Beautiful, Courageous You


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The Truth Shall Set You Free

“God is real, I am healed!” was my response after reluctantly joining a prayer group for some ‘help’. I was overflowing with joy, how is it possible to move from a deep depression into being overcome with joy? This is not the result of positive thinking, it is impossible to change a negative thought pattern in the space of a few hours, but with God all things are possible.

Through the power of prayer, I had God’s Word, the Truth, spoken into my spirit and this was the beginning of my journey back from a deep depression. Truth is powerful, the Bible tells us that the Word of God is, “living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” Hebrews 4:12. The Word is the greatest weapon of all, when you hear or read the word of God and you know the truth of who you are, when you stand firm, with true determination and resolve that you are more than a conqueror, that you are loved by God… this perseverance leads to breakthrough, without fail!

 Nick Vujicic, author of “Life Without Limbs”, understood this when he said: “in life if you don’t know the truth then you cannot be free, because then you will believe that the lies are the truth”.

So why did God move in such a powerful way to bring a miracle healing upon me? I believe He answers the cry of a desperate heart, we must thirst and long for God, surrender our lives to Him completely. For most of us, we only completely surrender once there are no other options. Like me, going to a prayer group was my final attempt to get well. Begin today to truly seek Him with your whole heart and expect Him to answer your cry for help, if you feel distant from God, I assure you He is not the one who has moved.

The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, “Master, how can I truly find God?” The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, “Please immerse yourself in the water.” The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man’s head and held him under the water. Presently the student began to struggle. The master held him under still. A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, “When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed — then you shall find God.”

 


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His Tender & Wise Purposes

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“What God can prevent in His power, He permits in His wisdom”– Arthur Burt

Childlike faith, it would seem, does not just happen for everyone. Like me, you may have many unanswered questions, why didn’t God prevent this from happening? Why hasn’t He changed this situation? , we reason. Sure enough I have questioned why my path has led me through pain and sorrow why should I have to suffer this way?.  After all, I have honoured and served God in all the ways I know possible so how come things worked out this way?. Did Jesus sit on His hands and let our baby boy’s death top the broken heart charts for Lee and I?

Many times people are perplexed that I choose to glorify God, they have questioned how can I still believe in God let alone trust in His goodness? When I was trusting in Him, He let me down?! Didn’t He?? I have grappled in my mind with these arguments for the past three years, ‘is God good? Does He love me? Why do bad things happen to good people?,  in fact why do bad things happen at all? Finally I grew tired of trying to figure it all out and made the choice to trust in the Word of God, my faith has been renewed and I have entered His rest. I still have painful memories and even present day sorrowful situations, but I am learning to transcend them by actively pursuing God in prayer and reading scriptures.

Proverbs 3:5-6 implores us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”. Day and night I have meditated on this truth. Trusting in the Lord means, rather than blaming Him for what happens, rather than doubting His love for us, we relax and rest assured believe that our Heavenly Father has our life in the palm of His hand.

Above all else, author Bob Gass writes: “when God doesn’t seem to meet your expectations, it’s not that He doesn’t care; it’s that He sees the big picture and He’s handling issues you can’t even begin to comprehend. So trust Him!”

 I believe God, in His wisdom, allows some things to happen where at the time it seems painful and senseless. The very experience which is so grievous and distressing may be to augment your power so as to be of use to others. He sees the big picture of our lives and knows, just like a loving father, what is needed to help us become exactly who we were created to be. I can honestly say you will ‘grow under the load’ as you continue to trust that your Father in Heaven has your best interest at heart as He walks you through the valleys of life and accompanies you to the glorious mountaintops.

Nelson Mandela said: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one finds many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

Life is both good and bad, mountain top experiences are amazing, but, most of us spend our lives climbing in and out of the valleys. I am glad for my time spent in the valleys, I am glad for what God in His power did not prevent, for it has given me a depth of compassion and great empathy for the broken-hearted. In His wisdom Jesus takes our pain and makes it something beautiful, as the prophet Isaiah writes, the spirit of the Lord was upon him, “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” … 61:3. Today I have beauty in my life, a joy which remains immovable and an attitude of praise that leaves the world perplexed. Many times people I meet are completely baffled that I would choose to praise God and glorify Him in every circumstance and not just circumstances I find acceptable.

