Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

Holding Ambiguity in the Midst of Uncertainty

ambiguity/ambɪˈɡjuːɪti

The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.

synonyms:ambivalence, equivocation;

“I just want to know, was I right or wrong?”

“You just need to learn to hold ambiguity.” Replied my counsellor.

I was confused about this whole two year journey I had been on where I had assumed I knew what the outcome was going to be and convinced myself (despite obvious evidence that was contrary to what I believed) that it was going to play out the way I had envisioned it in my head. So safe and secure was this little dream in my head that I had built a case and circumstantial evidence that defended my case down to the most minuscule detail. Little room had I given, to the possibility that I was “wrong”.

To be honest, I didn’t even know what that meant to “hold ambiguity” and I didn’t know how to do it, but I could tell from her body language that it was going to be something that this stubborn heart was going to have to yield to. So I took up her challenge and became a student of this learned art. Held in suspense around a situation that made no sense to me, I had to learn to be okay with the not knowing. It messed with my head and challenged my ideals…and Lord knows, I have high ideals. Yet I was forced to release my attachment to a desired outcome and undergo a huge awakening. So in the process, I wrote a poem:

Its not easy to hold ambivalence
And to burn in deep suspense
But when fear starts to accuse you
Jesus comes to your defence
For ambiguity, it beckons
For a solid sense of trust
But the unknown is still known
By the God who fashioned us
And in His wisdom and His Grace
He left the known beyond our reach
So that in the waiting seasons
New lessons He could teach

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hebrews 6:12

When you are waiting for a promise, a measure of patience needs to be added to your faith. Patience, while it is a fruit of the spirit, is not one that is produced easily- you can’t be lazy about it. Patience means you actually have to do the work to keep you from rushing ahead of what God is going to give you in His time. Patience means that you have to live in the limbo between the vision and the fulfilment of the vision and in that space, your character will be tested. In that space, you can find your old default settings and addictions tempting you to soothe the pain in the wait. To give our minds and our hearts permissions to be suspended in this air, with no tangible reality in which to cling, allows freedom for our eyes to be fixed on, and our souls to be anchored in Jesus. His way of escape is found in running to Him when we’re tempted to numb our pain in superficial ways. Waiting is inevitable but patience is a choice.

To give our minds and our hearts permission to be suspended in thin air, with no tangible reality in which to cling, allows freedom for our eyes to be fixed on, and our souls to be anchored in Jesus.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:19)

As human beings, we have an innate desire for power and control. Its built within the hardwiring of our brain so that, at its maximum potential, it is utilised to operate our spiritual inheritance for self-control. However, when we can’t control our circumstances and are left in the waiting season of our lives, there are three things to remember:

  1. Know Yourself. What motivates you to want to know and activate what you desire? Take a SWOT analysis of yourself and decipher whether or not your motivations are healthy or stem from a history of fear and trauma. What are your strengths? If you’re like me and your strengths are about knowing the vision and strategising a way to work it out, then this ambiguity thing will mess with your head. But Jesus knew this even when He was leaving His disciples in a confused state when they thought He was going to take over the Roman Empire and set them free. When things didn’t turn out the way they had envisioned and He came back FROM THE DEAD, some of them still doubted!! But He said to them in Acts 1:7 “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Ouch! God has the final authority on all things, and even when we don’t understand, we have to remember that He knows all. Be kind to yourself in the process, and breathe in the spaces where anxiety tries to dictate your season of ambiguity.
  2. Know Your season. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 Waiting is just a season. Not knowing, is just a season. So while you’re waiting for one thing, look around to what the delay of that thing is making way for. Utilise this season to maximise your next. If you’re waiting for that life partner to join you on your journey (ie. your single and are waiting for the right person), do the things that you wouldn’t be able to do when you are married. Once you’re married, you don’t get a break from it! If you’re waiting to be a parent- there isn’t a holiday break from parenting- it’s a constant responsibility that you have to carry, yet it too, takes on different seasons. Embrace the season you are in and capitalise on it. Do the thing that will make you a better candidate for the next season. If you’re believing for a promised position at your job, go and do some professional development courses; if you’re wanting to travel the world, get your health up to a standard that will facilitate the travelling life; if you’re believing for the child you’re waiting to come out of addiction, get involved with others who are helping people who are working in that field so that you know how to handle your child when they are going through recovery.
  3. Know Your God. He is patiently working on your behalf. He loves you and wants the best for you. He’s not working against you in this season but working all things together for you. He’s a good Father watching you navigate the road you are on. He watches you like a daddy watches his child try to start walking. He sees your heart to explore your options and test out the waters of your life. He doesn’t cringe at your decisions but more likely smiles down and watches you correct yourself in the process. He’s not the god of the right and wrong. He’s the God of Light and Love. Darkness is His enemy, and our enemy, NOT being wrong as wrong is subjective. Anything that we don’t understand, He is able to turn around. My mum recently bought a journal and she shared a quote on it that perfectly fits this situation: When we have a situation we feel is “wrong” we can “Give it to God and let God make it right.” He is a God full of grace and mercy and He ” works all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28. He loves our faith and is pleased by it, even if the result we were expecting was not as we had planned.

