Contentment, Faith, Friendship, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Visual Impairment

I recently found out I needed a mild prescription for reading glasses and was completely baffled and overwhelmed at all the offerings of frames there were to choose from. It reminded me of my first days of motherhood when I realised this whole world existed long before I joined the ranks. When I walked into the glasses shop and tried on a hundred pairs of frames, I thought, “Everyone who wears glasses has done this. I have never appreciated the pain of what they have gone through.” So, to all you glasses-wearing people out there, cheers to a job well done, making it happen for so many years.

My lenses brought the slightly blurry print into focus and I realised that for a few months, I had been straining to see what was clearly there all along. I had been looking through squinty dissatisfaction that what I knew was there just wouldn’t pop off the page clearly enough to be read.

My husband has needed glasses for several years now and he absolutely CANNOT see anything without them. His misplaced specs must be located before he can read homework, look at my Instagram, or check his sports scores. Without his lenses bringing into focus the world around him he is an outsider. Frustrated at what he can’t find. Trapped in his own head for what is out of reach without help.

When he slips on his Clarke Kent frames, his brow loses its furrow and he can once more connect with the world around him. He participates in the conversation; he contributes and is able to see what was always there.

We understand how two people can literally look at small print and see different things depending on the level of myopia involved. However, near-sightedness affects more than how we read the newspaper. Shortsightedness alters our very life experiences.

Wrongdoings of others cause crooked vision and if left untreated, may lead to blindness.

Prideful judgements introduce dyslexia as we swap our expectations of self for other people's intentions.

Miscommunication and an unwillingness to handle conflict breed cataracts among friends, a live lived askew.

Negativity dulls the world around us. Our vision is clouded, like driving through fog; we slow down and even stop for fear of the road ahead.

Clarity comes when we align our optics, not with physical glasses but with the One who is truly perfect. God, our almighty Creator, is the only perfect lens. Life is never perfect, but God promises that we can trust him because he overcame the world. Living a life of faith means we can’t actually see everything in front of us with clarity as we weave our own imperfect perceptions into our world. We must pause and clean off the debris blocking us from seeing Jesus in our midst. Rose coloured glasses are at our disposal if we will just put them on. It doesn’t mean we deny the pain around us, but the onus is on us to be willing to shift our perspective and view life through the 20/20 Biblical lens God has freely given us to look through each and everyday.

That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. 

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (MSG)
family, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

November, Again.

Every November comes around with the velocity of a high speed train. Daylight savings, spring, open pools, sunshine.

And birthdays.

Three of them.

All in five days.

Sydney’s on the 5th, mine on the 8th and Sam’s on the 9th. No merging with traffic. November arrives – and, BOOM! So do all the birthdays.

I feel overwhelmed with another piece of childhood left behind; and, in the frenzy of planning parties, buying gifts, baking cakes for classmates, I forget about my own birthday. (It’s also very weird to celebrate in Spring when for 35 yrs mine fell in fall. Void of the changing leaves and leftover Halloween candy, there are no triggers telling me it’s my turn.)

So, this year, I decided to reflect a little more intentionally, to pick up blogging again, and hopefully inspire someone else who resents the audacity of the calendar with all its overreach and disregard for the pace I reckon we would all like to keep. The passing of time is a universal truth common to human experience. But we don’t have to like it!

I spend a lot of time prepping for the future: saving money, planning holidays, exercising and eating right. And, in the midst of all that habit-stacking and goal-setting, I often lament what was. Nostalgia rings a familiar bell with the sound of laughter and hope. I want to live in the present but I struggle to do so. I long to be content with what is but I have a hard time reconciling the vision I once held for what would one day be with the harsh reality of what actually is.

Disappointment has been an all-too-familiar friend over the last decade. Sure, Instagram shows the highlight reel of everything that’s been good. And, there’s been a lot of good. But, unmet expectations, betrayal, money stresses, mistakes, loss, (did I mention cellulite and wrinkles) have also taken up real estate in my life. No one ever puts those things on a vision board, do they?

