hurts that I have hoarded carefully. It will be the perfect day to start to cut myself off from those few friends who somehow find a way to pull me in the wrong direction where I make the most regrettable decisions. I have decided it will be the day I surprise my husband with a romantic meal and night out, the weather is supposed to be good tomorrow! Of course it's the day that I will be yelling less and be sweeter with my children. I will read more, give more, encourage more, remember more..... Yes - I will!?
Author James T. McCay said “Tomorrow, you promise yourself, things will be different, yet, tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you disappoint yourself again and again.”
Wy is so hard to do the right things? What does Apostle Paul meant when he said that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:31)? Can we overcome food cravings, hurt and pain, temper tantrums and anger habits? Or was it just something sweet to say to believers in Rome so their mind would be comforted?
Paul is not talking of imaginary things here; he is not trying to soothe our conscience momentarily. What he is saying is that: food will invite us to feast daily but in the midst of it Christ will give us strength to take the right choices and not be bossed by it! Hurts and pain will be present in our life but Christ’s love is stronger than any of them and will lead us hand in hand through those experiences! Unforgiveness will present itself as reasonable most of the time, but Christ's Grace will find a way to release others from that grip. The tendency to shout and lose your cool erupts effortlessly when faced with our mountains of chores, but Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness!
Either Jesus is who the Bible says He is and we through Him are more than able to stand through temptation, pain, hurt and loss or we are deluded in our faith and the new life that he promised!
Ok, how to see which one is the truth?
Look back and see your life from the moment Christ entered your story! Look back and see the lives of countless faithful friends and saints through history! You will notice that the love of Christ has never failed either you or them on living victoriously!
So let all our "Tomorrow I will" become "Now is the time! This is the place and I am the one who Christ uses to overcome all which challenges me to live free"!
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? Rom 8:31 MSG
Sitting on the dirt outside the city gate four outcasts stare at the ground! The feeling of being unwelcome and ignored by people has deformed their posture totally, leaving only their hands extended for alms.
They have to remain there day-by-day for it is their only hope to stay alive! There in that very place, although hated and despised, people entering or going out of the city would take pity on them and throw scraps of bread for them to feed.
But those days have long gone, and the hope of filling their bellies had melted like butter in scorching sun.
For the city had long since seen people enter to do business inside. Hunger had spread like wildfire throughout the whole corners of the city and now everyone is in the same desperate boat called Famine.
No one who is able and strong, not even the king dares to leave his castle. The fear of the enemy has pushed the city to do unthinkable acts driven by hunger and desperation. The silence of any activity is only disturbed by the rumbling of their empty stomachs.
What must they do?
Suddenly, the eyes of the lepers light up. It is a foolish and daring idea that leads them to action for themselves. Life has become too dire and the decision to wait now stands on the 'death' side of the spectrum.
There are two things that move the hearts of men, inspiration or desperation!
"Why should we sit here waiting to die?" they ask each other. "Leprosy keeps us outside the famine struck city, standing here means nothing but a direct invitation to death. What do we have to lose? Let's take our chances and try! The worse that can happen is for us to die, and that will happen whether we decide to stay or go."
What is keeping us from trying daring and bold steps towards a better future? If death is not on the list then we are in much better position than these fours lepers outside the city gate!
A lot of times we give fear the permission of 'what if that happens' to ruin the chances of 'that good thing might happen'.
Trembling and weak the lepers approach the enemy camp. Their ears are dulled by the silence surrounding the camp and their eyes are enlarged by the food and stuff inviting them inside! There is nobody to be seen!
They did not know that the moment they had awoken to 'try' their chances the Lord had multiplied their steps and increased their sound which had struck fear into the enemy’s hearts causing them to run for their lives, leaving all the food and riches behind.
We forget that what God wants is our courage in Him that says 'I will go', and 'I will try' then He himself marches first and welcomes us right there.
The abundance of food looked so surreal to their minds that they had to be dragged by their bellies to taste the reality. Oh the impatience in chewing and drinking, for it had been too long for the poor leprous mouths waiting for this moment. They hid masses of that too, for they knew soon the camp would be discovered and food would be scarce and a luxury to find.
Then, the jaws stop munching, their heads start lifting - something is not right. Yes, they love the food and the plunder but what about the people dying inside the city?
Yes, they had been mean to them and merciless a lot of times, but this was a miracle not just for them.
Like salvation, after we have tasted and enjoyed first we must share it with others.
It was hard to approach and knock on the city gate. Trying to convince the gate keepers to what they had found was hard too - who listens to some lepers? But they did not stop until someone listened so that the king and all the people were saved.
“Who can ignore someone that has tasted, enjoyed and handled the very thing you are looking for?”
What would your bold attempt do? Who or what is waiting in the city on the other side of our attempt?
Is it freedom, healing, victory, success - or just fear? The worse that can happen is that you tried -yeah? Remember that our boldness and wimpy action both speak a language that somehow directs and influences not only the path of our life but those we nurture and who look up to us.
A paraphrase from 2 Kings 7:3-9
The morning breeze cuts through her naked body, penetrating fear to her soul. She is shaking as the hands of many men force her to move through the narrow streets heading towards the temple. Her lover is not with her, nor had he tried to protect or follow her in her fate. The eyes of many are piercing through her body, the oxygen is escaping from her lungs and her legs are giving up with panic. She is alone!
She knows today is the day that an ugly death, death by stoning has come to elope with her and the very thought of it rushes like a hurricane into her shaking head.
All her life she had looked for love and today that 'love' was leading her to pay the ultimate price.
