Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I Am Thine, O Lord (Draw Me Nearer)

The melody of this hymn has been rolling around inside of my heart and soul for the past several days.  That's the power of hymns that I have grown up with; that they still resonate deep within my spirit just like God's word.  When we hide God's word or music deep inside our hearts, it comes bubbling up to the surface to remind us of the truth that we might be in need of on a particular day or it may just be Holy Spirit ministering to us.

Life gets so busy sometimes and when we want to take time out to relax we find ourselves in front of the television which I know that I, too, find myself doing at times and then regret that the time has been lost and I could have spent it doing something much more relaxing and more profitable.  But God is so gracious in that He offers His grace to forgive us when we do not spend the time with Him that He longs for.  This hymn, which is entitled "I Am Thine, O Lord", actually has four verses, but this musical group "Commissioned" only sing versus one and two.  In verse three the words are:

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend.

We know that in order to have a healthy relationship, it is necessary to invest time into that person and so it is the same with our Heavenly Father whom I like to refer to as my Abba Daddy.

I miss that hymns are not regularly used in worship like they were back in the day and I had actually forgotten the name of this hymn but thankfully as I remembered the lyrics from the chorus, Google helped me find my way because my hymnal index was not because the hymn is not actually entitled 'Draw Me Nearer'.

The words of the chorus are beautiful but at the same time messy and even confronting because I do not know about you but when I think of Jesus on the cross and bleeding, I do not actually picture that as beautiful but nevertheless, the writer of this song chose the words "Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To Thy precious bleeding side."  Perhaps to challenge us to create an image in our mind for ourselves; to help us envision how much Jesus really loves us.

I enjoy writing but even as I start to write my mind wanders and thinks of other topics that relate to this one.  For example, it is not unusual to see some form of violence, blood and destruction in the television shows and movies on offer today and perhaps we do not think it is normal, but I believe we have come to expect it as normal.

Now back to the hymn and verse three I referenced earlier.  The verse speaks about having quality time, communing with a friend; that friend being Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.  Then the chorus has us see Jesus on the cross.  Jesus had been beaten, verbally abused, scarred, bleeding and the Bible says unrecognisable to those that knew Him.   A wee bit different than what most crucifix's I have seen either hanging around someone's neck or on a church or hospital wall.  I believe that it makes us uncomfortable to think of Jesus on the cross and picturing in our mind what that actually looked like.  I remember when Mel Gibson released the movie "The Passion Of The Christ" that showed the final twelve hours of Jesus's life, on the day of His crucifixion.  I personally wanted to go and see the film in the theatre when I had the opportunity to take a public stand for my faith even if it made me uncomfortable.

It is at times when I am going through a trial or a challenge that I believe remembering Jesus Christ on the cross and the horrific pain that He endured on my behalf because of His amazing love for me that helps me to take heart, have courage and depend on Him because I know that Jesus has overcome the world.

Going back to the YouTube clip of this group Commissioned of the song "I Am Thine, O Lord", I am a big fan of harmonies  and these guys do an outstanding job with the chorus.  The group adds their own signature to the melody of the verses which fits for their style.  I had tinkered a bit with this hymn at the piano and found this group's arrangement and closed my eyes and let the beauty of the harmonies wash over me like a blanket that warms me when I feel cold.

The next time you are feeling weary, where will you go to receive strength and comfort?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Learned A New Word, No Two Actually

Hold Space.  A friend of mine shared an article recently which talked about 'hold space' and I had never heard the term until then.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself as the author, Heather Plett explains it really well.  No point reinventing the wheel, right?

I have both been on the receiving end and the giving end of "hold space" and it is a real privilege to both receive and give.

Heather Plett addresses what my siblings and I did for our Mom a couple of years ago; although some days it feels like it was just yesterday.  It was a honour to provide care for my Mom as cancer was robbing her of energy and she sometimes did not have the strength to do even the simplest of tasks or when she did and she wanted to just remain independent a little while longer, she was wiped out for a long while after.

These are Heather's words from her post - I believe she articulates what it means really well:

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

On the surface it may sound easy, but far from it because the tendency is you want to fix it and take all the hard stuff away from the person so you can save the person from the trouble they may otherwise have to go through.

To 'hold space' for me means being there to support the person, being sensitive to the person's dignity and having open conversations so you understand as best as you can when you need to offer help despite what the person may think they want or need at the time.  Yeah, it was hard sometimes letting my Mom do some things when I knew she would be really tired after but Mom chose life even in her dying days.  She was an incredible woman, my Mom.  It was even scary sometimes when I felt out of my depth and that is why I am incredibly thankful for those who were there to 'hold space' for me during this time.

