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God's got it covered

12/05/2016 15:40
Some weeks ago, I drove off to the village on my weekly shopping expedition. I parked my vehicle and got down. But as I slid my car keys into my bag, I couldn't feel my house keys where they usually reside. So I double checked. No sign of them. I knew I had to find them fast. If I’d dropped them, someone could pick them up. Besides, I’d need them to get myself indoors eventually. I drove home at once. Yellow-gold autumn leaves fluttered in the air, tossed around by playful breezes, decorating the surrounds with a crunchy golden carpet. I jumped on the leaves, enjoying the delicious sound they made in protest. Then, I hunted around for my keys.
 
One pink heart key ring and two shiny keys winked at me from under the leaves. Yay! I was one happy girl as I drove back to the village. “Well done” said my beloved when I told him about it that evening. You’d have thought the incident would have taught me to be more careful with my keys, but alas not. A week or two later I was about to lock our front door at night, before going to bed, but I couldn’t find my keys. (Sounds familiar?)

After hunting for them without success, I grabbed a torch and walked out into the cold night air. God was gracious to me. As soon as I reached the road, the torchlight uncovered two silvery keys, nestling comfortably on the fallen autumn leaves. What a relief! I used to keep my keys in a section of my bag closed via a vertical zip. Vertical? That’s right. Unsuitable? Definitely. If I forgot to zip it up, the keys would easily fall out. It was time to look for a safer place for them. Eventually, I did find the perfect spot—a secret pocket in my bag.

 

Sometimes I place my life’s keys in an unwise compartment and my foolishly held world falls apart. Why don't I hand over my troubles to God instead - His wings are the safest Hiding Place I know. A few days ago, I opened my bag’s secret pocket to retrieve my house keys. Oh no! I’d done it again. Panic. Consternation Where were they? I finally found them. I’d accidentally placed them in their former comparment.

I do that sometimes with life’s difficulties too—forget and grab them back from God after having given them over to Him. Silly me. As I was writing this blog, a piece of bad news, sailed indoors, landed on my head and knocked me out cold. Ouch. What a huge disappointment! After shedding a few tears… I remembered! Of course. God’s got it covered. Isn’t it just like Him? He loves to give me practical lessons in what I write about, so that my story would ring authentic in your ears.
 

Is there something in your life which is out of control? Has a place of security become unsafe and wobbly after all? Please don’t forget. God’s got this one too.

 

Yes. God’s got it covered.

Let’s trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3,4

 

 

The Best is Yet to Be

28/04/2016 17:02
I love travelling on the O bahn—a bus in Adelaide which travels at 100 kmph on special rails. A few months ago, I sped off to the city, feasting my eyes en route on the lush green foliage, the dappled sunlight as it fell through the trees and the gurgling stream that ran by. I breathed in the the view of the rising mountains, the blue green reservoir as it sparkled in the morning sun, the chattering birds flying against the azure sky. But as I drank of nature’s bounty that day, I knew my pleasure wouldn't end when my journey was over. There was much to look forward to at my destination. I met up with friends for lunch and we had a great time together. It was an experience I cherished.
 
Last year, when going through an arduous journey with ill health, I struggled to keep up my usual passion for life. To even consider living to an old age, battling daily pain and fatigue as I did then, seemed too difficult. My eyes which till then had been fixed on earth’s fleeting joys were fast turning towards the life hereafter. I longed for a new body in a way I'd not done before. I yearned for our Christian hope—LIFE after life, where God reigns and where disease and suffering are no more.
Thankfully, a few months later I enjoyed better health and began to have a few good days at last. Hooray! But deep within, I knew that something within had changed forever. I was ready for heaven’s shores in a way I’d never been before. In days past, I’d think it was preposterous that the world would carry on after I died. (Does that sound vain?) But now … a life-switch had been turned on, flooding me with new longings. I could say ‘Come Lord Jesus, come’ and really really mean it. I reflected on the change in me. Was it wrong for me to feel this way? Was I ungrateful to God for the life He had given me? What was God’s take on it?
 
