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When Not Breathing is an Empathic Response to what’s going on in the World

I don’t know about you, but when I watched the scenes of George Floyd on the ground, taking his last breaths as a result of the violence that was being inflicted upon him by Derek Chauvin… my body responded. I felt like

I

COULD

NOT

BREATHE.

Somehow in the process of taking in what was going on in my telephone screen, I started to feel what he was feeling. And not just for that moment, but as I started to process the grief and trauma over the next few days. Even as I went back to work on the Monday following the Friday viewing, it was evident to my colleagues that something was wrong. Thankfully, my boss had the discernment to pick it up and gave me space to talk about it with them.

This incident triggered, not just an indignation for what has been happening in the States for too long, but also for what has been placed upon me and my children in the past because of the colour of our skin.

Being a POC in New Zealand growing up never really presented itself as an issue, so when I moved to Australia as a six-year-old, I was horrified by the different treatment my sisters and I experienced because of our colour. Words like “Blackie” or “Darth Vader”, and torturous bullying that I was exposed to because of facial features that come as a part of my cultural difference, (ie. my big lips), made me feel less-than my Australian counterparts.

As we migrated back to New Zealand, I still felt safe in my skin. In my world, I felt like being brown was the cool thing. We were exposed to stories of Apartheid in South Africa and the Civil Rights movement in America, and somehow I became acquainted with their anguish. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr were heroes to me. The injustice done to whole people groups because of the colour of their skin, confused and outraged me to no end.

When I was in High School, I did a “cultural exchange” to South Auckland as the demographics of their school was highly populated with a distinctly different cultural make up to what I had known. Within a short period of time, I was confronted with the discrimination that existed within my own city. One of the teachers (who was also a local council politician) came late to a class one day, gave a very vague lesson plan on the board then started to walk around the class. As he approached me, I asked him in my very curious teenage way “Why don’t you teach these kids properly?” to which he replied, “because they’re not to pass anyway!” Shock Horror, he was a white man and the class was full of actually highly intelligent Pacific Island and Maori students living in South Auckland. I had the priviledge of having this three month experience captured for a documentary called “How the other half lives” and was able to be a voice for the discrimination I experienced.

The best talk I have listened to regarding the tragedy surrounding George Floyds death and the systemic racism was this interview with Christine Caine and Dr Anita Williams. In it, Dr Anita talks about the dehumanisation, that underlies racial discrimination. The language that she has given to what has been going on for too long, not just in the States, but also in Australia and around the world, is mind blowing. It explains a lot about how people can justify their inhuman treatment of other human beings when they are not fully convinced that the other person is human.

When I look at this situation through the framework of B4A which is based on Isaiah 61 and Gods desire for us to be holistically restored, I understand WHY my body responded in the way that it did. Although I didn’t delve into all the different racist incidences that have affected me and my family, suffice to say that being brown, has not gone unnoticed to all- and sometimes that has been a good thing, and other times, not so good.

As my therapist would say, trauma is felt in the body first. Triggers would not make their way directly to our cognitive processes, until they had first responded in our body. Our BODIES speak a language (as Christine so aptly named their interview “Body Language”) that invites us into a space of healing and restoration. We HAVE TO BE self-aware so that we can feel, hear and respond to the signals that our bodies are sending out.

Real restoration can not take place if we are not self-aware, because how can you repair something that you don’t recognise as broken. Trauma, whether it is racial, physical, mental, spiritual, social, or even financial, cannot be healed until it is named.

And so, as your body may have sent YOU an invitation lately, to do the deep, hard work of restoration, I want to champion you to go there. Exposing your past trauma, is best done in the company of someone who has the capacity to help you heal your pain. Find a good therapist, a safe friend or family member, and allow empathy and love to take the place of shame and grief.

Or maybe it’s not about you- Maybe, your body is inviting you to be a part of the restoration of the people group in your land, that has been treated less than human. The Body of Christ has an obligation in this season to respond; to stand up against the injustice and usher in a new level of solidarity for the African American, Indigenous and People of Colour. If our bodies collectively respond by doing something (in a manner of peace and love), then we actually prepare a place for God to do His work of restoration.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭97:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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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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The Principle of Weaning

“I feel like I’m being weaned!” were the words that spilt out of my mouth like water from a waterfall.

Almost like that time I cried myself to sleep and went into my daughters room in the middle of the night to find her in a leg cramp that had her reeling in pain. I pressed her foot upward toward her shin while she fought against the pain and defaulted to a point position. While I was trying to encourage her that I knew what I was doing the words “JUST> TRUST> ME!” spilt out of my mouth- as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart through my own mouth in a night of confusion and despair.

Here I was again, speaking words that were more a message to get my attention from an Supernatural place. I started entertaining the thought that there was something more significant going on than just an initiating of a business in the birthplace of my re-entry back into the Western hospitality industry.

Feeling like I was being weaned, came about because my first job for my new business was situated in the very kitchen I had started serving two years earlier as a volunteer- the 7th of March 2017. It was a volunteer position that would eventually lead the way to the job that I had left to start my business. That date was significant yet it was not by choice but by “chance” (that someone happened to be having a bridal shower that day) that I ended up there two years later, self-employed with no guarantee of future income. Just a step out on a nudge that this was the right direction to go.

Weaning meant that I was still able to sit in the familiar, while trying to navigate the new. I was surrounded by people who made this transition safe and spaces that would accomodate my desire to know something by experience. It was all there for me, yet it was still a step away from where I was.

Have you ever felt like you were being weaned? Or like a season of transition was taking far longer than you anticipated?

