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30.9.10

Hope's Journey - First Things First

Quite a few more years down the line. It’s Monday morning and I have a Church hangover! Sundays are great, I love Sundays and all the amazing things that God does with all the wonderful people in our Church. Each Sunday holds new adventure and excitement as well as so much more work than I can ever really manage in one day. I give my best emotionally, spiritually and physically. I love, I pour coffee, I listen to problems, sometimes I preach, sometimes I sing, occasionally I change a baby’s nappy in the crèche, I cook a big roast for anything up to twenty people, if necessary I do a hospital visit for the people that weren’t able to attend Church and feel left out. The list goes on and on and on and then Monday morning comes! 

It’s eight o’ clock in the morning and the phone rings. I am awake but the first coffee of the day hasn’t got into my blood stream yet so I am in a zombie state. It’s one of our congregation members; he is in terrible pain and needs someone to take him to the hospital urgently. The ambulance won’t come fetch him as he is an ex-drug addict and they don’t believe he is ill, they think he is trying to get to hospital for some morphine or other free drugs so they refuse to fetch him! It’s desperate so Eric and I agree to fetch him and take him to hospital; he lives half an hour away so we aim to be there by ten. 

Flying Breakfast

Breakfast is flying all over the kitchen as Amy tries to feed herself and the phone rings again. We are needed at the police station as another congregation member needs help as their car was impounded. They urgently needed help as the husband was due at work, which meant we needed to be there before eleven. Well clearly that wouldn't work but we planned to attempt to do it on the way to the hospital despite our concerns.  Amy's breakfast would have to wait and her night clothes would become her day clothes on this crazy Monday morning as we were in a hurry!

Let me cut this long story short! Of course we couldn’t sort out the police station and the hospital need in the time frame that was expected of us, so we had to race to the police station. Then seeing it was going to take too long had to race to the hospital and then race back to continue sorting out the car at the police station. Needless to say by the end of Monday we were totally shattered! Did I mention that Monday is supposed to be our slow day, where we ease into the week? Ha ha – yes that was our slow day, the day that is supposed to be not too busy so we can manage another week of hard work which climaxes with an intensely busy Sunday.

Now granted all Monday’s aren’t like this particular one, but they could easily be. The reason they are not always crazy is because we know to put first things first and the only reason this Monday was out of control was because we forgot our golden rule. I blame it on the coffee! I was caught off guard before the coffee had settled so didn’t think clearly and rationally. 

Option Two

This is one possibility of how Monday could have gone: It’s eight o’ clock in the morning and the phone rings. I am awake but the first coffee hasn’t got into my blood stream yet so I am in a zombie state. I ignore the phone and allow the coffee to settle then I check on the children and give them breakfast. The phone rings again but I ignore the phone again as I am busy taking care of my children’s needs. The children have finished their breakfast and are dressed in play clothes – it’s a beautiful sunny day so I take them into the garden to play while I return the two missed calls from earlier on. Oh dear poor thing really needs to get to hospital urgently, we will get there by ten and see what we can do. I return call number two but sadly I have already committed to the hospital need so apologise saying that I can’t help with their need but will have a think about who I could possibly ask to meet their need. Perhaps they too could have a think and see if they can think of anyone that they know that can help them. I get off the phone, get the kids in the car and get off to the hospital with the plan of heading out to the park with the children afterwards to enjoy the rest of the sunny day.


God Comes First

For me first things are my relationship with God, the state of my home and time with my family. If I neglect any of these things I lose the balance in my life. Time with my God is essential. It is not a religious act of reading my Bible and praying in order to keep my conscience clear - it's definitely nothing like that at all. It's like eating breakfast - if I don't eat breakfast in the morning my body gets annoyed with me. In the same way if I don't have a nice cuddle and chat with Jesus in the morning my Spirit and soul gets annoyed with me. Sometimes I have a time of prayer, most times I read the Bible and other times I just sit. I say;

“Good morning Lord, here I am! I don't really want to pray and am too tired to read but I still want to be with you so here I am.”

Not very spiritual really, but I know He is with me and we have a nice "cuddle". My relationship with God is similar to my relationship with my husband. Sometimes we chat, sometimes we work and sometimes we just sit and cuddle.