A short while later, I received my answer. I've been studying Rick Warren's ‘Purpose Driven Life’ this year with my Bible study group and I've relished the experience. A sentence from his book jumped out and thumped me hard. The author wrote that God often allows difficulties in our lives so that we don’t get too comfortable on earth. I saw very clearly then, as if I'd put on a new pair of (much needed) reading glasses, and the words on the page were finally legible. (Thank you Rick.) Yes. That’s what had occurred last year. My spiritual eyes were being opened at last to spiritual realities. And no – I wasn’t dishonouring God by thinking this way after all. It was in fact, a God-thing.

My journey to the city on the O bahn, delighting in the beauty around had brought me much contentment. But the real thrill that day lay at my destination. That’s where I got to meet my friends. That was where my body was fed. That was where I rested. I had arrived. Life’s like that too, isn’t it? We can partake of life’s thrills and spills and enjoy it (or sometimes struggle through it as I did), but the final destination we are headed for will be glorious; well beyond our imaginings.

 
Are you going through a tough season? Is heartache, loss, pain or suffering your portion? Do not despair—you who are in Christ, are not home yet. The deepest joys are yet to be, in the presence of The One who made you and loves you with an eternal love. Today, as you walk through your forest of darkness and pain, lift your eyes to the light of the sun; the brilliance of God’s truth. 

The best is yet to be.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:3,4

 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor 2:9

 

 

When your heart is broken

14/04/2016 15:24
We spent a few happy days away last year, in the picturesque town of Mildura. I brought back a little momento from there but it wasn’t a souvenir; neither was it an ornament for my mantlepiece. The keepsake I bought in Mildura resides in my kitchen and I use it every day. Have I piqued your curiosity sufficiently? 

Here’s what it looks like:

Yes, my keepsake is a little bottle of Olive oil. What made it unique was its dimensions. Petite. Just right for my ‘little’ hands. I'd not seen one so small before, not in Adelaide nor anywhere else, and I've continued to use it. I find its cute size is just right for my fingers, much like I enjoy the petite steering wheel in my “baby car” compared to the big steering wheel in what I call Shan’s ‘Daddy car’. When the oil runs out, I buy a large bottle of Olive oil which I use to fill up the little one. "Small" suits me well.
 
One day some weeks ago, I was dismayed to discover that the plastic piece on the top of the bottle was broken. Oh dear! Now, I had to be extra careful when I tipped the bottle, in case too much oil flowed out. A trifle annoying. To my relief, my hand quickly got used to holding the bottle at exactly the right angle.
There’ve been times in my life when I've found that something far more signficant was broken—like my heart. (Have you experienced that?) I recall seasons when the pain was unbearable. I thought then that I’d never recover, a ship’s masts that has been torn by cruel winds, or a beautiful cutglass vase smashed into smithereens. During those seasons, I've clung onto God for dear life, just making it through one day at a time and one moment at a time. Wouldn’t it be simple if we could experience God’s grace through a life of ease rather than through our seasons of suffering?
 
The truth though is that the painful seasons are the times I’ve experienced God’s love in fullest measure. Times when I’ve discovered for a fact that a loving God did exist and that He cared for me. That no matter what happened, Jesus was sufficient and always would be. It was during such a time that Jesus became my Treasure. One day last week I realised with surprise that it was actually a good thing that the plastic top of my little bottle was broken. You see, it made pouring oil from the larger bottle into the little one much easier. Nothing obstructed its flow anymore.
It’s the same when I've nursed a broken heart. The cracks in my heart have permitted God’s love to seep in. How blessed it’s been to experience His joy in the middle of difficult circumstances, His love when the world has turned its back on me, His peace when the storm clouds darkened, and His Presence when I sorely needed it, the balm of soothing oil that healed my broken heart.
 
CS Lewis reminds us of this truth. Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Has God shouted out to you lately? What did He say? I pray that His love will flood your broken heart today and that His peace will permeate each crack. Soon you will be a stunning masterpiece of God’s grace and beauty. And our God of awe and majesty and holiness will be glorified through your life.
 
