30/09/2012

Standing in Faith

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:01 am by The Water Bearer

My Dad was the main one who taught me how to know God, and how to let His Son’s love into my heart so it can shine out from within. We were estranged for many years and only reconnected when I was in my early 20’s. As we began to rebuild our relationship, Dad answered the multitude of questions I threw at him, but I did not simply swallow all his answers whole or unchallenged. I challenged every thing he tried to teach me. I must admit his logic was thorough and convincing and it gave me a foundation for the faith I had not really tried to develop since I was a child.

While Dad taught me how to get to know God, his words fell on the soft soil of my faith which had been there all along. The truth is that my faith was developed along the journey which life has taken me, through difficult times where I have learned hard lessons about myself, lessons which brought me humility. Humility brought me a softer and open heart, an open heart brought me encounters with God, miraculous encounters which called me to trust in Him.

All the times when I have trusted God, needing as much faith as I can muster, He has fulfilled every promise He has ever made to me. Promised outcomes brought me more love and appreciation for Him than I can explain. That love and trust brought me to want to know Him and be closer to Him, to try to understand how I may please Him. This understanding brought me under the guidance of His will. My willingness, mixed with His strength helped move me in obedience to His guidance, and that has brought me to the place of faith where I now stand.

As is common in most faith-walks, many people in my life, family, friends and acquaintances alike, have challenged my faith in one way or another. Countless times I have had to choose between keeping their approval and companionship, or staying strong in my faith and risk it all…

Standing up for my faith doesn’t always involve a debate about religion, it also arises during challenges of life and questions of morals.

I spent many years in my youth blaming others for everything that was going wrong in my life, and I allowed my anger and disgust in someone elses behaviour to permit me to respond or react anyway I saw fit, because it was THEIR fault not mine! This attitude only caused me less peace in my life and more of my own undesirable behaviour.

Luckily for me, my Dad was willing to risk my affection for him by telling me when I was out of line with God. At first I rejected his words and defended against the discomfort I felt, but he was patient and forgiving, and extremely humble. He stuck by me and stayed true, and over time I became very grateful for his loving honesty and help. I wish more than anything that he was still here to do that, although if I slow down and listen, in time I can usually hear a voice in my heart when I need to be pulled back into line.

These days I try hard to be less about blaming others and more about looking at myself and searching my faith for guidance of how I can handle the situation in God’s way. Therefore, this is also what I encourage others to do when we are discussing how they can deal with the challenges life throws their way.

It is sometimes uncomfortable and can cause tension when we are called to stand up for faith and not sit quietly as faithless anarchy flows out around us.

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at them, lest I dismay thee before them” Jer 1:17 (ASV)

Sometimes it is hard to know when to speak up against something and speak out in faith, or to give grace and not risk offending others. Words of faith are powerful and need to be shared with much responsibility and restraint. It is careless to rub our faith in the face of one whose faith has not yet reached the same level of understanding. Patient, steadfast standing in faith, and a willingness to share the truth as it has been revealed, gains much ground for God. Whereas boasting of our knowledge, criticising, and undermining the obedience of one who has not yet come to understand the freedom of faith, rather than the restrictions of the laws, are all detrimental to the budding flower in the early stages of faith.

“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Romans 14:13 (KJV)

In times of challenge where I have been required to stand strong in faith or choose to keep in favour with a person, I think of my Dad and how his truth, while hard to swallow, kept me on the narrow path. I recall the persecution God’s Son willingly took for our salvation and I feel compelled to stand along side Him in faith. I try not to focus on the fear that I may become out of favour with someone.  I have found that people are often disloyal and unloving, they break promises they have made, they can turn on you after years of relationship, they can change how they feel about you at any given moment, from loving and accepting you one day, then belittling and hating you the next, regardless of whether you have stood strong in faith or not.

However God knows, He sees all the times we stand strong, it matters more to Him than anyone here in this place.

