Why we avoid the things we love the most

Do you remember that strange thing at school athletics day as a kid when you’d be about to line up for the sprint race and suddenly need to pee? Never mind the fact you’d already been to the bathroom twice in the last half hour. No, just me?

I remember being so nervous about the running races in Year 9 that I was genuinely hoping I would somehow break both legs before athletics day. There was a girl who had been bullying me a bit for the last few months and we were pretty much neck and neck in terms of fitness (9 periods of sport a week together left little ambiguity). I was pretty sure I had the edge on her but I knew that it would push me to my limit physically.

But the horror of coming second, or ‘first loser’, as some competitive people like to say, drove me on and I won every single running race in that athletics competition. The most memorable was the 400 metres, my least favourite event. Middle distance is horrible, in my opinion, because it pushes you to your limit for the longest period of time. There’s no slow and steady, and you can’t give it all in the first ten seconds. Shortly after the race my legs cramped up so badly that I was lying on the grass crying while my mother stretched out my hamstrings.

I often used to look forward to long distance more than sprinting, even though I found it less enjoyable, just because I found it less stressful. And last time I was with my boyfriend Jacques the last thing I wanted to do was sprint. Because I love it so much.

I am currently working on a novel. Writing stories makes me crazy happy and I love every amazing, difficult second of it, but I have to get my cousin to give me deadlines because otherwise I will ditch writing to do the washing, or clean the house, or reorganise my pantry. Why do I avoid the thing I know will make me come alive the most? The other things are mundane tasks, yes, but it is a lot harder to fail at them. And if I did, what’s the big deal? So, I’m not a domestic goddess after all (or am I really?).

But somehow if I fail at writing, or view myself as having failed, I feel that I have failed as a person. Every writer (who actually shows their work to others) knows that you have to develop a pretty thick skin, and I have gotten better at handling rejection over the years. However if someone were to give ‘destructive criticism’ (as opposed to the more commonly used constructive criticism) I would find it hard not to perceive it as a criticism of me as a person.

In some ways it’s easier to never try your hardest, because then your all, your absolute best, can never be rejected, or deemed ‘not good enough’.

We need to decide whether the risk is worth it. Would you rather succeed at rearranging your pantry or winning an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metre sprint? Fill in the blank with your passion, but don’t avoid using the gifts that God’s placed in you because, in some ways, it’s a slap in the face.

As a side note, of course Satan would want us to become distracted and do everything but the thing that is going to have the most impact. The thing that would make us really come alive.

Look into your own heart. What desires are in there so deep that you feel like to cut them out would to become someone else entirely? Maybe you already know.

Now ask God to help you pursue that, to his glory.

 

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: https://en.fotolia.com/tag/%22sports%20race%22, sourced 21 June 2017

Is the Apex gang taking over our streets?

I took this photograph on my run this morning after seeing my third or fourth one, sadly right near a children’s playground. This ‘South Sudanese’ gang seems to be everywhere. In the parks, lighting up our news headlines, holding up our cars, breaking into and entering our homes. Most Sudanese people probably have associations with them. Right?

Without researching, would you say that the Apex gang are pretty big? Earlier today I would have answered huge, but after doing some research I found that most of my assumptions were wrong. Big shocker there.

Most news sources manage to agree that at its peak the Apex gang contained around 130 members. Melbourne is currently home to 6007 Sudanese people. Which means that the Apex gang make up just 1.85% of the total Sudanese population. With statistics that low, it is ignorant to assume that ‘any African out there’ could be a member of Apex. You also might be interested to know that of the 2000 teenagers committing crimes in Victoria between October 2015 to September 2016, 1700 of them were born in Australia. So why aren’t we running scared from them?

One of the worst parts for me is that if I’m walking on a street at night and I see a group of young men walking towards me, sometimes I feel a twinge of fear if they are African looking. Because the thought that goes through my mind is, “Well, what if they are part of that violent minority?” Just my luck.

