Words

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Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name”

If you are anything like me you may talk to yourself saying things like …’I’m such an idiot’; ‘I am fat’; ‘It’s too hard’; ‘I can’t’ ….’; ‘I am dreading….’; I will never be able to ...’.

Do you realise that you are preaching a message to yourself when you say these things? When you speak to yourself you are prophesying over your life. How often did you have a fantastic and energising day after you ‘declared’ that you had an awful sleep? Especially when you tell everyone you meet what an awful sleep you had – LOL. I can almost guarantee that you struggled through that day.

However, when we get up after a restless night and declare, ‘I didn’t have a good sleep, but I am so ready for this day’ – This is the day the Lord has made and I WILL rejoice in it – we end up having a fantastic day. Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

It’s said that no one is more influential in your life than ‘you’, because no one talks to you more than you do. Declare, prophecy and preach life over your own life.

When you are afraid, do you command your soul to trust in the Lord? When you feel low or unloving, do you command your heart to bless the Lord? In the particularly difficult moments of the day, how do you talk/preach/prophecy to yourself? How do you specifically exhort yourself to hope in God?

May I encourage you to remind yourself what God has done for you?

When we command our souls to bless the Lord, we not only call to mind the things in general that are true about the Lord (Psalm 103:3-5) we follow David’s example to get our arms around concrete, unquestionable realities of God’s work in redemptive history. We lift our eyes above our own circumstances and fix it upon God’s acts of provision and deliverance in the past. We tell ourselves what God has done — in history, for us.

I encourage you dear friend to hold fast to specific truth about our God. Remind yourself regularly of what God has done for you. Find specific verses you can declare to uplift your soul and to speak LIFE to yourself. Instruct your soul to bless the Lord!

I leave you with this verse from Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

 

 

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Spice Girls Wannabes

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Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
At our College we have an annual fundraising event for World Vision. Each year the students work hard to reach a goal the the World Vision student leaders set for the entire school. As a way to encourage the school children to keep going at their fundraising, our WV student leaders arrange for teachers to perform something crazy/fun as an incentive when specific monetary goals are reached.

Well this year, 4 of my colleagues and I were picked to perform a ‘Spice Girls’ act when the school reached a goal of $40 000. We actually loved creating ourselves into one of the ‘personas’ … Posh-, Ginger-, Sporty-, Scary- and Baby Spice. We dressed like the Spice girls, we wore wigs and bold makeup with false eyelashes. We did all we could to copy our chosen Spice Girl look.

This whole experience made me think about how often we go through life living as another character or persona. Young women try to dress like a Kardashian or the latest music star. Many older women copy some other woman they may secretly admire.

The reason many women are so insecure is because we believe things that aren’t true about ourselves. God can give us the strength, bravery and confidence we need to believe who He says we are. He has the power to make us all brave. God can give you the courage to be the true, unique, one of a kind YOU.

We had so much fun filming our Spice Girl video, but at the end of the day we couldn’t wait to remove the makeup and false eyelashes, taking off the wigs and changing into our comfy clothes. You know what? It was hard work being someone else! It’s really hard work to be a copy! So girlfriends, don’t try to copy others, don’t compare yourself, you don’t have to be like so and so next door or in the Girl in the office across the hallway or some celebrity. God LOVES variety.

We are not mass-produced! God laboured in crafting each of us, one by one. God’s definition of Perfection is to BE UNIQUE … to be the REAL YOU. We’re at our closest to perfect when we’re living most fully as the one-of-a-kind woman God made, not when become a copy of the world around us.

The thing that makes you different is what makes you beautiful. Your humour; your fun-loving nature; your gentle and kind spirit; your generous heart. Maybe it is your fashion sense or the way you connect with people of all ages.  It could be your brilliant brain or the music that flows from your fingers. Whatever your special blend is, EMBRACE IT.

Let’s live as our most perfectly unique version. Let’s be our rare, beautiful selves, allowing our creative God to shine His glory through us.

Prayer: Father God, You formed me in my mother’s womb. You know my strengths and challenges. Lord, so often I try to blend in instead of shining out the uniqueness You created in me. Help me keep my eyes focused on You, committing to be the exact version of me You created me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stop the beating

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1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”

I don’t know about you, but I often ‘beat’ myself up emotionally, mentally, and spiritually over my failures. I often hear myself saying “I am such a failure, a hopeless, incompetent fool or stupid! I am the absolute worst! God must hate me because I certainly do!” Whip, beat, punch, punch!