I will stop here but chapter 4 does continue, for full details about this book please go here
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27.9.10

Hope's Journey - Have a Checkup

I was at the gynaecologists’ office joking around about how I have never had this sort of check up in my life. He took some medical history and then asked me to lie down on the examination table. My palms were sweaty and my heart racing a bit as I was dreading what was to come. Pap smears and internal examinations are just not very comfortable and since this was my very first time having a smear I was feeling a bit embarrassed. 

To break the ice a bit I thought I would chat about something unusual that I had noticed in my body. When I lay on my back and my bladder was a bit full my lower abdomen seemed to be swollen. Thinking this was just my full bladder I made a casual joke about it and pointed it out as my bladder was getting quite full at the time of this examination. He had a look and remarked that it did seem rather swollen and asked if it would be alright for him to do an ultrasound scan so that he could take a closer look at it. I was thrilled to delay the internal examination so jumped at the opportunity to have the scan!

The Shock!

What happened next was not quite what I expected. The gynaecologist was shocked at what he found saying that he had never seen anything like this before. I could see all sorts of thoughts were running through his mind and when he finally spoke he seemed very worried. All I heard was the part where he said he wasn’t going to do the internal examination and Pap smear today so I was thrilled!The details after that were a bit blurry as everything happened really quickly, emergency surgery was scheduled and fear didn’t really set in until I was at home waiting by the phone for the call that would say that a theatre had been freed up for my surgery.The lump that was discovered was a very large cyst in my womb! It was as about 14cm by 15cm and then still about another 12cm deep. I did look a bit pregnant and there were moments before my visit to the gynaecologist when the thought had crossed my mind that maybe I was. 

The Miracle

The reason I said previously that it was a miracle is because the ONLY reason I went for this check up at all was because I was being obedient to what I felt God was telling me to do to lead a depression free life. One of the steps was to go for all my routine check-ups. I had no symptoms that caused me to go for a check-up; I was simply following the process that I believe God was guiding me in. It's possible that I would not be alive today if I had not had that check-up.

I will stop here but chapter 3 does continue, for full details about this book please go here.
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25.9.10

Hope's Journey - Eat, Sleep & Exercise

Chapter 2 - Eat, Sleep & Exercise

One of the first things I tackled when cleaning up my act and getting my life sorted out with God was to sort out my physical body. I was after all pregnant and I wanted this precious one inside of me to have a perfect life, totally opposite to mine thus far. I would do anything and everything to ensure that this little life inside of me was pure. It was as if I was having a new start through her. Everything I did wrong in life I could make right by making her life lovely, wonderful, peaceful and pure. This was the mind of a pregnant seventeen year old that had just been given a fresh start in life. In many ways even though it wasn’t the truth of how it all worked it did help me change the way I saw life. The first step back then was for me to eat well and exercise, and that is the first step now too.

Time passed, my precious baby girl Lorah was born. Life continued, along with all its ups and downs, and although I really tried my best I was still far from free from all the things that were robbing me of a great life.

Endorphins

A little later on in life I had a small conviction that I should go to the gym and get physically fit. Coupled with that was the fact that my friend had a free weeks guest pass at a gym so I thought I would give it a try. I had never been to a gym before but had enjoyed running and swimming in my early teens before everything went pear shaped, so I thought I would give it a try. It was a bit daunting walking into the gym and having everyone ‘watch’ me exercise but once I got settled I absolutely LOVED it, I have enjoyed going to the gym ever since!

Exercise produces endorphins! Endorphins are happy hormones and you can never have too many of these, especially if you are prone to depression. In some cases it is possible to exercise your way out of depression. For those of you who are more scientific endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food and orgasm and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. Endorphins also work as "natural pain relievers”.
The term "endorphin" implies a pharmacological activity as opposed to a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean "a morphine-like substance originating from within the body”.

Now back to plain English, we need these amazing things called endorphins to help us get out of depression and at the time I was wrestling with my first real case of depression. I had no idea that this was why I was crying all the time and was feeling so very down but thankfully I had a very good circle of friends who noticed this and suggested that I may be depressed. 