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him." Psalm 91:15,16
 
 
 

 

The Best Response to Stress

29/03/2016 22:10
A few weeks ago, I decided to make a quick trip to the city to spend a 20% off discount voucher at my favourite bookstore. Living with fibromyalgia means I need to be extremely wise in how I spend my scant energy resources. I’d usually not even consider a trip to the city on my grocery shopping day. But being a little stronger since my B12 injections began last year, I thought I’d risk it.
 
I soon realised what would make it even more do-able. I could drive to the village, park there, take the O bahn to the city, return to the village and then do my shopping. There are more buses to the village than to my home, so it sounded a great idea to make it one long trip rather than two separate ones. On Monday morning, I woke up feeling rested. Not too much pain or fatigue. Thank you God. I took off two hours later than planned, at 10.30 a.m. Never mind. I would make it.
I parked in the village, picked up my handbag and got out of my car. Before leaving home, I’d removed my bus pass from my purse and had lodged it in an outer section of my bag, to make it easy for me to access it. But when I looked where it should have been, I couldn’t find it. Oh dear. I checked all the  compartments of my capacious bag, muttering a few prayers under my breath—but it wasn’t there. I checked the car seats—not a sign of it. I opened the car boot and peered inside my collection of empty shopping bags. No, not there either. Sigh. I would have to buy a ticket after all. Very annoying!
 
I trundled off to the bus stand, hot and agitated, but was glad to see a bus was ready for take off. As I reached, waving my hands vigorously, willing the driver to wait for me, the bus took off. Not my lucky day apparently. I walked all the way back to my car and decided that I may as well go back home to hunt for my bus card. It had to be there. Once home, I checked every room methodically, even the bathroom! No bus pass anywhere. Grrr! I phoned my son—perhaps he’d taken mine accidentally. Nope.
 
I’d wasted one full hour in the pursuit of my prized metro card. My stress was fast rising, like a swelling river after torrential rains. What I’d imagined would be a blissful day; riding on the O bahn listening to praise music was turning instead into a very frustrating one. Sigh! But then, as I got into my car, I realised what I needed to do. To stop giving into my frustration. To flip my mind’s channel to a more peaceful one. So at once I made the choice to be happy. I told myself to be thankful that I hadn’t lost something more important, like a credit card or my house keys. It was just a bus pass after all, with only about 10 dollars credit on it. No problem. All the way to the village this time, I sang praise songs to Jesus.
I thanked Him for His goodness. I thanked Him that life was beautiful—that I had the energy to go to the shops and to even take a trip to the city. As I parked the car again, I asked God for His help. “Lord, it would be lovely to find that bus pass even now. Please help me. If I don’t find it, that’s OK too.” Immediately, I was led to the boot of my car. I opened it and I took out the shopping bags one by one. And yes, there was my bus pass nestling inside one of them. Hooray! I found it.
 
I was one happy girl as I boarded the bus to the city. I had missed yet another bus but it didn’t matter. A faster bus arrived soon after. I got to the city in record time, made my purchases and went back to the village for my shopping. I was exhausted by the end of it, but I’d achieved what I’d hoped for and was still alive to tell the tale. I sifted the events of the morning that night as I went to bed. I knew the exact moment when my pear shaped morning had been transformed into a cracker of a day.
Before I'd started praising God, I hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to listen to Him. Even if He did speak to me, my mind had been too filled with noise to hear Him. But once I’d quieted myself in praise and worship, a miracle took place inside of me. And then I heard His still small voice. Life can often be difficult. But you know what? My attitude to the problem is more important than the problem itself. What’s the best response to stress, I wonder? Ah! No need to wonder. I know. Praise, thanksgiving and resting in Him are the order of the day. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

 

Why don’t I do that more often?

 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5:16-18

 
 

 

Seeing the BIG PICTURE

17/03/2016 21:24
The 18th of March has been a significant day on my calendar as far back as I remember—it was Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. Today, 70 years since March 18th 1946, my parents are celebrating LIFE in their heavenly mansion and I’m so glad they are together again. Their offspring are dotted around the globe—all 35 of us! We comprise 14 children (including 7 spouses), 16 grandchildren (including 5 spouses) and 5 great grandchildren. We live in America (New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington), Australia (Sydney, Blue Mountains, Adelaide, Darwin and Whyalla), England (London) and of course Sri Lanka (Colombo and Kandy). My parents may have physically left the world but we remember them with thanksgiving every day and their legacy lives on.
 

