31/12/2012

What a Year!*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:55 pm by The Water Bearer

Fear

13 years ago God called me to write. It has been a long road from then until now and even though I never forgot my promise, or turned away from it, I have not exactly finished the book I promised to write. 😦

A few years ago, I was given some advice by the man who performed the memorial service for my Dad when he passed away. This celebrant had helped other writers to get published and told me to join up to a particular writing club in my State, and to start a blog.

So I began writing blog posts for the next 2 years, while battling grief and depression, I hadn’t joined the writers club and had still not created a blog site on which to publish my posts.

Here I was procrastinating, unable to face my fear and let the world into my place of intimate writing. In March 2012, God gave me a small taste of the most painful time in my life, a time I had been through a few years earlier. I won’t pretend I wasn’t scared. Reliving my worst nightmare is not something I take lightly. I was desperate to not have to go back through anything like that again. A huge upheaval shook my peace and after a few coinciding signs, one sentence stood out to me which I could not disregard. It spoke clearly into my heart.

“2012 could be your worst year or your best year. The choice is yours.”

In light of the threat of reliving my worst year, and the promise I had made to write, I made a choice to go forward to bite the bullet and push past my fear and so created Inner Angels & Enemies.

The level of growth, peace, connection and joy that I have received since I began blogging is paramount compared to anything I have experienced before. Yet, I had all but forgotten that warning back in March, at least until last night….

In a very casual manner, I was relaxing and enjoying watching some episodes of Boston Legal (both mine & my Dad’s favourite show, we used to watch together). Funnily enough, 3 episodes were based around the Christmas/New Year Holiday Season. As the last episode on the disc came to a close, the two main characters, played by James Spader (Alan Shore) and William Shatner (Denny Crane), were sitting out the balcony reminiscing on the past year.

Denny – “Shoot a bad guy, save the life of someone you love, what a great year!”

Alan – “I have thought of myself as many things Denny, but being loved is not one of them, yet twice today I have been told that the opposite is in fact true.”

Denny – “Happy New Year my friend”

Alan – “Happy New Year? How could next year possibly top this one?”

They clink their glasses and the credits roll……

“How could next year possibly top this one?”

Up until I heard those words, I had forgotten that warning earlier in the year! However, God did not let the year end without giving me a clear reminder of all He has done and ALL He can do!

We can only go forward in faith when we push past the fear and hold tight to the promises of the Almighty! Is fear preventing you reaching God’s promises in your life?

With God’s power, next year has the potential to be far better than our wildest imagination!

God’s Blessings to you all in 2013 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

imagesCAUVGC3B

21/12/2012

Not the End of the World ..Yet.*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings tagged , , , at 9:09 am by The Water Bearer

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One day He will return, One day we will witness the end of this world as we know it and a ‘New World’ will be brought into reality…

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36

A Change at Christmas*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by The Water Bearer

He came

In a panicked tone I say to my 7yr old daughter. “Put that down, don’t touch, you will break something!” I’m holding up a canvas with a painted flower on it, rocking the pram cradling my sleeping baby, with my other hand. My head is spinning, my chest is tight, and my heart racing as I hurriedly try to finish off my Christmas shopping. All the requirements to survive Christmas in an acceptable manner hang heavily over my head, but I’m not paying enough attention to notice how heavy they are. I am completely lost in the whirlwind of meeting everyone’s expectations and the ticking clock. I believe I am capable, I know if I push myself really hard I can outrun any possible guilt of failing to impress.

A million questions buzz around the racetrack in my mind, it’s anybody’s guess which one I will ponder long enough to be satisfied with the answer… if at all. ‘What do people really want for Christmas?’ ‘How can the gift appear worth something without blowing the budget?’ ‘What haven’t they already got?’ ‘Maybe I could make something?’ What if I run out of time and don’t finish it?’, ‘What if it’s not good enough?’, ‘What if I’m not good enough?’ ‘What if I ruin the meal and everyone will be left unsatisfied?’  ‘What if it falls apart and my facade drops and the quivering failure inside is revealed for all to see?’ ….

“I will just keep going, I have no choice, I will push harder, I won’t fail”… I will just smile and make it feel like a Merry Christmas!

That was me before my car accident…. There were moments I let myself enjoy the company of family and friends, of gifts and carols. There were times of joy, only they were tainted with deep insecurity that creeped it’s way into so many areas of my life.

