A chat with a friend…

Oh …. how therapeutic is a chat with a friend ?

I just love the scope a conversation with a friend can cover !

It can happen face to face .. Over the phone .. In a text or an email.

Some chats are regular .. Sometimes there are big gaps in our opportunities ..
I love the gift of conversation ..
It can be like medicine.

A deep sharing. A soul exchange.
With or without a cup of coffee. Over a meal.

Age and stage don’t matter.

Two grandmother’s sharing the cute recollections of time spent with grandchildren.

The encouragement of a text reminder that someone cares .. That they’re praying for you.

That they ‘get’ you.

It’s a gift to be understood.

The Mum who is conducting the orchestra that raising small children can be .

A beautiful symphony – or the banging of a wooden spoon on a saucepan (depending upon the day or the child) …

We share our joys and our triumphs . . Our successes and our failures . . Our pain, our pleasure, our hopes, dreams and our fears.

Sometimes it’s two way, other times it’s the gift of a listening ear.

Sometimes lessons ..

Others just reflections and being heard are the rewarding gift of true friendship.

Whether we’re laughing or crying I am thankful for the conversation and the sisterhood of friendship.

I think that friendship is God’s way of keeping me sane ☺

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Crunchy Old Bark ….

image

Sometimes, something really triggers a process of my thoughts ….

This past week .. with lots of other things in my mind .. God drew my attention – to the bark on the trees, that are a daily sight from my back window.

For some reason,  I just happened to notice that although these beautiful trees, which are mostly all Eucalypts (Gum Trees) .. are all growing at different rates .. They are in different stages of a growth process.

Some of the largest ones have a complete covering of crunchy and crusty bark … Then there are others which have lost bits of bark as they grow larger .. revealing a beautiful smoothness coming through underneath. . Still others are completely smooth with a glowing newness revealed – just like the smoothest sandstone, with an amazing array of colours and variety of patterns …
Then as I looked down – a patchwork of mulch in a rainbow of colours and textures, laying on the ground and forming a thick layer, feeding and enriching the soil below …

Being the thinker that I am … These things all pulled together in my mind and made me look at us .. people .. myself ..

We are as complex and varied as the trees .. the bark .. the rough and the smooth .. the layers, the colours and the crunchy bits .. the way we shed certain thoughts and ideas as God grows us from within … He reveals a newness in us .. a new understanding of some long held prejudice or ideal .. A past hurt – able to be healed and off comes that hardness that we have held onto for so long .. we are now just a little softer .. fresher .. Refreshed in our thinking and in our spirit.

I want to be like a tall gum tree ..

Strong, but smooth … Deep roots reaching down to the rich soil that nurtures my soul .. Willing to accept the growth that sheds my crusty exterior and reveals the smoothness of the Holy Spirit in my life ..

At the moment I would describe myself as a sapling .. I stumble .. I still get bent in a strong breeze … My bark is very hard in places .. My desire is to keep growing though ..

I don’t think anyone could articulate these thoughts better than the Apostle Paul did in the Bible in Romans 12 … So lets hear what he had to say ..

A Living Sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

And … as a Post Script to this recent blog …

I realise that shedding our bark only happens as we grow stronger in our faith .. I dislike the trials of this earthly life .. There are more struggles than one blog post can possibly contain .. For all of us .. They may take a different form – but they are real .. and they are the soil in which our faith can be fed .. My bark has been watered by lots of tears recently – so I am trusting that a growth spurt will follow soon 🙂

 

 

 

 

Before Work …

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Ok .. sooooo who has time to begin blogging before they go to work ???

Clearly I do …

And the above picture encapsulates how I attempt to begin my day (not always successfully, by the way) …
Bible. . Notepad. . Highlighter . .
And a heart bursting at the seams with a complex mixture of love / loss / happy /sad /need /desire … etc ..

There is so much of my life that I love and appreciate ..
And other things which cause me pain and sadness.

Mornings (especially because I am Not a morning person) are usually a slow start.
I set my alarm for 2 hours before I need to leave home .. I bound (not really).. more accurately is *stumble .. from bed .. Aim for the kitchen and switch on the coffee machine ..
Once that sweet Cappacino foam, covered in chocolate, hits my lips .. there begins my ability to think about my day.

The dogs sleep blissfully at my feet… (Hoping that it’s my day off and then they get to stay inside).

Today though . . No chance . .

I am thankful for the sunshine and blue sky outside..
My thoughts turn to the things on my mind and heart. .

Today it is my family.

The complexity of relationships. .
Unique personalities .. The way we are shaped by who we are and also by the environment in which we were raised.

My thoughts turn to prayer.

I was especially touched recently by the movie ‘War Room’.
It is about relationships and prayer. Both are things very close to my heart ..

Prayer changes us .. prayer – in line with God’s spirit – makes us more like Him .. keeps us honest, accountable .. allows us to love others in ways that don’t just come naturally.
We become more sacrificial. .less selfish. . God uses us in ways that we don’t expect and couldn’t imagine. . I love it when that happens. . You just know that it’s Him ..