She has been thrown into the middle of the temple outside court where a new Rabbi has been teaching that morning. The accusation of many voices floods the place and the stench of sex darkens the atmosphere. "This woman should be stoned" someone shouts, "we caught her red-handed in the act of adultery" the others join in, holding stones in their hands.
The woman lying on the cold stony floor shakes involuntarily
The new Rabbi is silent. He has approached the circle where the woman has curled her body and with his finger writes on the hard ground. No one knows what He writes in the dirt, but as the voices of the people continue badgering he stands up and says:
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7 (b) NKJV)
Yes, just one word, and then He continued to write some more in the dirt.
You could have seen the penny dropping everywhere in the room. Their consciences exposing their sins and the convicted souls dropped the stones on the ground and left the court room leaving none but the young Rabbi and the woman.
She can't hear the silence. Her eyes have been forcefully shut for a while now and she does not understand if she is dead or deaf. A soft touch to her head penetrates the darkness inside her and she awakes to a soft voice saying “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (John 8:10 NLT)
She opens her eyes and looks around. There is no one there, no one to look at her in disgust, to shame her, to accuse and hurt her. She looks at the one standing with her and for the first time in her life she feels protected, safe! His merciful words wiped the fear and terror from her body dressing her with love, compassion and a new hope
The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; (Psalms 103:8, 11 NKJV)
His Mercy, so astonishing and breathtaking! His forgiveness so undeserved and scandalous!
Mercy is the weapon that fights guilt to the very last resistance. Any kind of guilt, the visible and the invisible, the big and the small, guilt that comes from true events and the one that lingers from the lies imagined or told.
His mercy always triumphs over strict justice. Just when you think you are about to slip into a deep cliff you see His mercy rushing by and holding you tight in His Steadfast Love.
I love and loathe summer at the same time. I love the sunshine and the long days that summer offers. I love families spending time together and the light washing loads. I can't wait to get my toes out and the opportunity to read long chunks of a good book without being disrupted.
But, there is one little thing that I loathe about summer: I am not so crazy about swimsuits. I know that I have to wear them if I want to enjoy summer and give this white winter body some lively colour, but small, tight 'attached to my body" clothing always make me feel a bit nervous.
So, as our family holiday is approaching I have to have some serious chats with my 'swimsuit phobia' self. I have to take her on the side and assure her that: no one sunbathing at the swimming pool sides will be watching me and the way how my swimsuit is fitting.
I need for the ten thousand time to convince myself that people coming on holidays will spend their time with their families and their loved ones and not wasting it on swimsuit dilemmas. Surely, they are not spending time and money to watch a stranger and her struggles with the swimsuit fixtures!
If you dear fried also are feeling a little bit tight when it comes to your swimsuit fitting remember that: People usually think of us less than we think they do. Each and everyone of us are already struggling with our own complexity, so we don't have as much time to think about others. This summer I want us to remember that summer is a season to enjoy and rest. The anxiety over the 'swimsuit' will only mess up our days and leave us disappointed, again. The weight of our bodies and the weight of our worries about it are not worth wasting yet another summer. .. trust me.
Summer is for all types of body shapes.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zechariah 9:12 TNIV
Try to remember how yesterday went or even a particular season of your life, a year perhaps. Like a flash most of the events that rush to be remembered are them from the “negative” pile.
I did! This is what I got first:
Three journeys to A&E, late mornings dropping the kids to school, a disagreement with the spouse that took weeks to clear...... Perhaps for you it was that friend that hurt you on your birthday, the guest that made you feel ashamed on that family gathering, your lovely grandmother’s death?
When we experience disappointments and hurts we tend to see our lives through that lens which is mostly coloured in black. We also start to believe that all our days are going be like that and those "blues" start and dictate how we live our lives.
The sad part of that is that even when we are enjoying times of blessings and peace we tend to think that it will soon be gone and the fear of something bad happening steals those moments too.
As believers we have a choice to make: we can choose to be prisoners of our circumstances or prisioners of Hope.
Being a prisoner of circumstances means we give permission to certain events to dictate the outcome of a day and eventually our lives.
Being a prisoner of Hope on the other side does not mean that we escape reality or that we ignore what goes on around or inside us — what that means is that our reality is locked within the bars of hope; it means that nothing that comes from inside or outside us escapes without being dressed in the garments of hope. The living Hope.
The living Hope is not a "dreamy wish" based on some fantasy outcome. The living Hope its the ability to choosing and to believe that whatever the circumstances might be they have not got the last say to our day or our lives, God does, He is the Living Hope.
The Hope that God is fully involved in my life, that he has got great plans for my life, that he is in total control. Hope that all things will work together for my good, tears will be turned to gladness and mourning into joy.
“He is silently planning for you in love” (Zeph 3:17 )
There are days in life when every effort you make or give looks to be going nowhere. Your trying trials have reached the limit, numbering too many to count and you wonder 'what is the point?' You start to question every action, decision and steps you have made until now and your mind is paralysed either with fear or disappointment.
Things have not happened as quickly as you thought, the way you thought or with the results you thought. What do you do?
In John 6, after a long day’s hard teaching and performing miracles Jesus is left with much less followers than when He started the day. See John 6: 48-70.
When He asked the twelve if they also wanted to give up on following Him because it was a hard path to follow, Peter's answer is so refreshing and so pivotal to use when feeling like giving up.
Peter said “Lord, who else can we go to? You have words that give life that lasts forever.” John 6:68 NLV.
There are 2 crucial questions to ask when you feel like giving up.
Firstly 'Where the other path takes you?
Secondly 'How long will that new adventure last until you come to the exact same point of defeat'?
