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

The Dishes Can Wait

Do you respect your man? If you asked most women (hopefully all) this, they would of course say yes. But lately I’ve realised an area that we can so easily disrespect our men in, without even meaning to.

We’re strong, independent women, right? A busy week, a head cold … doesn’t faze us. You want us to meet you for coffee or come help out with the charity event you’re running? No problem. I mean, we value relationship, and the event is for a good cause. We can handle it. We’ll sleep when we’re dead.

Before I was in a relationship I used to disregard the kind advice about resting from the guy who liked me. But when he became my boyfriend I realised that if I were to continue acting in that way, I would actually be damaging our relationship, slowly but surely, by disrespecting him.

Since we started going out, there hasn’t been one time that me ignoring his advice about my health or rest that has gone over well. This man loves me. He is trying to the best of his ability to lead me well and prioritise my wellbeing. And I am continuing like I haven’t even heard him. We can’t expect him to not be hurt or upset by that.

Ladies I’ve realised that if we want him to feel respected in this area we need to listen to him. His words of, “Come sit down with me” or “You need to get some rest” are never with bad intentions, and are going to stop us burning out in the long run. Sound familiar? The way we listen is by actually taking his advice. Actually sitting down and watching TV with him or reading a book, without doing three other things at the same time or feeling guilty for taking a break. Sometimes we women feel guilty like it’s our profession. It is not healthy, and I am speaking from experience.

So while, yes, we go through busy seasons in our lives, we should never think we’re too busy to rest. And if we think that, we don’t actually always know what’s best for us. Also, taking a break is not being lazy. I once heard someone describe being lazy as taking a break you haven’t earned yet. So yes, work hard. But also rest, because God did after he created the world. And next time you hear your man suggesting some R&R, don’t just reach for the nearest excuse.

The dishes can wait.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image: http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/distracted-multitasking-woman-risking-success/, sourced 26 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

A life or death situation

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Being an Australian, it’s not often I face life or death situations. In fact, it’s pretty rare.
In a country so safe, a lot of young people think they’re going to die when they choose to. I can understand why. I don’t see people dying in the streets or war tearing my nation apart. It’s not a common occurrence to have your car held up at gun point, and often the unspoken expectation is that we are guaranteed our full life expectancy. In many cases this is true with our public health system having the crisis of too many people living too long.

But every day we face a life or death situation that a lot of people are completely unaware of. And it starts and ends with a choice.

If you live in a Western nation, the chances are you’ve heard about God and Jesus, and this thing called ‘the gospel.’ But what actually is it? What does it mean when someone says they are a Christian? What does this man Jesus, or the person of God mean for you? Why should you even care?

Here are some verses from the Bible and a bit of explanation to unpack what it means in a simple way. You can decide for yourself whether it applies to you.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John‬ ‭3:16‬

That’s the first thing. God created you and loved you before you were born.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven (except Jesus) given to mankind by which we must be saved.”Acts‬ ‭4:12‬

I’ve heard more than once before that there are many ways to heaven and all religions are essentially worshiping the same God. It sounds nice, but it’s not true according to the Bible. A relationship with creator God is available to everyone because God’s word says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21),” but there are not multiple routes.

Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”

One day as Jesus is travelling with his disciples (followers) he asks them, “Who do people say I am?”

They reply, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asks. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answers, “You are the Messiah (Mark 8:27-29).”
It’s a question to ponder.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

A lot of people say that they’re a good person and so a good God wouldn’t send them to hell, but God doesn’t rank sin on a scale. That’s a human tendency. And his definition of good is perfection.

Even Jesus himself says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good — except God alone (Mark 10:18).”

But salvation is not based on your “good deeds” or brownie points, but your relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Jesus Christ in his physical body (Jesus dying on the cross). As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault (Colossians 1:21-22).”

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”

In this unequal exchange we give Jesus all our dirty laundry and he gives us a whole new life and right standing with God.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).”

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).”

It’s that easy. The gospel is simple enough for a child to understand.