So I will always strive to choose my faith. People come and go but the Lord stays with me day and night. He is loyal and faithful to me and in return I do my best to be loyal and faithful to Him. My Loving Father God has never, and will never turn on me, I hope and pray I continue to have the strength of faith to never turn on Him either!

24/09/2012

My Demon

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:12 pm by The Water Bearer

I wish every woman would read this post. The voice of our Inner Enemies has this scheme so worked out that it has no need to be creative or change a thing. It repeats the same lies to everyone of us! Blessings to you all!

Lessons Of Mercy

Let me tell you a story about Wednesday night.  I really debated writing about this, because my husband reads my blog, however, I’m going to ask him to skip this one because I think the women reading this blog, need to hear about Wednesday night.

I’ve already posted on this blog about discovering some major disrespect for my husband.  The kind that doesn’t even appear like disrespect in the world we live in today, that seems completely justified, and is so intertwined in my every day life that it’ll be like lifting boulders100 times my own weight to remove these nasty habits. Yeah, that kind of disrespect.

Wednesday was just an ordinary day until my husband got home from work.  We haven’t been sleeping very well, and he’s been tired.  So he sat down in the chair and turned on the TV while I started fixing supper.

((There is…

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My Mini Mountain*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:24 am by The Water Bearer

After a weekend spent celebrating two members of my family’s birthdays, I feel as if I am peeking my head out from the bunker to survey the damage. I have not been near my laptop in a number of days and so made a bee-line for it as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, hoping I haven’t missed too many wonderful posts by my fellow bloggers.

I tiptoe over my filthy tiled floors, in memory of the numerous tiny footprints which headed in every direction a hundred times yesterday and the day before. I pretend I don’t see the basket of washing siting up on the dining table. I close one eye as I pass the lounge room of destruction, and I am not even game to head into the kitchen to make my morning cup of tea because I know I will get stuck in there, lassoed by the stack of dishes and benches piled as high as the Andes.

I unplug my laptop from its place in my office and run back to bed, diving under the covers, safe for a moment from the task that awaits me.

I would never have made it here if I had taken a moment to view the destruction. I would be in there now, wiping and sweeping, folding clothes and finding homes for each element of the Andes. I will do it, I can’t help myself. Someone will lose their head if I don’t get my home back in order as soon as possible. But for the moment I am hidden away, in my bedroom and I sit letting the ‘Reader’ page spin as it loads how many ‘New posts’ I have missed….. 47!! Oh Lord, and then I recall that I hit a quick refresh the last time I was here so I am guessing that’s maybe 70 posts unread!

I love all the blogs I follow, I want to give credit to your talents and hear your views. I want to soak up the knowledge and perspectives of you all who inspire me so much, so what am I to do??

The good Lord has given me some new voices to use in my novel and I need to get them out of me before I lose their spark. I have a book I am reading, which is helping sculpt the voices for my novel, and I want to absorb God’s word so I keep up my armour and His hand in all the areas of my life. I have about 10 incomplete drafts, waiting for my overly analytical mind to edit and approve of before I can post them. I need to shorten them substantially because I realise that if my readers are as pressed for time as me they will skip over the ones with the word count that gets up into the high hundreds or beyond. I feel if my ideal of sharing both God’s input in my life to inspire others, and the valuable teachings from my Dad with as many as possible is going to be likely, then I need to tailor my work for the audience I have been given. And to top it all off it is school holidays!

Wow that was word 535… I better go…

Hmmm I think I will pray first …. After all faith can move mountains…..

19/09/2012

Strength Behind Raising Children

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 am by The Water Bearer

Daughter 8yrs – “Mum, can I have a chocolate milk?”

Me – “Nope”

Silent pause…

Daughter – “Mum can I please have a chocolate milk, please?”

Me- “Well that was a much better way to ask for something, but I’m sticking to my first answer.”

Daughter – “I’m sorry I didn’t use my manners the first time Mummy, but could I please have a chocolate milk because I didn’t get one at Nana’s this morning, she was out of Milo”

Me – “That’s a shame, but the answer is still no. Enough now!”

