28 December, 2014

Goodbye 2014...




The above photos were taken on our recent camping trip in the Snowy Mountains. The scenery was really nice, and I had fun taking photos of it all, as you can see. :) Lots of wildflowers and green grass made it pretty; large rocks and hills made it impressive. The river made it nice; and the wildlife kept it interesting. We saw brumbies, as well as rabbits, hares, kangaroos, crows, kookaburras, and even a pinkish red snake. The kangaroos and crows seemed quite experienced with campers, and hoed into anything we left out of the tent or vehicles – food, rubbish, plasticware, etc.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is to publicly announce that the year 2014 is almost over! I guess you already knew that, but it's pretty hard for me to realize. This year has gone fast. I was trying to come up with a few lessons I've learnt from this year to share, but, to be honest, I couldn't come up with many...

One thing that I believe God has been trying to teach me this year, is that He (God) calls us to be different; to be a holy, peculiar people (as I mentioned here). Sometimes that means standing alone: and when we stand up, we're going to stand out. But as Deuteronomy 7:6 & 9 says, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” But that's it; God is faithful. If He calls us higher, He will be faithful in helping us get there.

Here's one other verse that I re-discovered yesterday: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:8-10 Isn't that an amazing promise? Wherever we are, God is there too. And He's not there inspecting what we're doing so as to get us into trouble, He's there holding us up, and leading us on.  So, that must be my current favourite bible verse. :)

A few other things have been speaking to me lately. This post about hope. Hope has always been a favourite word of mine. In fact, when I started this blog, I wanted to call it something like 'Journey of Hope.' Hope is powerful, and without it, really, nobody has a desire to live. It's hope that keeps us going in trying circumstances; we push through hoping for better days. As Job 11:18 says, “And thou shalt be secure because there is hope”... Where there's life, there's hope; where there's hope, there's life.

Then there's this. Reading it a couple of months ago, made me stop and think... and realize that I too, am so proud. “Proud |proud| having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance : a proud, arrogant man.” Yes, I think way to highly of myself. And I realized that pride is the motivator for a lot of my actions: I want to look good, so I'll do, say, write this; I want to do this now, because my wishes are more important that yours; I don't want to do that, because I don't like doing that. It's all pride. It's all thinking of myself first, putting myself first, when God says no. “...but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

This post is on a really different topic, but I'd never thought of there being different types of loneliness before, and this puts it so well. I found myself relating to quite a few of the descriptions of it. Besides, I like the way it's written too. :)

Well, this got a lot longer than I expected. And I'm sorry if it came across as a whole bunch of talk about myself. I really don't want it to be that way, but I'm trying to keep it honest, I guess. It's a fine line to walk. But in closing, happy 2015 everyone! I hope (see, hope?) this year brings us all more happy memories, and a closeness to God and each other that we've never had before. Also, can it please go slower than 2014 did?!

Anyway, I'd really like to hear what God been teaching you throughout 2014. What are some things that have really resonated with you lately? Have you made any new year's resolutions?






09 December, 2014

Book Review - Every Heart's Cry



Recently we were given a stack of books. I, of course, looked through them as soon as politely possible, and then settled down to read one that caught my eye, namely Every Heart's Cry.

Basically, Every Heart's Cry goes through identifying every heart's cry, (to be loved unconditionally), why we crave love, the negatives of refusing to love, and being brave enough to love and be loved wholeheartedly.

Judging from the title (and cover picture) I was wondering if this book would be all about the love between a husband and wife. But it's not. Of course, all the principles discussed apply to a husband and wife relationship, but it's actually written from the perspective of having friends, and being a friend.

The reason we crave love, and want to be loved unconditionally, is because that's how we were created. God made us out of love, and we love him because He first loved us. Back in Eden everything was loving, loveable, and lived forever; that's the kind of environment we were designed to live in. We were made to love and to be loved. That's also why it hurts when somebody is unkind, or we have to deal with the loss of loved one. Those things were never meant to be a part of our life.

Towards the end of the book it talk about being wholehearted in our friendships. All of us want wholehearted friends. But to love and be loved wholeheartedly, we need to be vulnerable. Dannielle Synot describes vulnerability “as a fundamental characteristic of people who are wholehearted” (page 73) Now, in my mind, up until this point, being vulnerable was synonymous with weakness, maybe even cowardliness. It's not something I'd ever aspire to be. But this book points out that we have to be vulnerable. We have to show who we really are, and what's behind all the masks and excuses. You can't become friends with a mask, you have to know the real person.

Being vulnerable begins with having a little self-worth, and letting go of what we 'should-be' and just being who we are – still striving to be our best of course, but accepting who we really are and being content with that. If we're content with where and how God has placed us in the moment, then we'll feel comfortable about sharing it with others.

Maybe none of that is new to you, but for me - I know I have a lot of things to learn about being a good friend. This book brought up quite a few things i'd never thought about before. The principles discussed made sense to me, so I enjoyed reading the book from that perspective. But, I can't really recommend it because it was poorly written. There was incorrect grammar, and the style was very casual, not professional, and almost flippant at times. I know sometimes that style is effective, but I didn't like it in this book. Then, I felt like it spent a lot of time going around in circles saying the same thing in a few different ways - to bulk out the book, maybe? In my opinion it could have been a lot more condensed and concise.

 So, have you read Every Heart's Cry? What do you think are important principles of friendship?