“Each of you must repent of your sins (turn from them and think differently) and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Choosing Jesus means a new way of life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

So many people think that they have to say no to everything from then on or that Jesus steals your fun but the Word says that it’s Satan who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that Jesus came so that we could have LIFE, and have it in it’s fullest measure.

Whether we like thinking about it or not, we will all die one day and stand before God’s judgement seat. With Jesus, we are completely justified. Without him, we stand alone. It’s completely up to us.

This free gift of salvation is available to everyone but only through one means. You have to believe in Jesus and give your heart to him to receive it. I can’t make the decision for anyone. You have to choose for yourself.

So who do you say Jesus is?
Sincerely,

Lil

9 Signs of a Bad Boy


I know the bad boy cliché is often celebrated in teenage movies. His name is always something like Jesse, he wears black, has ‘fantastic’ hair, rides a motorcycle, and is always, always misunderstood. Sound familiar? It’s like three movies that came out this month. The bad boy can seem like something that every girl should experience as a rite of passage but behind all the leather and spikey hair (I know this was more a 90s version of the bad boy) there’s something deeper going on, and it’s not that nobody except you ‘gets him’. Here are nine red flags with a guy, signs that a relationship might be toxic. Although he seems so exciting and he’s different than all the other guys, meanwhile you know who he’s hurting? You. But you’re worth more than that, so let’s take a look.
1. You’re always making excuses for him

It might be normal to say every once in a while about your guy, “You just don’t know him like I do”, but if you find yourself saying it all the time, that’s not good. If the people who care about you are all saying the same thing, and it’s negative, alarm bells should be going off. Surely they can’t all have impure motives, or be prejudiced, or misunderstanding, or old-school, or overprotective, or narrow-minded. Maybe they’re actually just right. I know denial is something that’s hard to come to terms with. That’s why it’s called denial. But if you are constantly having to defend him, there’s probably some behaviours that are really not up to code.
2. You hide aspects of your relationship

Not proud to say that this is one I did a lot of throughout high school. Things only came out years later that my parents kept saying, “If we had have known that…!” Exactly why I didn’t tell them at the time. You get it. Because you he’s cute, and funny, and maybe one day he’ll change and you will live happily ever after.

Ladies, please hear me. You cannot change a man! Believe me, I’ve tried. The only one who can change someone is Jesus. Also, making people change is not in your job description.

You hide it when he hurts you, emotionally or otherwise, from other people, or always brush it off. You’re conveniently vague when someone asks you about how it was last weekend hanging out with him. Are there some kind of big things you’re keeping from your loved ones about your relationship? Do you ever think, “If they knew about this or that they’d lose it?” Unhealthy.
3. You always take the blame or feel that you’re in the wrong, no matter what the situation

This is one particularly toxic mind-set that girls are experts at. Whether a guy’s conditioned you to think this way, or you’ve just taken it upon yourself, good soldier that you are, it is unhealthy and can be how relationships end up in abuse.

Let me be very clear. There is such thing as inexcusable behaviour, and there are no circumstances under which it is okay for your boyfriend to hit you. Not ever. Not even if he’s angry. Not even if he feels you deserve it. Or you feel you deserve it. Not ever. No exceptions or justifications. No terms and conditions apply.

He will always say he didn’t mean to when he hurts you, or “maybe if you just didn’t make him so angry” then he wouldn’t have to treat you that way. Or that this is the “last time”. Believe it? Neither do I.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Stephen Chbosky had it right in his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower and these thoughts will lead you to a place of dangerously low self-esteem. If you think you are worth nothing, then you are willing to accept someone who treats you as nothing. Thinking this way is not just someone putting you down, it’s you putting yourself down. It affects the way you think about yourself and shakes your identity until over time you start believing things about yourself that are wholly untrue. And often it takes someone else who loves you to point it out. I remember getting in an argument with someone I loved, defending the lie that I had believed about myself and allowed to become part of my DNA.
Ever had the kind of thoughts that I’m referring to?