Give it to God and let God make it right – Joyce Meyer

View this post on Instagram

My faith… — Image from @worshipgifs

A post shared by GNF (@goodnewsfeed) on

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

It’s a matter of faith a faith a faith ahhh…


Repost from my blog written in my last life from Ethiopia on Sep 23 2013.

Things that matter to us, here living in this tangible world of materialism and consumerism are totally different to the things that matter to God.  


What matters to God is people.  

MY daughters and I with Kathleen, an amazing Kiwi missionary who spent years around the world. Photo taken on her visit to our town in 2013


He is not consumed by appearances.  
He is not consumed by possessions.  
He is consumed by heart. 
And at the depths of HIS heart is inconceivable LOVE.
His Love for us, draws us to Him and the test of our LOVE for him is our ability to trust His word and trust His Way.  


It’s a matter of Faith. 
And the Bible says that WITHOUT this simple ingredient, it is impossible to please God.  


Now FAITH IS the SUBSTANCE of things HOPED FOR, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN. Hebrews 11:1

When I think about our journey here, the major aspect of what God had to do within me was increase my faith.  We cry, help our unbelief Lord!  He does.  This is why we do what we do because we have faith in a God who has created people equally and HE wants them to know His HEART for THEM.  THOSE CREATED IN HIS IMAGE.


So first I had to know His heart for ME!
It makes sense for me that my lifelong struggle with fear would not just be a struggle with but the struggle against something.  The one who doesn’t want you to win on the hockey field wouldn’t attack you in a water polo match.  He would attack you on the field of which he knows your in the game.


He not only doesn’t want you to win, HE DOESN’T WANT TO LOSE…
He knows the victory is already won, that he’s already LOST but he knows that we don’t often see the Scoreboard.  We’re too busy focused on the game.  He’s got our heads distracted on the ball and we’re too busy trying to WIN!


So my FEAR of DEATH as a child, my FEAR of REJECTION as a teenager, my FEAR of being FAR AWAY from home, my FEAR of the DARK, of being HARMED, of being PUNISHED, of being ALONE…these all crippled my ability to have FAITH. 


For fear is not just the opposite of faith; FEAR IS THE ENEMY OF OUR FAITH.  Worry, insecurity, anxiety, terror, dread are allies and friends of fear. 


But PERFECT LOVE is the weapon that defeats fear and casts it all out.  
So perfect Love came in to my life and rescued me from fear and gave me the capacity to have faith.  Fear was evicted and faith moved in.  The anxiety attacks that took a choke hold on my throat at night, the torment that filled my heart with regret and the deep underlying fear that threatened my ability to progress all dissipated in a single night.  


So what happens when we let fear win?
Moses had a crowd of followers begging him for water and moaning about the very fact that he took them out of Egypt to die in the dessert and God heard their cry and supplied a rock for them to draw water from.  God says, speak to the rock and the water will flow out from it.  


But instead Moses beats the rock.  He does what we often do.  He took the miracle into his own hands and DID instead of trusted.  He feared that God’s way wouldn’t work and that people wouldn’t respect his abilities and he broke life instead of spoke life.


In a world of materialism and consumerism, where the pressure to work, to buy, to loan and to accrue interest is embraced and nurtured, we want to WORK instead of TRUST, HAVE FAITH.  


We feel that if we don’t, then we fail at being the provider.  Essentially it appeases our pride.  Our ego fails as we want to look like the strong one who beats the rock till the water comes out but then we hear a voice say “you did not believe me or hallow me in the eyes of the children of Israel therefore you shall not bring these children into the land which I have given them.” Numbers 20:12
God is not impressed with our strength and abilities as much as He is with our faith and trust in Him. 