After my accident I spent the next few Christmases, trying to stay sane inside a mind that didn’t want to play fair, trying desperately to resist the list of unmet expectations. I spent those years numb and defensive against the world with it’s mountain of pressure, which I could no longer push myself to climb. I clung frantically to my faith, begging the Lord to drag me out of bed and into the Christmas spirit. I was crumbling under constant migraines, anxiety, exhaustion, shoulder pain and self-condemnation, drowning in a sea of judgement and depression. Eventually I withdrew, I folded into the smallest version of myself, hoping I could fly under the radar so that no one would notice how useless I was. I took Valium and I slept….a lot.

To add insult to injury, smack bang in the middle of a grueling compensation law suit, and right before Christmas, my Dad lost his battle with cancer. He hadn’t been sick long enough for us to be truly prepared. We knew it would be quick, but even though we thought we were ready, we were kidding ourselves. So many chapters of the book left open and only half read. It sent shock waves through the family and I drowned my sorrows at a wake that lasted for weeks. The weight of his passing distracted me from finding true Christmas joy, so I fed it Vodka and sang carols loudly to the Lord, and I took photos of children opening gifts, like any good Mummy does. Each year has gotten a little easier, yet still carries a sense of dread.

And so here we are…. Has a change really come?…

This is the first Christmas since I began blogging, and the therapeutic evidence it has had over me is overflowing into my life. I have had a number of breakthroughs and a strange sense of peace surrounds me this year. I don’t feel as burdened with the grief of Dad’s passing because I feel him with me so much more since I began sharing our history with others online. I arranged all the extended family’s presents and sent them off early this month. I have taken some extra time off work so I can just relax with my girls and am looking forward to their company of cuddles and conversation. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the back-to-back gatherings and actually feel present rather than distracted, which is becoming a more regular, blessed experience for me.

Christmas has developed a reputation of chaos and anguish, at a time of year when a light might shine on forgiveness, love, acceptance and peace. There are going to be times when these things are overlooked, yet it is possible to discover a change at Christmas, the closer we get to our true selves and learn to put the expectations aside, to strip back the hoopla and reflect on the birth of our King.

I send up prayers for all to experience some peace on earth this Christmas, to focus on being present rather than getting presents, and to feel truly grateful and blessed for the gift of Christ to us, a gift of salvation to a world in desperate need of saving.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful  Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Peace of Christmas

12/12/2012

Quietly Confident*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:19 am by The Water Bearer

Dad

The third anniversary of my Dad’s passing is here, He is missed enormously.

Has it really been 3 whole years since I looked into your eyes? Really!?!?…..

Many things stand out to me when I reflect on who my Dad was, numerous good things, many difficult ones, some sad.

Today I am thinking of something I feel a pull to dig deeper into and treasure up into my heart, so I may emulate it in my own life.  I am naturally a personality hungry for love and acceptance. Many of us are, yet not only hungry, starving even. I have tried to expect it, demand it, beg for it, manipulate it, wait for it and eventually … appreciate it.

This week I had an epiphany, I realised that for as long as I can remember I have felt a pressure upon me to compromise my own opinions and perspectives in order to avoid conflict. As if, to be loved and accepted, to enjoy the company of ‘everyone’, then I must alter my beliefs to keep the peace.

Please understand that I am pretty strong willed and rarely accommodate this change, I don’t back down or let people walk over me. However, I have let the feeling of this lack of acceptance seep deep into my convictions. I second guess myself often, or desperately try to justify and explain, and I search for ways to cope with forcefully opposing views. I find myself either giving in to the pressure over time, or putting up huge walls, or copying some behaviours of others, behaviours that are not ‘mine’, in order to feel I have something in common with them, something that might connect us.

When I was young, doing drugs, drinking and smoking eased the pressure off my reluctance to enter into a sexual relationship, because everyone else was doing ‘it’. I could still engage with my peers that way, without being rejected for being too different. Wanting to be a singer and actress, or a lawyer, was too far from what my peers envisioned for their lives, so I went into hospitality and became an expert at pouring a beer and carrying a tray. Being a Christian came with strange looks and the ‘Goody Two-shoes’ label, so I began dressing in an overly Gothic style and swearing like a sailor.

Do you see the pattern??