As you read the following thoughts penned by H. W Smith, may you be encouraged to praise Him no matter the circumstance and begin to trust in His tender and wise purposes toward you;.

See God in everything, and God will calm and colour all that thou dost see!  It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed,      their condition will remain unchanged; but if Christ as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into our grief and gloom, He will compass us about with songs of deliverance. To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss,                                            “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”…


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A Gift… Peace of Mind & Heart

“I’m leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives.

So don’t be troubled, don’t be afraid” John 14:27

Giving birth to my twins at 28 weeks was truly my darkest hour as fear and physical pain overwhelmed my entire being.

Labour was difficult, a sad pain knowing what the outcome would possibly be. My firstborn was, Jessica, alive and beautiful, she let out a cry as the midwife laid her on my tummy in that moment I was hopeful. Time went by slowly, as she lay there safe in the arms of her mummy, but the cold reality of her being born too early was about to hit me hard, as they cut the umbilical cord Jessica passed away. Immediately she was taken away and I was being told to push for the delivery of my second born baby girl, Jasmine. She was born and her loud healthy cry put a smile on my face, a perfect baby girl lay in my arms. I held her for a short while before the paediatrician came to take her for observations and then she would be placed in an intensive care crib.

Exhausted and in shock, confused should I be grieving or rejoicing? Once I had taken a hot shower the nurse led me down the corridor to see my little baby girl. So small yet so perfect  and she was mine, barely could she be seen due to all the tubes and bandages that covered her tiny body but I could reach one hand in through the side hole on the crib, I placed my finger in the palm of her hand. Never will I forget in that moment I knew I was a mother as her tiny hand gripped my finger my heart ached to hold her. The doctor’s had told me Jasmine was having difficulty breathing and was not expected to live through the night, I stayed by her side all day until she was moved to a larger hospital (without me).  Later that evening she passed away. I weep heavily at the time of writing this as the pain of losing a child is something you never recover from, but my hope in the promises of God gives me a deep peace. It is this peace that I pray you will find in your darkest hour, a peace that the world cannot give, a peace that is almost tangible yet all at once incomprehensible.  As teardrops fall to the keyboard I can almost hear the voice of my Saviour, Jesus Christ as He whispers ‘I am with you’.  At this time of writing and re-living my past pain and sorrow, I find I have more questions than I do answers, questions which will remain unanswered until I meet Jesus face to face.

When that time comes…

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

Lyrics by Mercy Me – The Hurt and the Healer

How I long to hear Him say “it’s over now”… the pain and suffering in this world – ‘over now’.


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A Gethsemane Moment

Not long before Jesus was to be arrested and later die on the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.  This was His ‘Gethsemane moment’, deeply distressed, Jesus prayed three times for ‘this cup’ to pass Him by. “Nevertheless”, He prayed, in complete surrender to the will of His father in heaven. Jesus showed us that even those with the strongest of faith can feel weak and overwhelmed in a time of crisis. In our times of deepest sorrow, in the middle of a Gethsemane moment,  it’s hard to believe that all things will work out for good, in fact it’s hard to believe in much at all. Understand this, it’s okay to feel weak and afraid, one of the things we can learn from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is that He understands when we feel overwhelmed and frightened of what lies ahead, Jesus has been there.

The day of our 6 month pregnancy appointment is recorded in my mind as a Gethsemane moment, a moment when I was faced with imminent physical and emotional pain, exhausted from deep sorrow I fell to my knees and cried out ‘God take this from me’. I know we are called to trust Him but I prayed He would change things so as I didn’t have to trust Him. All I could think was ‘save me from this nightmare’. Author Wayne Jacobsen writes that in every situation we encounter, there are two options in prayer.; ““Father, save me,” or “Father, glorify your name!”” One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment, the other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart”.

What began as a day of trusting in a loving Heavenly Father would soon become a day wrought with frustration and disillusion. 9am was our scheduled appointment, as we drove to the clinic a strange impending grief washed over me, like a robe of sadness had been draped across my shoulders. Our obstetrician, George was always so warm and caring, he re-assured me that I was looking well, healthy and perhaps a little anxious given my past experience of loss. However ‘to put my mind at ease’, he offered ‘let’s have a look at bub shall we’?.

