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
Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 16: “A Worthy Foundation.”

Photo: cbc.ca

Our pop culture can easily package up your faith in handy Instagram images, retweets, or reposts. On the outside, you seem all deep and meaningful, perhaps even well-read. You scroll through articles and images “liking” and looking. “Amen” to that. Another one minute snappy sermon, tick.

You normally spend time skimming the latest news and most popular trends. However, this time of fasting has taken your microwave content and slow cooked it. The YouVersion “verse of the day” has come alive and God is revealing truths to you beyond the Christian-ese some around you are speaking. This will sustain you beyond your snack packet, low cal, fillers into a wholesome, healthy base upon which you will continue to build.

What truths have resonated with you most? Are you easing into that place of peace you find when you tuck into Jesus and his Word?

You are satiated and satisfied when revelation makes it’s way inside your spirit.

You’re strengthening the foundation of your faith. Like insurance that pays out upon unexpected tragedy, you’re putting your policy in place, depositing extra moments of God time into your spiritual account. When winds come and the Earth shakes beneath your feet, you can cash in because Jesus’ words are ready for redeeming. You stocked up on truth. You’re freezing his words, ready to thaw under the heat of life which is sure to manifest one day.

Keep setting aside time. Keep journaling, reading, asking, praying. Fill yourself with more and more of your Heavenly Father’s words in place of that meal or social media. Whatever you gave up is an empty space waiting to hold your deepest, most desperate cries.

Let your vulnerability before God break open something worth spilling out. Your life is more stable than ever because you know your foundation is secure.

“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 (MSG)
Contentment, Fasting, Fun, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 15: “TGI-Everyday.”

Illustration: @real_simple Instagram

The hustle of a busy week slows its pace and you begin to park yourself right up against the curb of your Friday: no homework, the possibility of a sleep in, and the unforced rhythm of the weekend ahead of you.

You’re excited because more than likely, you work to live. You might love your job but it’s still a J-O-B – a means to an end. Although rest and relaxation are necessary and God-ordained, you’re learning to become more present in your everyday moments. This time of fasting and prayer has caused you to tune into your surroundings and slow down to listen to the heavenly nudges coming your way.

Rather than wishing away all the tediousness of your chores, why not embrace each moment as God-given and necessary? The mundane of everyday life is, after all, life itself. The meetings, the groceries; cleaning, cooking and shopping. Homework and mail opening. Carpooling, phone answering, negotiating with kids. Calendars, bills, gardening and exercise. Walking the dog. Running errands.

You go to sleep. You wake up. And, you start again.

A life well lived is full and vibrant, giving excuse to unavailabilities, grateful for its fullness. Your journey doesn’t begrudge the busy-ness. You’re on a God-adventure!

Shift your perspective on the ordinary humdrum, day-to-day. Rather than wishing time away, find the beauty in the mess. You’re tempted to allow life to tumble past you – your days, weeks and months all muddled together and mistaken as ordinary and senseless.

Slow down and give thanks for your everyday, banal habits. Fix your eyes on the beauty you see in the mirror as you clean your teeth. Hum a tune while you cook dinner and laugh at the sheer expense of feeding your family. You’re not a victim of your routine. You’re the Chief Executive Officer of a blessed life: full and crazy and unique!

The grass isn’t greener somewhere else.

You’re not to feel sorry for your perceived lack.

Dreams of a future holiday mustn’t rob your today.

YOLO… so stop it with the FOMO.

“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)
church, Devotion, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 12: “Peace. In Church.”

Photo: avante.biz

A communion of saints, gathering of believers, a company with a cause to fulfil the Great Commission: The Church on Earth. In Moses’ time, great value was placed on the tabernacle as sacrifices were made and festivals celebrated. The temple of the Old Testament was the location of profound teachings and gatherings. The early church came into existence in the New Testament after Jesus’ death and resurrection. God, over and over again, uses flawed people to come together to worship, learn, encourage, eat, and pray. Those people are his Plan A for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the Earth.

The church equips the saints to do the work of the ministry. Diversity in age and experience among God’s people brings the tapestry of each one together in beauty and purpose. Unfortunately, churches can also be a source of heartache and dysfunction as many of you seek to find a perfect place without problems or strife. As long as the church is full of people, it will never be absent of problems.

The Bible promises blessing to flow when you live together in unity:

“How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.”