I was running around trying everything everyone else was doing, because I had no idea how to be strong and happy enough to just be me, and be different. I needed others to like me for being anything else, anything acceptable. Problem is…What is ‘acceptable’ can change with each new face you greet. It is an impossible bar to reach.

There is a need to be quietly confident in our beliefs, so that we don’t feel threatened when they are challenged.

I am not very good at this, because as the years have passed I have allowed this pressure to cause me to become very defensive of the person I am, the person closest to my ‘true’ self, without the influences of opposing opinions. Yet, I am on guard, certain that previous offenders will threaten my lines of certainty. It makes me anxious and I react badly, lose my composure, and therefore treat these offenders aggressively. The worst part is that these are people I care for, and also if I begin to fire off defensively, innocent people may get hit with friendly fire in the process or aftermath. I feel very far from quietly confident in these moments.

As far back as I can remember, my Dad didn’t compromise his beliefs for anyone except God. He held up his opinions against the word of God and against his relationship with God, and allowed God to challenge him and not the acceptance of people. He stood strong in his convictions against all who tried to manipulate him to change. This affected his family life and his social life to the extent where he spent many many years completely alone, with God. It wasn’t until the last decade of his life when he finally found a bunch of people who accepted him and his beliefs so that he could finally relax and enjoy the company of others.

So in order to still have people in our lives and achieve quiet confidence, we need to develop a loving way to protect our boundaries, without allowing the onslaught of attack and opposition to send us into a tizzy of defensiveness. Not everyone will fall into the category of peacefully agreeing to disagree. Some will always feel that an opposing view needs to be challenged and this can be extremely vexatious to the spirit.

Like Dad, I have begun avoiding spending time with people who can’t help but confront and try to move my boundaries. Lately there are much less times that I feel this pressure, than when I do. I have found my own bunch of people to be comfortable being myself with, who I can disagree with, without getting defensive, and not feel the slightest need to change in order to suit them, because I know they love and accept me regardless of our differing views. I don’t have to defend my boundaries, I don’t feel anxiety in their company. I can relax and be me and it’s all good.

I am going to keep working hard on being quietly confident, and lovingly protect my boundaries with those who I feel anxious around, without the overly defensive reactions. I will definitely need all of your prayers on this one, it’s a biggy!

bent in prayer

10/12/2012

The Journey of Gaining Help from Above

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 am by The Water Bearer

journey

I’m not going to lie to you, It has been a tough couple of weeks. It took a lot of pouring out my faith to write (and publish) the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Draining my faith like that often leaves me vulnerable, I want to withdraw, to protect my exposed soul. If I engage too deeply with another I am often touchy and defensive. My guard shoots back up, because I don’t like the feeling of being exposed, even though I accept that it is worthwhile in order to obey and reach the next phase in my faith walk towards being useful for my Father in Heaven.

I want to set aside this vulnerability and regain some clarity and security in the familiar, the routine, my comfort zone. Yet I still feel pulled to finish off this series with a neat bow, and get back to writing one-off posts, the ones that I am “more comfortable” with, (I know, I am so soft! 😉 ).

While writing this series I found myself wanting to repeat words I have written before, and memories of each stage in my faith walk came flooding back to light. I have become overwhelmed by how long it will take me to finish sharing.  There is so much to the task of gaining help from above, more and more insights kept filling my heart as I tried to reach the light at the end of this series. Then I realised that gaining help from above is not a one series wonder, it is a daily walk, not a one time deal. It takes commitment, it takes discipline, it takes a heart willing to soften each day. It takes a daily prayer, asking The Lord to make a home for Himself in our hearts.

So to wrap up this series I am going to set my readers up with a few links to help them keep on trekking toward their goal of a ‘God inspired’ existence. These are some resources to help those of you who are interested in expanding your insights, to make further steps onto a path of research. There are some of my own previous posts which cover areas I believe are crucial to the authenticity of a relationship with God, and also some links to the Bible teachers who have inspired and filled my soul more times than I can count.

I hope you receive much filling of your own soul from these links and I wish you all the best of feeling God’s love and strength as you continue forward on a journey to righteousness and peace. It goes without saying that I will continue to share more of my stories and perceptions here at Inner Angels and Enemies, so I hope you stick around for those.

