30/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Nourishment*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:33 pm by The Water Bearer

Nourishment is defined as – “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”

This is probably the most obvious post, which many of you knew was coming in this series. The word of God is immeasurable nourishment for achieving a healthy heart and building a relationship with the Almighty. Unfortunately it has been known to fall into the wrong hands, it has been misused as a tool to condemn, judge, and control way too many people over the years. I have come to realise one very important thing about the Bible, and that is that it is a personal book, not a public one. Sure, we share scriptures to back up our theories and we use them to encourage or even reprove others, but all in all what God inspires in each word changes for each person, according to where they are at in their walk with Him. This is why there are references to the ‘secrets’ of God’s word.

“And he said, To you is given knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to the others, they are given in stories, so that seeing, they may not see, and though they give hearing, the sense will not be clear to them.” Luke 8:10 (BBE)

Secrets are defined as – Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. Something that is not properly understood; a mystery.

There are only two, who can know for sure what God is saying to you through His word. One is you, with your heart after Him, and the other is God! That’s it! Others can guess, they can speculate, they can advise, they can theorize, however God and God alone is the only one who’s guidance we must take, any advice must be checked back with Him and await confirmation, before anything can be known for certain. Read here for more on confirmation and deception.

“Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be confirmed”. 2 Cor 13:1 (MNT)

Abraham, the father and patriarch of the Hebrew nation, had no scriptures, he had a relationship with God. God poured promises deep into Abraham’s soul. Angels were sent to bring more fortuitous assurances. God spoke directly and the willing heart of Abraham believed and obeyed. In today’s scope of interactions with God, many of our imaginings about the ‘Words from God’ have become contaminated by false prophets and counterfeit deities. So we must have discernment and not swallow anything whole. We must chew it over with prayer and nourishment, we must give God the chance to confirm what it is that He is trying to tell us.

When we begin to build a relationship with someone, we spend time getting to know them. Reading the scriptures is a way of getting to know God and what His principles are. The stories and history recorded were written by those who had a deep relationship with God, and while there may be much confusion and debate over interpretation, there is much opportunity for growth for those who are willing to pursue it.

“Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11 (ASV)

The first thing I can hear you saying, based on what I said at the beginning of my own adult walk is, “But it’s hard and boring, and I don’t feel like reading the Bible”.

Something extremely important to recognise before we begin to read God’s word, is that the enemy is real and is out to destroy any hope we have of reaching the potential that God has in store for us. He has access to our flesh and uses it to pull us away from God and the disciplines we must apply in order to overcome it.

This is just like any other discipline, take for example physical exercise, we all know it is good for us, we all know that it will help us improve many areas of our lives, yet our flesh resists it. Even once we get going, we begin to feel the weight and pressure of keeping it up and we want to quit. Prayer is the same, try praying to God for 10 minutes. We can talk on the phone with our friends easily for 10 minutes, but test and see how hard it is to talk to God for that long. Our flesh distracts us, it feels like we simply cannot do it!

Reading the word of God also brings out this resistance, especially at first. Even when we pick it up and open somewhere and begin to read, it is like the words all overlap on the page, we find ourselves reading the same line over and over and not taking anything in. Or we open up at a genetic listing, a whole chapter dedicated to someone who ‘begat’ someone else, to the next generation and so on and so on. My advice is to press on, turn a few pages, pray for help to be able to read and understand. The Bible may be many things, however, “boring’ is not one of them, this is another trick from the enemy. We need to open up our hearts and let God in through His word. We need to acknowledge the enemy in our flesh and find the willingness to overcome it.

We can’t treat the Bible like any other book, reading from the front page through to the last. Each Book of the Bible is a whole book in itself, both filling and worth meditation. Before I open it up just anywhere, I pray and ask God to guide my eyes to find the words He wants me to read. If nothing makes sense after a little while, then start at the beginning of that chapter, if it still doesn’t connect then start at the beginning of that book. Another good idea is to make a note of the section you opened to and go back and check to see if it makes sense in a few days time. That can be mind-blowing!

Just like we need to eat healthy nutritious food to keep our bodies in top condition, we also need to read God’s word to keep our hearts in top condition.

‘Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.'” Matthew 4:4

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:2-3

‘Nourishment’ is  the 5th post within the series, ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Previous posts include, Connection, Accepting and Encounter, Security, and Control. Keep an eye out for more posts to come, Blessings to you!

