Tuesday, 30 August 2016

What is Real?

Realness, authenticity, genuineness.

These are words that all hit a chord in me.  I love people being open, and, call me creepy, but I can usually detect when they're not.

I have a read a lot of articles on being real - I've talked it, heard the songs (Stain Glass Masquerade, anyone???), seen the memes, the gifs, the videos.  I have also given it a good deal of heart and head consideration and this is what I think.

Because what bothers me is how being real is different to almost every person you meet.  Yes, we are all different, but we are all also humans.  We think, we feel, we have triumphs, and we fall.  We were all made by the One God - whether we acknowledge the point or not - and one day we will all face eternal life or eternal death.  These things are true.  They are the reality of all of us.

The thing about reality is that you cannot change what was your reality.  The past is in the past.  It is set in stone.  Does that mean it controls the reality of your future?  No.  It may have influence because actions - whether your own or the actions of others - have consequences, but the only only person on earth who has control over your reality is you.  This not to say that you can control every circumstance that comes your way, and it does not mean that if you deny the bad things that happen in your life they will go away.  What it does mean is that you can control how those circumstances affect you.

To me, being real and describing your reality is so much more than what is happening in your world right now.  I think being real goes beyond what anyone can see, what you feel, and what you think about yourself.  Let me explain.

We all have struggles.  We're human.  One of mine is that I am convinced that people don't really like me that much.  Even as I type it, I smile at myself.  It is so stupid!  Right now, I don't think much of it at all, but as soon as I am around other people, I have to fight with myself in my head constantly to avoid retreating completely so that I don't annoy anyone, or so I tell myself.

 The reality of this life is that there are two kingdoms at war - two very real kingdoms, and they both want you on their side.  In order to get to your soul, they have to get to your head first, then your heart.  These two are the pathway to your soul.  The mind is an aggressive battlefield.  Whichever kingdom - the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of Darkness - that you give ground to will eventually become your reality.  This does not mean that the other kingdom ceases to exist, but that it has a weaker and weaker influence on you as you continue to give ground to the kingdom you choose.

This is not to say that if you have discouraging or deprecating thoughts, you are not a Christian any longer, but know this for certain: God will never discourage you.  So the moment thoughts of self-deprecation and discouragement to come, shut them down and tell them Who you belong to.

Reality is made of the kingdom you choose to give ground to.  Some time ago, I was hurt and offended by something someone did to me.  For quite a long time - nearly a year - I struggled with seeing that person.  I didn't want to see them.  I could hardly stand to think of them because it opened up the wound so deeply and it hurt too much.  After a long time, I was given a word from a godly minister friend of mine - who had no idea what I was struggling with - about dealing with hurt and taking my heart to Jesus to be healed.  It took time, but nearly a year on from that moment, I can confidently say I no longer hurt from that wound.  It has left a scar, and I am reminded of it when I see this person.  But I also had to make a decision concerning how I treated the person who had hurt me.  From the very start - even when I was still angry and aching so much - I decided that my hurt was something that no one outside the family needed to know about, because I needed to treat the person with the love and grace of Jesus.  This became easier as I healed and I have been able to grow and flourish beyond the pain that was inflicted.  It was not easy - it was excruciatingly hard.  I had to lecture myself in my head, 'I refuse to inflict pain like it has been given to me.  I am a Child of God, and I love others as I have been loved by Him.'  And the funny thing is, the more you tell yourself something, the firmer you hold to it, and the more you believe it.

Because of this experience, I find that love now flows from me more freely and openly than it did before.  This is not to say that I never lose my patience, never resent someone, but forgiveness comes easier now.  Because of my determination and reliance on God - sometimes only expressed through prayers of tears because words could not come for the pain - my joy and my peace abound.  In fact I have been able to determine that this whole painful period of my life has been absolutely instrumental to my growth in God, and the Fruit of the Spirit in me.  I choose to be kind and good and gentle to those around me.   I try my utmost to be patient and faithful in all I do.  Self control guides what I say and who I say it to.  All of this is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the easier it comes.