The reality is, perfection is never a promise made by the One who gives us our breath. Easy isn’t extended to even the most lucky and blessed. Whatever our family, finances or faith, we aren’t immune to heartache and hurt.

So, this birthday week, as I reflect on my 43 yrs, I feel a little bit of ‘blah’ mixed with a little bit of ‘bliss.’ I feel free even though the heaviness of sadness threatens to invade. I can admit my faults and disappointments with unfettered honesty but when I do, vulnerability seeks to bring shame. I’m liberated when I can acknowledge I don’t have simplistic answers for complex problems but I would rather stick my head in the sand.

Embracing the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other is actually living footloose and fancy free. The fact that I woke up this morning means I’ve been given permission to use the gift of another plain old day to make a difference in someone’s life, to love the ones I hold dear and to give thanks.

Today, on this 43rd birthday of mine, I am more resilient, tested and true to myself… less insecure and more focussed on the things that matter most. I care about giving of myself more than of what I can gain. I feel grateful for every healthy breath and for a solid marriage. I’m pleased that my shoulders are a strong platform upon which my children can stand. I see my Heavenly Father through a sometimes beat up lens but what always comes into focus is his faithfulness and love for me (and YOU).

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Fasting, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Victory!”

Photo: goalcast.com

Mission Accomplished!

Homerun!

Bull’s-eye!

What does triumph look like when it comes to finishing a fast? That you didn’t cave in and eat sugar or drink alcohol? Are you celebrating the elimination of social media from your life for three weeks?

Victory doesn’t always mean a “win” in the way you might measure it. Winning doesn’t necessarily mean that all your prayers were answered or that you had perfect quiet times full of “aha” moments each day for 21 days. Walking in victory means you’re able to allow vulnerability before God and others. That you can humble yourself and forgive. You can admit when you’re wrong.

A feather in your cap with Jesus looks like hiding under the shadow of his wing when all you really want to do is come out fighting. Open arms and a tender heart that’s ready to receive everything God has for you will put runs on the board. No fear. No shame.

You’re not in competition with anyone else for your Saviour’s approval or love. Your win isn’t at someone else’s expense. The only loser is the enemy who can’t rob you of your joy no matter what your circumstances.

You might put back something into your life that you eliminated for the last three weeks. Show up for spiritual training, nonetheless. Keep pushing forward with God. Stretch and run everyday… alongside your Heavenly Father, not ahead. He won’t let you fall behind. He’s there, next to you, cheering you on into a lifetime of victories!

“You’ve trained me with the weapons of warfare-worship;
now I’ll descend into battle with power
to chase and conquer my foes.
You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence.
Your power within makes me strong to subdue,
and by stooping down in gentleness
you strengthened me and made me great!
You’ve set me free from captivity
and now I’m standing complete, ready to fight some more!”

Psalm 18:34-36 (TPT)
freedom, purpose, Uncategorized

Day 20: “Purpose is a Key.”

Photo: organiseme.wordpress.com

This year’s 21 days of prayer and fasting is drawing to a close. You have pursued God with intentionality over the last few weeks and you are closer to him. What’s the key to moving forward in a deeper, more meaningful way with Jesus? For 2019 to be different to 2018?

Understanding your purpose and seeking God for revelation regarding your unique calling will always lend a clue.

You treat your future like a vast mystery, unsure whether you’re worthy of greatness. Doubtful whether this is “it” and whether you should just get used to the status quo. Getting by. Content with mediocre. Or maybe you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, saddened at the thought of moving forward when life keeps throwing you lemons. How do you make lemonade when it’s so hard?

The good news is that God created you with a purpose in mind. You weren’t born and then God thought, “now… what am I going to do with this one??” Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Did you catch that? God prepared IN ADVANCE…

Wake up each day asking God what he has in store for you. Expect greatness! Anticipate walking in freedom despite your circumstances. No matter how others treat you or what life deals, endeavour to trust God with every. minute. every. day.