I learn to trust more and fear less ..

This past year has had lots of challenges for me personally.

I have a precious friend who has a difficult health challenge … yet being the amazing and Godly example she has always been .. continues to love God and extend grace to those around her. Still managing to smile and be an encouragement 🙂

I endured a job situation which was abusive and drove me to a state of mind that I never thought possible from a ‘job’ ..

There are people close to me with health challenges ..
Physical .. emotional .. battles to be fought and God willing, to be won ..

And yet somehow . . Not by anything I can ‘conjure up’ .. but by knowing the one who created me .. I don’t just ‘survive’ ..

I live each day ..
Thankful ..
That God has a plan ..
And a purpose .. for me ..

Not just me .. But you . .

YES ..

YOU

as well.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. [12] In those days when you pray, I will listen. [13] If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Jeremiah 29 : 11-13 NLT

Broken and Bruised

So .. I decided NOT to attach a photo to today’s Blog Post …

You may ask why???

Well ….  It’s because I decided that being broken and bruised looks very different to each of us ..

Some days it’s physical and visible ..

And other days it’s emotional – on our heart, or a mental battle – for our thoughts.

It might be all three at once.

However pain appears in each of our lives – it is no less real or any less important.

To the one who is enduring a shock diagnosis,  or to the relative or friend that wants to comfort them ..
The family member suffering depression or mental illness .. a job loss .. an accident .. a struggle at work ..
The Mum raising small children or helping keep teenagers on track .. the Dad doing overtime to make ends meet.
A broken relationship …

Life can be really hard.

There are no quick or easy solutions.

I know – for me,  the loving support of a friend – who – just by listening to me, is often the soothing balm that helps me survive the day ..

Plenty of times I have cried out to God in prayer .. and I am reassured that He hears me even if a solution isn’t instant – or the answer that I was hoping for.
This reassurance has come as I have learned to rely on God .. knowing my own limitations .. flaws .. and failures .. and accepting that I don’t have to be perfect or assume every body else’s expectations of me ..
These things have only come as I understand who God is .. and allow and accept His purpose for my life ..

If you don’t yet know who God is .. I would encourage you to read one of what are called ‘The Gospels’ ,

(Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) ..

I personally have never read the Bible from cover to cover, but have read or studied verses and chapters .. either on my own – or as a part of a small group. Both are really helpful.

You can also buy ‘study guides’.. that focus on a particular subject -and use verses from the Bible – which relate to that subject .. Again – an exceptionally helpful way to understand things from Gods perspective ..

I have verses which mean a lot to me – that I find an encouragement –

‘I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.’

Psalm 16:8

My all time fave is : 

Proverbs 3:5,6

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
 Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

and on a Sunday evening – the encouragement from my Church family is

‘ If God is for us, who can ever be against us?’ Romans 8:31

reading the Bible isn’t a magic formula for happiness and success – but it is the best way to understand who God is, who Jesus is .. and why your story is so important ..

It is accepting Jesus as saviour .. that opens the way for you to have a real and personal relationship with Him .. and it’s the fresh start that we all need 🙂

Sunday …

Serenity

How quickly the weeks fly by ….  So much transpires in one week – that it’s often difficult to keep up ..

I find myself some days appreciating time – and yet others, I think I understand what a mouse feels like in one of those wheels – running, endlessly and getting nowhere ..

Do you feel caught ? trapped ? as if time is passing like groundhog day ??? Alarm goes off – get up, make coffee, feed dogs, put them outside, shower, hair, makeup, jump in car, drive to work, find a parking spot… work, lunch, home, dinner, TV, bed .. HIT repeat … Days off – usually housework and washing …

Sometimes though it’s a walk in the sun, some fun with the family … How that does refresh us .. (we should make regular time for this) …

I don’t know about you – but I think that we often delay the pleasures of life – by putting too much emphasis on all that we need to do today .. and I don’t think that’s the way that we are intended to live – but I am working this out .. and as I think about the reality of my everyday – I realise that this is not a new issue – people have been struggling with the very same thoughts, since the beginning of time – my thoughts turn to these verses in Ecclesiastes .. another fellow traveller trying to grasp how a life lived well actually looks …

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Ecclesiastes 3 3 -13 (NLT)

Now – I am off to sit in the sunshine with a cup of tea … before it’s time to hop back onto the treadmill of life ..

I shall enjoy the sunshine , watch the birds … appreciate the treasures that God has provided me with today.

I pray that you can use this day for something that makes you smile too 🙂

The ‘Non Ice Bucket’ Challenge

This evening .. During an encouraging chat with a friend … I was issued with a challenge …

Unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was originally designed to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease and has in recent times become a Social media focus .. I was given something a bit more reflective rather than an action thing …

The challenge that my friend gave me was  ‘So……..when did you last love someone extravagantly?’…

I pondered deeply .. What does it mean to me – to love extravagantly ? Or to be loved extravagantly ?