Here’s a quick look back at 7 decades:

70 years ago: Mum and Dad were married.

60 years ago: I was a twinkle in my Mum’s eye, being conceived shortly after.

50 years ago: I was a carefree 8 year old growing up in sunny Sri Lanka.

40 years ago: I was an 18 year old, just out of school, tasting the big wide world.

30 years ago: I was 28, starting a new chapter of life, with my new husband.

20 years ago: I was 38, bringing up a lively 6 year old in the Land of my birth.

10 years ago: I was 48, raising a teenager in this beautiful Land Down Under

Today:  I’m 58 years young, enjoying life under the umbrella of God's goodness and care.
 

The years seem to have disappeared in a flash. It seems just the other day when …

  1. I was a child, just starting this exciting journey we call life
  2. I was found by God and life exploded in joy and purpose

  3. I spent 12 exciting years in Youth For Christ, thriving in its ministry
  4. Prince Charming whisked me away to live happily ever after

  5. I became a Mum. Oh happy day.
  6. We arrived in this lovely Land Down under

  7. I was called of God to become a writer.
The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life’s journey is made up of many different seasons. 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Eccl 3:1. 

Some of those seasons are exciting, others are downright miserable. But you know what? As I look back now, I can view the big picture at last instead of the small baby screen I've zoomed on during the different stages of my life.
 
There’s a great thrill in achieving one’s dreams, in finding with relief that one has made it through the storms of life and reached safe harbour. When my son was little, helping him navigate life was far from easy. But we did it one day at a time. Likewise, I believe we built our marriage, not overnight but just one day at a time. It’s not that challenges didn’t abound. They sure did— in fact, often trials and tough times rained on us, thick and fast, unrelenting. But as I look back, I realise that those difficulties created deeper satisfaction and deeper joy. If life was all too easy, there would be no sense of achievement, would there?
Are you in the midst of a squally season? If so, please do hang in there. 
Although it may feel like it would last forever, this too shall pass.
And here’s a little exercise that might help you:
 

1.      Think of a time when God brought you through a tough time.

a.       Recall the relief you experienced and revel in it.
b.      Give thanks to Him for bringing you through.

2.      Bring to mind special people in your life who’ve blessed you.

a.       Celebrate them. Write a letter to appreciate one of them.

3.      Ponder on this blessed season, lent, and what it is all about.

a.       Kneel at the cross and adore your Saviour.

4.      And finally … zoom out of today.

 
 
Now, picture your life in five, ten or twenty years time, as you hope it will be. Aim at getting there with God’s help. Stay in that happy place for awhile. Once your heart’s been blessed and saturated with hope, return to your daily walk, renewed in the knowledge that He who cares for you, will never leave you nor forsake you.
 
God is still God and always will be. His goodness will permeate every chapter of our lives. 

His love is eternal. His faithfulness abounds to all generations.

 

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.

God will take care of your tomorrow too.

Live one day at a time.” Matthew 6:34 (TLB)

 

 

Missing the Obvious

02/03/2016 13:06
Recently, I found a photo sent a few years ago by my friend Jeff. Jeff’s a wise, compassionate pastor, who’s blessed me and my loved ones through his ministry. He is also many other things—a gifted photographer for one. This picture had been taken during a pastor’s retreat on the Murray River. Scenes of water always invigorate me, so the picture grabbed my heart. Jeff must have clicked it at twilight because of the soft colours it portrayed. I loved its cool shades. I loved seeing the trees and the skies mirrored in the water. I placed it as my desk-top-photo-of-the-day and then got busy with this and that.
 