28/11/2012

Gaining Help From Above – Control*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:47 am by The Water Bearer

When I was a young single Mum, before I began deepening my relationship with God, I found myself bouncing from one relationship to another. I was hunting desperately for that one man who would fulfill my dreams of a united family, and a stable home for me and my daughter, a nice yard with a fence where she could play, and maybe a dog. You know the ‘typical’ family life, a life I had been dreaming of since my parents split up when I was a young girl.

I was in a relationship with a man, we did not live together, and after 2 years I was frustrated. I had pinned so many hopes on him, hoping he would want the same things as me. No matter how much I forced discussions about our future he always seemed to change the subject, or speak in vague riddles. Eventually, after long talks with my Dad about life, love, faith and dreams, I began to accept the truth. In reality this man and I were looking for different things, and I was so hell-bent on controlling my life and those in it, that I had given God no room to  take the wheel and steer my life in a better direction.

Dad’s talks gave me a new perspective. I needed to let go of my rigid dreams and allow God to bring His dreams into my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11 (ESV)

I ended my 2 year relationship and took some time to sit quietly with God, I promised to truly give up my pursuit of that one dream I had been in search of. I committed my life into God’s hands, and rather than the physical ways I had been intimate before, I began to develop intimacy with my Heavenly Father instead.

Within a few months everything changed. A good friend invited my Dad, myself and my Daughter, to rent his house, it had a nice yard and even a dog. I now had my Dad as a stable influence in our life and a dear friend who completed the household. I found myself rushing home from work to spend time at home, something I had no recollection of doing for as long as I could remember. Then one day, in an miraculous way, my heart changed. I saw my friend with ‘new eyes’, and an attraction developed. God gave me a number of confirming signs that this was the man He had chosen for me, and I began to expand on the love I had for my friend. The reality of our life together has had higher highs and joy than I had ever envisioned in my previous ‘controlling’ dreams. Of course we have been through some rough times, but I have confidence in God’s dream much more than I ever had in my own, no matter what the future holds God is trustworthy. In all areas of my life I can trust in His loving provision, believing He will have more in store for me than my limited imagination can conceive.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Prov 19:21 (ESV)

Control is an illusion anyway! If we have faith, we know that God already knows what we are going to do, and what we are going to choose in our daily walk, and He knows what He is going to bring our way in relation to our choices. His Will, will be done after all. If control is in fact an illusion, why not work with God by submitting to His influence over our lives? We have been given free choice, and it is a free choice to choose His way over our own.

Letting go of our own dreams allows Him to bring us a new dream, His Dream.

By using both hands to hold tightly to the steering wheel of my own dream, I had no free hand to accept all that God had in store for me. If we rest this life on an open palm, we allow God to take and to give, then we can experience His blessings for us. I promise that He loves us so very much, and if we give Him the chance, He is faithful to blow our minds with a miraculous reality that only He can create.

‘Control’ is the 4th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’, which I am writing for a friend, who reached out to me in her hour of need. Here are the links to the previous posts in order from the beginning – ‘Connection, ‘Accepting an Encounter’, and ‘Security’Here is the link to the next post. Blessings to you all!

26/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Security*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 8:57 am by The Water Bearer

                                                            linus

Right back to my youngest memory, the theme of my life seemed to revolve around a panicked hunger for security. I was very fearful in my youth, I sucked my thumb until I was an adult, but I haven’t yet mentioned my security blanket. A pillowcase in fact.

There was no chance, no how, no way for me to go to sleep without it, EVER! Up until age 23, yes you read that right, 23! I was consumed by the feeling of the selvedge tickling the webbing between each finger as I sucked on my thumb, distracting me from my fears, feeling a wave of comfort wash over me as I held it over my head and let it lightly drift over my face, back and to. I will never forget how much I relied upon that simple piece of cloth, how it called out to me in moments of loneliness, boredom, sadness, fear and exhaustion. I swore to all who knew me that I would never give it up, that I wanted my pillowcase placed alongside me in my coffin. Even death felt less of a concern as long as I knew I had my beloved ‘Pillowcase’ to help me through.

You could say it would have to be some kind of miracle for me to become willing to let it go.