Like many of Jesus’ disciples you may feel insecure and uncertain in what you are doing or following at the moment, but if you are his Disciples he that has started a good work in you will finish it. Phil 1:6.
Today you may feel like giving up on your work, marriage, calling, friendship, church, ministry, or children, but remember that giving up does not requires any special qualification.
There is somebody waiting on the other side of your "not giving up" attitude and determination whose life and future is connected to yours. Remember all those stories of success that we love to hear and read like the stories of Thomas A. Edison, Mother Teresa, Mozart, Helen Keller, George Whitefield, Martin Luther etc, they all got to the point of success by not giving up. Endurance is the main muscle of success.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Franklin D. Roosevelt
It's dark outside and the brisk dawn wind gently penetrates through her shawl. Her hand clenched at her chin holding tight not only the corners of her covering but her anticipation also of what's awaiting her. Her other hand holds different spices which effortlessly perfume this lonely and death stenched place. She has not slept properly for a few nights and this last one did not wanted to give up its darkness easy. Her feet gently press on the red earth which shyly shows the innocent blood drops marking the events of the last days. She is not afraid to be alone nor is she hesitant to visit the dead. Her heart is full of sorrow and grief and her mind is totally confused! A thousand thoughts run through her fragile mind looking for reason to cling to!
What happened to the person who showed mercy to her when others unleashed their meanness in full? Someone so precious and dear had suffered such cruelty and died an awful death. The least she could do for him is anoint his body. Her hands shake and her face freezes as she approaches the tomb. The giant stone has been removed from the mouth of the cave and its emptiness is unwelcoming to her! Frazzled and uncertain she drops the spices and runs to find the 'boys'.
'They must know how to help'- she sighs. We must find the Lord's body!"
Not all the boys come though. Who believes a woman hey? She looks tired and scattered, she is having hallucinations perhaps. The Lord died, who can take his body and get contaminated? Why do 'they' need him?
She does not dare to enter the tomb. That kind of room feels unwelcoming to her. She sits and weeps as the boys check for themselves. Now, they are ambiguous too, there is nothing there for them, so silently they walk back home.
But she can't part like that. She must stay and wait. The appearance of angels has scared and amazed all the people that they have appeared to in the past but not her! Not today!
When we are focused on the dead we neglect and don't recognise the supernatural even when that is staring at our face.
The white-robed angels try to talk to her but no, she is too busy and caught up in her worry to listen. Her sadness has taken her to a place of deep anguish that all around and inside her is looking for this one thing - 'the body'. She is trying to figure it out where the body may be or may have been taken to.
Sometimes our mind is so obsessed with this 'one thing' that is not going according to our plans at the moment that we forget to see and notice the wonder that surrounds us.
Weary and disappointed she drags her feet to leave with her head looking towards the shrinking pit. Someone is standing close and is trying to talk to her but she can't concentrate. She has not got time to converse with strangers or even the 'gardener' at this moment. Her eyes bleary and tear-soaked close as she pleads for help one more time! "Have you seen where the body is sir?” she asks. "Tell me"- frantically looking for an answer, and I will go and get him!"
"Who are you looking for?” the gentleman inquires. What is the reason you are still here?
We all need someone to come and challenge our actual state with some deep and searching questions. Why are you here? Whom we are waiting for? How long will we believe the lies that keep us in the same spot and pit?
Finally! A sound so gentle yet so penetrating to her heart shook her being! She was called by her name! "Mary!"
A sound so natural and a common greeting, but not today, not now. Never had a word utterance been as heavy in emotion as this one! The one thing that she thought was lost and gone forever was standing right beside her!
Like Mary we all have had those times when we have felt that the Lord was far and distant, his presence we could not sense. The ruth is just the opposite, when we feel abandon He is right beside us!
"Teacher" - she exclaimed! "I found you; there is no disappearing from me now".
We love to cling to people and experiences that we long waited for and stay like that forever.
But that's not what the Lord expects from Mary. "You have found me and you have found the truth"- he said to the weeping Mary! "Now with eyes overflowing with joy, go and share this message"
In the midst of our darkest moments when the clouds of trials have overshadowed us, our Lord breaks through the thickness of despair and calls us by name. Léa, Sue, Mary, Rosie ..... I am right here, next to you. Please, don't cling to experiences, to people -go and share the light that is shed in you in the midst of darkness around you, go and declare that life has conquered death; the tomb is empty so you can be full of life.
Like Mary the same voice echoes through the deepest part of us all urging "Get moving, leave the pit behind, it's time to arise and shine forth the light and life of the resurrection life.
“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. (Judges 5:24 NLT)
Mountain goat, she that ascends - that's what her name means. Like every woman in her community she wakes up every day with her mind full of tasks to be done.
Tent to be cleaned, meals to be cooked, kids to be nourished and visitors to be entertained. Her home is her dwelling place, her family is her business. Today a stressed visitor enters her tent. He is running in haste from someone. His face covered with sweat and dust fear and terror verbalises the urgency of the situation. What shall she do? She is alone and has heard about the man, he is the enemy.
The responsibility to welcome, honour and protect a guest is a vital part of her tradition, more than just a tradition - an absolute command. So, when the guest asks for water, she offers him curdled milk, a delicatessen beverage for the Eastern people. She makes him a bed, a place to rest.
So far she has kept and respected the tradition. The customs of the old were applied. Yet, her heart is telling her something else. The enemy has entered her domain- he is not only threatening her household but her community also. She is not a fighter, she is just a woman that happens to have some tent pegs lying around. What can she do? She acts. She breaks the rules and kills the guest! She does not know if she will be severely condemned for her action, but she can't leave the enemy sleep inside her tend.