A bit later, when I came back to my computer, Jeff’s exquisite picture called out me. It was only then I realised that I’d not noticed something—glaringly obvious now—a little crescent moon drawn skillfully by God’s fine art pencil in a picturesque evening sky. That tiny slice of moon completed a perfect picture. How could I have missed it? I dipped my soul in the picture’s loveliness and continued to enjoy it throughout that day. 
Thank you Jeff. Great photography!
There are times I miss glaringly obvious revelations. Many decades ago, when I was young and innocent and waiting for Mr. Right, I remember looking around me and praying “Lord, please manufacture a man for me. There is no one around”. Did God answer my prayer? Of course. Well ... not exactly. He simply opened my eyes to an amazing man I hadn’t ‘noticed’ before. Shan had been a good friend for four years. In the blink of an eye, God whispered into my heart that here he was—my Mr. Right. How could I have not realised it? Now, 32 years later, I thank God every day for my awesome husband and rejoice in our journey through life together.
In my battle against fibromyalgia, I've leant on John 10:10 as I claimed healing. ‘Lord, this intense pain and fatigue are too hard to cope with and are not the abundant life you promised. Please heal me Jesus, so I can serve you better.” One day last year, as I prayed desperately for healing, two verses from scripture bopped me on the head. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy one is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, 11). The latter verse struck me forcefully and I read it over and over again. But … what exactly did it mean in my particular context of fibromyalgia?
 
As I continued to suffer with fibro symptoms over the next few months, I also battled deep discouragement. “O Lord, I can’t go on anymore,” I whispered. And then it all came to a head.  I found that what God required of me was total surrender of my illness. To worship Him in my struggle – not only if it came to an end. And so, I made a battle plan. My bad fibro days now became a unique training ground for “praise in spite of”. It was a schooling in trusting Jesus and in embracing those tough times through His strength.
What a difference it made! I still do experience bad fibro days, but life has improved dramatically. You see, I don’t battle discouragement any longer. I understand at last what God was saying through that verse.
That understanding God and who He is was the key to my battle.
That God’s ways are often different to ours. That He doesn’t always answer prayers the way I’d like. That He is more interested in my character than in handing out a life of ease. That I can ask Him for healing but not insist on it on my own terms. Because healing will come in His time not mine, in His way and not in mine. He is God, not I.
 
How did I miss the obvious? Perhaps because God’s answers are not always obvious. His ways have often to be sought out like a fossicker scouring the desert in 40 degree heat for gold (ask my friend Jeff—he’ll tell you!) Didn’t Jesus often hide God’s truth in parables so that its real meaning had to be diligently sought after, in order to be understood?
O Lord, help me discover your hidden treasures on life’s journey.
  • It’s not always obvious that God showers His love during my tough seasons …

Oh but He does.

  • It’s not always evident that God is in control of the world …

Oh but He is.

  • It’s not always clear that God can solve every problem I face …

Oh but He will

  • It’s not always apparent that our Enemy is a defeated foe …

Oh, but he is

  • It’s not always obvious that God is with me through my trials …

Oh but He is! Oh yes, He is.

 

“Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom, all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Everything we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by the way of Jesus Christ. That why we have this saying, “If you are going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”” 1 Cor 1:25, 31 (MSG)

 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God, not from us. For our light and mometary troubles are achieving for us, an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  1 Cor 4: 17

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

 
 
 

You are Cherished

11/02/2016 14:38
I was sitting in church a few Sundays ago, when I felt uncomfortably warm, so I reached for my bag and pulled out a little fan. I opened it and waved it briskly near my sweaty face. Ah! Delicious breezes cooled me. That was better! Much better. I could now concentrate on the sermon. I confess though that my attention was divided. As I listened to the wise words emanating from the preacher’s mouth, I couldn’t help sneaking a few admiring glances at what was in my hand. I was surprised by its loveliness.
 
The little trinket had cost me only 3 dollars, but it’s value was much greater. For one thing, it never failed to deliver refreshment when I needed it. And then there was the aesthetic side to it. Pretty purple flowers and dainty green leaves stood out in a silky white background. Little undulating wooden ‘sticks’ in contrasting colours of black and white held the fan together. I marvelled at it. You might think ‘marvel’ is too strong a word, but it’s true. It was so eye-catching, that I looked at it, twice, thrice and more.
 