It is assumptions like these that can lead us to discriminate against perfectly innocent Sudanese people in the community, particularly young males. Where do we get our facts from? Do we even have any actual statistics? I know that before this week I haven’t even read one single article about the Apex gang and the way they’re ‘terrorising Melbourne’. All of my information was word of mouth, probably by people who themselves have already felt the cold fingers of anxiety creep over their shoulders and shiver down their back.

I’ve always known that the minority ruin it for the majority, but what I didn’t know until I actually read some articles is that the Apex gang contains several nationalities, including Australian, which the media largely ignores.

Other information that has reached me by word of mouth is the tough situations that Sudanese friends of mine have encountered just because of their ethnicity. If you think basic racial slurs in the schoolyard are all they’ve got to worry about, you’d be wrong. From being told to ‘get out of here’ while attempting to enter a workplace to start a shift, to being run away from when you needed help after locking your keys in your car, to assault in broad daylight on the way out of the school gates.

Several schools across the western suburbs of Melbourne have banned any ‘African looking’ people from gathering in groups of more than three because it ‘intimidates’ the other students. This is the kind of racial profiling that leads people to become even more prejudiced, and African young people to feel increasingly ostracised.

The Sunday Morning Herald referred to the Apex gang as a ‘lightning rod’ for racial violence (Michael Koziol) and The Saturday Paper claim that, “When not covered responsibly, hot topics such as race and immigration encourage discrimination against groups of people that are already marginalised” (Santilla Chingaipe).

Can you imagine what it’s like living in Melbourne as a South Sudanese young person with the shadow of the Apex gang looming over your shoulder? Sudanese all across our city are experiencing fear, suspicion and sometimes even outright rejection or hatred because of their ethnicity or fears that they may be violent, based on the actions of strangers, not their own. That shouldn’t sit alright with us.

Just to be clear, I am in no way downplaying the pain that victims of the Apex gang have suffered, merely trying to shed some light on the pain of another group of innocent victims.

Probably most of us when asked if we harbour racial prejudice would say no, but what does fearing a whole people group just because of a 1.8% gang say about us?

So when you come across people from any kind of ethnicity different to you, if their behaviour is normal and peaceful, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re just a great person like you, trying to navigate life’s struggles and hoping that the world can see them for who they really are, not just the colour of their skin.

Sincerely
Lil

 

 

Sources (all found 15 June 2017):
http://profile.id.com.au/s_greater-melbourne/sudanese-population

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/media/2017/02/25/race-stereotyping-and-melbournes-apex-gang/14879412004275

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/south-sudanese-students-banned-from-congregating-in-groups-at-several-melbourne-schools/news-story/88e7d820d1714beb59cb6bdb7722fd1f

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/apex-gang-most-youth-crimes-committed-by-australianborn-police-say-20170412-gvj964.html

What is success?

 

Do you consider yourself successful?

The question is asked and you start to squirm in your seat. Do you? You glance round at the others, to see if they are as unsure as you. The question goes round the circle, making its way toward you, and you go back and forth between yes and no about six times each. I mean, you’re not a total loser, but then again, you have that university degree that you’re not even using yet. You don’t own a house. Your car is worth half of what the mechanic says it will cost to fix it. And to top it all off, you’re single.

Better go with no. It seems safer. Plus, you have the added bonus of not looking arrogant to the group. Decision made.

You’re actually one of the first ones to give your answer (a lot of mind changing can happen in a few short minutes).

You say no. When asked what would you have to do or achieve to consider yourself a success, you say, “Become a professional writer.”

Not until this moment have you realised that maybe one of the reasons you want a job in this field so badly is so that you can stop feeling like a failure. Maybe even the main reason. That every time someone says, “What do you do?” it translates to you as, “How much are you worth?” and the answer you keep coming up with is, “Not much.” What I do is not impressive. I sell clothes. No one dies if I don’t get up and go to work. They just buy at Target.