When my Dad taught me some of the many things about having faith and moving closer to God, he spoke a lot of fear. Not so much about fearing God or what punishment may come for sin, like I had heard so much of in church, but more of the irrational fears which our inner enemies use to handicap us throughout life and pollute our faith. He encouraged me to seek out God and put my trust in Him in all of my times of fear, to pray for comfort, to read scriptures reminding me of God’s strength and protective nature, of His abundant love.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”. Zeph 3:17
A few months into my ‘new’ relationship with both my Dad and God, I took a trip to visit my Sister, of course I took my pillowcase, I never went anywhere without it! My Sister had another guest staying with her during this time. This was someone I had never met before and I was told that he had been going through a difficult time.

One day I had been watching movies on her lounge, I had my pillowcase shoved under the cushion and played with it, letting it relax me as I watched. Later that night I was heading off to bed and couldn’t find it, I started to panic. I thought back through the day to when I had it last, and recalled the movie. I rushed into the lounge room only to find her other guest asleep on the couch. I tried to look under the cushion, which He was now resting his head on, but it wasn’t there. I assumed it must have moved somewhere underneath him and so, in the most juvenile fashion, I woke him up and told him he was lying on something of mine which I needed. He got up and I proceeded to turn the lounge upside down in search of my precious pillowcase! I know, I know, and to make matters worse it wasn’t even there! The look on his face was so humiliating, but I could not see myself past my outrageous irrational fear!

I ended up finding it in the wash basket along with the rest of the dirty washing, and got quite a stern talking to from my brother-in-law about how childish I was, and how rudely I had treated their guest. I defended myself in anger at his accusation. I was after all, a mother who had been looking after herself for 5 years, and I did not like what he was insinuating.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, pillowcase in hand, I felt some shameful conviction fill my heart and I knew this had to stop. The next day I apologised and confessed my fear, I told them all that I was going to put my security in God’s hands from then on, and I took my pillowcase and set it alight in front of everyone. I also gave up sucking my thumb that day as well.

“In peace will I both lay me down and sleep; For thou, Jehovah, alone makest me dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8 (ASV)

This event made a huge impact on my faith, learning to put my safety in God’s hands rather than a silly pillowcase, took my faith to new levels. For the first time in my life I felt free from my irrational fears. Amen!

Making an effort to feel safe in God’s arms, in all our times of fear, is another step to gaining help from above. It shows God that you trust Him and therefore He can show you how faithful He is to keeping us safe and in combat of fear.

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security”. Jer 33:6 (ESV)

This is the 3rd post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’, which follows on from ‘Connection’,  and ‘Accepting an Encounter’. If you are just stumbling upon this series, you may want to track back to the start. Here is the link to the next post in this series. I hope you are blessed by them.

23/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Accepting an Encounter*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 am by The Water Bearer

This is the second post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’, please check out the introduction post if you haven’t already.

Accepting an encounter with God, changes not only our level of faith and our perspective in many areas of life. It is the first element in the foundation of our relationship with Him. This is vital if our faith is going to stand against the many trials it is sure to endure, right up until we reach the potential that God has in store for us.

From the age of 6, I spent a couple of years attending a Baptist Church with my family. I could recite scriptures and knew exactly what to say to my Dad and our Pastor or other members of the church when asked about Jesus, sin, or stories from the Bible. Yet I can’t recall any encounters with God from that time. Honestly my first steps on the floor of faith were not experienced within the walls of church.

When I was a young girl, I was notorious for hiding the mess in my room. If my parents weren’t paying close attention they may think I wasn’t this messy child. Yet if they opened a cupboard, a drawer, or looked under my bed they would be appalled by the jumbled clutter they’d find.

One day, my family was heading out somewhere special, I was always adamantly fussy about my clothes and insisted on wearing only things I really liked. I had a favourite pair of shoes at the time and had arranged my outfit to match with them perfectly. Only problem was everyone was getting into the car and I had only been able to locate the right shoe.

For the past half an hour I had been flinging crumpled clothes, toys, sneakers and books over my shoulders as I dived into my wardrobe and under my bed, searching urgently for the matching shoe. I could hear my mothers voice changing tone, calling to me from the front door as she grew frustrated with my tardiness. My chest tightened as I hunted harder, faster, knowing her patience wasn’t going to hold much longer. I knew she would soon stomp in here, find any pair of matching shoes, amongst the disaster zone that I now called my room, and she would make me wear them even if they didn’t match my clothes. That thought made me spin with desperation.