Psychology and Anti-depressants

My symptoms were a total lack of passion for life even though I was living what seemed like a great life. Tiredness, mood swings, constant crying, lack of energy and negativity ruled my life for no apparent reason. I had a great job, great family, great friends, no real obvious struggles and no reason that I could pin point that could explain my depression. Thank fully one of my close friend’s husband was a psychologist and he offered to see me. If it weren’t for his kind offer I would never in a million years even thought of seeing a psychologist. It was a bit daunting at first but I quickly relaxed and got used to how it all worked. It wasn’t at all how I thought it would be, there was no lying down on a couch and no chanting or freaking out. We simply had hour long conversation where at first he listened mostly and in later sessions he offered some suggestions. He did an amazing job of helping me see my life differently by showing me what I was really struggling with by getting me to describe metaphorically what I was feeling. I found myself painting this elaborate picture with words about how I felt like I was in a cage in the middle of beautiful green pastures. It was as if I could see the beauty of life but I couldn’t have it for myself, I was trapped and stuck in this cage. He helped me understand some of the things I was facing, and mentioned the possibility of using anti-depressants as a means of getting better.
Having gained a new perspective of what my problem was and because I managed to get a lot off my chest, I decided to first try a few things on my own before going down the medication route. There is no shame in taking the medication route at all but I wanted to first try other things. I asked God for keys to help me beat depression and one of the first things I felt to do was sort out my eating habits and exercising routine. Gym was the first step and the next step was to write down what I ate and drank.

Smiley Faces

Every day I marked on the calendar when I was felt low or when I felt OK. Smiley faces and sad face were drawn all over my calendar along with all sorts of little notes and details about what I ate each day. It was very interesting to see that what I ate did affect me. The exact details of what I ate have slipped my mind as it was a long time ago but I do find that too much sugar affects me a lot and caffeine. My best weeks are when I eat lots of fruit and vegetables along with "pure" food so I try to avoid food that has anything artificial in it.If you bump into me in the supermarket you are likely to find me reading the ingredient list of something I am considering buying. My number one red alert ingredient that I check for is hydrogenated vegetable oil. This is not negotiable for me AT ALL. Hydrogenated vegetable oil has no nutritional benefits at all and only exists to extend the shelf life of food, which in a nutshell is to line the pockets of the business owners. The harm it does is horrendous though, why not Google it and see all the harmful side affects that this nasty ingredient has.

Aspartame is another ingredient that I don’t negotiate with, again the side effects are horrible and if I have to have some form of sweetness, sugar seems to be the lesser of two evils. Honey however is a great sweetener for just about anything so I try my best to stick to using that rather than sugar or artificial sweeteners. As far as my budgets allows I do like to stick to organic food with lots of fruit, vegetables and pro-biotic yogurt. Most important of all is lots of water! My children will tell you how much I swear by water. The come to me with all sorts of ailments and the first thing I usually say is;

“How much water have you had today?”

Nine times out of ten it is none or very little so I get them to drink some water and come back to me later if the problem persists. Water, of course, can’t solve depression but it is definitely part of the whole healthy living package that can help you lead a depression free life.

One of my favourite books on this subject is The Makers Diet by Jordan Reuben. He writes of a fascinating journey that God took him on when he was on his death bed with an incurable disease. Not only is his testimony really powerful but his study of healthy living is fantastic and makes perfect sense! One example is the reason why God told the Jews not to eat pork...

I will stop here but chapter 2 does continue, for full details about this book please go here.
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23.9.10

Hope's Journey - Update

I am very surprise at how well the PDF's of Hope's Journey are selling, thank you very much everyone for your support, I have also released a Kindle/eBook version at Amazon.  At the same time though I have had at least one third of my readers unsubscribe from my blog this week, I guess the route I am going is not for everyone.  I will do my best to not only post Hope's Journey snippets but to include current news and random things too, so if Hope's Journey is not for you just ignore those posts and continue reading the others, if there is anything in particular you like to hear about please tell me and I will write along those lines too :)  A snippet of Chapter Two will be posted on Saturday.  Have a beautiful day today.  Love Angela xxx
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22.9.10

In The Stillness

Laying awake at night, tossing and turning, I realise that I have a long way to go in order to be in green pastures and by still waters.  As I have considered this new season of being still I realise that there is another layer to this - being quiet.  In order to fully reap the benefits of this awesome season I need to quieten my mind from all the things that keep me awake at night and I need to literally be quiet - not talk. Quieting my thoughts is disciplining my mind to think of other things.  Instead of meditating on the work I have to do I need to intentionally force my mind to ponder on more peaceful things.  I am the sort of person that is on the go all the time which is why I have to have seasons of rest.  My mind needs to rest, my body needs to rest and my spirit needs to rest in God's presence.