Somehow your successes in the field of retail never mean quite enough to you because you don’t need a degree to do it, and so many people refer to it as their job before they get a “real” job.

This particular Tuesday night last year as I sat on the bean bag I felt tears build slowly in my eyes. Listening to the answers of the rest of the group I suddenly broke in. “Can I change my answer?” in a tone that barely concealed the panic I was feeling.

“No.” Why did that word make the tears spill over?

The other people in the group all said yes. When asked why, the most memorable answer was one of the women saying, “I would consider yourself a success if people actually like you, and want to be around you. Do you have any good, solid friendships? You’ve certainly succeeded in something!”

The way my answer contrasted with the rest of them made me feel ten times the failure I had felt before and I was suddenly undone and exposed.

What had happened in my heart that I constantly held myself to this high standard of perfection? That I had set an arbitrary bar for success and anything that was below or in another area was all stamped with the words “try harder”. Why was my standard for myself so much higher than anyone else’s for me, and so different to what my creator had in mind? Just a hint, Lil. God wasn’t looking at Adam and Eve’s careers when he said, “It is very good.”

They were good because God made them, and they belonged to Him.

Now how many people would be successful in the world’s eyes just because they were created in the image of God? No career, no great wondrous achievements. Nothing to do with what they had done and everything to do with who they belonged to.

When God says in his word not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), we can often view it as him telling us off, but what if (crazy thought, I know) he put that in the bible for our freedom? Think like me, because I actually see clearly, he says. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so far are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

 

What does God view as success?

Faith: without it it’s impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6).

Love: He wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving our neighbour as ourselves, according to Matthew 22:37-40. In fact, the whole Hebrew law is summed up in that one sentence.

How do we show our love, according to John 14:15? Obedience.

Do you have these three things? If you do, then you’re already a raging success in His eyes.

It’s not always the most seen and heard, the rich and famous, the bosses, the stage performers, the TV stars and the hit singers who God considers close friends.

Who was Mary, when Gabriel met her where she was at in order to have a talk with her about the saviour of all mankind?

Who was Abraham? Who was this young guy Jacob, fighting with his brother, when God called him?

Jesus was born in a stable for a reason, and it wasn’t the celebrities of the day that the angels first appeared to.

 

What a relief then, to realise that just because we haven’t followed the world’s trail of stepping stones for us, that all is not lost. Actually, nothing is.

Just keep saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, and the day he takes you home to heaven you can hear those wonderful words.

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enter my rest.”

 

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image 1: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/fear-of-failing/
Image 2: http://www.capital-moments.com/the-blueprint-of-success/

Our Beauty Legacy

 

What’s more powerful for your daughter’s self-esteem than telling her she’s beautiful? Not telling yourself you’re ugly in front of her. As the video in this blog post shows, if you ask many young girls and their mothers what they either don’t like about themselves or would change, the answers are incredibly similar.

Growing up my mother never told me I looked bad. Not once. But I would sometimes watch her criticising herself in the mirror and think, if what she’s got is bad, then is what I’ve got bad too? I am a mini version of her, after all.

It didn’t affect my sisters much at all to my knowledge and I’m happy to say that they have not struggled with low self-esteem. It’s also important to say that there are many factors when it comes to low self-esteem, and this wasn’t even the most significant one to affect me, but it did impact me to some degree and I’m committed to looking at all angles of self-esteem. I am not sharing this to make my mother or any mother feel bad. My mum is one of the many wonderful, strong, beautiful women that make this world a better place just by bringing their heart to it.

But I refuse to let this continue one generation further. This stops with me. Because the way we view ourselves affects our daughters, and our relationships, and the challenges we take on in life.

I’ve decided long ago that I won’t belittle myself in front of young girls, but then I caught myself some time back criticising my drawing as I was helping my 6 year old friend with some art. She immediately started to criticise hers too and I had to pull myself up and point out all the good things in my drawing, as well as hers.