Suddenly I sensed a deep inner place and I remembered that I knew of this guy called Jesus and His Dad, God. So I called out in faith, “Please, pretty please, if you are really there, help me find my other shoe Lord. I promise I will try to keep my room tidier, just please help me. If you are real then you know where it is, please show me where.”

I went around the other side of my bed and reached underneath, I lifted a shirt with a horses face on the front, and underneath it was my shoe!

As I look back on that prayer it seems such a silly thing to pray about, however, I realised at that moment that God was real, that He was just like a loving parent who answers even the silly requests of His children. I had child-like faith. I have never doubted God’s existence since, even when I struggled through life and didn’t always understand His reasons, even when I strayed away from Him, I still knew deep down that He was waiting for my next heartfelt prayer.

Let me be clear here, God may not always answer every prayer as simply and immediately as this one. He knows what is BEST for us, and if our prayers line up with His will for us He will always answer them. If our prayers are outside of His will for us, He would be doing us an injustice to use His might and power to act like a ‘Genie in a bottle’, granting our every wish. For example, if we pray, asking God to help us win the Lotto, God knows that those riches will distract us and taint our faith in Him, because we will put our trust in our money and not in Him. Then that would go against everything He stands for.

You may be asking at this point, why it was in God’s will to find my left shoe? So may I draw your attention to a couple of things in my childish prayer, that I think are important?

Firstly, it was the first time I questioned in my heart if God and Jesus were “really there”. I imagine a Father looking down on His daughter with intense love, wanting desperately to have a genuine connection with her and hearing her ask, “Are you really there? Really?” The answer any loving Father would give is “YES! YES! I am really here!”.

Secondly, I made an agreement, a contract, a covenant with God. I promised I would try my best to keep my room tidier. To show Him I was willing to do some hard work in return for His faithful answer to my desperate prayer. God is all for discipline, He knows that self-discipline with His help, is the only way to overcome our flesh. The very flesh which leads us to follow the ways of the world and not God’s ways.

“The proverbs of Solomon, David’s son who was king of Israel, {given} to grasp wisdom and discipline, to understand deep thoughts, to acquire the discipline of wise behavior” Prov 1:1-3 (GW)

Thirdly, in my childish way, I demonstrated a level of faith that I didn’t even realise I had. When I said “If you are real then you know where it is”, it showed that I was willing to accept how broad and wide His power reaches. It showed God that I did not limit Him, and I gave Him a chance to show me that the tiny insignificant details of my life, including the state of my room, were important to Him.

My faith moves me to understand that He knew that I was at a crux which was vital to the foundation of my faith. It was tremendously important to Him that I believed He existed and was powerful enough to show me where my shoe was, and that He cared a lot about the details of my life.

If I had not been desperately open-hearted and actually reaching out to Him with my heart, then He would have known it was not in my best interests to answer my prayer. He knew my heart was open at that moment.

“But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jer 17:10 (NLT)

I have taught my girls to pray with one important clause always to be acknowledged, and applying it shows a mature relationship with God, based on trust.

“Dear Lord, I would really appreciate you answering my prayer, but if it is not within your will, I will trust that you have your reasons.”

Accepting an encounter with God can be a life changing experience. If you allow your heart to open up to it and value it, it will be the first of many even more miraculous encounters in a life time of faith.

Obviously there is much width and depth to the subject of gaining help from above, which is why I need a series of posts to write about it, and why many people spend a lifetime devoted to gaining a better understanding of God and building an intimate relationship with Him. These steps I am mentioning throughout this series, are some of the basic foundations from which to build faith from, and here is the link to the next post....

21/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Connection*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:11 am by The Water Bearer

Don’t you just love how a new connection with someone can bring some clarity and meaning to your world? I have made many wonderful new connections in the Blogosphere and I am so grateful for you all. For the first time in my faith walk I feel more connected to the (too often divided) ‘Body of Christ’ than I had been able to perceive before. I feel greatly blessed by that.

I have also made a few new connections in the ‘real world’ recently as well. I love how people challenge me to wrap my head around their unique perspectives, established by their own personal journey, and yet also how many common elements we share.

How awesome is our Lord to be able to create such different and individual experiences, yet still bring us across people we share so much common ground with! It blows my mind!

I was sharing recently with one of these ‘new connections’ and was grateful for the honest way she opened her heart to me. I felt it may have been unfamiliar for her to share her weaknesses without fear of judgment or condemnation.