Proverbs 21:23
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.

Quieting my mouth is another challenge for me.  There are times to be bold and say things that needed to be said and there are times to simply be quiet.  This morning I felt God was challenging me to be quiet in this season of stillness. Where I would usually have had a lot to say I should have a little to say, where I would usually speak bold words I should speak no words. 

Have you ever had to go through this, has God ever challenged you not to talk?
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20.9.10

Hope's Journey - Suicide

Here I am, again, sitting on the bathroom floor, with a broken razor in my hand. Just enough of the cheap, blue, disposable, razor has been chipped away so that the sharp corners are exposed, exposed only enough to make some small cuts into the skin on my wrist.

“God what is wrong with me, why am I like this? This just isn't normal! AND I am a leader in a Church.”

This was my conversation with God not very long ago. Yet again, I was having another attack of "whatever"! I have no idea what it is that comes at me and I have no idea why I go there or even how I started going there in the first place. I have no idea what to call this “attack” so out of pure frustration I called it “whatever”. Whatever it is or whatever it means or what causes it, I just don’t know but whatever it is it simply has to go. Even though it is “whatever” which sounds very blasé it is still a very real place that I find myself in from time to time. Oh, and yes, you did read correctly, I am a leader in a Church. Are you confused yet? Well imagine how I must have felt at times like these. It simply doesn't add up, it doesn't make any sense at all. I love my life, I love God and I love my family... so what is this all about? Do I want to die? No! Do I want to self harm just for fun? No! For some reason I get to this place where I feel so hurt or so depressed that I just end up in this place, sitting on the bathroom floor with a razor in my hand... 
I guess you want to know what happened that day. Well I did cut myself with the razor. Not enough to kill myself because I actually didn't want to die. Why did I do it? I was fed up! Completely, totally and utterly fed up. Fed up of always ending up at this same place where I am wrestling in my mind. Fed up of being so messed up inside. Fed up of sitting on the bathroom floor resisting the devil and all the games he plays in my mind. Just totally and utterly fed up! Worst of all - I am a LEADER! In the past when I struggled it was still bad but I wasn't responsible for people in a congregation so it wasn't as bad... but this! This is just bad, very bad. How can this be, it can't be right? I will have to stop leading, this was my conclusion. God cannot bless this, how could he possibly bless me when I preach or sing or teach or advise young girls on how to have a great life. I sat on the bathroom floor that night totally fed up with the fight! Instead of crying out God this time I spoke to the devil. This is what I said:

“Satan I don't want to die, I am never going to kill myself. Surely my history shows you this! I am not brave enough to inflict the size of cut that it would take to kill myself. The pain alone would stop me from doing a proper job. I don't know why I am facing this AGAIN but I do love my life and really don't want to be having this conversation with you yet again. I am fed up of fighting you on this. I am never going to kill myself.”

I took the razor blade and made a few small scratches on my wrist!

“This is a far as I will ever go and you know this is the truth! If you want to keep bringing me to this place this is all you will get, a few scratches!”

I took the broken razor along with all the broken pieces lying on the floor, wrapped it up in toilet paper and hid it at the bottom of the bin. Then I went upstairs and covered up my wrist hoping no one would ever see it. From past experience I knew the scratches would heal in about a week, so I had a week of being careful, always wearing long sleeved tops. It was winter so it was not too difficult to keep my wrists hidden.
The following day I contacted a woman I know who had struggled with self harming and suicide in the past and asked her if it the temptation ever goes away. She said probably not but each time you are tempted you get stronger at resisting. I accepted this and thought I would just have to get stronger. A few weeks passed and life went on as it does but inside of me was a deep and desperate desire to be free of this. My whole life I had struggled with depression, extreme emotions and attempted suicides. For each and every attempted suicide I can honestly say that deep down inside I never really wanted to die. Maybe you are thinking it was attention seeking? But I honestly don't think it was, or even a desperate cry for help. That was definitely a part of it and it’s how it started, but it later developed into something else.