The point is that even though I was aware of how quickly younger girls can see themselves in us, I still spoke negatively about myself. If we’re going to get this right for the sake of the generations to come, we need to be very intentional.

The first time I watched this video I bawled my eyes out because it resonated deeply with me. Mothers, I know all of you want to have the most positive impact on your daughter as humanly possible. And even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking well of your appearance, just try avoiding talking about all the features you dislike, because chances are your daughter has inherited at least some of them.

We were created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), and he didn’t make a mistake with our nose, our legs, our hair colour, our freckles. He saw fit to infuse it into our DNA so that it would be replicated in the next generation in a new and beautiful way, mixed with our husband’s features.

And He looked.

And He said, “IT IS VERY GOOD.”

 

Sincerely,
Lil

The double standard most people ignore

 

Who is your worst critic? Maybe it’s your mother, or an older sibling, but most likely it’s the person staring you in the mirror. Why are we so much harsher with ourselves, particularly in the areas of looks and achievements, than we are with other people?

I had a customer at work this week who tried on a fitted black dress because her friend’s daughter had invited her to be a guest at her Debutante ball. She was probably in her late 40’s and as we assessed the suitability of the dress for the event she started to point out all the tiny details of what was “wrong” with her. The greys in her hairline, the size of her bottom, the curve of her stomach, the crow’s feet around her eyes. It was all news to me because even though I was staring hard into the same mirror I literally hadn’t seen those things until she pointed them out. All I saw was a lovely, beautiful woman who had that special, comforting mum-vibe that only comes with years of experience and triumphing in hard times (people think that their gentleness of spirit cannot be seen by those who don’t know them, but it’s not true). And I realised that’s how the rest of the world probably sees her too. But she is walking around thinking people are thinking things that they aren’t, assuming they are zeroing in on her minute faults, and judging her for them. And it is damaging her self-esteem. Her own thoughts are hurting her.

Image result for beautiful women low self-esteem

I’ve realised a long time ago that working in women’s fashion, it’s not how the garment actually looks, it’s how a woman feels about herself in it. Because, as I explained to a new team member the other day, if she doesn’t feel good about herself in it, even if she buys it she will barely ever wear it because she feels her flaws are exposed in it.

We spend so much time trying to cover our true selves, with concealer, spanks and baggy clothes (usually black, because it’s slimming, right?) because we’re afraid the world will not accept us as we are. This is a fair assumption, considering the advertising industry spends most of its money and energy telling us that we’re not good enough.

I’m reminded of another encounter as a shopper this time. I was with my friend in the U.S. about four years ago and she came out of the change rooms and asked me what I thought of the outfit she was wearing. I said, “I think it looks like you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re a woman.” Yay for honesty. She actually got quite emotional and began to open up about some deep insecurities she has about the way she looks, and how she doesn’t feel she can wear fitted clothes. That New Year’s Eve she sent me a proud photo, wearing a dress that showed her lovely feminine figure in a completely classy way. Another victory.

She was liberated to be who she was as a woman. That would be my prayer for every woman. Stop judging yourself so harshly, ladies! You are beautiful, and wonderful, and knowing that is powerful.

Trust me, most men don’t see all the little flaws either. One of my friends said her husband has asked her to stop pointing out all her miniscule imperfections because he hadn’t even noticed them.

Here’s an idea: start viewing yourself the way you view other women – as strong and beautiful and worth envying.

Dove tends to agree with me that women are more beautiful than they think…

Sincerely,
Lil (a beautiful daughter of the King)

 

Images sourced 4 May 2017
http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/631289/revealed-womens-shocking-top-daily-self-criticisms

What’s in a Name?

Sometimes the name “God” can lose its power to us because of the many false gods around the world, or we have a watered down view of God because of people who worship “a god of their imagination” that the Bible refers to.

But God is not whatever we want him to be. He has a personality and actual qualities; things he likes and dislikes. Things that make Him happy and angry. You can know about God as a theory, but it takes knowing him personally to discover these things.

