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Maintaining your Identity in a Shaking World

One of the changes I have made in this season of COVID, was a change of vehicle. I sold my old car and bought a second hand car that has one main advantage over the previous car I owned:

It will be cheaper to maintain.

The previous owner of this Kia Sportage from the last decade, was a man who did all of the maintenance himself. He’s a friend of my workplace and is a man of integrity. Every single piece of equipment in the engine compartment of the car, or “under the hood” (as I would say in Kiwi lingo,) has a date on it- signifying the time when he last worked on or replaced it.

As he was showing me the engine parts in my car, I learnt the function of what they all were put there for. It was a very educational experience and one I hadn’t ever had since learning how to drive. The only time I really learnt about what the different parts did, was when they broke down.

And so too is life… if our bodies break down in a certain area, are we not alerted to the importance of maintaining their health and wellbeing?

When our minds start to fragment under too much pressure, if we are aware or have others around us to tell us something’s not right, we can find ourselves in a counselling office or psychiatry unit, again given tools to help maintain a healthy mental wellbeing.

In every area of our life, we have to come back to our original state of intent and then maintain that level of health and wellbeing. Though our bodies and lives will eventually decay, we can still maintain a level of conditioning to keep them working at their optimal state for the amount of years they have existed. Maintenance takes discipline and repetition.

But maintenance can seem tiring. It can feel like too much work, right? Yet to not maintain, is to sustain injury.

We are holistic beings too.. so like my engine is made up of many parts with different functions, WE are made up of many parts that all need to be maintained. This can feel overwhelming, but when we understand the nature of our holistic make-up and what it means, then we can better get our heads around the fact that once you work on one, there is a ripple affect to the others.

Let’s see how the Oxford Dictionary defines the word “Holistic”

Philosophy – Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

Medicine – Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/holistic

So interconnected are the parts of our holistic make-up that now research is proving more and more what the Hebrew writer of the letters to the Helenistic believers of Corinth, was trying to say. See the Greeks, (God love em coz I’m half Greek and that’s potentially why I’m so philosophical lol), believed that they could do anything with their bodies and it not affect their spirit, their community or their mind. They had a worldview that contradicted the Hebrew worldview that we are all interconnected, holistic beings that affect the whole being by neglecting to maintain one part.

While we are being subjected to a season of isolation and restrictions, certain areas of our lives are being affected that will affect other areas of our lives. Fear and anxiety can impact our physical immunity; social distancing can impact our mental health; restricted access to particular food groups can affect our bodily functions; financial breakdown can impact on our parenting while the lack of an educational environment can stifle our children’s self-esteem. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg..

Many have learnt how to adapt and reinstitute certain practices and habits in different ways (like doing work, church or gym workouts online) but there are still some areas of life that have gone neglected. And without maintenance of those specific areas, we may be discovering how the lack of support, availability or awareness of, those elements of our BC (before Covid) existence, are now affecting our wellbeing.

Well, let me say, there is hope. Like taking a car into the garage and discovering that a part of your car, just needs some fine tuning or a new replacement, your life CAN be running on all cylinders again- and maybe even better than you had ever had it running before.

Perhaps the fact that we have been deprived of the necessary pains that helped to keep us holistically well, will motivate us to not take those disciplines for granted and use them now to make the rest of our lives, the best of our lives.

b4a.mvmt is a Movement of Holistic Restoration and Extravagant Generosity. In my next blog, I’ll be laying the foundation of how Jesus came to restore every part of our being. You are welcome to come and be a part of this movement as we challenge you to rise up into all that God created you to be.

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Our Hearts are Monuments of God’s Grace

This is a repost of an old blog I wrote in May 2016 when my marriage was falling apart and no body knew about it. My heart was breaking but God’s grace was abounding in those broken places. (You can read the original post here.)

What I’ve come to realise is that, like building muscle, there is a life cycle of breaking open that God does with our hearts. When we think its all over and the pain subsides, life throws us another weight of pain we have to bear. Its not that we failed our last test, its that we stagnated and God wanted us to grow to another level of strength.

Recently I launched my book online and its all about how we were created with an original “Garden Intent”. Who we are at our core being, and who we were created to be, are often covered over by the effects of the sinful, fallen world we reside in. Its like the visceral fat that likes to layer itself around our inner organs. As we exercise and break out muscle, the fat around our body and our organs shed. Muscle is what we need to function at our best so that we can carry out all that God wants us to do. Too often we let our bodies sabotage our destiny because we don’t take time and effort to discipline ourselves into keeping our bodies strong (but I’ll leave that lecture for another blog 🙂 ). But building muscle takes painful pushing against a resistance that is heavier than what we can normally bear. In that process a breaking down of the muscle happens, the muscle is built and the muscle speeds up our metabolism which then helps our body to burn the fat.