This world teaches us very quickly to hide our imperfections from others, yet when we share them in a safe place, the deep affiliation felt can be extremely healing.

After some time spent sharing, she asked me about the most priceless connection anyone can ever make: She asked…

“What can I do to gain help and guidance from God?”

It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to realise how complex this question is, yet I softened my heart to her situation and tried to remember what it was that struck a chord within my own heart before I let God take more control of my life. I spoke for a few minutes about a number of things, which I can hardly recall to share here, however after I left her I found a still, small voice adding to our conversation in my thoughts. So I decided to let it flow out into the Blogosphere.

I hope that in my response I spoke to her about the limits we place on God. We often assume that He is simply too busy to be bothered with the details of our personal lives. We imagine Him as very far off, we don’t see much opportunity to reach Him and make contact. When the truth is that He is pressing up against our lives, closer than you or I can imagine, waiting patiently to connect with us. Without previous awareness of His involvement in our lives, or an experiential spiritual perspective, it can be difficult to know how or if He can even help us.

So in order to genuinely connect with God, first we need to recognise that He is abundant and has NO LIMITS, we simply can’t conceive that in it’s entirety from our human mind. It is a humbling event to acknowledge that we do not know how much He knows, or why He does what He does and doesn’t do, or how many arrangements He has made behind the scenes of our lives, setting up every situation to encourage us to a place of soft-hearted humility so we will be more open to Him and His will. We can speculate and study, we can debate and discuss theology, we can assume and guess, we can war and argue, but we are unable to completely understand as long as we are trapped by the limited mindset of humanity. It is hard to comprehend His intense love for us and His unlimited power, because we are trying to expand our thoughts to a point which we have no mind power to reach. It takes much more than knowledge or understanding, it takes Faith!

We often become very confused about God because we have so many mis-perceptions of sin and forgiveness, blame and innocence, which we let distance us from Him, and we regularly miss the subtle yet more important reasons for any feelings of distance… For instance, when we try to be our own ‘God’ by holding tight control, rather than trusting Him with the choices and direction of our lives. Or when we hold bitterness towards Him for our own, and the rest of the world’s, suffering. Without any understanding of the systems outside our physical lives that are being empowered for our own good in the long term, in other words, our salvation and spiritual position. We let that bitterness become our reasoning not to trust Him….

We take away His power when we think we understand more than we do and believe we have enough will-power to not need to rely on Him.

We believe quotes that claim ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’, yet we get angry at God when it is hard.

An imperative aspect to gaining Christ-likeness is the willingness to suffer for moments in our lifetime and trust that there are reasons we do not yet understand. Better that, than risk losing our possible position in an eternity of basking in the awesome presence and love of the Almighty, due to our own gall.

St. Anselm of Canterbury wrote –

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe… but I believe in order to understand.”

Here is the link to the next post in this series…There’s much more to Gaining Help from Above….

13/11/2012

A Tough 3rd Day*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:17 am by The Water Bearer

On the last day of a recent 3 day blog fast, my girls asked me to watch a movie with them. The movie was a Japanese Anime Film and the boy in the movie had no technology in his home. They only had a dial-phone and lots of books.

My youngest daughter (9yrs) was fascinated by this film, it inspired her to want to take a break from technology herself. She expressed to me her desire to go on a technology fast. This little angel had ideals of lasting a whole week with no TV, no Nintendo DS, no Wii, no computer, no mp3 player, no DVD’s, nothing!

We discussed this at some length, I explained that a whole week is a very long time for a little girl and perhaps it could be something she works up towards. I explained my theory about 3day fasts. They are achievable yet still a trial. We have more chance of hanging in there and keeping our promise, than risk being tempted into breaking our agreement with God. She seemed quite happy with this, wrote out her agreement in her prayer journal and the next morning began her task.

As my fast had now finished, I was sitting in my office replying to comments when her little face popped up over the back of the couch at me.

“Mummy! Guess what I just nearly did!” She blasted at me at top speed.

I gave her an inquiring look “What did you just nearly do?”

“I just turned the Wii on because I am finished getting ready for school. Good job I realised in time hey!” She grinned as she flipped around to turn it back off.

“Well done Honey” I cheered, “Good for you! It’s easy to slip-up, but well done for being strong enough to catch yourself.”

She grabbed her Children’s Bible, curled up on the lounge and read it until we left for school. When she got home she was heading to her room and had to pass the TV, which was on. She got caught up, it was like it reached out and grabbed her, after a couple of seconds she shook her head and kept on her way (Bless her).

