HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 
photo credit: M Hooper via <a href="http
photo credit: M Hooper via

It’s New Year’s Eve!    As we leave the old and bring in the new…what are your thoughts about the future?

Counting down at midnight, what do you think will be uppermost in your mind about what’s ahead?

I was taking down my Christmas tree and all the family decorations just yesterday and I mused about the correlation that this often has in our minds to saying ‘goodbye’ to an old year and ushering in the new one.
It never changes. We do it at this time of the year, every year.
And yet we hope for a ‘better tomorrow’ and wish one another health and happiness as we approach the countdown. Every year. Someone once said the ‘definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’.
Truth is, if we just pack away the ‘old’ and bring it out again in the future…how have we moved forward?

tree 2

………..5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And it’s here.  The new slate upon which to write. A year that’s never been lived. The hope that things will all be different now…

Sigh.

As I packed away the beautiful coloured baubles into their boxes and stacked each one neatly in its place up high in the storage cupboard, I couldn’t help but think to myself….this will all be away now until the end of the new year, when I’ll bring it all out and put it on display…again. Been doing it for decades.

BAUBLES 2

The Christmas tree now looks bare. It’s sad to see it being dismantled. The Santa hats have been flung around the place, waiting for collection. Listlessly they hang, as if nobody cares now, when last week we were all running around with the red and white adornments on our heads wishing health and happiness to all.  Now they lay like drunken and spent bodies after a wild NYE party. HAT 2

The angel dolls, so carefully placed next to Christmas candles, have spent the last month adorning my lounge room, silently singing carols and wishing us good cheer.  Now they sleep peacefully in the box of Christmas things, like resposing princesses, waiting for their chance to shine again.

ANGELS 2 Not sad, but thought provoking.  Here are a few of my own thoughts – call them my resolutions if you will – as I start towards the new year of 2014:

REFLECTION is always good!

1.   We can grow by allowing ourselves to think.

I know, I know…obvious, right?
But it’s something that we ‘prefectionistas’ don’t necessarily allow ourselves the luxury of doing. “Necessity is the mother of invention”, my Mum always said…. So when we come to the place of realising that it’s so necessary to reflect, and not just swiftly move on…that’s when change can actually happen in us. Do I allow myself to do that in my busy and bustling world?

Take it easy!  Put up your feet, make a cuppa and reflect on YOU. You’re so worth it!

2.   We can grow by allowing ourselves to dismantle.

What?! But I’m a mother, a wife, a woman of the 21st century…it’s dangerous and vulnerability rules when I think about this – and yes, that’s the point! We grow the most in our character when we are the most vulnerable, but then are open to change and move forward. Before the Creator of all things…let it all hang out! In the private place of devotion to Jesus, you can.  And it’s entirely possible, that things will be different from this moment on.

Let your hair down!  Allow yourself to ‘deconstruct’, not in an indulgent way, but before Jesus himself…being honest, believing for the best for YOU in the new year.

3.    We can grow by allowing ourselves grace.

Decide on a new colour scheme for the Christmas tree next year. (I can almost hear you sucking in your breath as your heart beats wildly in your chest…too much?) Yes, tradition is good, but it can’t rule you. Let God place a new dream, a new pattern of His thinking, a new vision in your heart. don’t box yourself in to the old perameters! (definition: ‘a limit or boundary that defines the scope of a particular process or activity’} 

… think OUTSIDE of that box. Why can’t things be different for you next year?  It’s just a decision away!

Think about this:

* What would I have changed?  

* What could I have done differently? (it may even help to write it down in your journal!)

* What could I have done more effectively? (character, relationship building, career/family?)

*  How can I avoid the mistakes of the past being repeated in this approaching new year?

*  What can I leave behind?

* What is useful that can be packed safely away but brought out another day?

Next year…newness may rule.  Or not.  That’s my decision. Bring it on!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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There was time to say goodbye.

photo credit: Debris2008 via photopin cc
photo credit: Debris2008 via photopin cc

Have you ever had a season of emotional turmoil?  Where you knew that emotions were building up on the inside, and all that you wanted to do was to share it, but you were never really able to get to the point of the ‘spilling over’ of your thoughts, your emotions, your world as it stands right now? I

It’s like it gets stuck somewhere deep down, a buried treasure covered over by layers and layers, just waiting for the digging, waiting for the discoverers. It is awaiting the time that all the golden coins, precious stones and buried wealth come spilling out, to enrich someone’s life, apart from your own.

As I write this, the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela has hit, and we have seen a deluge of people come together at a South African soccer stadium to mark this historical milestone. The loss of so great a man is impacting. An event that will leave its mark.  A legacy of mammoth proportions.  But the life that was lived will remain in the hearts of his family forever. Their hearts will be touched because they have loved a great man, a father, grandfather, a friend.