 
I wonder what your Valentine’s day was like? Did your Valentine marvel at you and your beauty? Shan and I have never paid much attention to Valentine’s day because, you see, a more important event always followed it. Today, the 15th of Feb 2016 my husband and I celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss. Isn’t that something worth shouting about? Don’t worry, I shan’t bore you with sloppy gooey stories or shock you with too much fascinating detail. You won't need to cover your eyes and ears, I promise.
When we were engaged, a couple who’d been married a few years told us we’d soon get bored with each. Bored? Surely not? I’m happy to share with you now, that after 3 decades of marriage they have been proved wrong. It’s not that life’s been perfect. While we’ve oft been walking in lush green meadows hand in hand, sipping the nectar of the gods, that’s only been some of the time. We’ve also had all kinds of rugged pathways to trek through, perilous mountains to climb, obstacle courses to circumvent. Tough times? Of course. But bored with each other? Never. That vital spark is still very much alive in our marriage. I’m thrilled to report that my beloved is still TBHAGEH (The Best Husband A Girl Ever Had), my confidante, lover and best friend.
 
I am deeply grateful to Shan for many things: The good life he’s provided us with, through his perseverance and hard work. His empathy, sense of humour, gentleness and understanding which never cease to bless me. For the amazing, one-in-a-million kind of  Dad he’s been to our son. Mostly for the the myriad ways he still makes me feel loved and cherished. When I think of Valentine’s day, I envision a mushy kind of love, one that doesn’t endure the ravages of time. Marriage vows signify something deeper and more trustworthy than a fancy ring, a bunch of flowers or a dinner for two once a year on Valentine’s day. The dictionary tells me that cherishing another has many facets: To adore, love, care for, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire, appreciate, protect, shelter, keep safe, support, nurture. Aren't we all created to be cherished?
If I could marvel at the appeal of an insignificant little fan, what do you think God does when He looks at you, His creation? That fan cost me 3 dollars. So how much do you think you are worth? 30 dollars? 300 dollars? 30 milion dollars? What a silly question! Who can ever put a price on a human being, crafted by the One and Only Creator God, the One who lives forever? I thank God today, for His faithfulness showered on us these 30 years and I wonder afresh at his immense love for us.
 
 
Special occasions like Valentine’s day could often leave one feeling sad and alone, a little bird sitting atop a creaking branch, watching the Eagles’ grand launch party from a distance. But don’t forget! No matter what your circumstances, you’re never alone. You are deeply loved and always will be. And not just by any old someone either. You are loved by the Majestic, Eternal Holy God who created you so that He could lavish His great love upon you. Jesus paid the ultimate price to secure your freedom and mine. Those who walk in His ways are kept safe under His wings. 
 
Cherished by Him for all eternity.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 

so great is his love for those who fear Him." Psalm 103:11

 

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

 
 

How PATIENT are you?

28/01/2016 14:05

During the past few years, my son’s strong arms have helped carry my weekly groceries up our steep driveway. I’d park at the bottom and the two of us would do two or three trips up to our house, carrying a few bags each. This year, though, Asela’s working hours were extended, so he wasn’t around whenever I returned from each grocery shopping spree. I decided it was worth paying for a home delivery.
 
The first time I tried the service, it didn’t work out quite how I’d anticipated. I had to wait patiently for more than an hour before my phone rang. “Your front door is closed” said an unfamiliar voice. I opened my front door and stood there like an expectant little bird with her beak open, waiting to be fed. I waited. And waited.  After 10 minutes, there was still no sign of the truck, so I called back. No answer. Grrr! It was a hot day and I had things to do. What a relief when the man did turn up, groceries and all. Apparently he’d been at the right house number but on the wrong street.
The next time, I asked for a 5-8 p.m. delivery and returned home by 5. I was exhausted but didn’t dare lie down even for 10 minutes in case my groceries arrived. But once again, I played the waiting game. 5 …5.30 …6.00 …6.30 … 7.00. Should I call to check, I wondered. But no—I must be patient. 7.30 … 7.45 …and my patience ran out. I called. Sorry, they said. There had been a mistake. They’d called the number I’d written for them but couldn’t connect. My squiggly handwriting had let me down.
 
The grocery man (and the goods) finally arrived 15 minutes later, replete with a host of apologies and two large boxes of Lindt chocolates to make up for their lapse. So was it third time lucky, you ask? Not a chance. This time, I printed out my address and phone numbers, so they would read my details correctly. I completed my shopping before 2 p.m. for a 2 – 5 delivery time but had more things to do in the village, so asked if they could deliver at 3 p.m. No problem they said. Ah! But there was a problem.
 