And although he is one God, he has many names. Here are some of them that reference different aspects of God’s personality and show us who he is. And once we remember who he is, we can never make the mistake of thinking that he is bland or boring.

So who then is this God we serve?

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Never forget the unlimited power that God has. In case you need reminding…

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? … Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? … No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.
– Isaiah 40:12-15 (NLT)

How big do your problems seem now?


El Elyon (The Most High God)

For the LORD Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth.
Psalm 47:2

Although we don’t admit it, we often have hierarchical thinking. Who would you consider most high in your acquaintance? In the world? Is it a celebrity, the prime minister, the queen? God is so much higher than all these people, and no one is next to God in importance, there is no list or ladder. There is God, and there is people saved by the grace of his Son. Jesus is the highest name in the whole world and one day every knee will bow before him and every tongue will confess that he is Lord. There is no unbelieving person who won’t be absolutely devastated on that day. And while there is a season of grace that we’re in now, there won’t be any second chances after the second coming of Jesus.

Adonai (Lord, Master)
People have told me before that they don’t really believe that Jesus is in control of our life once we get saved. Then why is it called giving our life to him?

Sin is no longer your master … don’t you realise that you become a slave of whatever you choose to obey? … Now you are free from slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteousness.
– Romans 6: 14-18 (NLT)

Everyone is happy for Jesus to become our saviour and give us a ticket into heaven, but the Lord part doesn’t sit quite so well with as many. If he is Lord and master, we are about what he is about, interested in the things that he is interested in. Once we invited Jesus into our hearts, he’s not just part of our lives, he is our life.

 

Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)


Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
This is one of my favourites. This speaks of identity, but to me this also says that Jesus ties our identity with us and announces us as we march out to battle. It says that he covers us, watches over us and is proud to be seen with us. Has anyone ever seen a subtle banner?

He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
– Song of Solomon 2:4 (NASB)

Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
– Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

What a gentle God he is, with that parent heart that leaves the 99 to go after the one.

Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
His kids don’t go unnoticed by him. He has the ability and the desire to heal. One of my favourite parts about God is that he loves to restore. There is fullness and wholeness to be found in him.

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, and I will heal you.
– 2 Kings 20:4 (NIV)

Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.
– Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

In Isaiah (41:9) God also says that he has chosen us and will not abandon us. Have you ever feared being abandoned? Good news. It’s not in his nature.

Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’
-Jeremiah 23:6 (ESV)

Everything you’ve ever done wrong: forgiven. Those deeds that earned death: paid for. We exchange our dirty rags for robes of righteousness and are made right with God because of Jesus paying it all for us.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)

El Olam (The Everlasting God)

But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
– Psalm 103:17 (NASB)

Elohim (God)

Qanna (Jealous)
I used to feel ashamed of having some jealous tendencies, but I see in the bible that God is a jealous God. It’s cool when you grow and realise more and more ways that we reflect God’s heart, and that the world around us reflects his principles and glory.

For you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
– Exodus 34:14

Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Not only does he provide for our salvation but has limitless resources and can provide for every kind of need we have for the rest of our lives.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Last year I asked one of our elders whether he thought a certain decision was right in my life at the time. He said, “Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) so if you don’t have peace it can’t be from him.” With our God we can have peace in the midst of any storm.

Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
This name speaks of his authority and refers to him as the commander of Heaven’s armies.

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
– Revelation 19: (NLT)

 

Sincerely,
Lil

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Credit for original list of names of God goes to:
https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm, sourced 17 April 2017.

Book recommendation: Captivating

Do you ever feel that you are “too much” and “not what you should be”?

The non-fiction book that has probably impacted me the most is this book Captivating, written by a Christian married couple, John and Stasi Eldredge. The introduction alone had me in tears.

It began to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a woman?” As someone with identity issues, this text spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before.

This book, written from the perspective of both husband and wife, is not mainly a book about marriage. It is a book about being a woman – and for me has been anointed. The best way to describe it is that it tore me down and then built me back up, from the very foundations.