Paul says that : The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV)
Today, we don't need to use pegs or guns to fight the enemy for we don't wage against flesh and blood, but we do need to fight back the darkness that is threatening our lives.
There comes a time when rules must be broken, tradition ignored and customs not kept. We love tradition and customs, but not more than doing what is right. When the enemy of our soul comes and breaks into our families and communities we must take a stand. Like Jael, we must use what we have in our hand to fight evil, to keep him at bay from our homes, our children, our marriages, our friends our communities.
The judge of that time, a woman called Deborah, honoured Jael and names her 'blessed above all women!' There is beauty in cheering up each other girls while combating darkness with bravery! The enemy of this world is freely rampaging into the places where we live. Time has come for us to use what we have on our hands and with wisdom from above to shine the light bright into those dark places.
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank
Loneliness was first found in the garden of Eden. There has never been a garden like Eden! There, beauty was born and was abundant! With trees that blossomed at any season. With waters swarming with colourful fish and the air glowing with magnificent birds there was not other oasis alike on earth. You could have every kind of animal to be your pet there and every day was for sure an adventure.
Right there, with all the breathtaking views of the mountains peaks and the labyrinth valleys far beyond anything any artist could capture and pour on paper loneliness was present. There was perfection, there was loneliness too.
Perfection can be great at hiding our hearts real aches. You can be surrounded by a sea of beautiful wonders and still, feel alone.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. .........
Genesis 2:18 NET
God, yes Him who sees everything that He created, sees man in the middle of it all and identifies his loneliness. Adam had not complained so far, it's God's empathy that intervenes and solves the first ever problem of the human's heart. Yes, there is lions to pet and lambs to cuddle in Eden, but still none that Adam can talk to and identity himself with.
God thinks ahead of Adam and bless him with a companion, a helper, an êzer.
This word êzer has been one of them words that many theologians and language experts have struggled to find the perfect match to describe its full meaning.
Many times in the Bible the word 'êzer' is used to describe military aid: help and support from a position of supply and strength. Other times it refers to help from a stronger one, from a more secure or strengthened position, without need of reciprocal help.
From the beginning of times loneliness was something that prevented fullness of life, so God plans an answer right there for it: Êzer
A relationship between equals is the answer and cure to loneliness. That kind of relationship where the other person serves as a rib to protect our hearts with strength and vigilance. That kind of relationship that speaks truth without fear, gives mercy freely and loves during hard times.
To fight loneliness we have to surround ourselves with 'êzer' people and allow God to help us through the process of identifying and overcoming loneliness.
Solitude is different from loneliness. Wise Solitude its necessary because it renews the soul and refreshed the mind, but loneliness on the other side is dangerous, it kills the soul slowly and paralyses the mind.
It's brave to understand that: the garden, nature and all beautiful things created are to serve our solitude. People, and specially those who handle our hearts with truth and love are a gift from God to guard us against loneliness.
Are you an êzer to someone? Are you looking for an êzer to fellowship with?
The alarm clock woke me up this morning reminding me that I am not enough. I am not enough until I have an 'early rise, ' routine, which I have not....yet.
Splashes of milk smearing the morning table stare at me 'you are not enough.' You have failed at teaching your kids to eat with their mouth shut and have good table etiquettes.'
The empty coffee machine standing cold and indifferent let me know in a passive aggressive way that 'I am not enough' as wife too. I only thought to make myself a cup of tea and neglected to prepare one for my husband.
The mirror on my landing laughs at me ' you are not thin enough.' For this very reason we don't see each other often and I try to avoid it altogether.
My bank balance echoes clearly 'you are not enough.' Somehow it points out not only my finance shortcomings, but my failing to use wisdom on managing my household too.
My phone shouts 'you are not enough.' You have not enough likes, friends, comments, texts ......... no one cares about you.
From every corner of the day I hear ' I am not enough!'
It is difficult these days to hear a voice that affirms and encourages our fulfilment in life.
Feeling you are not enough is that sense of incompleteness, an emptiness like you are missing something, not hitting the mark, lacking the ability to offer the best you know you can. And the sad part of all that is that all our tries to help us to feel 'enough' have only extended the list of our short-failing.
.. and in Christ you have been brought to fullness...... Col 2:10
Yes, this is the only voice out there affirming our 'enoughness.' The only problem is that it's so hard to hear this soft quite voice in the thickest of all those laud noises telling us the opposite.
I know that for myself all those times that I hear 'I am not enough' louder and pressing I have stopped tuning my ear to that soft sound voice that says 'you are enough!'
“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.”
Proverbs 2:2 NLT
It's a Brave thing my dear friend to tune our ears to the right voice. It's hard work and requires our full commitment but there is not other way to silencing all those voices that demand us to keep trying and be enough. Without intention we can't incline our ears and mind to The Voice that whispers 'You Are Enough!'
How can we hear that Voice? We will definetely hear that voice as we spend time in the Word, immense our hearts in worship and when we invest time with them who are familiar with the rhythms of its tunes.
I can promise you my friend that we will be able to recognise and hear that voice more and more and start trusting its truth that way. Little by little we will recognise it among hundreds of other voices and become familiar with its rhythm. That way we can start and live our lives from a place that is full and not empty, whole and not lucking.
J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.
Could it be that simple though? Can we 'shift' worries until they disappear?
Jesus plainly said to 'stop worrying' (see Matthew 6:25) and if I asked you this very moment to tell me if you think worry is a waste of time you would say: Absolutely! So, we know that worry is a waste of time, yet we still worry endlessly.