Those special people have continued to 'hold space' for me since that time, too.  I would be lost without them, too.  They are my 'Jesus with skin on' people.  There are far too many to list them all, but in the days, weeks, months and now two years since Mom's death, I have been supported by many who continue to 'hold space' for me.

Which leads me to how I went to bed last night - with a heart full of gratitude.  Yep, that's right.  Despite all that the last couple of years has brought - grief and loss, and more grief and loss and yet more grief and loss and then my own scare with possible breast cancer (but I will save that for another blog post) and more grief and loss and a few falls and one a bit more scary which required a hospital visit (check out the link here if you perhaps are not on Facebook or just missed it) and then more recently being there to 'hold space' for my sick and dying fur baby Jessie who was my baby because I am childless not by choice and all of this in the midst of bureaucracy and weeks of insomnia, I am grateful for so many things.

I could start a list and I will name a few - my loving and incredibly supportive husband Peter, a wonderful step-daughter Chase and her thoughtful boyfriend Dale, Jessie's surviving fur brother Jake who displays unconditional love (I think it is interesting that dog spelled backwards is God - a wonderful analogy of my Heavenly Father's love), my wonderful parents Bev and John Tough and I could go on and on and on.

There are a couple of blogs that I follow and Rory Feek's blog This Life I Live is one of them.  I have referred to Joey and Rory in my previous blogs and their family Heidi, Hopie and Indy.  Their story is a sad one, but Rory stated in his most recent post called Three Mothers 'I try to mostly write stories that are positive and filled with hope.'  Rory acknowledges that there is sadness and pain in our lives and it hurts and he openly shares his feelings and cries, too; but he wants to share that there is a message of hope, too.  This so resonates with me and that is exactly what I shared with my counsellor - yeah, life has been hard, but because of that, my testimony shines perhaps a little brighter.  I feel it.  Some days are still hard; I am still engaged in battle on a couple of fronts; but I have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which are those who 'hold space' for me.

Let me finish with this question for you all......what are you thankful for, this Mothers Day, Sunday, 14th of May in the year of 2017? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fond Memories of Jessie Our Furbaby Forever In Our Hearts

I will inevitably write more about our beautiful fur baby Jessie in the coming days and weeks, but here is a short paragraph below and a video that I created to remember her by.

As stated below, thanks to Bec and Steven Elphick and to Dr Mike Hinds from Centenary Vet Surgery and his great team.

Monday, March 20, 2017

An All Nighter

The sun is just beyond the horizon and the sky is starting to lighten up; I can see pinks in the midst of the cloudy sky.  That's right - a cloudy sky in the Sunshine State of Queensland on this, the 20th day of March, the start of our Autumn.

It was not my plan to pull an all nighter, but my insomnia had other ideas and I have been resistant to seek the assistance of artificial means, but alas, last night was the icing on the cake for me, so to speak.  I will take myself to the chemist today and get my script filled for the medicine the doctor prescribed for me some weeks ago now.

My first bout of insomnia back in January earlier this year did not last as long and whilst it was very frustrating, this round has beat it by far and last night, well, as I already mentioned, it was the worst and yeah, I have pulled an all nighter.  I cannot remember pulling an all nighter for a long, long time.  I am sure there were more recent times, but one memory that comes to mind was during my college days when I stayed over at a friend's who had moved into her own apartment and it was all fresh and new and exciting.  Yeah, we had the stamina for it back then and we went to school the next day, too.

Fortunately today I do not have to go to school or to work; but I will take a trip to the chemist as I already mentioned.  The past few weeks have proven interesting to say the least.  If you had the chance to read my blog post called "Elephants....Any In Your Room", or more specifically the video included within the blog post, you would be aware that I resigned from my job just before Christmas 2016.  My husband Peter and I decided my health was more important, so I have been recuperating at home to regain my mental wellness after what has been a very difficult couple of years.

In the course of my recovery I am doing a bit of reading and some writing (although not as much as I would like yet) and self discovery of what my next chapter(s) might look like; to dig deep and find what dreams I may have buried and one of the tools I am using is Wednesday's with Wendy.  I am very thankful for my incredibly supportive husband Peter and for friends, family and my life group from church who continue to offer love, prayers and encouragement along the way.

Along the journey of self discovery comes questions and reflection and I believe this is contributing to my insomnia.  I will not deny that some days are hard and challenging because there are other things happening, too, which I hope to be able to share with you soon, but I press on and I will keep pressing on until I find the answers.