It all started when I was a teenager. At thirteen I had my first boyfriend. I don’t remember how long we went out but at that age nothing lasted more than a few weeks, a month maximum! As you would expect it the relationship ended. He broke up with me and this devastated me. I staged an overdose with tablets and empty beer bottles in the hope that he would come rushing over to save me. Of course he didn't and when I heard my dad's car pull up into the driveway I raced to clean everything up before he discovered anything. This traumatic breakup experience led me to a series of changes in my physical appearance and attitude to try and win him back. My plan was simple! Make him fall head over heels in love with me and then break up with him so he can feel the pain of what he did to me. My plan succeeded. After changing my hair, adding several ear piercings, wearing really short skirts instead of the conservative dorky clothes I used to wear, taking up smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and hanging out at the nightclubs he liked - he did eventually ask me out again. To keep him interested I had to dabble with "mild" sexual stuff. I figured if I didn't go all the way and I was still a virgin it was OK. This is where it all started, at the tender age of thirteen.

It breaks my heart just to write this because I know that this is where it starts for many girls and just thinking about it makes me feel sick. I know of mothers that think it is cute to let their little ones have boyfriends or girlfriends, they say it’s harmless! Oh my goodness I just want to grab these mothers by the hair and shake some sense into them. I want to tell them that they are messing with their children’s heart, their emotional security their purity and so much more. It’s not innocent and cute, it is life changing and traumatic for a child to have their first heartbreak and if they are young they are not ready to cope with that level of pain. One mother I know let’s her five year old and nine year old have a girlfriend. She says it’s harmless but I saw the pain that both those precious children went through when they felt the sting of the rejection of a break up. Their innocent minds and hearts were bruised with painful questions, such as ‘why doesn’t she like me anymore’?
Aargh! It makes my blood boil and I hope if you are one of those mothers and are reading this you will think twice and protect your child’s innocence and purity for as long as possible and until they are mature enough to navigate their way through the wild waters of love. Please don’t think it’s cute or innocent. I was thirteen when I discovered the pain and torment of a broken heart and the sharp stabs of rejection and it honestly did change the course of my life COMPLETELY!

Chapter 1 continues but becomes a bit too graphic to Blog, more info availalbe here.
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18.9.10

A Holiday with Jesus


Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;...

Psalm 23:2
...He leads me beside the still waters.

It is with great conviction that I feel God calling me to still waters. He has called me so that I can know the He is God and so that He can restore my soul. Understanding the seasons in my life has been an essential key to my survival & to my joy in this life - not so long ago I even preached on this very subject.  I have found many people love being called to busyness and to do things for God but few people love the 'still' seasons.  Most people completely avoid God's call to be still.  I too have been guilty of this in the past but not this time.  It excites me to see what beautiful green pastures He is going to lead me to and I am thrilled to know that I may have some time out to rest by the still waters.

Practically though, what does this look like in my life?  STOPPING! That's the first thing that this means to me.  I have to stop saying yes to everything and everyone and just take time to be still.  I have already stopped most of my duties in church keeping only a few that are essential at the moment.  I have stopped feeling the pressure to be highly productive and achieve all the time.  This is a season of rest and my only focus is to find ways to rest each day.  Does that sound boring?  Well it can be boring if you don't understand the season but if you embrace it and adjust your mind accordingly it is wonderful.

This season brings me more time with my children just hanging out in the garden playing with frogs and ladybirds.  It also gives me more time to try out new recipes and bake more cakes with the children.  Hopefully it will give me some time to mooch around town and do some random shopping.... ooh that would be nice I haven't done that in AGES!  Most importantly it gives me time to linger in God's presence.  Often I find myself rambling off my long list of prayers and then running off to some meeting.  In this season I can linger, I can get a baby sitter and just spend hours sitting in His presence - it's almost like a holiday with Jesus.

Am I lazy? No! I used to feel lazy in the 'still' seasons and the guilt drove me back to busyness, but not this time.  Have you have had a still season ? How did you find it?  I would love to hear your views and thoughts on being still.
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16.9.10

The Naked Preacher

Yes we have gone a bit nuts at our Church, but no we are not doing anything in the nude!  Coming up is a series called 'The Naked Preacher' which is a live Q&A session.  I would love to give you, King's Daughters, an opportunity to be involved in our upcoming series.  If you have any questions that you would like to ask Eric about any subject under the sun, please leave them in the comments box below.  You can listen to the podcast at the end of the session to see if your question came up.  It is going to be loads of fun and hopefully give us the opportunity to delve into some interesting subjects.
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13.9.10

You are... precious


You are very precious!  No matter what life has thrown at you, no matter how guilty or dirty you may feel, you are still precious.  If a diamond falls into a drain and is left for years in the slime and sludge it doesn't change the fact that it is a diamond and if found by someone will still be valued despite the grimy place it fell to.  No matter where you have fallen to, no matter how bad your day was today or the last ten years have been, you are still precious.  If only you knew how much God values you.  He is the only one who knows your true value.  You are so precious to Him that He has your name 'tattooed' on His hand!