I am not claiming to be perfect, or better than anyone else.  I have struggles.  Everyday, I have struggles.  My struggles are very real.

BUT.

My God is also real.  He has done amazing things in my life and while I do have real hurts and struggles in my life, to me, my joy and peace are even more real because I have experienced the comfort and the power that occurs when I choose to operate in the fruit of the Spirit, instead of my emotions.  Emotions are so shaky and unreliable.  Love - God's love - is unfailing.  His joy is never ending, and His peace is unshakeable.  If you see me, and I look happy and confident and peaceful, it's because I am.  I might be hurting and sad inside, but the joy and peace that comes from the Holy Spirit is so much stronger than the emotions I happen to be feeling that day, so I choose to live out of His Spirit rather than how I feel.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-9:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.


I have such incredible respect for the person who comes out of a difficult time and it only comes out afterwards that they have been struggling.  Apart from a few close confidants, no body else knew.  "But you were so peaceful!  How was it you didn't tell anyone?"

They answer, "I didn't need to - God's love, joy and peace sustained me.  His Spirit comforted me.  He provided a few close people to encourage me and He encouraged me Himself."

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Funny and Awkward - Theatre Edition

Hey there!  Yep, I'm still alive - it's been a crazy couple of months and blogging (needless to say) has fallen by the way side.  Hopefully, I can pick up the pace again in the next couple of weeks.  I thought I would do a post inspired by Clare at Clare's Spot.  Her funny and awkward posts crack me up, and while mine probably won't be quite as amusing - but likely more cringe-worthy - I decided to do one.  All of these are related to rehearsals for the Wizard of Oz which opens this Friday... theatre has been a huge learning curve, and opens up lots of awkward opportunities!  XDD




When - even after nearly six months - people at rehearsal STILL can't tell you apart from you sister, and you just start answering to each other's names until those who do know you from each other correct the erroneous talker and make things even more confusing.


... And then people at rehearsal call Joy by the shortened version of her real name and you innocently wonder out loud who they are talking about because you never call her that at home...


When your choreographer is making last minute changes to your really hard dance routine, and you are getting stressed because you aren't a dancer and you don't feel well, and the room is getting hotter and hotter and so the director puts the entire rehearsal on hold because she thinks you are about to pass out... (I was getting pretty dizzy and appreciated the cold air when I was taken out side to recover, but I did hate holding up the whole rehearsal!)


When you are late getting back stage for a scene and still have to dress... you manage to get your very restraining costume on before remembering that you forgot to mic up.  You step into the mic pouch and then remember that you still have to get the headset up your dress so the cord doesn't show.  Because of the mittens on the end of the sleeves, you have to get one of the other girls to help by sticking the headset as far up your front as you can, and having her grab it from the top and pull it through.  *shakes head*  I have learned my lesson.  The headset stays on at all times.


When you are not used to wearing a four-fifths of the make up required for stage and manage to get mascara, eye liner, bright pink/red lipstick spread everywhere and on everything you touch.


... not to mention yelping every time to poke yourself in the eye with the mascara brush, and then trying not to let your eyes water up because you have only just managed to make that eye liner look half respectable.


When the directors tell the ensemble to move forward on the stage, and only a couple of people move and you suddenly find yourself in the front and blocking all the short people behind you...  *sigh*


When you have a full dress rehearsal and know that you will look awful and raw if you take all that make up off with out your regular foundation to put on afterwards so you just go down to the mall mascara, blush and all.  You aren't sure whether to smile apologetic when people give you strange looks, or just be over dramatic to add the finishing touch.


When you excuse yourself and squeeze past half a dozen people in big dresses to get to the door and almost walk out of the dressing room without the appropriate costume shoes - again.


... and your section of the dressing room is in the far back corner so you have to excuse yourself and squeeze past half a dozen people in big dresses to go and retrieve them.


When you can hear that a couple of the sopranos around you are not singing the right note, and you are unsure whether to sing the wrong note with them and be in unison, or sing the correct note and clash on the tone difference.  The struggle is real when the conductor can hear everything.

Monday, 14 March 2016

An Idea... What dost Thou Think????