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV)

You may not agree on every theological point with your fellow Christians in a different denomination. Your style of worship may look loud and “free;” or, perhaps it’s reserved and quiet. The source of your lyrics – hymnals or power points? Does it really matter?

God’s church is alive and well on the earth and it deserves all our focus and attention today.

Pray for your pastors and leaders in church. Pray for its specific vision and purpose to be carried out. Ask God to bring peace where there is discord. Truce in disagreement. Jesus considers the church a spotless bride for whom he will come back one day. He loves the church and it’s worth fighting for in prayer today.

“I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth. This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough:
He appeared in a human body,
was proved right by the invisible Spirit,
was seen by angels.
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
believed in all over the world,
taken up into heavenly glory.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16
Courage, Devotion, Inspiration, Personal Growth

Day 2: “The Right Road”

photo: wagabunda.club

Seeking God through a concentrated time of prayer and fasting means something different to each person. You may feel weary from circling around the same mountain and you want to see different terrain this year. Perhaps your spiritual walk feels sluggish and stale; you know the onus is on YOU to pick up the pace, focussing on Jesus more in order to break some bad habits or to hear his still, small voice again.

You might be seeking breakthrough in a specific area for yourself:

Overcoming an addiction

Physical healing

Reconciliation in a relationship.

Or, you’re praying and believing for someone else… A family member who needs a miracle.

Your path is covered in thorny bushes and roadblocks; progressing seems impossible. You feel out of breath at the thought of going higher. Your spiritual muscles are squishy and you think you’re not cut out for the heavy lifting required by a life of authentic faith.

Whatever your reason for embarking on this journey, it’s a good one. You have identified some stalemate in your life and you wish to overcome it, to stretch yourself and dive into deeper waters with your God. You have an intrinsic motivation driving you, compelling you to look ahead rather than behind. You are pioneering afresh, taking back ground which you might have thought was forever stolen from you.

Today, equip yourself for battle. Your armour is your faith. Your weapons are the truth you hold within the Word of God. Your salvation is secure and your Saviour is petitioning on your behalf as you align your will with his.

Step out in faith and you will hear what God wants to say… a personal road map of whispers, guiding you along your narrow trail of difficulty. Everyone is navigating treacherous waters. It’s a lie to believe you’re alone. Nothing you face on your road to victory is new to the One who carved your path.

Envision yourself today, saddled up alongside a brave hero who can conquer anything. Let Jesus take the reigns. Let go of the control you falsely believe is giving you success. Your peace isn’t found in seeing others do what you want, how you want it done. Clarity doesn’t come by more money landing in your account. Harmony doesn’t make its way to you through mowing down the next mile marker at breakneck speed.

You’ll never arrive at the perfect destination this side of heaven. So, begin the practise of leaning into the shadow of the Almighty’s wing. Let him take you 30k feet above the turbulence below. Your circumstance doesn’t have to change for you to see today differently. You’re en route and your help is near.

“The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.”

Psalm 19:7-9
Contentment, Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 1: “An Invitation”

The New Year has officially begun; and, as expected, the slow pace of lazy days by the beach, time off work, and extra sleep has abruptly ended. School has started for the kids. Work is in full swing for the adults. The calendar begins to fill like the sink with dirty dishes – all messy and stacked high.

You long to get to the bottom of it all. To maintain order. To wrap your head and pen around the “stuff” and place it neatly in boxes where it shall lay, subdued by the force of your strong will. The schedule, the stress, the decisions, the mess. You want to wrangle it all to the ground and tie those coveting hands up so they can’t reach you and devour your 2019.

You are searching for the calm. You dream of waking up to a quiet household. Can’t you just merge slowly with the traffic of the morning? You wish to find your family full of enthusiasm for the day ahead, rather than dread.

You fantasise about the next break, or maybe just a short nap. You are striving, pushing, yearning for this year to be different:

Better health

More money

Diminished problems and heartache…

A New Year holds the promise of what yesterday failed to yield. You are searching for answers, believing you can put together the right formula this time to find the things for which life has withheld thus far.

*If you’ve decided to join me for the next 21 days, committed to prayer and fasting, you WILL find what you’re looking for. Breakthrough awaits you. Spend time each morning taking ten deep breaths, closing your eyes, listening to the Holy Spirit, and reflecting on these words and scripture. Use a journal to write down your thoughts each day. What is it you want God to do in your life this year? How about over the next three weeks? Come along and draw closer to the One who holds the answers you seek.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

Revelation 21:3-5 (MSG)