Truth is, that building muscle is like building our heart. Our heart is the most important organ that God wants us to exercise as I talk about in this blog. It is a vessel of His love as He pours it into our hearts: And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5 NIV)

If you feel like your heart has been broken too many times…I’m right there with you… but in the breaking, God is bursting forth the real you. He’s making you stronger- if you push through and receive the grace to get through the pain.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Pexels.com

Our hearts are fragile monuments of Gods grace. Monuments are reminders of events that have taken place.  Here in Ethiopia there are many monuments around that remind us of past battles that have been fought, victories that have been won, people who have impacted this nation.  In the same way our hearts stand as a reminder of what battles we have faced and fought, been redeemed from and restored out of, and the grace God has bestowed upon us in order for that to happen.  We are recipients of His grace.  We therefore carry His grace with us in the depths of our hearts. It is there waiting to be exposed and glorified. Freely we have received, freely we are to give it away. 


Monuments are either left uncared for and become callous and rough or they are tenderly maintained and shine through the history of a life that stood for something. Their fragility allows them to go either way pretty fast. f there is anything that reflects the events that have happened in our lives, it is our heart. It stands as a monument for SOMETHING  and that something should be God’s grace. But the choice is ours…

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. Prov 4:23


When we become callous we block our view of the blessings God has given us . The people of Israel are the monuments we are directed to as a display of grace left uncared for. Gods grace is a gift that like every other gift, we have to steward. The people of Israel had taken their grace for granted and had built up walls around their hearts. 

As our hearts become callous they also become heavy. Heavy hearts are not ours to carry. Then our hearts show the world that we are still stuck in the pain of our past… I see too many people these days walking around with inner wounds, bearing the burdens of their broken hearts and not surrendering them to a loving God.

 “Our heart is made up of many pockets and God in his grace exposes what’s in those pockets one at a time so it’s not too overwhelming for us to bear.”  

Cherry Friedmeyer, director of Ellilta Women at Risk

As we come into different situations or conflicts of the heart God shows us areas of our heart that need cleansing, purging or just plain filling – sometimes he just shows us that we have empty pockets that we are trying to fill with the wrong things. But He wants to fill it with His love. 


David prayed this prayer as a result of his sin being exposed by his friend Nathan. God had showed him the state of his heart at that time and in response he laid out his heart. 


Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,And cleanse me from my sin…Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness,That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins,And blot out all my iniquities.Create in me a clean heart, O God,And renew a steadfast spirit within me…For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.Sometimes we need to be bold like David and say “Take my heart God…Do as you may-break it, clean it, change it, restore it, purge it, empty it then fill it up again.”Psalm 51: parts of 2-17

Recently I started exercising again with our intern from SBU, Beth. As we began to reawaken muscles that had lay dormant for so long, I started to complain of pain I was feeling in my thighs. Her reply was that my muscles were being broken down so that they could be built up again and made stronger. This is what happens with our hearts. He breaks it down, He builds capacity in us for us the expand the Kingdom in our hearts so that we can bring it to this earth.


“How do you love when love is not returned? You discover what love really is and you give it anyway even if nothing comes back. It’s not easy and it’s painful and it will break your heart, but the interesting thing is that when God puts it back together, it’s always bigger. You end up with a bigger heart. I don’t know how God does that, I just know it’s true! “

Graham Cooke in his book “Uncommon Love”

God does this so we can pray like David “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice!” And as we experience that joy our hearts are resurrected again in new life and the pain that we entered into when we surrendered our hearts to Him, fades. 


Having a broken heart and a broken spirit does not seem like the ideal way to please God or to live the Christian life.  But more than sacrifices or burnt offerings, THIS is what pleases God. That we bring our hearts before Him and say “Here is my heart Lord, it is broken..”

In exercise, the way your muscles are going to be built up is if you keep working and exercising, pushing through the pain so your strength can be built up and in turn experiencing new levels of pain and fatigue. But we must not be afraid or give up.

When we surrender our hearts to God we must remember that we are placing our hearts into the Hands of the Creator, a loving Father, who desires nothing but the best for us. We can confidently trust that Him in this whole process. He LOVES us. He is FOR YOU! Give Him your heart today.

 I’m surrendering mine too. 

To purchase my new book Into the Garden, click on this link

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Why Jesus Floats my Boat and How He can Float Yours Too


Photo by Gabriele Ri on Pexels.com

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:23-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When you give Jesus your Broken Heart, essentially, you’re following Him onto a boat, giving Him permission to be the Captain of your Ship and letting Him steer you into your designed destiny.