I've been pretty quiet of late, I know.  I have good excuse, and that is that I simply have not had the time/brain capacity to actually sit down and write anything decent for quite some time!

For those of you who don't know, I started Bible college a few weeks ago!  It has been wonderful, and has opened my eyes to so much!!  (And I'm only just hitting week 4... nearly three whole years to go! XD)

One of the units I am currently working on uses a book by J. Daniel Hays and J. Scott Duvall called Grasping God's Word.   If you have access to this book at any stage I would very highly recommend it... I will happily lend it out to anyone who wants to borrow it, but I need it for another 8-9 weeks yet, so you'll have to wait until after that.  ;)

Grasping God's Word basically out lines how to read the Bible.  And I mean really read it.  How to get yourself right into the text - the words, the sentences, the paragraphs, and so on - so that all we are left with is what God wrote to us - His meaning and message for us.  We skim read the Bible so easily and leave with skim understanding.  The Word of God is so deep, and we miss it by having a set amount of chapters to read each day and moving on when at first we don't understand something.  To meditate means to chew on, look closer, think about, chew on, look closer, think about, chew on, look closer, think about...

Anyway, I had an idea.  I thought I might do a study on a particular book and stick on that book for a set amount of time and dig as far down as I can and see what God says through that book.

Unless God directs me otherwise, I think I will be doing a twelve week study on the book of Ephesians.  And I thought others might like to do it with me.

So here's the idea.  Let me know if you are interested in studying Ephesians with me.  If we get a few who are keen (feel free to pass this on to those you think would be interested too!) I will set up a private blog (with a password) where I will post what to do in a week (so that we are all on the same page, so to speak) and then everyone can post his/her observations and learnings as we go.  We will learn from each other, grow, find new things in the Word that we never saw before...

Please leave a comment here on this page letting me know what you think.  If you have questions or anything like that, message me, or ask here... spread it around and get other people in.  I'm keen to see what you all think!  ^_^

Monday, 22 February 2016

Learning...

I learned an important lesson tonight... when God tells you to do something, go and do it.

You can kick and scream on the inside, but that won't change His mind - He's calling you.  Get up and go.

You can offer yourself and God all the excuses in the world, but just like Moses, the calling won't change.

In Esther, Mordecai tells his young cousin the queen, that if she does not do what she has been called to do, God would deliver His people by some other means, but she and her father's house would be wiped out.

God's plan never fails.

I repeat that - God's plan never fails.  What He wants said will be said.  What He wants done will be done, no matter the means.  The one who misses out is the one who said no.

Tonight at church, I was supposed to pray and prophesy for the youth of the town.  I had the word on my heart, and my spirit was burning, but I held back, too nervous.


For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)


How I wish I had obeyed straight away!  I am sometimes so afraid of not having the right words, or being 'up the front', that I miss the opportunities.  I know without a doubt that I had been given the word that needed to be said because not long after this, someone else stepped up and said exactly what I had on my heart.  And after the service, my pastor came and gently told me that I had been supposed to pray.  It was nothing we had pre-arranged - it was God telling her and me that I had a job to do.

God's word still went forth as He intended.  I was the one who missed out.  

As I said, I learned an important lesson: don't fail to do good.  Listen to the voice of God and act on what He says.  Don't be left with the 'what-if's.  Pray that your trust will grow.  Lean into and on Him, because He won't fail you.  Don't be the one to miss out.  <3

Monday, 25 January 2016

Gratitude Tag

I was tagged by +Clare Farrelly from Clare's Spot to do the Gratitude Tag.  I like this one - no rules, and a worthwhile object.  ;)  So thankyou, Clare for tagging me, and here it goes!

1. What is your favourite quote or verse that reminds you to be grateful? 

The verse that jumped to mind was Colossians 3:15.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.   
The other verse is Psalm 150:4.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 


2. Who are you grateful for?

I am really thankful for everyone in my life - for my parents and siblings; for all my friends; for the people who I serve with; for the people in my church; for my pastor; for the people at band... the list goes on and on really - I am so blessed with the people in my world!