Peter and I watched the movie "Miracles From Heaven" yesterday; yes, we watched it at the theatre when it was first released, but it was such a good 'true' story to see again and I am sure we will many more times in the future, too.  If you are like me, you might remember bits and pieces of a good movie or book or sermon, but there is value in reviewing what you watched, read or heard to help solidify the information or lesson.

Personally I find reviewing those valuable morsels of truth invaluable because sometimes the chapters we are going through feel like they are an all nighter, but the good news is, morning is coming!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Father’s Heart

Have you ever stopped to think about just how much you are loved?

For me, I grew up knowing the love of a Mom and Dad and Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles and Sisters and Brother; well, I had better stop there because if I keep going and I sure could, there is a strong probability that I will leave someone out and I do not intend this to be an exclusive statement.

However, I know that there are so many who do not have this experience and I am not going to start to develop a list of examples - we all know of someone and the purpose of my writing today is not to bring more pain; goodness knows there is enough of that in the world.

Wow - I just had a flashback to the 80’s and a couple of Sandi Patty songs; Shepherd of My Heart and In Heaven’s Eyes.  Yeah, I was a huge fan and still am but let me remind you of some of the lyrics from Heaven’s Eyes.

In heaven's eyes, there are no losers, in heaven's eyes no hopeless cause
There's only people like you, with feelings like me; amazed by the grace we can find
In heaven's eyes.

Beautiful song and even more powerful message - the message of grace.  God’s grace.

You see life happens and sometimes even those who love us the most will withhold that love from us because they get angry at us or are unable to forgive us for something that may have happened a long time ago.  Perhaps we are the ones who struggle to give the love to someone close to us because of hurtful things that have been spoken to us or we have been wounded by actions towards us or even the action of exclusion.

Personally, this has been my experience on both sides of the fence and because we are people who have been given free-will, we try to do our best but do not always get our choices right the first time and this is when I am reminded of the power of grace.

That is the Father’s Heart for us, His Kids - His Grace, His Love.

The past couple of days my emotions have been very close to the surface for different reasons.  We all handle our feelings differently, but for me, I am a crier.  Sometimes I try to work out my feelings another way (even journalling), but inevitably, the tears come.  Yesterday they came while I was standing over our kitchen sink washing dishes and I just let them fall and I talked and prayed to God in the process.  My heart has felt a bit beaten up recently over different things and I talked to God about them.  No, I do not have all the answers, but I let God hold my aching heart.  Aching for my friend who lost her little boy too early, aching to talk to Mom just one more time, aching for broken relationships, aching for precious little Indy who just turned 3 and lost her Mom almost a year ago to Cancer, aching for injustice and a whole lot more and then it occurred to me.  God has gifted me with an incredible gift.  God has given me the capacity to love just a little like He does and what a privilege that is.  I am blessed with the opportunity of a tiny glimpse into how much our Abba Daddy hurts for us, His kids and loves us so much.  He wants to carry the weight of our burdens on His shoulders and He offers us Grace.

Whilst I can only begin to imagine on a very small scale the capacity of love that our Heavenly Father has for us, His Kids, I am so thankful to also experience His love and I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Elephants....Any In Your Room?

I recorded this video last week but due to technical difficulties, I could not upload to YouTube; well, initially anyways.  Perseverance pays off.  Not actually sure what the issue was, but I have made notes for future reference in case it happens again.

We are bombarded with so much information these days I try to keep good notes for training, learning and reflection purposes.  How about you?  Is this something you find useful for your personal growth?

I am getting off topic a wee bit from my video blog below, but suffice it to say, there are many methods to record our notes and I am experimenting a bit with the video way.  Personally I have different methods of note taking or journalling - I sometimes type (I am a trained typist so I can get my thoughts down via keystrokes faster than long hand), writing is also a favourite and I have a few different journals on the go at the moment, recording voice memos is another helpful means for me to record thoughts resulting from conversations, and reflection and as I already mentioned videoing, although this is still relatively new for me.  Of course there are other forms of record keeping of your thoughts, feelings and discoveries like poetry, lyrics, music, sketching, doodling, painting and I could go on but hopefully you get the idea.

When I awoke on Monday morning, the 23rd of January 2017 I had thoughts that I wanted to journal about in my mind, but probably more accurately, I wanted to write a blog article about, so without too much too'ing and fro'ing and no make-up or fuss, I sat down in my recliner and picked up my iPhone and voila.

Next detail was the name of my video and blog post.  I am doing some serious investigating to upscale to a self-hosted blog and considering my branding, marketing, name and audience, just a few thing that need to be factored in before taking the next step.

Ideally, I hope my blog appeals to a wide audience, from young to old because we all have a story and along our journeys we need people around us to encourage us and we learn from other people's experiences.  Ultimately I want to be able to help people along the way and to start off, let me ask you a question.