I looked back over all my major life experiences and realised that there were plenty of examples where transitional periods took two years. From the time I met my children’s father to the time we were married was exactly two years. The time I stepped into a Baptist Church to the time I got up and walked at the invitation to know Jesus as my Saviour was two years. Same period of time filled the gap between the time I stepped into a Pentecostal church and attended their Baptism of the Spirit night. More recently, it was two years from the time we arrived in Sydney to stay with my mum that she decided she would move away to New Zealand- a lot more prematurely than I had expected but somehow in sync with this new revelation.

I asked the Lord what the significance was and He reminded me that two years was the period of time a Hebrew mother would nurse her infant before they were weaned. Once the child had been attached to the breast for that period, the weaning would introduce them to real food so that by the time they were three or four, they could stand on their own. This was a celebrated occasion as the child would pass the most crucial phase of their formation.

Breastfeeding mothers can all attest to the fact that weaning is not an easy process. Unless your baby is introduced to a bottle from an early stage of their development, pulling them away from the skin of their mother and replacing that with a plastic device, a cup or spoon, requires persistence and a strong resolve! There’s something about the familiarity of a mother’s breast that fastens that baby to the soothing source of nourishment and comfort. Who would want to leave that kind of provision?!

Photo by willsantt on Pexels.com

Many mothers give up – delaying the process for years- exposing their breasts to the world as their toddler starts demanding milk on tap at any given time of day and at any location. They give up the temporary pain of hearing their child cry for the long term agony of having a child dependant on their body.

But weaning is necessary for the growth and development of any child. It’s also an important discipline for the mother as she establishes a life long pattern of letting the boundary lines between her and her baby grow further and further apart. Children develop into adults and adults need to understand the value of responsibility and honour.

In life, we go through certain stages within the seasons of our existence, where infancy comes back into play. Infancy defined as the early stage of growth or development of something. Whether it is starting a new job, going to a new country, getting into a new relationship, or starting a new business. Each new thing that comes into your life, will often feel overwhelming and create within you a sense of anxiety as you feel the pulling away of the way it used to be. The effects of change and transition can have you feeling edgy, (not knowing what the future holds) anxious and feeling disengaged. But all of these feelings are a natural consequence of weaning.

The Psalmist in this passage seemed to have mastered this transitional phase- perhaps his state of contentment in the present and the small tasks of daily life had something to do with it…

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
Psalm 131:1-2

Contentment is a state of mind that often leaves us singing the Psalm of David, The Lord is my Shepherd, I LACK NOTHING. Clinging to a form of outward supply, can overwhelm our hearts to a point where we lack the awareness of our Inner supply. But once we have been weaned off the external suppliers, we can solemnly say, we lack nothing. There is a breaking away from our dependance on knowing, on concerning ourselves with things that are too big for our human minds to comprehend, and an aligning of souls with the One who knows our inmost being.

I have been going through this journey over the last year of being weaned off outward suppliers…suppliers of emotional and psychological support, financial income, spiritual scaffolding, but in the process have learnt to have this inner calm and a quietened spirit. I have learnt to be content with what I have, and that wasn’t always easy and it definitely wasn’t natural. It was a spiritual awakening that took incremental steps to evoke within me this sense of completeness.

It came to a point where I had to get down on my face in my bedroom and confess my discontentment and understand my place in Him. That in Him, all that I have within me is enough.

I am enough.

So I can be content.

He holds me now.

And with that, I can grow at another level.

Be warned, you will be weaned, but you’re going to be okay. The fact that you are leaving the old, means that you are stronger now. You are in another zone, achieving new heights of being and creating new levels on which your life can exist upon. Remember- What you have within you, is all you ever need. xx

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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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When Life Gets too Hot to Handle..

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,”
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A wood fire burning to cook food in Ethiopia. Photo Cred: Samira Messner

During my first summer in Sydney, Australia, I remember feeling like I was literally going through a fire. The heat was so hot that I felt like I could hardly breathe. My body was telling me to go back to Ethiopia where the sun shines but cold winds always blow. Yet, My spirit was telling me to stay in Sydney and so an internal fire was ignited too.

Internally and externally, I felt like I was going through a fire. It didn’t feel good. It was so uncomfortable and it brought ugly parts of my heart to the surface of my mind.

God is kind. We always have to remember that when we feel like we’re going through a fire. In His kind love for us He wants us to be better people. He wants to restore us back to His original intent for us by burning away the aspects of our character that weren’t meant to be a part of us in the first place. Those aspects that continually bring us pain and hurt our relationships; those aspects that came as a result of hurt that we have been through or misguided judgments that have never been addressed before. He knows what’s best for us and in His kindness, He draws the best out of us.

But in order for the best to come to the surface, the dirt and grime from our past needs to escape first. These usually manifest in the fire and we might be the only ones who see it, but if it’s ugly enough, it will make even us feel like we need to escape the heat of being confronted by our weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You know what? Your weakness is an opportunity for Christ’s power to be displayed. He’s not ashamed of your weakness so you don’t need to be either.

You aren’t expected to be perfect- we all have flaws. And as He highlights areas of your life that you need to work on, He will help you work on it- that’s how His power is displayed. He doesn’t bring it to the surface to block you from your destiny, He brings it to the surface so it doesn’t.

Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He skins away the dross in your life so that you can be a better vessel of His. Remember-You’re His vessel and the vessel is in safe hands when it’s in the hands of a King. Trust His wisdom as you go through the fire with Him.

Let’s pray

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for my life. I thank you that you know who I need to be in order to fulfill that plan and purpose. Help me as I go through this fire to trust you and to persevere. Teach me daily how to let go of the parts of me that don’t bring you glory. And may You be glorified in the process, in Jesus name I pray. Amen