3. What life events are you grateful for?

I am very thankful that my parents decided to homeschool me and the Sibs (that's our nickname for the eight of us collectively.  XD)  I know that the lifestyle we adopted has shaped me to be who I am today and it's something I hope to pass onto my own children one day.

I am also extremely grateful - more than words - for more recent events in my life in which God has called me closer to Himself and called me to ministry.  It still amazes me that He would want me... it's been an exercise of trust, but I hope that I can portray His love and freedom to others throughout my life.


4. What is something you are grateful for but often times don’t think about?

Food.  Where would we be without it???  Oh and air - and a good home and education.  We really take a lot of things for granted, don't we?  Clean water and coffee are a couple of other things.  :)


5. What are you going to do to show people your gratitude towards them?

Does anyone else find this question a little odd??  Maybe it's just me... I guess I'll keep serving them, and serving God.  Also my two top love languages are quality time and receiving gifts, so I often use those to love others as I assume they'll appreciate it as much as I would.  XDD



I'm going to tag +Jessica Dempster  and +Joy C.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Time to Stop Waiting

I have always imagined what it will be like on my wedding day: how I will feel, how Mum and Dad will cry bitter-sweet tears with me, how I will take a new name.   Thanks to Pinterest, I have most of the details planned as well - my dress, the bridesmaids, the decorations, the photo shoot.  

Then there is my life after the wedding... enjoying sweet time with my husband as newly weds; making the precious discovery that we are expecting a baby (twins... maybe...??); meeting our little one for the fist time; building a house for our family; raising the children - many of them! - at home and instilling the Word of God into them; watching them grow up and follow their vocation in life...

The list goes on.

I have other lists as well.  Lists of baby names, lists (and maps) and what I would want in a dream home, lists of countries Australia can adopt from; lists of qualities I would want in a man...

Because you see, none of those dreams are possible without one important person.  I have spent literally hours of life, starting from when I was very young, daydreaming about spending the rest of my life with a special man, but I don't even know if I've met him yet.

I've done what I'm sure every young girl has done at some point.  We call it 'watching'.  We are good at 'watching... especially in church. We are indeed watching - like a hawk.  Does he bow his head to pray, or is he distracted by the noises around him?  Does he like children?  Is he good with children?  Is he involved in a ministry?

Yes, I've done the watching thing.  I am often impressed by what I see in some of the young men, and I start wishing that someone would take notice of me... and maybe ask me out...???

Nope.  Not yet.  So I wait some more, hoping all the time, that someone would come and just show a little bit of interest in me.

This has pretty much been my story for the last couple of years.  Waiting, hoping, waiting, hoping, waiting...

Seeing friends find someone special... and waiting... waiting...

Then God stepped in.  I guess I always assumed that my gifts of nurturing and interacting with children, etc. was just a shoo-in for being a wife and mother, and that God would pick me early seeing as I had all the right skills on the resume.

A few months ago I had a major revelation.  Ready for this???

I was called to wait on God, not wait for a husband.

I know, it seems obvious and I knew it in my head but revelation is something that strikes the heart.  This fell into my heart so strongly, so gently, that I knew it was from God and I started pursuing Him more than I ever have before.

But I still dreamed.  The watching game reduced in intensity, and I grew very content with my stage of life.  Still keen to meet Mr. Perfect (whoever that is!) and live happily ever after, but at peace.

Then God called me into ministry.  I said yes, and my dreams shifted to doing field placements... for about five minutes, and then people started asking me where my studies in ministry would take me.  I answer honestly.  "I don't know, I just know it's the next step for me."

Well, that opens a whole new smorgasbord of daydream opportunities.  In every position I tried to imagine out, though, I could only see myself supported by and supporting a husband.  And the old familiar longing began to rise again.

Than God made it very clear.  He said, It's time to stop waiting.

It's time to stop waiting.

I don't believe this is God telling me to go and initiate a relationship or anything like that - if He does, I'll do it - but rather a reminder that the more time I spend dreaming and longing for something outside of His timing, the less effective I am for Kingdom purposes.  How can I study ministry properly when I am worried about who will minister along side of me?