This kid has so much faith it astounds me. For the next two days she kept to her word, she read books, drew pictures and played outside. I taught her how to play Gin Rummy, which we played a lot.

On the third day she started to struggle. It was a weekend and the day was dragging, we had tidied up and completed some chores, but she was being tempted with dreams of Mario Kart. I reminded her that this fast was her idea, that she had wanted to go a whole week and here she was struggling on only day 3. I encouraged her to ask God for help and explained that if we can resist something when it is hardest, in those times we really really want something, it gives our faith a huge boost. Plus, we show God how much we really want to keep our promises to please Him, rather than pleasing ourselves and our flesh. She said a prayer and then began reading a hefty novel, which she had been too overwhelmed to attempt before.

As the day turned to night, I was getting ready to head out to a friend’s birthday, and my daughter began yearning again. Snuggling up at the end of a Saturday with a movie is a common practice for our family, and she was itching for it. She didn’t want to just ‘break’ her promise so instead asked me if she could. I told her if she wanted to break her fast it would have to be her choice, and that I wasn’t going to give her permission so she could blame me for not reaching her goal. I reminded her of all the things I had said earlier, that she was so very close now and that is always when it gets hardest. I explained that if she broke her promise now, before her agreement was fulfilled, then the past 2 and a half days would be wasted.

She went back to her room to pray for more help and I left unsure of how strong she would remain without me to support her. So I said my own prayer asking for the Lord to keep her strong and keep the enemy from tempting her. When I arrived home later that night all was quiet, everyone was asleep. I wanted so desperately to wake her up and see if she had achieved this monumental goal.

I waited until my eyes sprang open then next morning, “How did you go Honey? Did you end up watching a movie or did you manage to keep your promise?”

Her little face beamed back at me “I didn’t watch a movie Mummy. God helped me keep my promise and I read this much of my book” She held up her novel and showed a quarter of it sectioned off with a bookmark.

I was so overcome with joy as tears ran down my cheeks, I made such a big deal of her triumph. Throughout the day I kept reminding her how very pleased I was with her, because it is one thing for a parent to discipline a child, but for a child of 9 years old to discipline herself was a huge accomplishment. I don’t know  many adults who have that much self-discipline or faith. I strongly feel that exercising faith and self-control is extremely important, especially in a day and age when self-indulgence is so widely encouraged. Proudest Mum ever!

08/11/2012

The Harsh Truth*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:01 am by The Water Bearer

As someone who values truth, I can at times get quite protective of it, and will defend the responsibility that comes with sharing it. This post reflects such a time.

Over the years, I have come to see that there is a very real difference between the ‘painful truth’ and the ‘harsh truth’, yet they are often confused as being the same.

A painful truth is a reality that is difficult but must be faced.

A harsh truth is a piece of information, relative or not, that is delivered in a harsh manner and can cause more damage than is necessary.

So many countless times the ‘truth’ is used as an excuse to criticise and berate.

Pointing out imperfections over and over, hoping to ‘help’ someone alter themselves according to our opinion, is not the same thing as telling someone a painful truth.

If we deliver an opinionated criticism and receive a bad reaction, it becomes common to believe that the one rejecting the statement couldn’t handle the ‘painful truth’, when often this is not accurate at all.

Defending ones right to be at peace and accepted in their own imperfection, is not the same thing as reacting badly simply because they don’t like the “truth”. Misjudgments, lies and false accusations have the power to cause pain and negative reactions, just as much as, if not more than, the truth does. This needs to be considered, rather than making assumptions, when assessing a response.

Before we begin sprouting opinions willy-nilly, or giving weight to ‘harsh truths’ from others, we need to seriously ask ourselves, how many unsavory traits are actually sins that need to be ironed out by another imperfect human?

(Prophetic note: This is in no way attributed to times when God uses His prophets to deliver His direct word to identify actual sin. That would be another post on ‘painful truth’ entirely.)

In our youth we often assume we know it all, we have it all going on. We move out from under our parents control and the power to make our own decisions can cloud our self-perception with pride. In this state it is easy to believe our reasons to be harshly critical of others.

Having an honest opinion doesn’t automatically make it a truth that needs to be shared, unless perhaps you are asked directly to express that opinion.