Today as I write, my eyes glass over with tears, tears I have not yet allowed to fall… grief is such a mysteriously long road.  I recall the moment both Lee and George anxiously gazed at the monitor, they could see what I had been feeling – no presence of life in my womb. With tears in his eyes, George turned to me and said ‘I am sorry’. Clear memories of what I felt in that moment fail me, the shock and terror of burying another baby gripped me with an iron fist around my throat. I found it hard to breath and hard to cry!.

Much happened between the labour, birth and saying goodbye to our baby. After a night in hospital, we packed our belongings and embarked on a long silent drive home, so empty, so disillusioned, physically and emotionally exhausted. My  4yo daughter was waiting outside, excited to see us, as we hugged I explained that she was a big sister to a baby boy and he was not well so God had taken him straight to Heaven. Tears in her eyes she said ‘that’s okay mummy we’ll see him in Heaven’. Oh to have the resilience and ‘matter of fact’ attitude of a child, so faithfully they cope with life’s hurdles. Her childlike faith and absolute trust in God made way for her healing to begin immediately, unlike myself and most ‘grown-ups’ we want the facts, question ‘why me?’, hurl accusations at God then journey through a maze of guilt, doubt, shame and unbelief until we come full circle back to where we began… at His feet and completely surrendered. The moment we choose to trust in a loving Father with faith of a child, not having all the answers but trusting in the One who does, that is the defining moment when we receive a peace that surpasses understanding, a peace which is beyond words. Perhaps that is why Jesus so loved the little children He took them in His arms and blessed them “… Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.


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Anchor in the Storms

When you give your heart to Christ and begin to follow Him, life does not magically become a blessed experience where never again will you experience heartache, despair and general everyday problems like the ‘non-Christian’. Have you ever met a genuine Christian whose life rolls by from one blessing to another?

I have met Christians that like to pretend this is how their life is, they have a ‘church mask’ that is worn on a Sunday to show other church goers how holy they are and just how amazing their relationship with God really is (tongue in cheek).  This masquerade they hide behind is what makes many believers feel inadequate in their faith,  even more so someone that does not know God is made to feel ‘inadequate for that Christian stuff until I have it all together’. In my experience this type of pretense is what causes a believer to doubt the love of God and those that don’t know Him feel they could never measure up to the Christian ideal. The ‘church-mask’ caused me to doubt how much God really loved me, most Sundays my inner dialogue would go something like this…  “if He really loves me, how come my life is full of calamity, and theirs is so perfect?, oh I really need to pray more, read my Bible more and stop being so grumpy with my kids”. In fact when I was at my lowest point with depression,  I would often come away from a conversation with ‘Suzy Super Christian’ and feel spiritually blackmailed as though my weak faith and depression etc. was all my fault. I was once told ‘you are not well because you are not believing your prayers’!  For two years I felt like I was a stench in the nostrils of God.  Oh if only I knew then what I know now about the love of my Heavenly Father, His Grace, His Goodness His unconditional love.

Jesus says, ‘… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV).  Jesus  knew well in advance that this life would be full of trouble, He has not promised when you believe in Him your life will be trouble-free, He has promised though that no matter what you face He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Trust me, when I gave my heart to Jesus there were no bolts of lightning tracking through the sky,  the devil did not send me a congratulations card and wipe me off his list,  what did happen though was a deep peace moved into my spirit, to this day that peace has been my anchor in the storms.

Hope Anchors the soul – Hebrews 6:19


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Songs in the Night

Image courtesy of :www.micimagazine.com

Much has happened in my 39 years, in more recent times I have changed, I have grown spiritually and been strengthened by life’s challenges.  What has changed most significantly is my response to the challenges I face. Life has many lessons to teach if we are a willing student, by God’s grace I have learned to respond by trusting in His promises. Despite what my circumstances look like, no matter how hard life gets, He is still in control and He can be trusted. As you read the following poem I pray you also shall heed to the beck and call of Jesus, as you do, may you gain confidence and assurance that He holds you in the palm of His hand… never shall He let you go.