His faith and forgiveness through a Joseph type of existence is an example to our world. He had a will to live and do good through the most horrific of circumstances, a heart that could forgive.

He lead through the scars, most of which the masses will never know of, and yet, his family heard his soul.

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Let me tell you today about a legacy that was left by someone whose funeral was not attended by the ‘greats’ of this world, but by a family who stood united, looking towards another sunrise with hope and faith. They did this because of the constant prayer and focus of one man, who cared for them.

A month ago today I lost this dear friend, my one and only sibling, my brother.

I have not been able to write here or anywhere at all since then, such has been my anguished state of heart. You see, in writing one can bear one’s soul and set free the inner most thoughts that are hyper sensitive and vulnerable, yet able to release another with their testimony.

Have you ever had a season like that?  You want to share, but you’re aching inside so much that you can’t? 

There are times when we’re just not able to allow the plundering of our souls.  It hurts. But then a time comes when we understand that the very act of opening up will bring a richness to us all. It’s an understanding that displaces the inward isolation that can come through storms in our lives. And this sharing then brings healing.  It can open the doors so that others can relate and be revived themselves.

And the healing is what we are all aiming for, because it brings the promise of newness.  And right there, I think I’ve learned something again (does it ever stop?):

No matter what I face in life, Jesus is there to bear my burden as I in turn bare my heart.

And as my heart opens, creaking all the way with the rust and dryness that the storms and the grief can build, He gently coaxes my understanding to a place of comfortable acceptance. And I feel new.

Oh, there are certainly the ‘moments,’ unpredictable, piercing my day like a bolt of lightning out of the blue southern sky. But around me are the faithful ones, the acts of kindness, the empathy of those who understand the treasure hunt that is life. They bring to me the growth and freshness of friendship, love and a new future. It’s held out in their hands like a silver platter, my choice being whether I will take it.

Why is it so hard at these times to reveal? To share? To be transparent?

It was a beautiful home-going that day, just four short weeks ago.  There was the reconciliation of he and his only true love after over twenty years. There was the spending of precious time with those he loved the most. There was time to say goodbye.

Children. Family. Love. Acceptance. Eternity.

I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews ever since, and it stirs my soul about faith. How many of those great heroes of the faith never even  saw what they were believing for, and yet, they kept believing? It is inspiring me to live and walk in truth.

So, I guess this piece today is about never giving up. Even if you don’t see your rainbow in the sky.  Even if you can’t tell which way is up for a season. Even if you are finding it hard to communicate, to share, or to even get in touch with your soul.

Keep believing.

Because all your doubting will never, ever change the truth: He loves, He lives, He longs for you.  Leave regret behind.

This quote from C S Lewis was on the card we printed for my brother’s farewell, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are far, far, better things ahead than any we leave behind”. (C S Lewis)

No truer word has touched my own soul. Farewell Mandiba. Your family will never forget.

Farewell my brother. Your family remember, always.

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Rising Above my Situation – Transcendence in Jesus

 

Peace, Woronora Valley

I was shocked into the realisation today.

It’s not that I wasn’t taking notice.  But I was so involved with the everyday caring that I hadn’t seen what was missing.

Ever been pulled up sharp by God Himself?

And all of a sudden He’s in there, reminding you of His magnificence…His presence that transcends everything in your life!

I was at the hospital.  Oh wait.  I haven’t told you about this yet.  I’m in a situation of caring for my very ill and only sibling, my ‘big brother’ who is a man of God.  Loves Jesus! With all his heart and soul.  But now he’s in this situation, only months long now, and finds himself desperate to cry out for the very Presence that heals.  The Presence that guides.  The comforting Presence that transcends. 

"My peace I leave with you...."
“My peace I leave with you….” (John 14:27)

I think that I’m ‘transcending’ when I say a prayer, when I read an inspiring passage, but I learnt something today….When we ‘transcend’ something, we actually RISE ABOVE it….We’re not on the same ‘level’ any more.

“Transcend”:   “be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract, typically a conceptual field or division)”   To “surpass” (a person or an achievement).

The dictionary definition doesn’t do it justice, what I saw today.

A man who’s been told his life is dwindling fast away, still holding on to the faith and the confession that is his life…that is Christ.  When the news of the brain tumour hit us all we had the ‘right confession’…rising above what was being declared by a faithless world. Though we still continue to try, the help comes in way that is foreign to us, unusual…transcendent. And we feel inadequate, and we feel lack and pain and frustration…and it gives us something to rise above, again. But those of us who experience the transcendence can soar above. We rise.