Why are you here? No one needs you. You don’t add anything of value. Don’t get too comfortable because once they really get to know you they will leave you. You are alone and will always be alone, because that is what you deserve. If he treats you like that, it must be because you deserve it. Why would someone who loves me say something like that just to hurt me? It must be true.

And so the cycle goes on. The message to our hearts is you are too much, and somehow not enough at the same time (credit to John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating). The message says, “Shut up, back off, sit down, go home. Give up.”

It takes a long time to pull you out of that dark tunnel, and the easiest way is to avoid it altogether by recognising the toxic signs in the beginning stages.
4. He only hangs out when it’s convenient for him

Wow, you feel so lucky that he finally made time for little old you in his busy schedule. Well, you shouldn’t. A guy with integrity and respect for you will make time for you if he’s interested. A bad boy will make sure you know that he’ll only hang out if nothing else comes up; he’s keeping his options open. Way to make you feel like he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel with you. But you are first prize, a top-notch catch, a winning goal, a score, a top-shelf girl. Don’t let someone make you feel merely satisfactory. The daughter of a king shouldn’t settle for that.
5. You have to choose between your loved ones and him

While it’s likely that a lot of couples at some point or another get in fights over their in-laws, if you get into regular fights with your family over him, that’s another story. They don’t like the way he’s treating you, and you get angry and defensive because you want so much for them to just like him (for goodness sake). I feel your frustration but there is wisdom in dropping your defences for a minute and listening to their reasons for objecting to him. The phrase ‘love is blind’ was not coined by a fool.

It’s a bad sign if he draws you away from your family and friends and doesn’t want to get to know them. A guy who’s truly pursuing your heart, and is out for your good, will want to get into your world (not to mention impress all the people you care about) and learn all about you. If he always resists spending time with your loved ones and either only wants to hang out alone with you, or with his friends, not only is that selfish, but it indicates no sense of accountability with the way he’s treating you. As a lady, you deserve respect.
6. He doesn’t want to tell anyone about your relationship

He says that he doesn’t want to wreck what you have, or he likes it better when you two are just in our own world, or he wants to focus on school. Okay I admit that last one might be legit but if the rest sounds like a load of crap, it’s because it probably is. He wants the benefits of being your boyfriend but won’t make a commitment. I knew a girl who was seeing a guy for a while, but all he wanted to do was sit at home and watch movies with her. He never made the commute to see her, and never took her out on dates, even though she expressed a desire to share those things with him. She ended up wondering if he was ashamed to be seen with her, because they never seemed to go out in public.

Trust me, if a guy is truly into you, he will want to show you off to the whole world.
7. He pressures you into things and always makes you feel guilty when you say no

This one’s a no-brainer. If a guy is manipulating you like that, he obviously has ulterior motives. You are the boss of you and your body, and you do not have to feel guilty about setting boundaries. Every good guy will show his respect for you by respecting those boundaries that you’ve put in place. If he keeps over-stepping the line, he clearly doesn’t have your happiness and welfare in mind.

Because your value is beyond measure, don’t give yourself away to someone like that. If you trust a guy like that with your heart, don’t be surprised when he hands it back to you pulverised.
8. You feel like you’d be jeopardising his safety or mental health by breaking up with him

Guys who threaten to hurt themselves, or worse, if you break up with them are definitely toxic for you. They don’t need judgement, or for you to panda to those feelings; they need help. That is an unhealthy place to be in, and he should really speak to a professional about it. Threatening to do some kind of self-harm if you break up with him is also undermining the stability of your relationship and keeping you there for the wrong reasons.
9. He doesn’t treat one or all of these three things well…

If a guy is not so nice to his mother, to elderly people, or is cruel to animals, this is disturbing. First of all, if he treats his mother with disrespect, what’s to stop him from doing it to you after the honeymoon phase has worn off? Respect for elders is a godly principle and you’ve got to wonder what’s going through his head if he doesn’t treat them nicely. Thirdly, not liking animals is one thing, but being purposely cruel to them is another. If gets a kick out of inflicting suffering, or finds suffering funny, what does that say about him?