God…Really? – Sometimes it is hard to tell whether we are being directed by God, another ‘human’, the enemy, or our merely our own thoughts. This post shines a light on these issues, and the falsehood often found in religiosity.

“When Will We Feel Good Enough Already?”… This post outlines a perspective of how to identify our feelings of a lack of worth, our toxic ‘good intentions’, and our pride, to understand how these distances us from God, and how our humility brings us closer to Him. God blessed me with a word the day I wrote this post, and I hope it will continue to bless others as much as writing it did for me.

The Two Voices of Guilt – Even after we receive forgiveness and salvation through faith we can still battle against guilty feelings. I touch on this issue in this post.

Confessions – Read along as I list my confessions and accept The Lord’s blessing of forgiveness from them. I am certain many will be able to relate.

Dr Michael Youssef – Leading the Way My Dad put me onto this guy and he has a way of simplifying and reinforcing the principles of God. He makes me laugh and grow every time I watch him…This is not milk for babies, he speaks the meat of the word, it will fill all.

Beth Moore – Life Today  The first time I heard Beth Moore speak I cried like a baby in the Lord’s arms. Her passions for The Lord inspires me, her humility moves me, her wisdom convicts me and her love for all is a true blessing.

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Thank you to all who encouraged me throughout this series, I truly appreciate it. I pray for all of us to find the love inside that God has for us and for us to finally be fulfilled and at peace in His presence. Blessings to All!

09/12/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Worship*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:48 pm by The Water Bearer

praise

Some thoughts to ponder as we venture towards the end of this current series…..

I wonder what marvels God would bring into our lives, if we ceased taking credit for our accomplishments or talents, if we stopped overlooking God’s input in an opportunity or a blessing, if we stopped giving His glory to all other things? Or if we refused to doubt God during times of struggle.

Our talents, creativity, skills, fortitude, patience, capacity for knowledge or love, perseverance, logic, wisdom, beauty or success…are they simply a by-product of human supremacy?

Can we truly take ownership of these things?  Can we tribute genetics or luck?

For those of us in pursuit of God’s help, some serious recognition needs to be given to Him in appreciation. When we lift up God’s name and give Him credit for ALL blessings and achievements, we give Him more and more opportunities to intervene in our lives, bringing not only blessings, but miracles!

I am not a writer, I have no experience, no degree. I didn’t even read much in adolescence through to my early adult years. Writing was not something I even knew I was passionate about until recently. God called me to write for Him over a decade ago, and at times I have thought either He’s cracked or I am! I won’t take any credit for anything I write because I know it was not from any ability or desire within me. Glory be to God!

I am still surprised if I succeed at a difficult shot in billiards, even though I have been playing reasonably well since I was a teenager. I am not consistent enough, I have not gotten much ‘better’ through training and practice. “You have a good eye” they say. Did I do something to achieve a good eye? He is the potter, I am the clay!

There are countless other examples, and I can’t take the credit, it is not mine to take.

God alone deserves praise for all things, too many more to name. Am I suggesting we have a spirit of low self-esteem? Absolutely not! We see our worth when we see ourselves through God’s eyes, with love and respect for the creation that we are, His creation.

However, lifting up ourselves and our name only gives us vanity and a false sense of security. It makes God smaller, it takes away His influence in our daily walk. Lifting up the name of anyone other than God breeds pride, idolatry and jealousy. God is the only one worthy of all our praise.

The enemy was thrown out of heaven for demanding to be worshiped for the power and beauty that was given to him by GOD! Do we want to be included with those who take His glory away and give it to another? Yet in our human mindset, we do it so often.

How about all the things we take for granted everyday, oxygen to breath, water to drink, healthy food, comfy dry beds, friends & family, health, the ability to laugh…

We need to become more aware of the words that come from our lips, for the power of life and death is in the tongue. We can use our mouths to whine and whinge, to gossip or flatter, to curse or slander. Or we can use our tongues to speak of faith and the truth of salvation, to be grateful and encourage others, to praise the Lord and worship. This is a daily struggle for many of us, myself included…

Let’s make it up to Him as much as we can. Let us praise HIS MIGHTY NAME! LORD LORD! Grab some CD’s with lyrics of praise and sing as if He is the only one listening. Lift up our arms to the sky in gratitude. Tell those in our company how awesome He is, for if we testify His name to others, so will He testify our name in Heaven. Thank Him daily for all His blessings. Be in awe of His omnipotence and let that awe seep deep within our hearts!