You will find doors unlocking. Expansion of your influence. Purpose. Hope for the future.

“A person may have many ideas concerning God’s plan for his life, but only the designs of his purpose will succeed in the end.”

Proverbs 19:21 (TPT)
Contentment, Fasting, God Speaks, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 19: “Pray in the Spirit.”

What do you do when you don’t know what to pray? When this journey is over and there are no devotions landing in your inbox nor any clear direction?

Some of you enjoy the structure of having a thought to pray around; you you can easily find a devotion online or on the YouVersion Bible app.

Others write down your prayers like a Santa Claus wish list – all those wants and needs pouring out of you in desperate yearning like a child highlighting items in the Target ad circular.

You might pray “HELP!” when a desperate need arises. Or, you may have the same prayer you keep bringing before God day in and day out; it’s caught in your headspace like a bad pop song you heard yesterday that just won’t go away.

Prayer is as much about talking to God and sending up your heavenly airmail as it is about listening to what your God has to say to you regarding your situation. Oftentimes, the answers you seek are right before you as you calmly wait on God to intervene on your behalf. But, you are so busy shopping around for what YOU can do, striving to make stuff happen. You are box ticking and stretching yourself beyond your human capacity to work out the angles and to try and solve your problems, all the while crying out to God, “come along with my plans… bless them. Guide me as I jump off this next cliff. Save me as I step out to do more, more, more, more!”

What if you relax into his loving arms and do nothing today except pray in the spirit and wait? The most troubling situations you’re facing might resolve themselves without your angling and posturing. The answer you seek might be found in the secret place alongside your Saviour. He is intervening on your behalf. He goes before you. He is behind you.

Wait on him and give him a chance to come through for you.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27
Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 18: “More Often Than Not.”

Art by: Hong Leung

The idea that a new habit is formed in 21 days is a bit of a myth. Although, implementing a new routine or eliminating something from your life for 21 straight days will surely set a habit in motion.

One study done in America in 2009 by the Center for Bible Engagement indicates that for the Word of God to have significant impact in your life, you must engage with it at least four times/ week. In other words, more often than not.

You may already be in the habit of spending quality time with God each and everyday. Or, this time of prayer and fasting may have sparked something new within you. Keep going!

If you have a penchant for skipping out on time alone to meditate and pray, think of ways you can incorporate a pattern into your natural rhythm of life that will work for you. Just remember that old habits die hard and new ones aren’t easy to form.

Spend time today looking at your daily inclinations. Ask the Holy Spirit for a reminder of his presence and set your heart and mind on listening to what he has to say. If you do this more often than not, God’s word will have a transformative affect on your life.

“At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice
as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you.
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar
and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.”

Psalm 5:3 (TPT)
Devotion, government, Leadership, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Pray for Governments around the World.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the itty bitty babies in his hands. You may have sung this song as a child – a reminder and promise that whatever comes your way, you can trust a BIG God to take care of it and you.

It’s hard to imagine your personal, intimate God who loves you and cares about everything you’ve brought to him during this time of prayer and fasting is the same One who set the stars in place. Named them too. The Earth orbits the sun by his hand, the same gentle hands that tell the children to come to him.

Poverty, world hunger, climate change, wars, economic failure, corrupt officials, Dictatorships, Communism. The world needs people like YOU, calling up to heaven, petitioning for heaven to come down.

Today, pray for those who are elected to serve our democracy. Elections in both state and federal governments will occur this year. Pray for the right leaders to fulfil the offices required to move our country forward. From local to national, their burdens are heavy and they need wisdom and strength to serve with integrity.

Pray for world leaders and nations divided. Ask for God’s protection and hand upon children less fortunate than yours who live in tumultuous places. You may never visit those lands but from your lips to God’s ears, you can affect them.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”

Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)