When seeing all these toxic traits and behaviours in a guy, we ladies should start to think, is this the kind of guy I want to be with? Is this what I want for myself?

And if you think about it long enough, I hope that you, like me, will start to want something better. And then start to believe that you can have it.
Sincerely,

Lil

P.S. Does it bother some of you that I didn’t add a tenth thing to my list?

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.

Fanning the Flame

Imagine a single coal. Alone. Burning bright, now softer, now fading as the heat recedes into the center. The colour dulls, and the light diminishes. Now visualise yourself leaning in, placing a red hot coal beside it and blowing on it, gently enough that you don’t snuff out the cooling one. The coal pulses and soon is burning. You fan until it bursts into glorious flame.

Are you hot, cold, or lukewarm for the one who saved you?

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.

I’ve mentioned that when I went to the travel agent some months ago and she asked, “So why are you going to Europe?” my answer was, “Because I feel like I’ll die if I don’t.” Laugh if you will but that is passion. Our passion is like a coal and if we separate from Jesus it gets lukewarm and eventually dies out. And sometimes we’re too busy to even feel our spiritual toes turning blue.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.

Where does your strength, your security come from? From your job, your marriage, your ‘position’ at the church, your youth or talents, what people think of you? Don’t just give the answer you tell yourself, if it’s not the truth. We need to be relying on the Lord for that Valley of Weeping to burst with refreshing springs.

It can be easy to lose our passion. It’s scary how easy. Do we still weep in times of worship, still long for alone time with our saviour? Still feel soul sick when it’s absent from our lives? Does our heart yearn for him like the heart of a lover?

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

Are we radical? I know people can be wary of letting emotion play too big a part in their relationship with God, but the love we experience with him, both given and received, is not without emotion. He is passionate about us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Always has been, always will be. Jesus is like a burning flame (a face like the sun, what could be more glorious?) and the closer we get to him the quicker and more fully we catch fire.

Does he still command our attention when he walks in the room? Are we still captivated, awed, brought to our knees, overflowing, obsessed? No one could be more worthy of these reactions.

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield, He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

As I sit here in my room, in the quiet, I think, with tears in my eyes, “Jesus, you gave us all your righteousness while all we forfeited was our sin and the right to die. Who does that? Why would you choose us (much less stick with us)?” The truth feels too wonderful to be true.

And I also pray this prayer: “Jesus, forgive me for having a wandering eye, a wandering heart, for allowing my passion to dim.”

Never forget that he wants us close enough to hear the whisper.

Sincerely,
Lil

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All quotes from Psalm 84, New Living Translation.
Image 1: https://thejourneyfortruth.wordpress.com/page/3/, sourced 13 July 2016.
Image 2: http://fabc.ca/news/come-fuel-your-passion-for-god/, sourced 13 July 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.

Date While You Wait

This video is just one of the ways we can connect with people. It’s simple, asks for nothing back and puts a smile on people’s face. These days it’s hard to do something for nothing, because people are always wondering, “What’s the catch?” I am too, because there usually is a catch. I’m one of those people who cringes when a stranger approaches me on the street and the hawkers (for want of a better word) in the shopping centre that I work give me serious anxiety (a lot of fake phone calls and very intense text messages to write as I walk past them).

I’ve tried to get into the habit of opening my eyes a little more when I’m out in public. A lot of people are in a rush, but there are some who aren’t. Some who might be lingering that extra five minutes in the hopes of some human interaction. But that someone is often someone that, if we’re honest, we would overlook. How often do you stop to talk to elderly people, or a homeless person?

In the last couple of months and particularly today at church I’ve been challenged to think of the group(s) of people I hesitate to interact with. Who do you draw back from or avoid associating with?

I challenge you this week to look at them with new eyes, the eyes of the Father, and move toward them, rather than away. I promise to as well.

(Thanks to Thomas C. Knox and Huffington Post for the video.)

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqY4y1TrXFc, accessed 15 May 2016.