We worry loathing our past, are constantly concerned for the present, and in total anguish for our future.
Why do we do it and how can we stop it?
To worry is to live by default. It's perfectly natural for us all to see our lives and spot those things that are not going in the right direction and worry about. The way we answer by worrying requires no special efforts.
As Christians though we are called to live by purpose not by default. Purpose rises higher than what's expected and reasons it's way out of the worry triangle through faith.
Yes, it is true that we constantly will have things to worry about, but can we convince ourselves early in the worry process that : none of our worries has helped any of our lives situations to get any better? Can we, right there, stop uttering fretful prayers ( worry prayers) and start declare faithful prayers (prayers while we trust God to interveen in our behaf )?
I have found out lately that another word for worry in the Bible is 'choke.' Worry forces our lives to a standstill. Like a suffocating rope worry cuts our oxygen supplies ( joy, peace and rest) and urges us to live frantic lives. Under worry we are emotionally unstable to function and enjoy our lives.
So, as soon as we detect the worry rope closing in, let us stop right there and do something. You may choose J Arthur Rank method or Apostle Paul ( see Philippians 4:6), but please let us not allow worry to become the habit we live our lives by.
We can do this you know? Because the one who said 'don't worry' lives inside of us and helps us through the process.
"I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about. Henry Ford
There will be a day when our lives will make perfect sense to us. There is a great ending to our story. Yes, there is conflict, there is pain, there is heartbreak for now. But there is beauty and magic also. We all wish we had a DeLorean (the car in the movie Back to The Future) to take us into eternity and assure us that 'all is going to be ok" at the end. As Christians we have that guarantee. Easter! Yes, the story of Jesus' resurrection is the promise that what awaits for us in the future is glorious.
Not only that, but the fact that when Jesus resurrected he didn't rush to eternity but spent days with his friends restoring and encouraging them tells us that : right here on earth our stories will be a 'happy ending' because he is with us.
Easter, our vehicle to the future is unbreakable, is shiny, is timeless.
It's not in the grave, not in the dark, nor in the hopeless places that our ending lies. We are going somewhere friend, and there, someone is waiting for us with open arms. But while we travel to our destination let us remember that because He is risen, we can be too. Jesus showed up on the resurrection morning with holes in his hands, scar on his chest and marks on his head to tell His story from the other side. Easter is an opportunity for us to do just that. To tell our stories while wearing our marks. Our scars and wounds can refine us, but don't define us. We walk now wearing the tears of time, but not for long. The dawn of Easter stamps with ‘it's well' inscription all over our lives.
Arise, He is risen!
Read John 21
Shame is that ugly pointing finger that says:
You are not enough
Remember that secret you keep? If people knew about that you wouldn't be so confident.
Your father left you
Your husband cheated on you
You can't help others; your own children don't respect you.
You don't deserve good breaks; they are for good people and you are not good.
You need to work hard to be excepted.
Who do you think you are?
Shame does not tell us what we have done wrong. Guilt does that perfectly. Shame tells us that we are wrong, that there is no hope for us and that with our heads down we should hide from the world and living altogether.
Shame likes to record our failings. Then time after time unloads the whole ammunition leaving us defeated. It's right there that we are very prone to sink into long self pity periods, depression, overeating, starving, anger, loneliness, isolation and the biggest of all- feeling worthless, that one, sticks like clay and paralyses us.
How do we fight shame then?
Well, shame loves to be isolated. It grows in the dark and its well protected by fake smiles and many trying to be 'better' acts. Shame hates to be exposed! And that we must do in order to fight it right at the core. Expose it! Share with a trusted friend, spouse, family member your shame talk, all those shame thoughts. Start sharing with God first if you are not ready to open your heart to anyone just yet.
I can tell you in full assurance that when I do that I find that the magic word 'me too' from my friends consoles me in such a way that tons of weight fall off my shoulders and a freer heart rejoices inside my chest.
Dear brave friend, shame will not listen to our 'sorry', no even one of our pleas. Shame does not have any 'mercy' for us. Shame will not just leave us alone if we ignore it long enough. No, shame doesn't care about our sorrys, but it does run away all the time we uncover it. So let's start today, let's start now to expose shame. Lets do it little by little until we know that the people we are sharing with are handling our hearts in love and trust.
How is shame effecting your life? Who is someone you can share with your 'worthless' thoughts and talk you have about/with yourself?
How it's going sister friend? How is shame changing you?
How is this kind of talk:
You spoke too much again
You forgot about your friends birthday
Your children never wrote those 'Thank You" cards
You ignored your spouse......again
You ate too much ....... again
You wasted another day on doing nothing
Shame on you, when you are going to get hold of yourself?
Yes friend, how is this method getting you to where you hope you should be?
I didn't think so either. So, what do we do? How on earth can we change? How can we be the 'real' us? How can we start to move in the right direction?
Well, firstly by recognising that "shame is never a changing agent."
Yes, we have used shame for far too long to understand by now that isn't working, but we continue using it hoping that by magic one day we will strike the right cord by speaking the appropriate shaming sentence .
Secondly, by pairing with the best agent for change. Love.
Yes, the simple and profound - love.
Knowing that we are loved by God who made us, family who stick with us and friends who do life with us is the best way to start and replace those shame thoughts with. I know it's not that easy, I know that it's not that straight forward, but today I just want to convince you and me that : Shame will never change you to the person you are longing to become! Shame is never a Change Agent!
For years I didn't wanted a dog! Its not that I don't like animals, but only lately I have found out the true reason why. Not, it's not the hours of exercise and caring that I had to get use to-although that was a concern, a more deeper reason bothered me. I found out that the fear of one day loosing our beloved pet was the real motive of resisting that thought. The heartache and pain that that event would cause to our family made me resist that idea.