Daughter – “I promise I will eat all my dinner.”

Me – “Yes you will eat all your dinner because you won’t be filling up on chocolate milk half an hour before I start cooking it. Have a drink of water if your thirsty, and stop expecting me to give you my reason, I have said no, and no means no!”  …. (Oh Lord, I’m throwing in overused cliche’s again)

Daughter – “Oh but that’s ages away”

Me – “There are children who have to wait for days to have a good meal, you will be fine. Enough now, I am loosing my patience with you!”

Daughter – “Sorry Mum, what’s for dinner?”

Me – “Food, aren’t you lucky?”

Daughter – “But what food?!”

Me – “Why?”

Daughter – “Because, I just want to know. ”

Me – “Well I am still deciding”

Silent pause….

Daughter – “I could have a chocolate milk and that would give you more time to decide.”

Ah, kids are so persistent!

One thing I realised early on about being a Mum, was that if I wanted my children to know who is in control between them and me, it all boiled down to tenacity. Who could hold their ground the longest and not cave in to the other. Many oarents understand that a few swift acts of discipline early on is vital, yet there is some treacherous ground to cross between the initial decision, and the success of it being the final outcome. Will we loose control? Will we get angry? Even yell? Will we reach the point of no return, hollering negative diatribes as we drag them off to bed slamming the door in defeat, accepting that the fight was too hard? Convincing ourselves that our excuses are valid?

Early on in my stint of motherhood I wilted in strength more than I succeeded, I regularly battled against a willful child who dragged out eating dinner every night. There were countless harrowing occasions when she would fiddle in her chair as one pea at a time made the slow journey on her fork to her mouth. Often I resorted to pining her on my knee and shoveling the food down in record time so I could put her to bed at a reasonable hour, or attempting the common negotiations of “Just two more mouthfuls”. Then there were the times when I caved in, got angry and sent her to bed, realising I had not won that round.

The hardest days were when minutes felt like eons, traffic chaos causes involuntary bouts of turrets, the work day spent feeling as useless as high heels on running shoes. On days like this, I had little ability to navigate the kitchen, using vacant focus to try and recall how you turn the green stuff in the bottom of the fridge into something edible. Lets just say I was rarely likely to prepare a masterpiece for dinner. I often felt extreme guilt for giving my child less than my best, forcing her to swallow something less than I expected to be able to give. I let that guilt undermine me, feeling like a better mother for avoiding her tears on top of everything else.

I feel it is safe to say that, even if we understand what the job requires, without God’s strength to perform it, it is simply impossible.

Most of us have a fair idea of right and wrong, and we recognise that it is our role to lovingly help our children understand this. Yet we can become our own worst enemy when we use our weakness as reasons to let them move our boundary lines. Of course we all have our toughest days, when life hits hard with genuine trauma, and those are the times when, if we have faith, we lean on God to help us merely get through the day. However the day-to-day struggles are where our children gain their understanding of who is in charge. If we give in and allow them to have their way, we are not being the nice, considerate parents we think we are, we are relying on our own strength to stand our ground, and end up falling in a heap under the pressure. We are showing our children that the line to break us exists if they push hard and long enough.

Challenging behaviour is common on any given day, children have a built in instinct for testing the strength of the boundaries we have set. Of course children always have much more energy than us, they haven’t wasted it on late nights and unavoidable errands. The responsibilities of daily life and tripping over red tape hasn’t worn them as thin as spilled milk. Their supply of patience hasn’t been given away like pamphlets at an election booth.

Instead they are inspired by tales of fighting against resistance, maneuvering through meteors and the onslaught of intergalactic enemy ships. Soaking up heroes emerging from kindergarten to stand up to the school bully, and the beautiful maiden who was brave enough to take on the evil oppressive guardian figure. Often the parents in these stories are portrayed as ill-informed about the crucial nature of the heroes quest, they aren’t portrayed as allies but rather another obstacle to be dodged and overcome.