First thing that comes to mind is stuff … Giving gifts .. getting a surprise gift .. and those things are good .. when someone cares about me .. thinks about my likes .. the things that bring me joy .. and surprises me with something that lets me know that I am remembered, thought about, cared about ..

Thoughts are now tick, tick, ticking away in my head … I have just ordered something for my husband for his Birthday .. I wanted to surprise him .. taking note of something that he would not buy for himself .. I researched so hard .. Found one in Italy ??? Italy of all places .. (good old eBay) … I purchased this model of a car that he loves (and we could never afford to buy the real thing) … It’s on it’s way .. won’t be here for his Birthday – but very soon after .. I printed a photo from the computer to place inside his card ..

So excited that I had put so much thought into this .. found the exact model and Hey- he would get a

H U G E surprise when I presented this to him …I was pretty darn pleased with myself too ….

Until

Apparently the screen saver on our computer is set to ‘My Pictures’… and when I saved that photo to print out and pop inside his card .. Well you guessed the rest – I walk into the computer room .. he is sitting at the computer .. smiling like a kid in a candy shop … and suffice to say – The model car is no longer a surprise .. Poo Bum …

This – to me – was a major disappointment … an ‘epic fail’ .. as they say ..

That is until H set this challenge ..

Now I see that in this case it is ‘the thought that counts’.. To make someone else feel like they count .. know that they matter … That they are thought about , cared about, loved …

To LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY … doesn’t necessarily mean to BE EXTRAVAGANT ..

Just take a look at the Dictionary definitions of extravagant …. I think when my friend set this challenge – that she was talking about Number 4.

ex•trav•a•gant

(ɪkˈstræv ə gənt) 
adj.

1. spending much more than is necessary or wise: an extravagant shopper.
2. excessively high: extravagant prices.
3. exceeding the bounds of reason or moderation: extravagant demands.
4. going beyond what is deserved or justifiable: extravagant praise.
5. elaborate or showy.
6. Obs. wandering.
This got me thinking about how Jesus loved …
the kind of love that enabled Him to pray for the two men beside him in Luke 23:32-34

32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull,e]”>[e] they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”f]”>[f] And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.g]”>[g]

Now … THAT… IS … Extravagant love …

A Mothers Heart …

2015-04-28 12.34.01 So .. tomorrow is Mothers day …

This morning I read a very interesting piece regarding Mothers day … and a lot of it resonated with me ..

I shall start with an excerpt .. It is written by a Christian – who is no nonsense and tells it ‘like it is’.. far better than I would ever have the courage to do.

Her name is Anne Lamott, this excerpt is from her Facebook page, today the 9th of May 2015.

‘I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. I didn’t want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure. Perhaps Mother’s Day will come to mean something to me as I grow even dottier in my dotage, and I will find myself bitter and distressed when Sam dutifully ignores the holiday. Then he will feel ambushed by my expectations, and he will retaliate by putting me away even sooner than he was planning to — which, come to think of it, would be even more reason to hate Mother’s Day.’

So .. for me personally – Mother’s day is a day on which I feel immense guilt .. I have not and know that I will never measure up to what society holds dear in it’s expectation of what a Mum should be .. I don’t have the Hallmark imprint on my Mothering, and I find that it’s the one day of the year that I feel the most inadequate as a woman .. Like I have let down myself, my family and the institution of Motherhood around the world ..

That’s pretty tough to admit .. but nonetheless it’s true – it’s my feelings .. I own them ..

There are so many tears shed over a life time of things that I could have done better, not done at all, should have done .. CANNOT change …

If I allowed myself to think too much about these things – I (and my box of Kleenex), would never leave my bedroom ..

I suspect that I may not be alone in my thoughts ?

Truth is …  I am imperfect …

Yep – Big surprise there 🙂

As I struggle to do things differently to how I used to do them when my children were little .. thinking about my families needs in a different light .. now that they are grown up ..

I try to put myself in their shoes, see things from their perspective .. I want so much to fix everything and make it better .. That is where the guilt springs from .. I can’t .. I never will be able to ‘Do Over’ what I screwed up .. I cannot make their lives easier, or better, or peaceful .. or tell them what does and doesn’t work .. because in reality – we all have our own path to take .. or our own ideas on child raising, our own capacity to love another .. and we bring into that what we learned from our own parents .. the good and the bad ..

Tomorrow for me is NOT a celebration of Mothers .. it’s a day that I will get to ‘hang with the fam’.. yep .. however that pans out .. Make new memories with the grandkids .. Spend time with my sister … I won’t see one of my kids .. but we had a great chat this morning .. about stuff ..

That is my reality ..

I must choose to live it – just the way it is .. and thankfully … I am not alone …

‘Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.’ Ecclesiastes 11:5 NLT