hann and AB dec 14

HI Friends,

Now I know you can see my tummy in this shot, but what I wanted to highlight were those little hands reaching up on the Pastor I call Husband. You see we are pretty organic around here and often have it all a little chaotic as we minister due to having three beautiful, but energetic children. So today as I speak out my first podcast, I ask for your grace as its ‘homey’ but I don’t want the striving for perfection to hinder me from blessing you! So welcome to my kitchen and my crazy home! Press the link and I pray that God meets you right…now!

Increase Your Territory

Bless Bless Bless YOU!

Hann

Love begins with humility

He got invited over for a play date yesterday. It’s the seventh time a family has opened their door and hearts to him-ever. The last time was in Canada with friends who saw his disability and loved him regardless- didn’t shy away from his difference, but embraced it and learnt from a little boy of few words.

They, like my mate yesterday, who told me “that its fine and everything will be okay,” understood that he doesn’t speak very well and still wears diapers, and yes, there was the potential of them needing to change him, but they were willing to roll up their sleeves and serve. To get their hands dirty and love beyond themselves.

Vaughan
And isn’t that what it takes to love someone?

The willingness to act with humility and go to the places which require us to surrender our desires, to think of our self less, in order to put another person first.

To open the eyes of our heart and see, really see, and make the decision to act upon that need.

To die to self, which requires sacrifice and willingness so another is elevated and esteemed.

It begins with choice, but everything begins with choice…

The choice to see,

The choice to act,

The choice to serve,

Yet most of us are too busy, depleted, and feeling hard done by, complaining about the stress of our own life and what we don’t have, instead of being grateful for what we do.

This in turn hardens our heart and forces us to strive, strive to fill our own cups, abandoning the very thing that Christ told us to do…love one another.

Agape.

Oh it’s not for the fainthearted, or for those of us wanting to live a life of convenience.

No loving others is inconvenient and difficult and requires sacrifice, which is why there’s so many of us who don’t love, we just ‘like’ well.

You see, the Holy Spirit prompts, swirls in the hearts of the willing and quietly whispers for action to take place.

And when we understand that this life isn’t about us anyway, that we are passing through, then we know that stepping out for another should actually be the way of living a normal life.

For Christ, he came not to be served, but to serve, and if Jesus can get his hands dirty and fill his nails with grime then why in the world can’t we?

We are talking about Jesus, the man who displayed the ultimate humility which drove him to death.

To the place where he took his life for you, for me, for us.

So why do we find it hard to express humility?

For loving others begins with humility.

The type of humility where serving is a cost, not a facebook status or instagram photo promoting ourselves.

Are we too proud?

Too busy?

Too blinded?

Or do we live in selfish decisions because actually rolling up our sleeves, is all too hard work and costly.

We have agendas to fulfill and ladders to climb.

What if climbing the ladder actually meant coming down a rung?

That lowly meant you’re living successfully.

The life where people from the outside who are looking in, scratch their heads and look puzzled because of the way we are living.

The counter cultural life, fighting against culture relentlessly, making the small change in the very place that God has strategically placed us.

Friends, everyday opportunities come before us to love others, truly love others well, the questions is…

Will you?

Responding to Adversity

 

She wore it like a tattoo, a reminder, a mantra.

On the top of each hand she wrote-

Be the light.

Be the church.

Six words which stirred my heart, as she was about to be bold and brave in a time of adversity.

My eight year old had written in black pen, two deeply profound, yet simple statements to give her strength for the day.For she knew that remembering God in the midst of chaos, calms any storms, calms any raging heart when its wild with anxiety and being flooded with emotion.

For remembering His promises and His ways, brings a silent peace, stillness, a centeredness, that only comes when meditating on His truth.

For His goodness, realigns our mind when thoughts have spiraled out of control, bringing turmoil and angst to a standstill.

His peace stops our crazy world from spinning into chaos, the type of chaos that leaves us trying to find something, anything to grip on to. Old habits, people, money, career, our children, for these things seem tangible, but a servant girl who whispers to God in time of need, knows that she is not ignored and His presence is felt gently and powerfully.

Yes, the Father leans in, and provides something that this world cannot.

And she knew that she needed a visual reminder that caught her eyes so her thoughts turned to Christ so she could look different to this world, to stand out, to be the light-even when her enemies struck.

The previous day, she had wandered across the school yard towards the gate to where I was standing. She was carrying her backpack and wearing her blue brimmed hat like all the other children, and as I gazed upon her from a distance, I could see that her face was downcast and her shoulders were slightly hunched. Something had made her upset.

She launched into my arms as we greeted, and wrapped her long, lean, eight year arms around my body. She needed a safe a place, a protector, for her heart had been wounded. Her body shook and I could hear her sobbing, feel it with every breath she took.

After a moment I pulled back and looked into blue watery eyes and saw her tear stained cheeks, which broke my mama’s heart.

She had learnt that the world can be cruel at times, because of the people who live in it.

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charli blog 28-2charli 28-3

 

Yet the very next day, when I drove her to school, she said she wasn’t scared of the girls because she had been “Thinking about God that morning and now feels better.”