As we get older we have the opportunity to develop self-awareness. If we can accept the truth about ourselves, it opens a door for us to realise that we don’t know it all, and we don’t have it all going on. Reaching this level of humility helps us accept people and their faults. It eases our expectations and our desire to manipulate others. It also helps us learn to be gentle when delivering a potentially painful truth.

We are all uniquely made, our personalities, talents and weaknesses are a mixed bag of specific traits. Some of these traits rub others up the wrong way, some are over-powering and cause discomfort, some are appreciated and even admired, some are abhorred and reprehended. Any one trait can cause different reactions from different people, depending on their own mindset at the time. One particular trait may be what people love about you, and others may be put off by the very same thing. And we can’t please everyone, we will only cause ourselves more misery if we try.

The rights and wrongs of someone’s individuality is a grey area, and opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt and not become something to condemn oneself about. Honest self-assessment and the company of honest, yet tactful and accepting people can help this self-assessment to grow in a healthy way.

The truth has gained a reputation of being harsh because of those who deliver it in a harsh manner. Truth is a blessing when delivered properly, with timing, tact and taste (according to my fabulous blogger friend T.K. Coleman), and is more likely to be received properly when these things are correctly in place…Yes there are still times when a truth said with tact is still rejected, but that is a position of  possible rejection those, who share the truth, must be willing to take. While expressing any truth at inappropriate times, with little or no tact or taste is extremely damaging and will usually cause defensive reactions and not be received well at all.

We must avoid using the ‘truth’ as an excuse to condemn and manipulate those around us. Decades of misuse of the word “truth”, has damaged it’s reputation and people’s desire to pursue it. Be responsible with the truth when you must deliver it, and avoid listening to those who tarnish it’s pure and freeing nature.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

03/11/2012

A Poem of Christmas Woe*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Poetry tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:31 am by The Water Bearer

 

“Lilly sit still” My mother’s voice rings out

“I don’t want to” I say, as I punch and shout.

The fat jolly man on who’s knee I was sat

Thought it ok to give a soothing pat

……

But his touch didn’t soothe my flighty fight

In fact it didn’t feel quite right

And when I tried to sleep that night

The thought of him gave me an awful fright

……

I’d heard of Santa Claus and his right

To come into my home at night

Our security screens were in doubt

And wouldn’t keep this stranger out

…..

My parents said “sleep” I must

For “Santa Claus we sure could trust”

But everything else they had taught before

Lay open in warning all over the floor

…..

I knew I hadn’t done my best all year

So why were there so many presents here?

They told me he viewed me from all ranges

This proves I need to make no changes.

….

The kids at school told me it was all a lie

“My parents lied?” I wondered why…

So if that fat man they forced me to love

Wasn’t really watching from above

Perhaps there is no God there too

And why should I believe in you?

….

When I grew up and became a mum

I told my kids that was no fun

I wanted them to know I would tell no lies

Not of fairy’s or Santa or the bogey man’s flies

…..

The birth of Christ is our Christmas story

A babe who came with hope and glory

His purpose here is losing impact

Diluted by a man with toys in his sack

….

I see these tricks now so much better

and it comes with the change of just one letter

Santa’s ‘N’ makes it’s way to the end

as Satan’s name is sure to offend

….

In a world so full of broken trust

A parent’s truth is a vital must

So before you tuck your kids in this eve

Be sure of what you make them believe

….

02/11/2012

Take The Pressure Off Our Creativity*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , at 5:29 pm by The Water Bearer

Here is one for the dreamers, the artists, the creative segregates who recognise their vulnerability to the instability of mental health, especially surrounding their creative success.

For anyone and everyone with even a smidge of creative desire, this clip is for you…

Best Selling Author of  ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, Elizabeth Gilbert, shares her philosophy to contravene the downward spiral as a direct result of fear of expectant failure, by reevaluating taking complete ownership of all creative inspiration.

The TED website accompanied this brief talk with the following description:

“Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.”

This talk had me nodding my head over and over in agreement, and saying Ole’! (which you will understand when you watch it). It also helped me take off some of the pressure I have put on myself for the responses of others to my writing. I for one would like to join that elite group of artists, who took the inspiration given to them and refused to let the ignorance of those around them stop them from baring their creative souls to the world, and faced the battle against self-doubt along the way.

A must see for all creative people… Either watch below or click the following link Your Elusive Creative Genuis by Elizabeth Gilbert

Enjoy! Blessings to you!

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