The battle ground is set, the will of inner angels and enemies are empowered and ready to go head to head each time a testing situation arises. Who will come out on top? Will you? Will I?

I find it unacceptable to allow our children to become confused about who is in authority, I am accountable to God and they are accountable to me. Yet I can not simply rely on my own strength and tenacity to stand against defiant behaviour, or I simply fail too many times. Many of us seem to block out the ‘condemning’ voice of reason and lean heavily on excuses, because the right way is usually the hardest way. I give all credit to God for the times I have kept to my word and prevented my children overturning my decisions.

We have to remember to depend on His strength behind us, to pray for His wisdom when making decisions, when deciding appropriate consequences for unacceptable behaviour, and ask for His love to shine through us and out onto our children.

15/09/2012

God…..Really?*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith at 9:20 am by The Water Bearer

Inner Angels & Enemies

Most people who know me know that I have faith. I often get called ‘religious’ which progressively makes my skin crawl. These days I am quick to correct them, stating that “I am faithful, not religious!” I love to share stories about the wonderful things God has done in my life, but sometimes my stories are simply laughed at and dismissed.  I am not surprised by this anymore and I try not to feel any offense. I realise the damage that has been done to the reputation of God through many years of worldly disagreements and disappointments, which led to war and doubt.

It saddens me that the God I know is getting a bad rap because His name is too often used as a front for ‘religious humans’ to hide behind. I believe most church goers mean well, but with all their influence, why are so many people increasingly…

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14/09/2012

My Answers…*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , at 2:37 pm by The Water Bearer

In a recent post I explained how I adored our office white board and its ‘Life changing question of the week’. In it I shared a few of the questions which we have been asked and hoped some of you would join in. I was so blessed to find that a fellow blogger had dedicated a post to answering one of these questions. I admire the story she shared to capture her answer. You can read her wonderfully creative vision here… One return-trip in a time machine.

I thought it only fair that I give you a couple of my own answers and an idea of the answers from those who I share my days with…

*Would you willingly give up your arms, if you knew you would grow wings in their place?

My Answer – “I would keep my arms and wait for heaven, where I hope to have both arms and wings”. 😉

Most of the staff agreed to keep their arms, they liked the independence and their usefulness. One young guy said he would take the wings and become famous enough to pay others to do everything he could no longer do while he flew around all day! Hahaha

*Would you give up sleep, if you knew you would never get tired again?

One thing you should know about me and sleep is that I need it! Even if I’m full of energy, I need sleep. I am like an Energizer Bunny, full of nervous energy, I have been known to just keep going, and often at extreme speeds! This leads to high levels of adrenaline coursing through my veins and that puts excess stress on the heart. Sleep gives my busy, flighty brain a chance to unwind, (so long as I’m not having one of my nights of vivid dreams). I have learned over years to do some meditation and relaxation techniques before trying to get to sleep. This gives my body the peaceful rest it requires and makes it easier to get up in the morning. Beside I love my comfy bed and comfy pillows, I love the weight of my heavy quilt covering me like a safety blanket. I like resting my heavy head and giving my weak neck a much needed break.

So ‘No’ I would not give up sleep, even if I never got tired again. Most of the staff enjoyed sleep too much to give it up also. The guy with the wings said he would also give up sleep, feeling it wasted time he could spend more productively….probably flying 😉

*If you had to be on a deserted island with anyone, other than your partner, for 12 months who would you choose?

Some chose celebrities, some chose a survival expert such as Bear Grylls or MacGyver, I chose Jesus… We’ve all heard of the multitude of gifts He has. He is an amazing fisherman, He can bring water from a stone, turn rocks into bread, water into wine, or as my friend suggested, He could part the sea so we could walk off the island whenever we wanted 😉 Then there is the added bonus of course to be able to simply sit in His presence, hearing His voice… Listening to His wisdom falling over me like warm rain….

I enjoyed sharing a few of my answers with you and I hope you check out the amazing answer from my blogging friend at the start of this post. Blessings to you all and remember to keep connecting with questions.