I was on my way back at 2.30 when my phone rang. I couldn’t answer it because I was driving. I guessed who it might be, of course. Would the delivery man wait? My car screeched to a halt, (not really, I’m just being dramatic) and I pounded up my driveway. “Hello” I said. A man stepped out of a truck.
“I’m sorry you had to wait” I uttered between breaths. “I did ask for a 3 p.m. delivery.”
“That doesn’t work you know. We can’t promise a time.”
“Thanks for waiting” I said, relieved that my groceries hadn’t been whisked away before I arrived.
 
And what of the fourth time? Believe it or not … it worked. Hooray! No more trudging up our driveway with heavy bags. I think the money’s worth it, don’t you? In this instant age, we often expect too much too soon. We demand perfection of ourselves and of others before we (or they) can deliver (please note the pun!)  But growing an Oak tree takes 20 or 30 years. Growing a mature man or woman isn’t any different. Learning life skills, takes an entire lifetime, at least three score years and ten, I reckon. Very few commodities in life turn up perfect, as we snap our fingers. Besides, those times of waiting are often a God-planned part of our journey.
Even God’s answers to our prayers often operate on a different timeline to ours don’t they? I've been praying an earnest prayer for 25 long years. I'm sure God would love to respond with a resounding YES to that prayer, but ... I’m still waiting. Meanwhile, He’s growing me. He's also doing plenty of worthwhile work behind the scenes which only eternity will reveal. I’m fast learning that seasons of waiting are a natural part of God’s order for me and for His world. Who knows, I might be cultivating patience as I wait. Wouldn't that be nice?
 
Have you been disappointed in yourself and in blunders that you've made? Do forgive yourself. You will get there, you know. Are you impatient about  people in your life and the time they're taking to "grow up"? I'm sure they will surprise you one day. So give them time. Are you waiting on God's answers to your heart's cries? God's never in a hurry, I believe. After all, eternity is at His fingertips. But be assured that His answers will arrive. Let’s turn our seasons of waiting to grow deeper roots into the rich soil of kingdom living. Let’s use the extra time to sprout wings, wings that help us fly to new lands of opportunity and freedom. And let's cultivate the fruit of patience in our souls as we wait.
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

 

“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Cor 13:4

 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

 

 

Forever means FOREVER

14/01/2016 14:22
On many occasions last year, the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia were too intense to allow my evening walk. A sorry state it was. I’m happy to tell you though, that as 2016 dawned, I’ve been walking more (praise God) and have been loving it, as I contrive to bring a few contours back into my shapeless waist and to the bulging rest-of-me. One evening last week, when I approached our neighbourhood oval, the skies were singing praises to their Creator. I stopped at once to take a few pictures. Click. Click. Click went my camera. Wow Wow Wow went my wide-open-eyes. O Lord You are amazing said my heart.
 
A few seconds later, I trotted out into the Oval and a cheery sight greeted me. Couples sauntered by, hand in hand. Children raced by on scooters. A few folks walked their dogs. Families were out for exercise. A young man flew a kite which flapped merrily in the breeze. And all the while, the heavens proclaimed God’s handiwork in flamboyant splendour. What a flaming sunset that was—streaks of reds, yellows and bright orange splashed boldly across the sky with an expanse of grey above that contrasted beautifully against the brighter colours. On the other side of the oval, a large pink cloud resembling a giant dog leapt across an expanse of azure sky.
I've always loved watching sunsets. They usually last a short time, maybe ten minutes at most. On this particular evening, though, each time I walked around the Oval, I’d stop to take more pictures because the sunset continued to blaze. For ever it seemed. After five rounds (and 45 minutes of walking), the sky invited me—even challenged me to do one more round. “We can keep up, you know” it seemed to declare brashly. I believed its promise, but was too tired to check it out. And so I went home. Looking back at its beauty. Smiling.
 
You and I know that a lot of things in life don’t last. Gadgets break. Friendships dwindle. Relationships fizzle out. People die. It’s a sad old world sometimes. But that evening sky reminded me that some things do go on forever. Like God’s love. Like God Himself.
 
