Beautiful, Courageous You


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Overcome with Power That Brings the World to Its Knees

overcomer

There’s no escaping this layer of affliction called ‘life’, there comes a point in time however, when you must decide to either allow the darkness to overtake your life and become a victim of your circumstances or you can choose to courageously move against your fears, face every situation and determine to push on knowing that God is with you, His presence within us is our assurance that we can live in peace.

His peace is not just for getting through the tough times, but He has promised us perfect peace and contentment all the days of our lives. Where do we find this peace, this lasting cure for fear? In his book “The Sheperd’s Rod; Volume XV11”, Bobby Conner puts it like this: “This is the pattern we need to learn: As we turn our inner focus, our will, to Christ and place our affections on Him, adjusting our thoughts to the Word, we will discover abiding peace.” The Sheperds Rod: Volume XVII page 60

Although the scriptures admonish us to keep our minds on that which is Truth, this is easier said than done. In light of birthing our stillborn baby boy , my relationship with God became, fractured, to say the least, I knew I was supposed to face up to my fears with faith but instead of facing up to them I was overtaken by fear about ‘everything’!.

As days and weeks passed I slipped into a deep depression and eventually my faith was all but gone. As I write in view of hindsight I can see where the situation that I thought was going to swallow me up has become my greatest victory, the truth has set my anxious heart free, for indeed Jesus stated that we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32) Let me encourage you, whatever you are facing that threatens to overcome you, you will get through this and be an even more magnificent you… a beautiful, strong reflection of His Glory. YOU are an overcomer The Message version puts it like this:

Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5;5)

Now tune into Mandisa’s smash hit ‘Overcomer’ and start doin some ‘overcoming’ 😉 x


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Keep a Grip on Hope

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It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

Lamentations 3; 21-24 (MSG Version)


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Why Me, WHY?

why me

Often times when I begin to get caught up with thoughts of ‘why me?’ and I lose perspective, per se. I am reminded of my blind father and his ability to press on and persevere in spite of his afflictions. I have wonderful eyesight, what a great blessing!

Helen Keller overcame the adversity of losing sight and hearing at age two, although faced with unthinkable circumstances, Keller counted each day as blessed, she once said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”.

When we read what the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians it becomes clear that our perspective on life will determine our level of contentment. Paul wrote from a jail cell;

 “I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am”. Philippians 4:12 (MSG)

It’s so easy to get stuck in the ‘why me ‘trap, believe me I know.

In recent years, ‘why me’?  has been the mantra of my life that was, until I realised, ‘hey why not me’?  When we develop the ability to look at the tough times  from a new position, we can embrace life as a journey of valley’s and mountaintops, all of which God draws a line of purpose through the centre of it all. Today, whether  you find yourself in a valley, or upon a mountaintop, be encouraged…

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way…” Hebrews 12:2 (MSG Version)


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Emotions are Like a Spoiled Child… They Can Mess Up Your Day!

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“Emotions are like a spoiled child, indulge them and they’ll control you” – Bob Gass

We all have emotions the key is learning how to manage emotions and not allow them to manage us. Emotions are fickle, my firsthand advice; don’t over indulge your emotions or they will mess up your day!

In particular with depression, as you first begin to ‘opt in’ to doing life again the mood swings can be overwhelming, one moment feeling that depression has lifted and your emotions are high,  ie. you catch yourself laughing or simply smiling, the following moment feeling completely defeated and easily snap at the slightest upset. This unstable behaviour would leave me feeling terrible about myself, it was hard on me as well as everyone around me. Often when I would have a good moment or even a good day, my mind would be consumed with the thought ‘this is too good to be true, it probably won’t last’ on the heels of such thinking was an emotion attached… a deep wave of depression would overwhelm me once again.

A very valuable lesson I have learned, having suffered depression, it is easy to mistake a bad day/flat feeling as being a relapse back into a depressed state.  Looking back on my rollercoaster of emotions, I see clearly now that every moment of my day was based on how I was feeling as opposed to living by faith… I was being controlled by my emotions.

Considering we are body, soul and spirit, if we are to be ‘led by the spirit’ it is most important to make emotional maturity our goal and walk in the spirit as opposed to being led by emotions. Joyce Meyer explains; “We must learn to trust that God knows what He is doing in us. If we feel something in our emotions, that is fine. If we do not feel anything, that is fine too. We must remember that we are in this for the long haul – not just for those times when we feel good, but also for those times when we feel bad or do not feel anything at all…” Yup in this for the long haul, now hush those emotions and keep on the lookout for pinching Angels 😉 x


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A Note to self:

be yourself

Often people will ask me what is the significance of my cover design (book yet to be finished). For me, the cover had to be intriguing and have meaning, it was important that the imagery would somehow speak to women young and old in an encouraging tone that says ‘ lift up your weary head, let hope arise and be strengthened by the true knowledge that you are beautiful and courageous’.