11/09/2012

My Encounter With God..A True Miracle!*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith at 4:50 pm by The Water Bearer

One of my early blog posts, I needed this today to celebrate the strength of my Daughter and remind me of God’s blessing on her life….

Inner Angels & Enemies

“She’s pink and wiggly”, that’s what they said passing me a photo of my daughter, 3months premature, weighing a tiny 1 pound. I was 18, scared and groggy from the anesthetic. I was told of the baby inside me only 3 months earlier and strangely went insane for the colour mint green. Booties, bibs, outfits, even the bath! I was broke and couldn’t buy nice things for the nursery so I bought a roll of material, yep mint green, I made the quilts, curtains, a baby bag, bumpers, pillows, a nappy stacker, everything was mint green!

At 23 weeks pregnant I was told my baby was coming early and was too small to survive. Somehow I found faith to believe if God wanted me to be a Mum I would be, and if He didn’t I would accept His will. I would do my best to understand motherhood was not…

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08/09/2012

Connecting with Questions*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:46 pm by The Water Bearer

There are many things I can say that I enjoy about my new work place (when I say ‘new’ I mean I’ve been there for about 8 months). I really enjoy the company of the staff (in fact I often get a little too excited with my sharing, because I like them so much), we share stories and recipes, music and jokes. I like that the customers are mostly lovely and often enjoy a chat as much as me, (my nickname at work is ‘Chats’). It is not stressful (even though my anxiety still rears its ugly head from time to time). I enjoy the work of helping others, I like how nice, tidy and professional it is. I like the relaxed flow of energy that fills the halls each day. I like that they encourage me to be creative with designing fliers, writing marketing emails and newsletters. I like that they don’t mind if I read or write when things get slow and quiet. I love that I can be home each afternoon with my girls when they get home from school.

I know, I know, I am so Blessed!! Thank you Lord!!

However, the thing I currently like most about my new place of work is the white board in the kitchen…..

Why on earth??? You may ask….

Well it’s because of the ..“Life Changing Question of the Week”..Obviously! 😉

Someone randomly writes a thought provoking question on the whiteboard and everyone writes their answers underneath. It has become a source of insight into our fellow colleagues and gives us a point of reference for office discussions. It brings us all together, even those who do the night or weekend shifts, who don’t get much interaction with everyone on staff. This way everyone can join in..

Here is an idea of types of questions we have been asked….

*Would you willingly give up your arms, if you knew you would grow wings in their place?

*Would you give up sleep, if you knew you would never get tired again?

*How do you measure your level of success?

*If you could stop being you and become anyone else, who would you choose to be and why?

*If you had to be on a deserted island with anyone, other than your partner, for 12 months who would you choose?

*If you had access to one return trip in a time machine, how would you use it?

*If your house was burning down (and all the people and pets were safe) what 3 objects would you try and save?

As you can imagine there have been many laughs, opinions and stories shared as a result of this magical whiteboard. It gives a lovely connection to us all, which is my favourite thing EVER!

Aren’t connections so wonderful and often under appreciated??!!

For many years now it has been common for me to encourage others to play “Questions and Answers” with friends both old and new. You know the game where I ask you a question and you answer honestly and then it’s your turn to ask something, and back and to until we have a better understanding of each other. It kills awkward silences, it shows each other you are interested in them, it sheds light into each others thoughts and experiences. You may think this is usually the result of normal conversations, and for some this is true, but for those who have a hard time making small talk, opening up or interacting on a deeper level this game can be a fabulous tool. Plus it keeps things on an even keel, especially if one tends to talk over the other somewhat …(No … I have no idea of anyone like that  😉 Hahaha)

It was a fabulous new joy to play this game with my Husband and two girls one night recently. The girls had so many questions to fire at their Dad because he has always been less forthcoming with them of his own stories than I have. We spent an evening sharing ourselves openly, we learned more about each other than we already knew, we felt closer and loving, and understood each other a little better. I recommend you try it too!