Captivating has brought me to tears (eye-swelling, gut-wrenching, soul tears) where wounds so deep—some I didn’t even know existed—got brought into the spotlight. Reading it was very painful at times but I finished the last page a different woman because God used these words to minister to my soul.

I don’t like sounding so dramatic, because people often say about books and movies, “This will change your life!” And I promise I am receiving no money to promote this book. But the fact that I have bought or recommended it for close to 10 people already shows how relevant I find it. If you’ve talked to me about self-esteem or identity issues you’ve probably already heard me mention it.

I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is.  I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough … But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong … The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
– Stasi Eldredge, pp. 230-131 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

Why does this get to us? Because we have believed some lies in our lives, some at a very young age. And they have poisoned our hearts. Jesus wants to draw the poison out of us, the things that paralyse us, and bring us out into his glorious freedom. Because we were created for wide open spaces, for beauty and intimacy, not for shame, and self-loathing and fear.

Trust me I have lived on the one side, and am learning to live on the other. And I am so thankful to a couple who were obedient to God when he surely said, “I want to bring some freedom to some of my precious daughters through you.”

What is at the core of a woman’s heart? What are her desires? What did we long for as little girls? What do we still long for as women? And, how does a woman begin to be healed from the wounds and tragedies of her life?
– Stasi Eldredge, p. 224 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