.....Elephants...Any In Your Room?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Is The Day

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I laid awake in the early hours this morning thinking about what title I should give this post.  There were so many options; not unlike the many choices that we are given each and every day.  Some of these decisions are ones that we probably do without even really giving much thought to actually.  Breathing is a bit extreme perhaps because we just do it; breathe in and breathe out; it is pretty automatic yes; but I have come to realise that some choices we make should be as automatic as breathing.

What do I mean you ask?  Where are you going with this you ask?  Well, I am glad you made the choice to ask the question and to continue reading.

If you wait for the day to feel like it, it will never come.  That is why ‘This Is The Day.’  The day for what?  Ah, another question; well done.  It is important to ask questions so that we can understand ‘things’ better.  What things?  So many questions, so little time and sometimes ours is not to know the answer.  I believe that we can get in our own way sometimes and make things more complicated than they really are – I know from personal experience because I am known to over analyse things.  Like even now, the word analyse….hhhhmmmm……the English language gives me a choice.  I can write like a Canadian who I am proud to call myself (analyze), or I can choose the Australian spelling (analyse), my current homeland to which I also love.

Yeah, life can get confusing and complicated sometimes and I know that first hand.  I have not written a lot about my story for the past couple of years, but ‘this is the day’.  I am going to start sharing and there is so much I want to tell, and I have made the choice to start.

I will probably jump around a bit, and it is my hope that the folks that need to take something away from what I share do just that and perhaps others may share my post with others through the vast social media options – goodness knows we have so many choices right there and it is hard to keep up.  I have contemplated a twitter account but I have made a choice ‘not yet’.  I recently culled a few apps from my iPhone because I do not need an app for everything and why not just go to a website, even if is not mobile friendly; I can usually find what I need.

So back on track to a bit of my story.  If I only had the opportunity to write one blog article this year, and as I have called it ‘This Is The Day’, let me encourage you to make a choice to forgive.  We make it more complicated than it needs to be, really.  We will very likely never do it if we wait until we feel like it, and I do not believe it has to do with thinking positively because let’s face it, the stuff we might be holding onto, well, there is nothing positive about it.  If we try to work out what we need to learn from it; well, what we need to learn from it, is to let it go.

No, I am not suggesting that you push down the pain of the hurt and try to forget it.  If it is something serious you are dealing with, like I was and still am (but more on that in future blog articles), then I very strongly suggest you talk to someone about it so you can process your feelings in a healthy way to get ‘unstuck’; otherwise, when you least expect it, the residual unresolved feelings will come back and that is what we do not want.  Trust me on this.  It will become clearer.  Forgiving should be as natural as breathing; yep, you read that right.  Does it mean it is?  Nope, but remember what I said, if we wait until we feel like it, we never will.  We think by withholding our forgiveness we are empowering ourselves, but it actually has the complete reverse effect.  We become prisoners of our bitterness and resentment in our desire to control our environment.

If you are like me, you might think you forgive easily already; but in fact, you say you do but you hold onto the offence because you fear by letting it go, it will make you more vulnerable.  Nope, negative, notta, not true.  It really is the complete reverse.  We are a broken people and whilst we strive to do good and behave Godly, sometimes we stuff up and that is where God’s grace comes in.  Look at the best example – Jesus – “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He was bleeding and dying on the cross when He spoke these words – pretty incredible and hard to believe, but true story.

No, I am not going to preach a sermon or anything, but I thought I was pretty good at forgiving and discovered that I actually struggled with it because I let my feelings interfere with the process.  It has become my firsthand understanding that forgiveness first and feelings will follow and despite what my husband Peter says (and yeah, I know he is biased), he thinks I am perfect and he married one of God’s angels.  Yeah, right – NOT! lol

On the contrary, I have made many mistakes and it is my husband Peter that has helped me on my journey to understand the power in forgiveness.  It used to frustrate me so the way he could just let things go without giving them another thought, but that is exactly the way God intended forgiveness to operate.  It is the opposition that wants us to get ourselves tied up in knots over offences when the best thing we can do for ourselves and the other people, is to forgive.  Remember Jesus on the cross?  The people probably do not even know what they need to ask forgiveness for in the first place.

I read a blog post recently – if I can find it, I will share the link here and give credit to where I was inspired by their story.  This family is a blended family and one of their children is disabled and with the business of their lives, their schedule, the priority of their child’s care, they do not have time to take on offences; they just get on with living.  Now, the author said this more eloquently than my one liner, but I hope you get my point.

So, my closing thought…….  Is this your day?