I still think marriage in my my story somewhere - but not yet.  Can I bargain with God, who gave me my life and talents, as to how and when I will use them?  Perhaps there is a season where I am more effective for the Kingdom when it is just me and Jesus.  Maybe I am wrong, and God plans for it to be me and Jesus for the rest of my life.  That's fine too.  Finding peace in doing the will of God and walking in His ways is far worth the sacrifices faced along the way.  <3

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Recipe: Salted Caramel Popcorn

This afternoon, I made a treat for the kiddies's after-rest-time snack... it was really yummy!  Mum really liked it too, so I thought I would share the recipe.  The first version is the original recipe - the second is my sugar free alternative (although when I say 'sugar-free' it's really fructose-free).  Hope you enjoy!


Salted Caramel Popcorn

1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Pop the corn (we have an air popper for this, but it's easy enough to do in a pan at home... or buy a packet of unflavoured pre-popped corn!)  Put the butter, sugar and honey in a small saucepan and simmer until the mixture starts to change colour.  (For heaven's sake, don't burn it - it really stinks!  XD)  Pour the caramel over the popcorn and USE SPOONS to make sure the popcorn is properly coated.  Spread it all out in a lined roasting pan and sprinkle with salt to your taste.  Chill and serve.



Salted Caramel Popcorn (sugar-free version)

1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dextrose
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup

Note: You can buy rice malt syrup at Woolworths, and dextrose in the home brewer's section of Big W.  :)

Pop the corn (we have an air popper for this, but it's easy enough to do in a pan at home... or buy a packet of unflavoured pre-popped corn!)  Put the butter dextrose and syrup in a small pan and simmer until the mixture starts to change colour.  (For heaven's sake, don't burn it - it really stinks!  XD)  Pour the caramel over the popcorn and USE SPOONS to make sure the popcorn is properly coated.  Spread it all out in a lined roasting pan and sprinkle with salt to your taste.  Chill and serve.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A New Hobby

Recently, I was struck by the fact that when we recite something we know really well, we often don't take in the meaning behind what we are actually saying or singing.  I noticed this particularly when singing hymns.  The men and women who wrote these hymns had such an incredible revelation of who God was, and they wrote those revelations into poetry which was then set to music.  Many of these hymns are well known today, but not well understood, I think.

While I was thinking about this, I also thought about how, often when something familiar is put in different words, it takes on a new meaning because you see it in a different light.  So, I have a new hobby.  ;)  I have started writing hymns in prose and I have to say, it has amazed me.  I thought I would post one of them... I hope it blesses you too!




Oh God, my King!  When I think about the mini-worlds – the sea, the earth, and the sky – that You made with Your hands, I am filled with indescribable amazement and wonder.  I go outside at night and look up into the sky at all the tinkling stars.  They remind me of how powerful You are.  When a storm comes, I listen to the thunder roll across the dark clouds.  It reminds me of Your power too.  Everything in creation reflects Your strength and power.
From the deepest part of me, my heart begins to sing to You.  My God, You rescued me and You are so very wonderful and great!
Then I think about how God gave His only Son to us.  He didn’t hold back.  He gave everything willingly.  Yes, God gave His only Son, Jesus, to die for us.  It is such a big thought – such a loving gift from a wonderful God – that I can hardly understand it.  When Jesus dies on the cross, He gladly took my heavy bundle of sin away from me and took it Himself so that I don’t have to carry it anymore.  I can be free and clean forever!
From the deepest part of me, my heart begins to sing to You.  My God, You rescued me and You are so very marvellous and great!  

Jesus is going to come back one day, and there will be a great loud shout of welcoming gladness.  He will take us to heaven to live with Him forever and ever.  That will make me very happy!  Jesus is so magnificent that I will kneel at His feet in love and worship.  Oh God – how very great You are!
From the deepest part of me, my heart begins to sing to You.  My God, You rescued me and You are so very awesome and great!
Yes, my heart continues to sing to You.
You are wonderful.
You are marvellous.
You are awesome.
My God, You rescued me, and You are very, very, very great!