We do the exact same thing with our friendships. We are afraid of building deep friendships for fear of getting hurt by friends or they leaving us. We refuse to love because love can be crushing. We forsake our dreams our deepest desires because hope has been deferred, disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow? So, we 'take control' of our lives by suffocating our hearts. By limiting our opportunities and reducing them to more 'manageable' ones.
We buy a goldfish, we love partially, we dream small........ Then we wonder why with each passing day we extinguish a little. Why the spark of life gets dimmer and dimmer.
"The desires of good people lead straight to the best," says the proverb. That's how we know if our hearts are open, if they are awake: by the nature of our desires. Do our desires lead us to the 'good enough' options for our lives? To they lead us to 'acceptable' ones? Or do they guide us to the best choices we can make for our lives?
If we sense our lives shrinking, closing in- would it be that we have reduced our desires, what we really long for to manageable sizes? Have we perhaps build a dam to contain them and keep them checked, safe?
If the answer is yes, can you feel the walls beginning to crack lately? Don't be afraid! Let the dam burst. Let the excitement and life bubbling desires run through our hearts again and let us sprint wild with them. "Ask and I will give you the nation" is what welcomes us to the other side. Desire expands our lives, despair shrinks them!
Proverbs 11:23 MSG
I know how much rejection hurts and the fear of being vulnerable again is real, still show up in life and live. The agony of living a safe, protected and pain free life is more deadly than the pain caused by living in the midst of people who might and for certainly disappoint again.
I know relationships are hard work, love doesn't feel welcoming every day. Still fight for love. I don't know any other more worthy cause than the 'love fight.' The battle to exist in someone else's heart and mind fulfils our soul deepest longing and it's worth any sacrifice.
I know you already feel like all your effort to be a good person are wasted. Still, keep waking up and trying. For that's what being good is — showing up and putting oneself fully out there. After all we are not called to be perfect mums, wives, business women ... individuals, just devoted ones; who wake up every morning with the cry 'help me Jesus' then smearing lipstick on the lips go on doing their best.
I know you are disappointed with God. He has been unfair, mysterious and absent. Still, keep believing— who else is out there that breaths life, sheds truth and colours the world with beauty? A lot of us know that He can be trusted. He is not tamed, but he is so kind.
I know some days you feel like a failure. Keep showing up. Do what makes your heart sing. Press forward, even if the process is slow. We aren't meant to dance to other people's tunes. We were created to write our own story, sing our own melody, paint our own picture. Be brave. Show up daily, fully, intentionally!
"Oh @&%*! What are you doing?" Those were the first words out of the gentlemen that I knocked down as I lost control on the skiing slope. We (my class and I) were crossing through a very busy piste and in a flick of time while checking if I was free to go or not I had lost control. I was slipping uncontrollably backwards downhill. My efforts to stop only slowed me down a bit but didn't stop me crashing into the man and his family as they were taking a break.
All of them fell down and understandably were not happy. I was prepared for anger and frustration but the repetitive words that were spoken by the couple took me by surprise. "You stupid you, you have not place in skiing, I will have you arrested!" Between the accusations, crying and pain I tried my hardest to apologise. "I am so sorry sir, it was an accident, are you all ok?" The man continued to shout and his voice like a war siren had stopped the whole piste activity and people were watching, listening.
A French skier came close handing my ski pole and with a broken English tried to help by saying to the angry gentleman that it was an accident, that things happen and that was not need to shout because all of his family were fine and not hurt. Trembling and crying I walked out to find my class, but those words spoken had done more damage than I anticipated. Fear creeped inside me like crazy and for 3 hours on the piste I fall, lost control, cried and could not ski at all like the day before. The day before I had been fearless, fun and daring, today all that confidence castle was smashed to bits. I tried very hard to 'be that girl' you know the one, the-one-that-forgot-already-those-spoken-words-and -moved -on-with-a-brave-face... I couldn't.
How do you build confidence when all of it is knocked down and destroyed? How do you gather yourself and show up living when you are in pieces? How do you love when love betrayed you? How do you build friendships when the wounds of a 'friend' are still fresh and burning?
At the end of my lesson, tearing up and still hearing those words repeatedly banging in my head I knew I needed some help to start and put those broken pieces together. I met Nath at our ski dropping place and told him what had happened and that I was in need of a walk. He hugged me hard and let me go.
I walked slowly in the village buzzing roads and tried to understand why that episode had effected me so much. His words have not only made me feel a skiing disaster, but that I in fact sucked at all things in life altogether.
I walked around pressing snow underneath my feet and letting my mind cool. As I ascended a little hill in Val d'isere village the tower of St Bernard de Menthon church stood up in front of me and I felt safe and drawn to enter there. It was empty, the only person inside was a men playing his guitar and singing. I sat there looking at all ikons, smelling the candles burning with my eyes glued on the centrepiece. A big statue of Jesus on the cross! As I stood there wiping tears and whispering 'help' I felt my heart starting to beat slower, be less jumpy. I could not understand a word from the song the vicar ( I noticed now that the gentleman with the guitar was wearing a collar) was singing, but my soul understood every single note. Little by little that hurricane of feelings, fear and unsettling was clearing up and I was able to see and gather some of the shattered pieces and start building up again. How?
Jesus hanging on the cross in front of me spoke of my value as a person, that value before I even make or think I am a mistake.
Before people call me stupid He had called me a masterpiece. Before I was told I had no place in skiing, God has given me a place on his table, his family.