I have been through the valley of weeping,                                                                                                            

The valley of sorrow and pain,                                                                                                                         

But the “God of all comfort” was with me,                                                                                                     

 At hand to uphold and sustain.

As the earth needs the clouds and sunshine,                                                                                                      

Our souls need both sorrow and joy;  

                                                                                                             

 So He places us oft in the furnace,                                                                                                                  

The dross from the gold to destroy.

When he leads thro’ some valley of trouble,                                                                                                         

His omnipotent hand we trace;                                                                                                                                   

For the trials and sorrows He sends us,                                                                                                                   

Are part of His lessons in grace.

Oft we shrink from the purging and pruning,                                                                                              

Forgetting the Husbandman knows                                                                                                               

 That the deeper the cutting and paring,                                                                                                                 

The richer the cluster grows.

Well He knows that affliction is needed;                                                                                                                    

He has a wise purpose in view,                                                                                                                                

  And in the dark valley He whispers,                                                                                                              

“Hereafter Thou’lt know what I do.”

As we travel thro’ life’s shadow’d valley,                                                                                                           

Fresh springs of His love ever rise;                                                                                                                          

And we learn that our sorrows and losses,                                                                                                              

Are blessings just sent in disguise.

 

So we’ll follow wherever He leadeth,                                                                                                                        

 Let the path be dreary or bright;                                                                                                                                

For we’ve proved that our God can give comfort;                                                                                                   

Our God can give songs in the night.

Streams in the Desert, Zondervan Corporation, 1996, p. 239


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Happy to Live with Questions

We all experience pain and suffering which most times seems unreasonable, but I am convinced our suffering and testing is not without reason. Although I have many unanswered questions about God and His promises, I know that He is trustworthy and He is good therefore, in spite of my earthly pain and sorrow I will stand firm on the promise made by the apostle Paul; “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. 2 Corinthians 4:17”(NKJV).  What a glorious day, when our earthly pain will cease and God will wipe every tear away.

Here’s a little excerpt from my writing;” Beautiful, Courageous You” in  A Chapter of Sorrow

Apprehended by a Spiritual Force

Rushed to hospital at 27 weeks pregnant, overwhelmed with fear and alone I found myself calling on God, my God the God I had abandoned, the God I didn’t need. All the while I had been trying to do life my way, He was there waiting for me to come running back into His arms, all of my effort and strength was gone all I had left was to surrender to the hope that I once knew. Hope in God was buried deep within my spirit, early years of Sunday school had planted seeds of hope that somehow, someway there was a divine meaning to my life. As I turned my thoughts back to God, I cried out to the unseen, somehow I knew He was in the room with me as a profound peace swept over my being. My broken heart carried a pain so deep that I could hardly breathe, still in grief from my father’s death, in shock from the promiscuity of my partner and now I lay waiting, hoping for a miracle… the survival of my twin babies. Somehow that night my hurt collided with the healing power of Jesus, I felt simultaneously weak but strong. The apostle Paul tells of the strength he found in Christ “It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG)

Letting Christ take over is hard for most of us, for me there was no other choice I had reached rock bottom with no options but to surrender my will to His. Often in a sorrowful situation we shout accusations at God and then turn and walk away, I have learned by my past to not shout at God but instead it is best that we stop and listen. What is He trying to say to you?


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Begin Today to Live in the Light of Truth

Live in the Light of His Amazing Grace

What lies do you believe about yourself? Perhaps you believe you are hopeless, unworthy of love, don’t have much to offer to this world… If you believe a lie long enough it will manifest as being truth to you, a chain in your mind that keeps you from living the life you were created to live. Such chains bind up your thinking, chains of fear, chains of unworthiness, chains of addiction, chains of guilt and whatever other chain that might bind you.. It is easy to become comfortable in these chains, accustomed to the limitations and before long your reality becomes the thoughts you have been meditating on.

