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)
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, 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)
Devotion, Fasting, Finance, peace, Personal Growth, Series, Uncategorized

Day 9: “Peace. In Your Finances.”

vogue.com

Mortgages and rent. School fees. Rates. Insurance. Groceries. Clothing and food. Debt. Utilities.

Fun money? Travel? Shopping? How? When?

Everyday expenditures and financial responsibilities weigh you down. Figures and dates spinning around in your head, a merry-go-round of digits. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Saving, Spending. Saving, Spending. Saving, Spending. Round and round you go.

According to a 2018 study of 1000 U.S. adults, worry and stress over money is one of the leading causes of divorce (behind infidelity). There’s no question that the way you handle your finances becomes a lens by which you look through life with either enthusiasm and generosity or dread and greed.

No one wakes up planning to be greedy or selfish. However, when you are not financially healthy and living within your means, you begin to hold on tightly to that which you have. You strive to gain more for fear that what you currently possess will run out, disappearing like sand through your fingertips. Nothing of substance to show for your hard work.

When you are balanced in your approach to money, patient and prudent with spending, generous to the local church and towards others, you can loosen your grip and suddenly the heavenly perspective of a God who owns the universe brings a shift. You understand that everything you have comes from the One who gave you your very life and breath; your daily provision and future allotments are subsidised by an endless account.

Ask yourself whether your priorities are in line with God’s. Make a plan for getting out of debt, for saving, for benevolence. Discipline yourself with the practicality of self-restraint. And, let go. Trust your Heavenly Father to provide for your every need. Pray and seek wisdom while pursuing financial peace.

“The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.”

Psalm 37:23-26 (NIV)