I had to lay the foundation of my confidence right there before I even was ready to start and build again. Before I added bricks and mortar I knew I had to have the right foundation to build.
I wish I can tell you that all was great after I left the church, that I felt confident and strong again after a few hours. I am sorry, that is not the truth. Those words spoken that day still came rushing after I left the church, they shout even now as I type and try to be loud in my head, try to tell me who `I am'.
They still want to convince me that I am that shaky, stupid person, but I am fighting back, I am building that confidence wall little by little on the right foundation. I have noticed that when we hear constantly what people say we loose sight of who we really are, but when we listen to what God says we find the true us.
We are never going to be brave with our lives unless our confidence is build little by little on the right bedrock. Every other building ground is shifting sand. All the 'self' help, people opinions, 'self' control, success, fame, money ....... will eventually crumple at the pressure of life. But when we have a strong foundation we can build something strong and unshakable every time when the walls of our confidence are destroyed, we can do that again and again.
So, I am back on the horse that threw me back (skiing). I am back facing that fear, and while there I am gathering pieces where my conference was shattered, I am adding new ones also so that I can build up an even stronger confidence wall!
Fat snow flakes dance in the air and exhausted land on the frosted earth. The scenery here it's breathtaking, very much like a winter wonderland. It's our first time in Val d'Isère and I am already in love with the place. Did I just say "I am in love with a place?" We use the word 'love' loosely these days, but tomorrow it's St Valentine (the day we people celebrate love!) and I have not bought a gift for Nath yet.
The first Valentine gift I ever got was when we were engaged. Nath is the first and only who has given me Valentine gifts. Before that I use to hide on the Valentine's day. The sight of red roses and small boxes tightly wrapped up use to make me feel the loneliness girl around. The day of Love was the more Unloving day indeed.
When you think of the story how St Valentine came to be you soon understand that love is sacrificial before it's romantic and that love starts as a decision before is expressed in feelings. Yes, receiving roses, chocolate and jewellery is beautiful but things given on that day only will not maintain love. So, a couple of years back I decided that before running to find a gift for Nath I must walk slowly deep down inside my heart and look for this one thing to give.
'Am I prepared this year to not give up on us?' I ask this question on Valentine season because I know the answer can be the best gift I can offer to Nath. I know that every year our love will have a chance to grow and as result get tested, I just want my heart to be prepare for that. Before running to find the right gift I have to slow down and find my will to love deeper. I want Nath to see the promise 'I won't give up on us' before he sees the material gift. I know that any gift wrapped up with that kind of promise will make a beautiful Valentine day. So, that is what I have been doing this early morning on February the 13th, preparing my heart again. I want intentionally to think and be willing of ways how our love can grow deeper and better than has ever been.
Tomorrow morning though when all family is a sleep and dreaming I will sneak to the near by boulangerie and see what I can find to lavish Nath's stomach with. The saying 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach' has proved many times to be true and helpful too .
Happy Valentine friends, the day to promise to not give up on Love, never!
One day Thomas Edison came home and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”
His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him.
Please teach him yourself.
After many, many years, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, one day he was looking through old family things. Suddenly he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper was written: Your son is addled [mentally ill]. We won’t let him come to school any more.
Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”
Like Edison, but with fewer tears I cried too as I read this story which has circulates largely on the web lately. But most of all I thought deep and hard about what it takes to be called a hero.
A real hero of our days is the one that knows and sees clearly the performance, but is brave enough to choose to speak to the potential instead. It takes no effort at all to speak what we see in our children, husband, friend or colleague. Words like "you are weak, you don't have a backbone, you are not like Sussie or John, you never going to learn that, you are a loser.......etc escape our mouths fluently, but can we see and voice the unseen?
Performance is easily seen, potential on the other hand stays hidden within us waiting for the right eyes and lips to unlock it.
Yes, words are there to be spoken, but the choice of words we decide to speak is definitely on us. I wonder how our daily lives and conversations will look if we spoke and encouraged people's potential rather than their practice? That's what vision is right? Championing, pointing out in people who they can become?
I know for sure that speaking to the potential in people rather than the behavior would increase the "Thomas Edison's" in our world. We will have more genius and fulfilled spouses, children, friends and colleagues. I know for definite also that the world would be a place less insecure to live in and much more generous in making room for each other's gifting.
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” Goethe
I pray because I feel so small and unable inside this vast world that I need to know I am seen, I am noticed, I am not alone.
I pray because I can't follow my children to school, protect them and care for them always.
I pray because more often than not I have this jealousy feeling and fear that my husband might fall for someone else, the better looking type, the more established kind of women.
I pray because there is a storm inside of my heart that will not calm down unless I utter the name - Jesus.
I pray because empty words alone will not mend relationships, broken hearts and damaged souls.
I cry out the word 'help' hundreds of times a day because I need it big doses of it, in big matters and little ones alike.
"Help" is a prayer that is always answered. It doesn't matter how you pray--with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing. Churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors. Years ago I wrote an essay that began, "Some people think that God is in the details, but I have come to believe that God is in the bathroom.”
― Anne Lamott, Further Thoughts on Faith
I pray because I miss family and friends living afar, I know that I can't be there in person, but prayer can and give me peace.
I pray because the world is a mess and a beautiful place and I don't want to ignore ether of them.
I pray because prayer like a lit arrow pierces ahead into the dark and my unknown directing me where to go.
I pray because million of you pray too and that is miraculous. Like a multicoloured chorus our voices sing along a heartfelt song, a symphony which converses with our maker. I'm convinced, I have seen and witnessed that prayer works.