Just because He is in the boat with you, however, doesn’t exempt you from encountering some storms on the journey. Like the disciples, when you face these storms, it came seem like God is absent. It may seem like His silence is an apathetic attitude to your dilemma. But there’s something we can learn from this little adventure on the boat with the twelve.

While reading this text recently, I was on Team Jesus with his response to the disciples call for help. “Oh you of little faith!” It’s easy to say when you’re outside looking in but when you’re in the boat, it’s such an easy cry to make.

The storm is furious, the waves are coming in the boat, so the boat must be swaying back and forth- seemingly threatening their safety and lives. But one thing was guaranteeing them that they would reach the shore alive and He was sleeping in the gallows.

Jesus didn’t come to die on a boat. He wasn’t about to have His life cut short because some wind and waves were coming at Him. He created the wind systems and formed the waters in the sea- they were never going to have authority over His destiny. He displayed His authority and shocked them all but that was even unnecessary. His very presence in the boat, spoke volumes to the waves and wind before He even opened His mouth.

And so it is with your life. Jesus has a destiny for you that He is committed to. He’s got promises stored up for you and He is the greatest promise keeper. With Him in the boat of your life, you don’t need to be afraid when things start to overwhelm you. You don’t have to fear that your life, your promises, your destiny are not going to be reached. You’re going to get there because Jesus is in You and He is with You and He has authority over everything that is trying to assail you.

When we understand the Sovereignty of God in our lives, then peace will replace fear.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭23:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There’s freedom in knowing that God is in control. Why? Because then we don’t feel like we have to control everything. If He said He was going to do something, you can be assured He will do it! Don’t let the circumstances, the storms, your emotions or your pride, try to dictate your confidence in your future. He said that He knows the plans He has for you- plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

You’re life is not over yet. The fact that you’re still living, means that God hasn’t finished with you yet. And when He’s not done, you don’t need to fear losing your life because He is more about completing the thing He started in your life than you are. Keep going!

Let’s pray

Dear Jesus, thank you for being the Captain of my Ship. Thank you that there is safety, security and peace when you are involved in my life. I know that your promises for my life will come about so I trust you to bring them to me. As I wait, help me to navigate the storms with a peace in my heart that glorifies your name. You are the Prince of Peace so I choose to submit to you. I love you Jesus. In Jesus name, Amen


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When you give Jesus your broken heart Day 2

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:22-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A new person is birthed in you when you receive Jesus or even as you come to a new level in Him as a born again believer. However, there still remains a memory of who you were before and that can often confuse your soul into thinking that you are still the same. 

If we look at the life cycle of a butterfly again, research has shown that even a butterfly has a memory of its behaviour when it was a caterpillar. Even though it has obviously undergone huge transformation, the memories of the past will continue to draw it back into old default patterns. 

So the same is for us. However, the Bible gives us some instruction in how to continue to live as a new person once that transformation work has happened in your life. Take this example from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians- a church that was really struggling to decipher between who they were before and who they needed to become:

““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I was thinking about this today as I was boarding my plane. It illustrates the whole process of crossing over into this new life you’ve been given:

When we board a plane to go overseas, there is a point in the airport where you have to leave behind certain items. Items that might cause a threat on your travels, materials that might carry diseases into new territory, or drugs that are illegal in other continents. 

Even though the land you’re coming FROM might have accepted these items as useful and permissible, the new land you’re going TO demands that you rid yourself of the things that the government of that land doesn’t deem lawful (for whatever reason that might be.) 


Even though it is hard to let things go and leave them behind, if you fully embrace the life that is waiting for you in the new land, you’ll find that you won’t need those things you left behind for very long.

Perhaps the thing that you’re doing isn’t necessarily destroying your life-your addiction, your unhealthy relationship, or your illustrious spending. Maybe, that thing is just the thing that you are using to medicate what’s going on inside, which is what’s ultimately destroying your life. Things like bitterness and hurt, unforgiveness and undealt with trauma.

No matter how that pain was caused, Jesus wants to heal our broken hearts. He saw it all, was broken for you and knows the person you were before that happened. But He can’t do a work in our hearts as long as we are medicating it with a counterfeit solution. 

In order for Him to do a full, complete work, we have to surrender all of our self-diagnosing, self-medicating, self-sabotaging ways. 

Though we may think we need to take those things into the new life with us, if we trust Him completely, He will show us that we don’t. How does He do that? By becoming every thing that we need. 

Jesus is a trustworthy friend. We can trust Him with our secrets and we can trust Him with our hearts. Do you trust Him enough to let go of the things He is asking you to let go of this year? You know what they are. If you don’t, someone close to you might be able to give you a clue. 

Let’s pray. 