John and Stasi don’t claim to answer every question, but they have grasped something true and powerful in the heart of a woman that has often been lost, hidden or crushed. And it is something that the world desperately needs.

~~~

From a man’s perspective:
Q: Would you say it’s beneficial at all to read Captivating as a man? If yes, how so?
A: I’d say yes. Captivating reassured me of a lot of things I had been told about women – growing up with two women in the house, I had never fully noticed things that Captivating spoke about. I think it’s beneficial because it helps you understand just how important a man’s role is, and how it is in a woman’s core to be loved and desired.
– Jacques

Where to buy . . .

Sincerely,
Lil and Jacques

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Image: http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1442893930i/11413._UY500_SS500_.jpg

An Ode to Mums

It’s funny that no matter how old I am, or how long I’ve lived out of home (four and a half years), I still run to my mum when I’m sick. This morning I didn’t think twice before texting her before work to pray for me. And only a mum would call you at work from three hours away just to check in. That’s a mother’s heart, whether you’re two, 22 or 42.

Tonight I stood in the medicine aisle at the supermarket on the phone to Mum asking her question after question about paracetamols, active ingredients, dosage . . . When you’re vulnerable, she’s often still the default. And my amazing mother stood at the kitchen bench on the other end of the line cooking tea for the rest of my family (asking my brother to help her chop the carrots because I assume one of her hands was busy holding the phone for me) while advising me on low-strength pain killers.

Mums are the most hardworking, caring, underappreciated, faithful people in the world, and worthy of our deep respect. Today I want to honour my mother, and all mothers, because for starters we wouldn’t be here without them, but we also wouldn’t be who we are without them. Your mother has such a profound impact on you and for the last however many years I’ve been taking close mental notes as I observe my mine.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Proverbs 31:28

Who else will make you an average of three birthday cakes each year, decorated like a pro, no matter what you pick out of the Women’s Weekly  recipe book? Or can turn crusts into normal slices of bread (the seven-year-old moment when I knew I had a super-mum), or reads you and your sister seven whole novels out loud? Not to mention pick you up, drop you off, clean you, feed you, wash for you, cook for you, discipline you and teach you? This is the short, non-comprehensive list, in case you were wondering.

How much do we appreciate these amazing women in our lives? In our hearts, probably a lot, but how much of that makes it into our words or actions?

Try thinking of a nice thing you can do for your mum in the next week, then go and act on your warm and fuzzy thought. I know it’s not Mother’s Day, but why should it have to be?

Sincerely,
Lil

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Image 1: http://www.designbolts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Happy-Mothers-Day-Quotes.jpg, sourced 15 June 2016.
Image 2: https://au.pinterest.com/anapazsousa/mums-quotes/, sourced 15 June 2016.

Seeing past the wall


This week as I was praying for someone about this very thing, I realised that I put people in a box, categorise them. Sometimes I even write them off, without giving them much of a chance. It’s usually because of one characteristic that maybe doesn’t suit me. For example I have realised I often write off people who joke a lot as “one dimensional”, or people who have to be sarcastic all the time.

Just because they don’t show more than that to me at a glance I continue on my way, not bothering to dig deeper.

We’ve heard of the benefit of the doubt, but how often do we give someone the benefit of the second look? Because anyone created in the image of a holy God deserves a second look from us. Think of the people you’ve merely glanced at, and I don’t mean in the physical sense. People you’ve decided aren’t “good investments” of your time.

I was praying for this person because of a prophetic picture God gave me about people placing a ceiling over them. I nearly started crying when I realised that I was one of them. Their eyelashes were wet as I prayed for a freedom for them as God broke the ceiling and they grew to their full potential.

Sometimes all we see is the wall. But it takes a minute (or sometimes a lot longer) to realise the reason that people build walls: that person has put their heart out there. And that person has been hurt. Walls are built for protection after all; just look at medieval cities. You’re seeing the wall but you’re not seeing the person. Nobody is one dimensional and to believe so is naive at best and damaging at worst.

Who do you need to take another look at? Because there are a lot of people in this world who desperately need to be seen.

Sincerely, 

Lil
Image: http://www.chatelaine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/BerlinWall-660×547.jpg, sourced 22 May 

Having trouble hearing God’s voice?

This Wednesday my bible study group spent some “soak” time, just being in God’s presence. We put some music on, got comfy/closed our eyes/whatever, and just waited. Not something a lot of us do too regularly.

Instead of bringing out our big shopping list for God and not letting Him get a word in edgewise, we created space for Him to do some talking, to reveal Himself. I was reminded, like I am every time I do this, that the less I talk, the better it tends to be.

God loves a thankful, adoring heart that is simply seeking to bask in His presence. We’ve somehow gotten the notion that our relationships must be firstly functional, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves. What does this relationship help me to achieve? If you really think about it, the best relationships aren’t the ones filled with gold stars but intimacy.

Consider a child. They are not efficient, functional, practical, but are in practically every way delightful. The bible tells us to be like children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3) and God refers to us as His children (Galatians 3:26).

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God is not an emotional God. If you want a refresher, read some of the Old Testament. If there’s one thing we can be sure God is, it’s passionate.

In John 17:24 Jesus, when praying, says, “Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” (NLT)

Jesus wants us to be with Him and see His glory. During the quiet time on Wednesday I felt God say to create space for Him at youth group on Friday.

All of the boys (generally the louder ones) in our youth couldn’t make it that night and I was tempted to change the plan, especially when a brand new girl walked in, but in order to be obedient I had to stick to it.

Almost immediately I got us in a small circle, explained to the girls that tonight was a practical application of seeing Jesus (the discussion from last week) and learning to hear the Father’s voice. The time was so sweet. It is such a privilege to be involved in ministering to people, and there’s a special place in my heart for young girls.

Learning to hear God is a process, and He can speak in many different ways (dreams, words, pictures, His written logos Word (the bible), prophets, songs, donkeys (Numbers 22:28-35), to name a few). But my encouragement is don’t be afraid to practice; that’s how you grow. The more you create space the more you will hear God’s voice, and the more you hear God’s voice the clearer/easier it will become. Then comes the tougher part: obedience. But that’s another article in itself.

When you’re waiting for His voice, listen for the whisper, because the Lord was not in the wind, fire or the earthquake, when it came to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12). There’s a reason for that: God wants us to come closer.

Happy seeking!

Sincerely,
Lil

 


Image: http://thecrackeddoor.com/Main/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/God-Voice.png, sourced 15 May 2016.