06 November, 2014

Wildflowers






A couple of weeks ago my sister picked the above bouquet on one of her morning walks. This spring we have an abundance of flowers growing in our paddocks, which is really nice. They're another little reminder of the thought that God put into creating our world full of things to make us happy, if we just look. :)


On another note, here's my latest favourite Bible verse and song:

'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?' Psalm 27:1







What's your current favourite Bible verse, or song? 

13 October, 2014

I belong.

Recently, I've being struggling with not fitting in. I keep remembering some 'good old days', when we went to camps, and I was accepted, and a part of it all. It's not like that anymore – we haven't been to a camp in years, and other places too, where I used to feel like I fitted in, are not the same anymore. It feels like I don't fit in, anywhere.

It's human nature, I guess, to want to 'be' and 'belong.' (And, we're all human!) But, this morning I was reading in Leviticus 20, and verse 26, kind of struck me: “And ye shall be holy unto me:for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” (Leviticus 20:26)

God wants us to be separate, in fact, He even severs us from others sometimes, so that we can be His, and His alone. I don't think this means that we should spend all our time alone, or anything – being with friends and family can be very uplifting, and encourage us in the right direction. In this verse God was talking about the Children of Israel being separate from the ungodly around them. And He wants the same for us.

So next time you or I feel out of place, lets remember that we were not made to fit in, or for everyone to 'like' us. And, because we were created for God alone, it doesn't even matter if nobody takes any notice, or if people take too much notice of us, God always has a place in His heart for us. It's where we belong.


18 August, 2014

The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom


A couple of months ago now, I had to read The Hiding Place for school. I'd heard it was a really good book for ages, but after reading it, I can definitely agree! It's a really good book. Lets just say that I was very interested in schoolwork for those few days. :) Anyway, after reading it, I had to write an essay on what effect growing up in a christian home had on Corrie ten Boom, so here it is! 


"Corrie ten Boom and her siblings grew up in a Christian home. Not only were they surrounded by professing Christians, they were surrounded by a family who practiced what they preached. One of their aunts spent her days writing, and Corrie's mum herself was known for taking in hungry people off the street, giving them a cup of good home-brewed tea and a meal, before sending them on their way again. Corrie's father, a successful watchmaker, made it his habit to read a chapter of the Bible daily, not just to his family, but to all who were in the house ( known as the 'Beje'). Corrie's other aunts busied themselves with the sewing needs of the family, and of all those who needed to be clothed.

In the years after her mother's death, Corrie's older sister, Betsie, took on the work of feeding those who needed it, and rarely was their large table ever empty. When the effects of World War II began to be felt in Haarlem, Corrie's hometown, the family continued their openhanded way of living – offering places at their table to anyone in need. Their reputation was known, and soon Jews seeking a refuge began making their way to the big old house. Some of these were given other places to hide, out in the country where it was safer, but there over time there were no places left in the country, and a small group of hunted Jews made the Beje their home too. Although this put their lives in danger, Corrie and her family could do no less; they wholeheartedly welcomed these people as family. Even after the consequences were felt, Corrie's father, when being offered freedom if he should promise not to cause any more 'trouble', replied, ' If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to any man in need who knocks.'

This kind of genuine compassion for all human beings, especially those in need was deeply ingrained in Corrie and her siblings. They had grown up observing it, being part of it, and then carrying it out themselves. Even later when Corrie and Betsie were in a horrible prison camp, they still found little ways to help the other women. Those whom they could not help, such as the cruel guards, were still objects of their sympathy. Loving and forgiving the very people who mistreated them did not come naturally to Corrie, and she struggled greatly to forgive the man who had betrayed them to the Gestapo. But the prodding of her conscience and Betsie's example won through, and finally she prayed, 'Lord Jesus, I forgive [him] as I pray that You will forgive me...'

After the war was over Corrie continued to serve. She founded several homes for ex-prisoners and others affected by the war. Corrie also traveled to many countries telling of her experiences, and the  grace, help and salvation she found in God, who sustained her during her carefree childhood years, her busy and dangerous middle-age years, her years in prison, and the years she spent after her release traveling and sharing. Corrie ten Boom's Christian upbringing definitely had a marked effect on her life and character – she was a servant for her King all her days."

Have you ever read The Hiding Place? What did you think? 

17 August, 2014

Humility - 100% Trust in God



'A humble man is not afraid of failure. In fact, he is not afraid of anything, even of himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God before Whom no other power has any meaning, and for Whom there is no such thing as an obstacle.' Thomas Merton


 I really like this quote. It's kind of powerful. In my mind anyway, it's saying that the reason a humble man is not afraid of failing is because he knows he won't fail – his trust is so totally in God who cannot fail.

Sometimes the things we see as failures in our lives are really just God trying to work out His perfect plan for us. I'm sure the humble man described above still felt like he had failed at times. I'm sure he would've wondered why on earth certain circumstances happened to him. But because he knew and believed that everything would work out for good in God's time, and through His means; that's why he didn't have to be afraid of anything – he completely trusted God's plan for him, whatever it took him through.

I think this description fits Job well. He had all that money could buy, really, as well as a happy wife and family. But what happened when he lost almost everything he possessed, even his own health? Was he afraid? No, he trusted in God to the degree that he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him...” (Job 13:5) And God rewarded that complete trust in Him - “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning...” (Job 42:12)

Can you imagine what life would be like if we totally, 100%, with all of our hearts, trusted in God? I think it would change my life. What about yours?