The idea of chains binding up our thinking was once explained to me like this: In some countries baby elephants are taken captive and  trained to believe they are weak and unable to escape their captor. As a visitor to India you will often observe a chain staked to the ground and then wrapped around the ankle of a full-grown adult elephant. The chain is used to discipline and control the elephant, training her to believe she cannot break free.  From the birth of the elephant, they periodically chain the elephant to the stake, as an infant elephant, the chain is strong enough to hold the animal in place. It is obvious that as an adult the elephant is strong enough to pull the stake out of the ground to achieve freedom. Most amazing is the fact that even when the chain is wrapped around her ankle and not staked into the ground she will remain as if restrained. How is it so that such a small chain could hold such a large elephant? As an adult elephant, the chain is not strong enough to hold the animal in place; however, because the elephant has grown accustomed to the limitation of the chain, it never tries to escape. Ironically if the adult elephant had knowledge of her power, strength and ability she could crush her captors and everything else around her. Sadly, this beautiful, powerful animal has not been given wisdom and understanding of her potential, the chain has her believe the lie that she is weak and a captive.

This example is a perfect metaphor of how, much like the chain, and often at a very young age, Satan takes us captive and we remain in bondage to lies and deception about our true worth, our true strength, and our true courage, power and beauty. Today read what God’s word says about you and start to declare the truth over your life and your circumstances and as you speak the truth you will begin to live in the light of truth.

Thank you Mici Magazine for this beautiful image; www.micimagazine.com


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Choosing to Love = Return to Joy

There are random moments throughout each day… a burst of laughter from my children, gazing out the kitchen window and looking out at the Rainbow Lorikeets dancing from branch to branch in the wattle trees, a saucepan of chai tea brewing on the stove top,… when I feel the spirit of Joy flow through the caverns of my being. It is in this moment that I am grateful for the gift of life. I have come to realise that a life without Joy is a life that never reaches its full potential, if anything, the absence of Joy from one’s life is like a fresh blossom devoid of water and sunlight. Before long the blossom soon begins to wilt and lose its vibrant colour and eventually fade and die long before it reaches the beautiful, majestic flower it was created to be.

Perhaps you are in place devoid of life, much like I was when my life was in the pit of depression, I want to encourage you, there is hope and you will return to joy!  Today if you will choose love, take your eyes off  yourself and your problems and ask God ‘who can I love today’? When you do this, your mind cannot be meditating on how bad you feel, but instead is consumed with how you can be a blessing.

This morning I awoke feeling a little flat, hormonal and emotional  😦 but, as I do every morning, I asked God to ‘show me someone who needs love today’… as I did this I felt joy begin to bubble up in my spirit. You see the happiest people in this world are not the takers no-no, the happiest people in this world are the givers! By choosing to think about giving/showing love to someone, you are harnessing the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of love and it is in this act that you increase the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, your heart starts to feel alive again and you feel a return to joy!

 Jesus’ life and death is the perfect representation of love leading to joy whereby He chose to love us by laying down His life for all mankind, He endured the cross and He returned to joy. In John 10:18 (NKJV) Jesus said of His life,

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” here He is ‘choosing’ to love for the joy that awaited Him, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

Choose today to ‘love on purpose’… and watch as the spirit of Joy apprehends you x

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
―    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Storybook called Life… Hope in Your Chapter of Sorrow

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Writing on my personal journey through the battles of life is my bridge, if you will, a bridge from my heart to yours. Throughout my posts I offer you a heart of transparency,  a heart that understands your pain, a heart that is filled with hope for you. The heartache of burying my 3 babies has, at times, caused me to doubt God and His goodness but I have come to realise that He is good and trustworthy. God didn’t give me my miracle, He has given me instead a depth of compassion and understanding which I otherwise would not have had, had things turned out differently. In some profound way God has worked all things together for my good… my life (and your’s) is His story, I choose day by day to let Him write it and rest in the hope that only faith in Him can bring.  Life is a storybook filled with chapters good and bad may I encourage you to remember, whatever you are going through at the moment it is just a chapter… this is not the whole story.  As I share each chapter of my journey with you, I do not want to compare our stories or make light of your suffering compared to mine or that of others, rather may you be swept up in the arms of hope and allow the Grace of God to carry you through your own chapter of sorrow.

Image courtesy of www.micimagazine.com

“Comparing your suffering to my suffering is not where Hope is. Hope is in the name of God, Hope is when you compare your suffering to the infinite, immeasurable love of God.”  – Nick Vujicic