I’m sure there was a part of her that wanted to stay in bed, and not face the reality of other people’s feelings towards her, which isn’t reality at all, as if she retracted like I know I would have wanted to do, then she wouldn’t be learning the skills or tools to handle conflict which can follow us into womanhood, as even grown women can be cruel to one another -not just grade three girls.

So instead of focusing on fear or the feeling of abandonment, she focused on Him.

Her eyes stayed on Jesus.

And isn’t that when the miracles occur?

The types of miracles, that saw Peter walk on water,

Or the miracle of being renewed and filled up with hope, after we’ve encountered hopelessness,

Or to have our battered and bruised hearts healed,

Nothing is impossible when our eyes stay locked on Jesus.

Not even the miracle of being light in the dark place when faced with adversity.

For this world is screaming out for someone, please someone be…different.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples — not if you label one another, but if you love one another.” (John 13:35).

Go on servant girl, be the miracle that this world is looking for, and allow Him, our amazing God, to use you in the very place you find your self today.

Recurring Injuries

I knew the cry, I had heard it before. I saw the expression on his face and felt a wave of shame flow over me like a dead weight. Mama’s guilt loomed and embarrassment reared its head. I scooped his weeping body off the floor, whispered words of comfort, called his older sister for help and felt my hands begin to shake. My cell phone rang, I wanted to cry when I heard her voice on the other end, but knew this was the time to keep it together- Sunny had broken his collar-bone for the third time. Three bones in three months and I felt a knot in my stomach as I dealt with the situation.

My girlfriend Clarissa, who I had spoken to earlier on the phone, heard my cry for help and arrived. “I have to take him to the hospital, but what will people think?” I asked with my chin shaking and my eyes beginning to water. She talked me through the process with logic. I gathered my emotions and my little boy and drove to the Emergency Room.

The hours passed and I began to find my assertion, I spoke to the Doctor who had a relaxed expression on his face “Boys will be Boys” he said with concern but also with an understanding that children break bones. I pushed back and suggested strongly that I see a Specialist for further assessments of his bones. The appointment has been made.

The pain of this recurring injury is something Sunny is getting used to. He knows how to handle his discomfort as his pain threshold is higher. He understood the process of Doctors, X-rays and slings. He knows how to nurse his recurring injury, even if it is in a child like manner.

How many of us have recurring injuries?

Hairline fractures creating excruciating pain in our heart because we walk back into circumstances, habits or relationships which are unhealthy. This breeds toxins internally which infect and poison our soul-the results are always detrimental for our life.

No one has ever moved forward whilst looking back, for our future is ahead not in our past.

forward

The enemy knows our weaknesses and will strike at any chance given. He prowls around waiting to consume our most vulnerable areas so he can diminish and destroy us. He will work with destructive measures to ensure we are taken off God’s team and placed on his.

His tactics pre meditated, he lures us, hoping to be effective so our old wounds will hold us back. He works at keeping us injured which will be the a catalyst for distraction.

When we give into the enemy by entering into his schemes, then our focus and attention is swayed from focusing on God’s will to the will of the enemy’s, this in-turn inflates his control on our life.

The more destructive our self focus is, the more consuming it will be. Our energy is then channeled into who we are not, rather than who we actually are in Jesus.

Which is why we must fight with our swords as Servant Girls. Using Gods promises fluently to fight off lies and the tactics of Satan.

“For though we walk in flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

We have a spiritual war that we will win when fighting with the power of Christ. Our injuries can become scars telling a story of how we fought against the enemy, resulting in him losing, and us winning!

A Letter to Nins. My first foster daughter

Dear Nins,

The Pastor I call Husband told me over dinner last night in his gentle way, that you are now in foster care. In the system which I know you are so used to these days. His words, this information, grabbed my heart and I can’t tell you the depth of sadness I feel as I reflect upon this news.

You came to us through a respite program at just 18 months of age. I’ll never forget meeting you for the first time in a little coffee shop by the seaside. We talked to your mama who I know loves you deeply, we asked each other questions and that drew the formalities to a close. You were to spend every other weekend with us. Oh we bent the rules just a little, ok a lot, as your mama was finding it tough but still giving her best.

So you came to us and lived in our home for chunks of time and I loved being with you – I can still smell your hair and feel you cuddled up on my knee. You found your way into our hearts and the hearts of those in our family -love took over.

nin

Gifts with your name on it, sitting under the family Christmas tree given by Clayton Uncles and Aunties. My mama, she bought you your first bike. You sat in photos in my mother in-laws living room with all her other grandchildren my girl, my sweet Nin. – you introduced me to motherhood and taught me what is to love a little child. Thank you.

The time passed and you grew, your mama started to find her feet. A man who seemed to give her stability and you love, entered your world. We tracked with you guys for a few years to be sure that you were going to be ok. The afternoon ‘pick ups’ from Kindergarten started to become more infrequent, the sleepovers weaned for both of us and I knew that the season was coming to a close. It was positive as things in your home were better and that brought Uncle Andrew and I joy.