Most times, as sudden as those thoughts or words come, the Holy Spirit whispers to me that ‘God does not hate you’. No matter how terrible the failure or sin, we do not need to live under the constant beating of guilt, shame, and condemnation because “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That is Amazing Grace!

If you are inclined to beat yourself up over things, let me give you two important words: STOP IT! Who am I to look at God’s creation – who He said is ‘VERY GOOD’ and a MASTERPIECE – and say it is rubbish or useless! Make necessary amends and put down the boxing gloves! Receive His grace and know that He does not have any condemnation for you, just a heart of love.

PRAYER: Dear God, forgive me for criticising and putting ‘ME’ -your ‘creation’ – down. Today, I choose to put down the gloves and believe Your Word that says I’m your daughter and created as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. I am forgiven, clean, and loved by You. I believe it and receive it. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Mysterious Love

 

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John 3:16 “God so loved the world…”

I don’t know if anyone else spends much time wondering why God loves us, but sometimes His love is a mystery to me. I know my inadequacies and shortcomings. I also know that God loves me in spite of them. Our importance, power and beauty have nothing to do with God’s affection for us. He just loves us.

When I was little I had a teddy bear which I loved more than anything. I wouldn’t go anywhere without Teddy. I was beside myself one day when I saw Teddy hang on the washing line. I believed Teddy was in intense pain!

You know … I still have Teddy stacked away in a cupboard somewhere. Teddy has lost a nose, some fur, and had the stuffing knocked out of him. I am planning to restore and box-frame him to show my grandchildren one day.

When Teddy was new and handsome, I loved him. When Teddy was old and ragged, I still loved him. I did not simply love Teddy because he was beautiful, I loved him with the kind of love that made Teddy beautiful.
That’s what God’s love has done for us. He doesn’t love us because we are beautiful, His love makes us attractive.

Sometimes it is hard for us to receive undeserved love, so we try to earn it. What God has done for us, He did for love. Instead of trying to understand it, or deserve it, or pay for it, He just wants us to receive it and say, “Thank you.” When we do that, His love begins to change us

Prayer: Thank you God that you love me with all my flaws and inadequacies and shortcomings . I choose to believe this and allow Your love to change me. I realise that if You love me so much I can never give up on myself.

Cry for help

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I have been having one of ‘those’ weeks. Actually, I have had one of ‘those’ weeks for the past 2 months! How can a year I have been really looking forward to, be so overwhelming I feel I want to run away?

I’ve heard it said once that ‘overwhelm camouflages itself’. Some days it appears as a health or debt crisis. It may appear as a project that requires all your time, energy and attention. It can even be disguised as a blessing, a birthday, new baby, a wedding or a longed-for family reunion.

After the initial excitement about this new year, reality set in. I love my job and was excited about the lesson planning and meeting my new students. I am also studying part time to complete my art degree and I am in the process of planning an art exhibition in April. I am a mum of 3 boys and together with my husband, they all want a bit of me. I feel so conflicted at times about where and with whom I need to be with, that that in itself stresses me out.

My middle son completed his degree at university the end of last year. His 21st birthday party had to be planned in February. He needs a job. I ask … “Why is he not searching for jobs? Why is he not pounding the pavements and knocking on doors? Should I help him? But he is a man now … he should know what to do.”

These questions have become like a stuck record  in my head the past 2 months.

My mind has been in overdrive and that’s when overwhelmed kicked in. It started effecting my daily work and family life. When I’m overwhelmed, I feel like I want to run away, but we all know we can’t do that so instead I tend to shut down.

I know that I shouldn’t stress and worry … yet, it seems to be my default setting! When will I ever learn that I am not in this alone? God knows what is going on, He isn’t surprised by the stresses and crises in my life. He is a gentleman who waits for me to ASK for help.

I encourage you to not wait until you are overwhelmed. STOP and first ask your Father for help, inspiration, ideas, creativity, wisdom or whatever your needs may be.

We don’t all have the same capacity to handle life. My husband’s capacity is awe-inspiring. The worst thing I can do is to start comparing my capacity to his. God designed his temperament and mine differently on purpose. Same goes for all of us. Your spouse or colleagues capacity are different to yours.

I am making a new resolution, starting today. When I start to feel the panic of overwhelm rise within me, instead of trying to “suck it up” and power through, I am going to first ask my Father for help, wisdom and inspiration. Enough is enough! Will you do the same?