We want to DO but He just asks us to BE.  Be there.  Be obedient.  Be faithful.
Full of faith that He will provide. 
Full of belief that He will fulfil his promise…
Even if we don’t see it like Abraham.
Even if we don’t deserve it like Rahab.
Even if we had given up on it like the Shunammite woman.
Even if we reject it like Jonah.
When we sold our house at a loss, our faith was tested to the point that it hurt!  Was this the right thing to do?  Were we being SELFISH and not allowing our children to receive the INHERITANCE they deserved.  Did we make a MISTAKE by not keeping a place to go back to?  These were doubts that were reinforced by many concerned friends and family but quashed by a loving God who wanted more for a house for us.  He wanted a life of FAITH.  


Every time we give, we test our faith.  We trust God that He will press down, shake together and run over the blessings from the well in which we gave. He says to DO IT!
Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10


Every time we press on past the obstacles we test our faith.  That these obstacles are not the end of a thing, but they are there as resistance measures to increase our strength.  The strength that is made perfect in our weakness.


Every time we fail and fall we test our faith.  Our faith that the payment for our sin was finished on the cross and that we can trust God to have taken care of it so much so that we don’t need to suffer for it or let it decapitate us.


Every time we have to be still and delay our movement, we test our faith.  Faith that we are a part of SOMETHING BIGGER than ourselves.  Something bigger than the MOMENT.  Something bigger than what WE ARE ABLE to DO.  Faith that we just need to BE.  And sometimes just BEING PRESENT is all people need to know the Love of the Father.


Because when we BE still, wait, let me make this as personal as it’s meant to be- when I BE still I am reminded that He is God.  That He is able to draw the water from the rock, not ME.  That when we silence our praise to Him, He can even use the rocks to praise Him.  From a rock He can draw water and Praise.  I can’t and therefore I CAN TRUST HIM.  Have FAITH in Him.  


Abraham birthed a people of faith because of his faith in obeying God’s instruction to leave his country and GO!  
So we left our country on the same accord.  Not really knowing all the details of what we would do or how we would do it OR WHAT STRUGGLES WE WOULD FACE ON THE WAY but just knowing that we needed to GO. 
In my early Christian days, I memorized this verse Numbers 32:23 A  verse that says “Your sins will find you out.” A great verse when taken out of context to make one feel condemned for yet the sins he is talking about is the sin of disobedience to God’s command to inhabit the land.  This is what we are called to do- to inhabit the land.  The land of Ethiopia. (And now, in 2019, Sydney Australia!)


This journey of faith continues to stretch me and grow me as I am continually reminded that God is working where I do not see. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For by grace are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Uncategorized

Wholeness is a Choice

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

He had been an “invalid” for thirty-eight years, this man. Sitting by the pool of Bethesda, waiting for someone to help him into the miracle stirring waters, he met a man named Jesus.

Jesus has pity on him knowing that he had been there for years and He asked him a question I believe He asks all of us at some point in our lives… “Do you WANT to be made well?” Or in the KJV it says something akin to “will you be made whole?”

See, being whole and healed is a choice. We can have the best excuses as to why we don’t need healing, why we’re not qualified to receive wholeness or why we are satisfied living a broken life for another season; but none of them will get us in the water.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

This man found out he didn’t even need the water. He just needed Jesus. Jesus can change us in a moment if we let Him. But in order to take in His living streams of healing, we need to step out of the mainstream way of thinking.

As holistic beings, we need to be ready to make sacrifices for holistic healing. Denying yourself of the comfort zone you live in will ultimately free you to be in a zone that’s laced with grace. Grace for your weakness, grace for your ignorance, grace for the changes that are so unfamiliar to you that you feel like an alien in your own skin.

But be encouraged.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This tiresome work of pursuing wholeness and healing, is not a journey you have to go at alone. It’s not a place that you’re left at in order to fend for yourself.

It’s actually a beautiful space where you can discover the renewing strength of an Almighty God. It’s an opportunity to be aligned with His power- because when you run out of your own, you’ll find yourself running into His. He has a greater knowing of who you are becoming and He will fight with you to make sure you get there.

So choose wholeness. Choose healing. And choose to keep moving forward even when you don’t feel like it.

In Jesus name.

Let’s pray.

Dear Jesus, thank you that you see us by the water. Thank you that you stop and ask us if we want to be made well. Today I choose to be made whole and to do the hard work it takes to be healed. Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus name, Amen.