The agency that brought us together, and I, discussed your new-found position in life and it was time to withdraw, to close the chapter. Red tape and politics would have it, that we were to be in contact no longer – I needed to honor the rules, Nin. There were times, many times that I wanted to knock on your door but a woman must have integrity even when others are not looking.

So here we are, many years later, you now a teenage girl with a story, removed from your mammas care and in a home that is not your own and me wishing it was mine.

So a woman who is in need of a miracle which seems impossible, starts by praying to her Father who makes all things possible.

Do you remember sweet heart, in those quiet moments when you’re laying in your unfamiliar bed that you are not alone? During turmoil and the confusion, you can cling to Gods peace that is promised for every situation-your situation.

To Him you’re not just a name on a pile of paper being pushed through the court system, or a file with an identification number stamped on it, or the girl who has been assigned a case worker to introduce you to your new family.

No darling, you are apart of a love story where a Man saw pain which separated you and I from Him and left the heavens to rectify it. You have been sculpted from nothing into something-fashioned with purpose by the Creator himself. You’re breathtaking – marvelously made both body and soul.

Don’t go looking for that affirmation from this world. -It will offer you many things, promising to satisfy a thirst, but I promise my girl, it will only leave you dehydrated and turning to different places to drink from.

Go sweetheart, to the fountain of life, to our God who is never-changing in this ever-changing world. Cling to Him and drink.

“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Go on Nin, take a sip…

Reflection

The Pastor I call Husband had one of his greatest mentors in life pass away this week. It was a rainy Monday afternoon as we traveled across Sydney to a service which gave thanks to a man who gave his life whole heartedly to Christ. The little Brethren church which we entered into for the memorial service is where I met my husband known as ‘AB-the Youth Pastor’ sixteen years ago.
I walked into the familiar kitchen to see my faithful, servant hearted mother in-law with her apron on, piling cakes and treats onto plates for the wake. She’s been working that kitchen with the same women for decades.

A man with a cheeky smile who was my husband’s ‘best friend’ through childhood sees us and punches AB’s arm playfully and then whispers something quietly – they both laugh and looked like two young school boys about to get themselves into trouble. I can’t help but smile-imagining them as young adolescent men, doing things that created the same expression on their faces as they conjured up ideas to bring innocent havoc around them.

I looked around and see people who poured time into me in my early days of faith scattered around the building, finding their seats as they wait for the service to begin. My heart gave thanks for all of them, for their time and effort began to shape and mold this Servant Girl.

It was apparent that ‘Dick Beck’ the man who is now with Jesus, chose the tough road to serve God. I have never walked away from a funeral with inspiration that wants to propel itself into action-action for Christ.

He was 81 years old when he slipped into eternity. I looked at his photo on the screen which was at the front of the church. The dates of birth and death scrolled under his smiling face.

I couldn’t help but think that this life is so fleeting. We pass through earth ever so swiftly – today and yesterday is vanished before we know it, leaving the years full of memories.

Do you ever ponder about the past and live with regret?

Regret that you didn’t take an opportunity to bring God’s kingdom to earth because you lacked courage or didn’t prioritize your time and energy?

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Days, months and years slipping by and that dream you have, hasn’t taken shape because other desires become higher on the list taking priority. “Oh we will get to it, just not today” we say to our self.

Yet our today’s become a blur because they roll into one another. Our short sightedness preventing us from seeing the eternal needs that God is waiting patiently for us to pursue.

We hide behind our excuses which are valid and easily justified; University degrees, mortgages, children, traveling, climbing the corporate ladder…

Our eyes start to turn inward focusing on things that we feel we need to chase or are strongly encouraged by others around us to achieve –their influence dominating our decision process and we forgetting our purpose.

Do you know how many times people have voiced their opinion about my husband and I being in full-time ministry and us not earning enough money? Or why I’d write Ashes to Beauty each week with no money in return?

Yet I am a simple girl, if God speaks then I must act-even though I don’t understand. I still don’t understand my writing but I know I live in obedience and that’s all I want in life.

Crazy, radical, ‘I have one life to live’ obedience.

Where do you need to live racially for Christ?

The place that doesn’t quite make sense, but you know deep in your heart that He is requiring you to do so?

Think bigger, think bigger so He can step in.

We have to be in a place of action for our faith to grow and mature.

The dream that has been placed in your heart for the Kingdom is a gift given from God himself. He creates desire and inspiration, our part is being motivated to pursue it.

Servant Girls, we have one life to live, do not shortchange yourself from being all you can be because you lack courage.

There’s an old saying; “God needs brave girls for his Kingdom.”

MY PRAYER FOR YOU-
Servant Girl, I pray that you learn more and more about how God works, so you can do your work. I pray that you have the strength to stick out your God given convictions with a glory strength that He provides – for it is strength that endures the unendurable. May your determination be a spout for joy-joy that spills over creating a place for praise and thanksgiving to the Father who makes us strong enough, to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for you today and always.
Amen.

EXTRA FOOD
http://threerivers.org.au/media/messages