Isaiah 49:15-16
"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me."
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12.9.10

Hope's Journey - Introduction

As much as I don't want to write about this subject I know that I should. I don't want to write about it because I like to leave the past behind me and not dig up things that can be difficult to talk about. On the other hand I know that so many people are struggling silently out there and it would be plain selfish if I didn't share my journey with you. My journey covers a life long struggle between loving life and hating life, between wanting to live life to the full and wanting to die. I don’t have all the answers but I do have a few ideas of what really has helped me and I can honestly say that I love my life now! This book, Hope’s Journey, is the second book that covers my path away from depression and into the beautiful life God has given me.

Before I get into this though, I do want to make it clear that when I offer solutions they are purely what worked for me. My ideas are not going to work for everyone and my views are not medical ones. My deepest desire and my prayer is that this book will help you to find freedom and show you a way to love your life too.

My first real experience with depression as about 10 years ago when I was 26 years old. I may have suffered a bit as a teenager but that's a bit of a blur so am not sure if that was depression or just normal teenage struggles. When I was 26 I started to lose my zest for life, I had no motivation and couldn't see anything exciting about life or my future. There was no real reason for this on the outside but something wasn't working well on the inside. I cried all the time, often for no real reason - I just felt really sad. I think perhaps in the past I had actually faced depression but in order to find my zest for life I went astray.
This time astray was spent seeking fun to fill the emptiness I felt inside. Much to my shame and disappointment I got into all sorts of things that must have really hurt God. Looking back now though I see that it was all based on a search for some meaning in my life. Sadly I never found any meaning in all the “fun” I was having, only more hurt and pain to add to my already dull existence. 


At the time when I faced the same lack of passion for life yet again I went to see a psychologist. Thankfully one of my close friend’s husband was a psychologist and he offered to see me, if it weren’t for him I am sure I would have ended up going down the same old path of self destruction yet again! He did an amazing job of helping me see my life differently. He helped me understand some of the things I was facing and did mention the possibility of anti-depressants.
I decided to first try a few things on my own before going down the medication route. There is no shame in taking the medication route at all but I asked God for keys for me and this is the journey He took me on.

I would very much value your comments and as much feedback as possible.  More info here
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11.9.10

Hope, Secure, Passion & Giants

It is with great vulnerability, fear & conviction that I am going to slowly start releasing my books on this Blog. I will begin with releasing chapter previews of each of my books that I have written & not been brave enough to publish.

God has done such amazing things in my life, He has take me from a place of darkness and filth and showed me His ways. As much as I am embarrassed about where I have come from I would be even more embarrassed if I didn't share what He has done in my life.

Your comments and feedback are valuable to me as I will edit and mould my books according to your comments. If you have stories to share that will benefit other readers then please feel free to share them.

My only motivation is to bring hope to the lost and dying world that we live in. Please join me on this new journey, perhaps together, we as King's Daughters can make a difference in this world.

Love
Angela
xxx

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8.9.10

The Bad News Preacher

I didn’t like the preacher I sat by on the plane. I know, I know. You’re supposed to like everyone, but this fellow …The plane was crowded. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was tired from Sunday-morning services. I was speaking that evening in Atlanta and had planned on taking a nap on the flight.

But this fellow had other ideas. Though he had been assigned another seat, he took the one next to me since it was closer to the front. And when he took it, he took every inch of it—and then some. Knowing I couldn’t sleep, I figured I’d review my thoughts for the evening lesson, so I opened my Bible.

“What ya’ studying there, buddy?”

I told him, but he never heard.

“The church is lost,” he declared. “Hellbound and heartsick.”

Turns out he is an evangelist. He speaks in a different church every weekend. “I wake ’em up,” he growled. “Christians are asleep. They don’t pray. They don’t love. They don’t care.”