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 (ESV)

You are sure to enjoy this fabulous track …Come let us sing by Sons of Korah

worship

I hope you are enjoying the series and gaining some ground in your relationship with our Lord. Just writing it is reinforcing my own walk, so thank you for letting me share it here. Here is the link to the final post in this series. Blessing to all!

04/12/2012

Gaining Help from above – Sacrifice**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:03 pm by The Water Bearer

Warning: Contains Graphic Image

One of the main reasons we miss out on experiencing the presence of God in our lives is because our thoughts are too consumed by the physical world. We focus on our material comforts, our desires, our careers, our families, our looks, our fun or our reputation. These are the ‘beautiful things’ placed before the throne of God by the enemy, to distract us from pursuing righteousness. They are responsible for hardening our hearts, and building pride, which prevents God from being able to intimately connect with us.

We protect our own worldly desires and our reputations so much, yet we may be inspired by a vital piece of the puzzle when understanding the lessons constructed within the sacrifice of Christ.

Consider for a moment that the King of Kings, glorified by angels, the highest authority in all the universe, lost His reputation and respect, gave up His position and His worldly desires, endured the lowest form of humiliation and abasement, by undertaking a criminals torture and death. Offering His blood to flow as the cleansing waterfall, for us to be able to connect with God, becoming blameless through Him! He gave up His comfort and reputation FOR US!

I need a moment to let that sit on my heart and let the tears clear from my eyes….

How can we expect to be intimate with God  if we give up nothing for Him in return for His sacrifice for us, or even fail to acknowledge it?

If we have a ‘God-sized’ hole in our hearts, there is nothing of this world that will fill it. The only way to feel whole, is to fill ourselves with the love of Christ first, before anything from the physical realm. This includes relationships, good times, wealth, knowledge etc. By giving back to God the things of the world we have held onto in our hearts, we move into a new phase of a supple mindset and heart.

Once we accept that the ‘world’ is not meeting our expectations or filling that void inside us, and instead move God into that space, by making Him come first. Then we can begin, bit by bit, to let go of our grip on the comforts of the world and the hold they have over us. This is required if we are to have an experiential awareness of God. We can begin to understand and accept that there are purposes behind enduring suffering throughout our time here.

“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man’s advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?'” Luke 9:23-25 (KJV)

Taking up our cross daily is the equivalent of an unselfish willingness to suffer, to pray for strength of faith instead praying for more comfort. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. Giving up our lives doesn’t necessarily mean bringing about our death. God certainly means us no harm, and this is proven especially if we recognise that Christ came to free us from death and give us life. Giving up our lives means being willing to let God use our life for His cause, to cling to Him through our suffering. It means, no matter what suffering we endure, our faithfulness allows God’s strength to be perfected in our weakness.

We must expect to face some persecution for our faith, for we become different to those of the world. Singer songwriter Amy Grant sang the lyrics..”When the world begins to see you change, don’t expect them to applaud.” Fear not, for in due time the Lord will vindicate those who are His children.

We may also endure physical ailments, which act as our own experience of the “thorn in the flesh”, a condition to keep us humble, for the miracles we can achieve with God in charge of our lives can very quickly puff us up with pride.

My car accident, for example, left me with injuries that weakened me, yet at that time God used me for some miraculous experiences through my faithful obedience. More experiences than I can remember, it was a time of daily miracles. I would have claimed the glory for myself had I not been exposed to the weakness that my physical body was restricted by. I knew I was not capable of being strong faithfully because at a time I was so bottomed out by psychological and physical damage.

Through our willingness to suffer as Christ did, in a metaphorical sense, we grow in intimacy and unity with God, our hunger and need for Him causes us to step into the miracles He can perform through us.

A way to help us tolerate the suffering, comes when we accept that this world is only temporary, much better awaits those who have been called into salvation and eternity. Is it easy? Absolutely not! I can tell you however, that it is WORTH IT!

Everything you sacrifice unto the Lord, He will return 100 fold!

“And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” Matt 19:29 (ASV)

This is the 6th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Check out the previous posts Connection, Accepting an Encounter, Security, Control & Nourishment, if you haven’t already, and here is the link to the next post in this series…

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