The crumpled note being pinned to the wall represents a return to believing the truth about yourself, and consequently a return to happiness. Crumpling of the note is symbolic of what we do with our self belief as life wears us down. As a toddler the words of beauty and courage are written on our hearts we believe we truly are the centre of the universe, our beauty is affirmed by doting adults and we are fearless (except the odd monster under the bed tends to be a bit scary). My little 3 year old little girl believes without doubt she is pretty and perfect in every way, no fear of being too fat or too thin, no fear of what other people think etc… she is free to be a beautiful, courageous little girl.

Sadly, over the years what we believe about ourselves, becomes distorted and fashioned by the influences around us, and this is when we ‘crumple the note’, so to speak, and throw it in the waste paper basket. We gradually lose our 3yo perspective of how amazing, “fearfully and wonderfully made” we truly are. From an early age seeds of doubt and fear take root in our minds as we become aware of judgement from others, cave into peer pressure, and aspire to be just like the false images of airbrushed models. Doubt and fear grow like relentless weeds suffocating all that is true about the beautiful, courageous you. May your journey through this blog (and the book) encourage you to go back to the crumpled note, a note that speaks of your true identity and worth, write out the TRUTH, stick it up on the wall and believe it.

May 2014 be the year that you pursue the real you, the amazing you, the ‘cannot be replaced’ you with reckless abandon. X


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Having Done All… Stand!

Stand in the Storm!

Amidst life’s storms, I recently started to feel like God is ‘holding out’ on me, nothing I pray & nothing I do seems to be working towards changing our circumstances. My breath prayer (even in my sleep) has been ‘I lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven’. My patience & trust levels were at an all time low when I came across the following teaching from Bobby Conner, this brought peace and a profound ability to endure this season of seemingly nothing happening. God is at work behind the scenes & I want to encourage you to do all you can and then simply stand! Enjoy Bobby’s wisdom here…

Are you feeling frustrated and impatient that your prayers have not yet come to pass? Discern that those are the enemy’s accusations sent to discourage you from standing firm.

Worry, anxiety, lethargy, bitterness, pride, frustration, envy, impatience – anything that is not in harmony with righteousness, peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness and self-control is falling prey to the enemy’s tactics.

Be angry – but do not sin in that anger.

Fear and tremble – but fear God only, with a contrite heart. Continue reading


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Now, Lord, take my life! or get aligned ;-)

He restores my soul

During my journey of recovery from depression, I would often reflect on the story of Elijah written in the book of 1 Kings. Here we read the how this great man of God was running away to hide from Jezebel:

 “ But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (see 19: 3-5)

It is clear from the context that Elijah was exhausted – mentally and physically. I believe he had not been eating or resting, that he was running on a spiritual high (sound familiar?)

Elijah had great victories, revived a widow’s son, called down fire from heaven and then finds himself running scared from a girl! This irrational response is not too dissimilar to the first signs of depression, as his body was exhausted so to his mind became irrational, ‘Lord take my life’ is suicidal thinking!. He had already stood against greater odds than one woman and yet he was fearful and perceived the threat irrationally.

 How did God respond to Elijah? He cared for his natural needs: Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.  And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.”  So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.” (see 1 Kings 19:5-8)

The primary need that the Lord saw was the need for the body to recover strength: to sleep, to eat, to drink. Elijah had a nature – a human nature, just like our own. Therefore, if exhaustion and lack of nutrition can cause Elijah to have a flat day, then it can happen to us because we have the same nature, a human nature that requires adequate rest and nourishment.