With that pronouncement, he took on his preaching tone and cadence and started listing all the woes and weaknesses of the church, “Too lazy-uh, too rich-uh, too spoiled-uh, too fat-uh …”

The folks around were beginning to listen, and my face was beginning to redden. I shouldn’t have let it bug me, but it did. I’m one of those fellows who never knows what to say at the time but then spends the next week thinking, I wish I’d thought to say that.

Well, I’ve spent the last few days thinking about it, and here is what I wish I’d said to the bad news preacher: God’s faithfulness has never depended on the faithfulness of his children. He is faithful even when we aren’t. When we lack courage, he doesn’t. He has made a history out of using people in spite of people.

Need an example? The feeding of the five thousand.

One would be hard pressed to find much faith on the hill that day.

Philip was cynical.

Andrew was doubtful.

The other disciples were negative.

The preacher I met on the flight would’ve felt right at home with these guys. Look at them: They aren’t praying, they aren’t believing, they aren’t even seeking a solution. If they are doing anything, they are telling Christ what to do! “Send the people away” (Mark 6:36). A bit bossy, don’t you think?

Looks like the disciples are “hellbound and heartsick.” Looks like they are “too lazy-uh, too rich-uh, too spoiled-uh, too fat-uh.” Let me be clear. I agree with the preacher that the church is weak. When he bemoans the condition of the saints, I could sing the second verse. When he laments the health of many churches, I don’t argue.

But when he proclaims that we are going to hell in a handbasket, I do! I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is. The feeding of the five thousand is an ideal example. The scene answers the question, What does God do when his children are weak?

When the disciples didn’t pray, Jesus prayed. When the disciples didn’t see God, Jesus sought God. When the disciples were weak, Jesus was strong. When the disciples had no faith, Jesus had faith. He thanked God.

Look what he does next. “Jesus divided the bread and gave it to his followers, who gave it to the people” (Matt. 14:19).

Rather than punish the disciples, he employs them. There they go, passing out the bread they didn’t request, enjoying the answer to the prayer they didn’t even pray. If Jesus would have acted according to the faith of his disciples, the multitudes would have gone unfed. But he didn’t, and he doesn’t. God is true to us even when we forget him.

Why is that important to know? So you won’t get cynical. Look around you. Aren’t there more mouths than bread? Aren’t there more wounds than physicians? Aren’t there more who need the truth than those who tell it? Aren’t there more churches asleep than churches afire?

So what do we do? Throw up our hands and walk away? Tell the world we can’t help them? That’s what the disciples wanted to do. Should we just give up on the church? That seemed to be the approach of the preacher I met on the plane.

No, we don’t give up. We look up. We trust. We believe. And our optimism is not hollow. Christ has proven worthy. He has shown that he never fails, though there is nothing but failure in us.

I’ll probably never see that proclaimer of pessimism again, but maybe you will. If you do, will you give him a message for me?

God is faithful even when his children are not.

That’s what makes God, God.

From A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado


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3.9.10

Spot the Mistakes

This week has been full of family news & you are getting a live account! It has been very eventful week for us! Today is Lorah's 19th birthday which started with a nice pancake breakfast only a few minutes ago :) Keeping the facts in mind that it is Lorah's birthday, what mistakes can you spot in the photo? More news to follow soon as the birthday adventures continue.
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2.9.10

Daniel's First Day at School

Today is a really special day, Daniel started school! For Daniel it was a little different from all the other children though, he had three women fussing over him and shedding tears as he walked away into his classroom. Lorah, Jordan & I took Daniel to school this morning and made such a fuss! Daniel wasn't fussed at all and got on with this new season in his life with confidence. Oops better stop blogging and rush off to fetch him, wouldn't want to be late on his first day. Here we go again, Lorah, Jordan & I off to fuss some more.
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1.9.10

Oatmeal Facial Mask & Tea Bag Eye Refresher

Jordan & I had a bit of a girly night last night. Jordan found a recipe for a home made facial mask and a solution for refreshing our eyes - tea bags! As you can see in the photo, the mask didn't stick too well onto our face. I think we should have ground the oats a little finer. Also, we had to alternate which eye we had our tea bag on as we were watching a movie while allowing our mask to work it's magic on our skin. So if you are in the mood for a bit of a pamper or just a really good laugh, here is our recipe:

3 tablespoons of
pulverized oats
whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Apply the mixture to your face. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rinse with lukewarm water, then pat your face dry.
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