Prayer: Father, you have already provided everything I need for each challenge that will come my way. Help me take every thought and emotion, blessing or burden, directly to You. Direct my steps, give me wisdom, and help me to be more creative in all I do. Give me the courage to say NO when I need to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Words like Honey

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Proverbs 16:24Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

My principal shared this verse with the staff this morning and it really intrigued me.

Did you know that bee keepers place their hives in full sun so that they warm up the bees and trigger them to get busy early in the morning and thereby start making honey early? Wise beekeepers will be sure their beehive is strategically place near a large patch of clover, Manuka trees or wild flowers so that the bees will produce sweet flavoured honey with very unique flavours. It is safe to say that the sweetness or bitterness of honey is determined by what the bee drinks and the amount of time it spends in the sun!

Could it be true that the sweetness or bitterness of our words will be determined by what our hearts drink in each day, and the amount of time we spend with the Son? If we long for our words to be filled with grace, rather than snappy, irritable and prickly, we need to think like a beekeeper: Watch what we ‘drink’ and spend time in the ‘Son’.

When we spend time in the Word, we will drink in life-changing truths. Then when someone else’s behaviour threatens to knock the nice right out of us, we can pause before we pounce. We won’t say something permanently painful just because we are temporarily ticked off! Instead, we will impart grace: sweet, healing, life-giving grace.

We will be able to fulfil our mission to LOVE RELENTLESSLY … not just through our words but with actions that reinforce them.

Today, may what you express be words sweetened as with honey which will bring fresh life, grace and a deeper love.

Prayer: Father, I pray I may carve out time to soak in Your presence, spending time in Your Word each day so I might speak and act more like Your Son. Help me to think before I speak and that which I say be gracious, kind, uplifting and lovely. Amen.

Be Intentional

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I have been amazed by some comments on social media about the horrible year 2016. Horrible things happen every year! Some people seem to think when the clock strikes midnight on 31 December that everything will be different by 12.01am, 1 January 2017, and that they will suddenly have the life they have always dreamed of.
Wow, really?
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but life will be exactly the same in 2017 as it was in 2016. Broken relationships won’t miraculously be restored. New jobs won’t pop out of thin air. Weight gained over Christmas holidays can’t be wished away and the overdraft or credit card won’t miraculously be paid off.
The calendar and the clock don’t dictate life change.
You can read all the self help books, but unless you are intentional and have steps and goals in place on how you will achieve these goals, dreams and desires …. nothing will be different.
Living intentionally is about cultivating new ways of thinking which will give way to new habits and, ultimately, new outcomes. Change takes time, perseverance, humility, and most of all, accountability.
Consider these starting tips on being intentional to make 2017 a better year that the past:
1. Be Present
Set your phone aside a little more, in exchange for more of real life. Instead of always catching the moment for Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, be deliberate about soaking in and enjoying the life moment simply for yourself.
2. Budget – Money and Time
Instead of spending time and money on shopping, commit to using your time and money for something meaningful this coming year. Donate to Tearfund or World Vision; sponsor the Westpac Rescue Helicopter or St Johns Ambulance instead of purchasing an item you don’t need.
3. Listen
To be a good communicator you need to know how to listen. Block out distractions, make eye contact, and engage with empathy.
4. Have a goal
Choose a few meaningful, even extravagant, goals. Immediately, set up a plan on how to achieve these goals. Enrol into that degree you always wanted to do. Put down a deposit on that trip of a lifetime. Register for that marathon. Be intentional.
5. Drop the Baggage
Everyone have wounds, pain, and hurts from the past. If you can’t seem to move on from the past find a pastor, counsellor or therapist to see how your past is impacting your present. Invest in yourself.
6. Read …read ….read
Social media doesn’t not fall in this category. Don’t lose the value and importance of life. Start with just one book and expand your knowledge about life.
7. Reach and serve
Be intentional in investing in people. Get involved in community, whether it is serving in your local church, retirement home or local council initiatives. Start a dinner club and meet monthly or join a life group. We are not meant to do life alone.
8. Be Actively Generous
Generosity shapes the condition of our heart. The more we can give to God, the world around us, and those in need, the more we realize that the most valuable things are not our possessions, but the sharing of our possessions. It is more blessed to give than receive.
9. Get Active
Start walking or join a gym or club sport. Honour God with your body. Your heart will love you for this
10. Savour God’s Word
Block out the noise of this world, and instead fill it with His Truth.

Whether you take on just one of these tips, be intentional in changing yourself and your habits to make 2017 the best one we’ve ever lived.

I leave you with the beautiful blessing from an ancient Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I wish you the best New Year ever – Happy 2017