Jesus, thank you that you love me. Thank you that you see my broken heart and you see the way that I’ve tried to fix it. Give me the strength I need to let go of those things that are getting in the way of your truth. Help me to stop self-medicating and to step out in new levels of trust in you. Thank you for being trustworthy. Thank you for being my friend. In Jesus name, Amen. 


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How “The Heart of Man” reflected My Heart’s Story

This is a repost of a blog I wrote on my old blog in June 2014. It was written about a Story Writing workshop run for practitioners working with people caught up in prositution and trafficking during an ICAP (International Coalition Against Prositution) conference in Wisconsin, USA.

I’m sharing this now at the event of the movie The Heart Of Man being released in Australia because it features Dan Allender and stories of people, just like me, who have been on the journey of healing through the telling of their stories. I encourage you to not only go watch the movie, but to share your story in a safe and healing place.

I’ve been wanting to write this story for SO long…
It’s a story of heart break and betrayal.

A story that bears the scars of an inner wound that stings as if it were freshly made, yet it had sunken so deep; buried under piles of rubble and debris of years gone past. Rubble now named “contempt”, “shame”, and “denial”.

Who knew that a work to heal a broken heart would take so much longer than a year? And that the revelation of the damage that was done would be discovered amidst the motion of writing…and then sharing with strangers, as if dividing it apart to distribute and expose the secretly written to an public audience.

The exposure resurfaced the wound yet it allowed it to heal a new.

Like it had never been healed before.

Actually, in the resurfacing I discovered it had NEVER been healed before.

“Will you grow in tenderness towards the child that has been contaminated by harm?” Dan Allender asks us.
A room full of people working with people who have experienced harm. As children and as adults, yet they have never found the healing or the hope. Yet WE offer them that hope and that healing but we were now being challenged to experience it for ourselves.

We broke up into groups of five and shared our stories (true tales of trauma we had experienced as children) out loud. In an uncomfortable silence we awaited feedback from those around us. Soft tender hearts were there to bear the pain.
“Redemption happens when you allow people to dwell in your heart and grieve and fight for you.”
And then in their grieving they saw a perspective of MY story I never saw before. Like discovering the key to the treasure box that held my healing. But the healing still demanded something from me.

Again he challenges…”You have to give up a lot to write your story. We have to give up our loyalties. It is true that we have a great loyalty to Jesus UNTIL we are asked to give up other gods. So where do your loyalties lie?”

Loyalties and honor. Both touchy subjects that were covered to bring light to the battle that raged in not only our minds but in our world views. In my world view. So slowly my loyalties shifted and the loyalty lay in the healing that needed to be done for me, for my family, for my ladies. My loyalty lay in the Healer.

So I clung to the process and endured the pain again of the sacrifice.

In the sacrifice and in the honesty that surpassed the desire to dwell with the wound any longer there was a loneliness that begged for me to search deeper to find where God was in that place of pain.
“In beauty there is brokenness. All beauty bears brokenness… God intends to use the scars to bring Him glory.”

Last year (2013) I wrote a blog about God wanting to heal my broken heart. It coincided with a tumultuous time for me and my family. At that time, I felt a need to drop down, a picture of a falling flat on my face. So I did it- literally. Nothing changed.

As we drew near to the end of the story writing workshop I was reminded of this falling down. At the beginning Dan challenged us with this question- “Can you enter into the stories of death in your own life? When our lives are meant to tell the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.”

Entering into death is not easy. It was exemplified in others in my group who had the courage to do so in the company of tender hearts. Yet I did it in the quietness of my room- I finally found the falling down, the dying.. and as it caused the tears to flow again, I opened my little pink Bible and found solace in the words from the pages that have held my heart afloat for so many years.

“For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry ABBA Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our Spirit that WE are the children of God. And if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer WITH Him that we may also be glorified TOGETHER.” Rom 8:15-17 (emphasis added)
So I am comforted by the fact that I am an ADOPTED child who has been chosen by LOVE (which perfectly casts out all the fear that had taken up reign in my heart) and that in turn allowed me to not suffer alone but suffer WITH Christ, so that we may be resurrected in glory together.

A story that waited to be written for so long to bring healing to my heart was finally inked onto paper as an expression of the pain. A pain that I had tried to physically express as a teenager by taking a craft knife to my hands; a pain I had tried to spiritually express as I confessed sins of my own reaction to the pain but never assigned responsibility to those who inflicted it, pressing on but not entering in. It was a pain that I had let control my emotions more than I had realized as my trying to keep my distance from it turned my face to re-enact it over and over again.

Yet it was a pain that desired to be entered into like a tomb with a stone that had rolled away, calling out to reveal the light of the resurrection that could only happen upon the entering in- the falling down into the grave that needed to happen for real resurrection and ascension to occur. And in that ascended place, I am able to reach down again and help to pull those who are still fighting the death.

 

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,- Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18)