He lifted his arm right up in adoration of His Saviour. Jesus, the only one who can do anything about this situation, in reality.  Yes there are doctors, nurses, hospitals and drugs.  And it all helps.  I guess.  But what transcends  it all…what causes us all to rise is the faith, the believing, the knowing the Saviour’s Presence?  What causes our spirit to gush, to speak forth praise and worship when we have lost even the capability to express ourselves in words…

My inspiration

The witnessing of it. As I read him the scriptures…his arm upward along with his face in a blessing that gave me the privilege of belonging…of being a part of, his journey. He spoke out adoration, though he could speak little else. A never ending flood of words, though used a lifetime in other ways, and now selected to support the TRANSCENDING faith that carries the Spirit with him…

I’m supporting.  I’m caring.  I’m believing.  But even now and much more…I’m transcending.  Rising above the storm.  

What an honour.  

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
Ephesians 2:6

 

 

 

 

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STORMS IN OUR LIVES

 

bushfire warning

 

It’s probably going to be the hottest day of spring 2013 so far.  An estimated 31 degrees (Celsius) that will warm up our city and prepare us for the coming heat of the Australian summer. The promised sun, surf and sand…the freedom of walking and running outside… seasonal change is coming, and we are gladly fare welling being chilled to the bone, electric blankets and huddling around the heater.  And it’s only September!

But with summer in Australia comes the usual threat of bushfires, the drama of summer storms. Today we’ve witnessed the familiar sights and sounds of fire, ravaging areas of bushland and reaching devastating fingers into suburbia, on the outskirts of our city.  Destructive waves of hungry devastation that leave lives wrecked and hanging in the balance.  We are perhaps less ready for this because it’s so early in the new season…

These ‘fire storms’ that become an encroaching menace during our hot weather seem to be starting earlier now, engulfing more.  They can create even their own weather patterns.  They stop at nothing until they’ve been quenched by the water bombing, the hosing, the back burning…

Ever been in your own ‘fire storm’?

Here we are, motoring along with the ‘seasons’ of our lives all planned, neatly tucked into our futures and unfolding them nicely in a way that is called ‘happiness’, (maybe even ‘blessed’! ) We are satisfied with the way that we have achieved life’s equilibrium in our current season and so are often not ready when the storm hits.

And then it’s here…

As we shade our eyes from the sunlight of the day, we can hear the distant rumble of the thunder.  It gradually grows closer; the flashes of light surprise us, heralding a drenching of rain.

That lightning showing up on our horizon.

Ignition.  And the storm begins.

bushfire

Your storm could manifest as disease, financial pressure or the death of someone close.  It could be the breakup of an important relationship, the loss of a dear pet or the change, by choice or not, of your occupation.

But it’s a storm.

Ever felt the ominous rumble, seen the light flashing of your own approaching tempest? 

Your storm may have been months, years in the brewing, and you felt that it was coming.  Or it may be one of the unpredictable ones that just creep up on us when we’re not looking.  Out of the blue, so to speak…

But it’s started to create now its own weather pattern within your world.  It’s demanding attention, seeking your very emotional health as its victim.

Whatever ‘storm’ you feel is approaching, or that you are in the middle of right now, or that you may be anticipating in the future, there are valuable life lessons that they can bring us.

Distant thunder is often just noise.

–       Fear of an approaching storm is often more debilitating than the reality.

–       If we can calmly evaluate the approaching storm, dealing with it accordingly, we can benefit.

–       Fear of the unknown can unnerve us. Faith in the midst will empower us.

–       Hunker down…look up!

Lightening can strike twice in the same place.

–       It’s as simple as not putting yourself in the direct ‘firing line’ of a storm.

–       Learn from your storm, take note of what to avoid next time. Reflect on what causes its ignition…

–       Take shelter! Remember that a bushfire actually creates its own weather pattern.  So can the emotions of your storm.

Wait for the rain – it will come.

–       We often ‘move’ too fast, not waiting for the inevitable refreshing of the rain that follows.

–       Help will come if we listen, look and understand where to call for that help.

Build with the new shoots.

–       Rain brings new growth, don’t let it die, but use it well.

–       The ‘green shoots’ are what bear the promise of a new future.

–       Enjoy the next season, don’t re-live the pain, but use the lessons.

Do you remember that famous story of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8?

I am forever amazed that no matter what kind of tempest assails me, no matter how deep I am down in the whirlpool of life’s storms, He can always rescue me.

It’s just a matter of making that call…

Jesus…help me.

“Then He stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: ”Silence!”.  The sea became smooth as glass”. (Matt 8:26)

Valery

 

 

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