I love people, people are so interesting to me, new perspectives, different opinions and views. You are all unique and special and I would really like to get to know you all better, experience more joys of connection, so if you want to play along, please add your answers to the “life Changing Questions of the Week” in the comments and lets get to know each other a little better. If you don’t feel like answering, I would still love to hear what you think of connecting with questions. Blessings to you all!

04/09/2012

Walking the Neutral Line Between Fear and Promise**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 pm by The Water Bearer

A few years ago, I was going through the toughest time, so far, in my life. It was a time I had been called to obey God in an area of my life that was more difficult, and scary, and emotional than I have ever had to do before or since. I was directed to walk away from my God given promise, away from my blessed ‘dream come true’ and wait for it to come find me again in a new stage of God’s perfect will.

As I waited in obedience I spent a lot of time sharing my heart in the sanctuary of those trustworthy and dearest to me, this lessened my heaviness and got me through many ominous weeks.

I wonder if any of them managed to keep up with the plot of my story very well?

I remember that I spoke a lot about my fears, the sense of impending doom which hovered around me day and night, as I waited on the promised outcome of both the situation and my life. Much of the time I was floored, barely able to hold the phone to my ear as I poured my tears into the receiver. Overwhelmed with thoughts hammering me to give up, cave in, and disobey. Convincing me I was drowning in an ocean of faithless doubt.

Then the next time I reached out I felt elated, the sun shone brighter and colour reappeared in my world, as I shared some small, seemingly insignificant, event that had sparked hope in me. Often I was directed to a reminder of God’s promise, a perfect sign to confirm that all was not lost. I would let this tiny shred of positive gold uplift me to clouds of high hope. I would prattle on and on, in a excited, overjoyed way, certain that this divine piece of evidence was the turning point in my pain, proof that my promise was not far from my reach. However usually, if I held on too tight, my buoyant piece of fluff would be blown away by the days end.

Another wave would come, heavy and unexpected, it would swallow my hope whole, like unwelcome and uninvited guests, dragging their luggage of negativity and dread into my life.

My mood and focus polarised from one minute to the next, like an unpredictable swelling sea. I filled my soul with scriptures speaking of God’s strength and faithfulness, of His love and mercy. I sang songs of praise daily, determined to keep my faith strong through the trial. If I stopped this for too long I crumbled under the attack of an enemy, who slipped through the cracks in my armour, and toyed with me in the worst ways. I was simply blown in all directions by breezes from the spiritual world. It was unbearable at times, unsure if I was even sane anymore.

My Dad was a priceless ally during this stormy season, as I helplessly clung to obedience like it was a lone life jacket floating in shipwrecked waters, I recall clearly the pearls of wisdom he gave me.

“Waiting patiently on God, in a tumultuous time, is less extreme if you can learn to stay neutral. If you allow yourself to get too emotionally high then you will have farther to fall when the next blow hits. If you stay hopeless and low it will be harder to drag yourself back up to be able to cope each day. Try hard not to be pulled either side of the line into optimism or pessimism, until you have proof that the season has changed and God has completely fulfilled His promise to you.”

He went on to explain that the enemy may give me positive hope only to make his blows of destruction all the more painful and hard to bear. I was to remain in the middle, not overjoyed and not defeated.

He was absolutely right, it made all the difference to try to execute any amount of emotional self-control and trust that God was working things out in His own time and His own way. The waves began to level out.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

We can get through these types of trials without the massive tumult of highest highs and the lowest lows, if we try to walk the neutral line between the fear and the promise. Realising that faith in an unseen God can allow all our hopes to become reality.

Somehow, with the continual support from those who poured into me with faith, compassion and scripture, I managed to hold on in obedience for a number of months until the season did change. The proof was confirmed in the most miraculous ways. And God did in fact bring my promise back into my life. Only when it came back, it was far better than the version of the promise I had let go of and trusted into His hands. He is an awesome and powerful God, only limited by our own lack of faith, our impatience and our mistaken presumption that He is unwilling to perform.

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