Prayer is that one conversation I can't do without, it's the oxygen that maintains my earthy lungs, so I will pray till I don't need it any longer. I will continue to breathe.
Dear husband. When you go to a party with your wife please stop time after time your engaging conversations and go find her. Give her a smile, a kiss on the neck or even a hip rub. She needs to know right there inside that big room that you eyes are still on her. Assure her that you are very proud of her and so blessed to have her at your side.
Dear wife, yes it's good to have friends over for a meal. The evening has been lovely but longer than you anticipated and now you are tired. You are about to snap at your husband or put him down in front of all for not thinking of helping you. Please don't. Go and give him a waist hug and a pair of loving eyes. I can promise you that he will feel immediately like a hero. He will grab that sword, cutlery I mean and shine it to perfection.
Dear boyfriend, be more affectionate (hold her hand, hug and smile often) to your girlfriend in public than private. She needs you to let her know and declare it to the world that the quest is over. You have found the One.
Dear girlfriend, yes your buddies are still very important to you. Nonetheless, your boyfriend will soon become your best friend, so invest more into that relationship please. I assure you that that time invested will give great dividends to your couple life later.
Dear mamma. Yes, all that shouting shame, criticism and rushing around weighs heavy on your shoulders. Don't ever give up please, don't give up on cupping their faces (make them bend if they have passed your height) and tell them. "You're a good kid, I am so proud of you and I love you so much!" I promise you that they will forgive you for the shouting and that loving eyes talk will become their strongest inner voice for life.
Dear daddy. As you open the door to enter the house your energy tank feels scarce. All you want doing is grabbing your plate of food and reclining watching tv. Dig deeper please. That word 'love' indeed is spelled 'time' bigger and louder at home. The big and little eyes are waiting for a kiss, a smile, some kind of understanding.
Dear friend, yes it's tough work to split open your heart's pain and joy to someone who might abuse and use you. Keeping a friendship strong requires us to be bravely open, to be vulnerable. So be brave, be wise and you start first. Trust me friendships are worth the price. Our deepest pain comes from relationships, and God uses relationships to mend our hearts. Don't miss out on that! Go brave friend
I went to the dentist today. Don't worry I will not share any horrifying story here because there isn't any, but I learned something as I sat down on that white chair that is worth sharing. As the bright light beamed through my orange protector glasses I wonder how is it for a dentist to face every day working with a persistent drilling noise? I have sat there for a hour only and the noise of the drill was driving me crazy.
So, with my mouth numb and wide opened I asked him. How do you do well your job working in the company of this annoying, loud, uncomfortable (I was generous with the choice of my adjectives) noise?
His answer surprised me. "I don't hear it!" He calmly said. 'How come?' I asked, now very short of adjectives.
"I am so focused on doing a good job and having a satisfied client that the noise of the drill, the bright lights, the music on the radio ......all of them, I don't hear!"
What? You don't hear the screeching noise of the drill? His answer was the same again. Simply-No
So, focus is the secret of quietening all those annoying other noises that distract us - I thought.
If I am well focused on eaten healthy for example my eyes will be on the good result that that process will bring and not on the cake and cheese around me? If my focus is arrowlike on having good relationships I will see for ways how to improve and invest on those relationships rather than hearing all the negative, complains and judgement noises around me. If I want to be successful at a certain filed my focus needs to be there, totally, wholeheartedly, almost forcefully because all the around noises are going to be present, there annoyingly looking for my attention, districting my focus, pulling me away from the most important things.
Where we focus on there we are heading to!
If I had to focus on just one thing for the whole 2016 it will be relationships.
I just want to be more brave with them. I want to nurture those relationships that let my soul breathe and disentangle myself from those relationships that enslave, suffocate and languish me.
Our lives are as strong as our good relationships are!
We need healthy relationships not only to enjoy life, but to be able to face life's storms well . When Nath was almost forceful for us to have a 'date' each week I wondered if that was even possible. I though we will get bored by the third time and have nothing to say to each other. I was wrong. Not only that I look forward to that day but I have a deeper understanding and friendship with Nath because of it. I want to nurture that one better this year.
Those little conversations that my kids share as we drive to their school and back have become some recently discovered gems. I want to be more present in my children's life and not miss those rich moments when they come by. I want to stop while chopping an onion and stirring up the dinner to hear their heart pour out, that will fill their soul and mine and sustain us longer than the food can.
A few friends and I started the 'cooking club' last year. Basically we meet once a month and share food and time together. Their company soon has become one of the highlights of the month and I love what that converge does to me. Time with those girls has challenged me, grown me, we have laughed hard and cried painful tears too. I need that relationship, I value that time so much, yes-that is a keeper too.
As a leader I meet regularly with many women from our community. We exchange encouragements, different pieces from our life and truths from the Bible. I love giving my time and heart like that. Community has a way of refining us. By edifying others we illuminate ourselves and fulfil the belonging ache.
Then come those relationships that I like to keep at bay. I have to be more brave with them then with the one I like to nurture. I love people, don't get me wrong, but if good relationships build us up then the negative ones really dismantle us. Relationships that are kept by manipulation, control and guilt need established boundaries time after time as people need time to change, some never do. I have tried to love people like that.......many times, and all those times I am the one left to pay the big bill of maintaining 'peace' - which mostly means loosing myself little by little.
I have learned that love in those cases has to be more from afar till the right moment comes when our hearts are safe to build trust. Relationships are hard work, that's why I want the main focus to be on them. Relationships are amazing, that's why I want to be investing more and more of me in them.
Happy New Year Brave One! May we grow couragious with our relationships.