When our body is depleted, our soul will follow with irrational thoughts, anger, irritability, insomnia etc., and of course depression which, by consequence, we will feel spiritually depleted. The same connection is true in a vice versa situation, for example what we allow our thought life to meditate on will determine our emotional condition and ultimately affect our physical bodies. Randy Clark writes; “When our will reflects His, our emotions receive the best medicine possible. An alignment takes place that gives permission for the body to experience health. A healthy spirit makes for a healthy soul. A healthy soul makes it much more likely that we will enjoy physical health too.” ”. (The Essential Guide to Healing pg, 179)

Often, we fail to recognise a ‘misalignment’ between our body, soul and spirit, as life gets busier we can fall into the trap of neglecting our physical needs, as Elijah did, we fall into an emotional demise and then find ourselves asking ‘how did I get here’? Today, take a moment to consider areas that are misaligned in your life… maybe it’s a check on your thoughts? What are you meditating on? How’s your nutrition? Do you have healthy boundaries in place with regards to negative influences? Self care is not selfish… it is essential, so, like Elijah, you may go ” in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights…” x


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Masters of the Masquerade

The most courageous decision I have ever made was the moment when I decided to take off my masks… my social mask, my school-mum mask, my corporate trainer mask, my church mask and every other ‘face’ that was not the real me.

Max Lucado, in his book Six Hours One Friday, describes our desperate desire to disguise our true -self…

“We are masters of the masquerade. Cars are driven to make a statement. Jeans are purchased to portray an image. Accents are acquired to hide a heritage. Names are dropped. Weights are lifted. Yarns are spun. Toys are purchased. Achievements are professed”.

In the depths of despair I had no energy for playing charades,  the blessing of this desperate place was that the real me, the amazing strong woman I was created to be, was finally allowed to come out of hiding… it was literally a case of being strong enough to show my weakness. For most of my life the real me was hidden behind a painted smile, I believe we all spend our time wearing costumed faces. The fear of rejection, fear to be ourselves pervades out thoughts until the real self is forgotten. May I encourage you to remove your masks, silence the fear and step into the freedom to be you. You do ‘you’ perfectly!created to stand out


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Son of God, isn’t that far-fetched?

portrait-of-jesus

I recently read the book The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. Loved it. Definitely one to place on the ‘must read’ list ;-). In particular I was captivated by a passage where Keller cited an interview with U2’s Bono and Michaka Assayas:

Assayas: Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that far-fetched?

Bono: “No, it’s not far=fetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook.

Christ says, No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me a teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying:”I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no, I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this.

So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was — the Messiah — or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson…I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s far-fetched…

Selah


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Hey Cows… I am Back!

 

My little girl with my 'cow friends'

My little girl with my ‘cow friends’

Passion creates freedom regardless of circumstance, for example; when I was in depression my will every morning was to stay in bed and literally curl up to die, however when I made the choice to get passionate about being well again I began to challenge my ‘will to stay in bed’… remaining a  prisoner to my thoughts.

I recall asking myself “what action would I take if I didn’t have these thoughts?’ my answer ‘I’d put on my shoes and get out for a run’ well, revelation hit me like a tonne of bricks! In that moment I had realised regardless of how I was feeling, regardless of my circumstances, there was freedom to be found in the simple act of putting on my running shoes. I determined to challenge my depressed will, dragged myself out of bed, put my joggers on and went for a run.

I cried every step of the way, a mix of emotions swung like a pendulum, sad with grief one moment then overwhelmed with joy the next. I remember running out amongst the hills where we live, I made my way down a dirt track toward a herd of brown cows. Before my season of depression, I would take a daily run on the same route, the cow paddock was my 20 min turnaround point. Often I would stop at the cows and enjoy the simplicity of chewing the cud and just being what they were created to be, no striving, just being. This run was different, it was almost as though I had found a long lost friend, a friend whom I was convinced would never return… I had found me! When I reached the cow paddock I stood and watched for awhile all at once I felt ‘normal’, even a bubble of joy in my spirit, in that moment, I cried out to the cows ‘I am back’!.

There’s something powerful about rejoicing in the midst of problems, by the simple act of doing what previously (before depression) would make me feel good, something in the atmosphere of my depressed state began to shift. Joy is a powerful weapon, despite how you may be feeling start to take steps to partake in things that use to make you feel good.  Once I had decided to make it my passion to get well I continued to take action by choosing to get into life as I knew it. Gradually the depression lifted I began to experience hours, days and eventually weeks of feeling happy. Often times I would be overwhelmed with thoughts of giving up, ‘joy will never be mine it just won’t last’ then the Holy Spirit would bring to mind the story in Luke 17:12 there were ten lepers crying out to Jesus ‘have mercy on us’. “So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.” Vs 14 (NKJV) Healed as they went!

Belligerent faith must become the very essence of who you are, passionate to be well, eager to fight for complete healing and restoration even when nothing much seems to have changed. Just like the ten lepers, you will be healed as you ‘go’, go out and engage in life, go to read your Bible, go run – go!