It will be 17 years tomorrow, (19th January 2016), since we arrived on the shores of this beautiful Land Down Under. We are very grateful to its friendly people for welcoming us, for blessing us with a home away from home. The years have disappeared in a flash. My son was 8 when we arrived; he’s now a mature 25. During those years we have seen lots of change. In the world. In the community we live in. In ourselves. After all, change is perhaps the only unchanging factor in our lives ... or so it seems.
But wait. As we step into a New Year, let us remember what the Word tells us: ‘Jesus is the same, yesterday, and today and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8) In a world where few things remain constant, it thrills my heart and refreshes me; a spring of sparkling water that will never run dry. So take courage my friend. Every new beginning spells fresh hope.  And even better, we know the One who will never change. So walk boldly forward, remembering with joy, that though life is fleeting and good times disappear, the One who flung the stars into space, the One who created you, knows you by name. He will never change. His love lasts forever. And yes, forever means FOREVER!
 
Psalm 136: 1-8;25-26

1. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

        His love is eternal.

 
2. Give thanks to the God of gods.
        His love is eternal.
 
 

3. Give give thanks to the Lord of lords.

        His love is eternal.

 
4. He alone does great wonders.
        His love is eternal.
 

5. He made the heavens skillfully.

        His love is eternal.

 
6. He spread the land on the waters.
        His love is eternal.

 

7. He made the great lights.

        His love is eternal.

 
8. The sun to rule by day;
        His love is eternal.

 

25. He gives food to every creature.

        His love is eternal.

26. Give thanks to the God of heaven!

        His love is eternal.

 
 

 

New Year Resolutions

09/01/2016 13:33

by Anne Abayasekara

Today, I have great pleasure in welcoming a Guest Blogger to my website – none other than my Mum, Anne Abayasekara, a journalist for over 70 years. This article was first published 55 years ago in the Sunday Times of Ceylon 1961 (and later in her book ‘Hurrah for Large Families’). It was penned when Anne was aged 35 with seven young children aged 11, 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, and 3.

 

And now, without further ado, I give you ...

New Year Resolutions by Anne Abayasekara  - 15.01.1961.

We were having dinner in the garden and out of long habit I found myself shouting instructions to the children: “Sit properly Ranil”; “Don’t talk with your mouth full, Sarla”; “Stop arguing boys and eat”, etc. etc. Suddenly I listened to myself and felt somewhat ashamed. I looked up to find my husband smiling at me and I said,

 

 “I must have changed a lot in fifteen years.”

“How do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, I expect I must sound quite ‘bossy’ now, after managing seven children. I must have been different when I married you at 21.”

 

He continued to smile, wisely making no comment.The next day, we had to attend our daughter’s school prize giving and Husband said he would meet me at the school straight from work. Almost without thinking I said: “Then you had better change your shirt at lunchtime and for goodness sake, brush your hair down before you come.” Husband chuckled. “There you have the answer to your question of last night—how you have changed.” He grinned. “You wouldn’t have spoken like that 15 years ago. You sound positively managerial.” We had a good laugh together over that, but I've felt inwardly chastened ever since. And among the New Year resolutions I have made,

 

No.1 is TO BE LESS ‘MANAGERIAL’ IN 1961.

It may be old fashioned to make New Year resolutions at all, but January is an appropriate time to take stock of ourselves and our families. The children are making new beginnings in new classes and new schools and parents have had a hectic time with school entrance tests, new books and helping children to unfamiliar places, faces and routine. When I finally wave the children off to school in the morning, I flop into a chair at the breakfast table (which has been left in a fine state of disarray). “Peace and quiet for the next eight hours and time to get things sorted out”, I say to myself. And sometimes as today, while I get busy picking up clothes putting out towels, airing mattresses, tidying shoes, putting away books, my mind too becomes active, dwelling less on the children’s deficiencies than on my own shortcomings!

 

Life is such a rush for the modern child. The day hardly seems long enough for all they have to do. Unconsciously, we urge them on all the time, from one thing to another. From the time they are woken up in the morning - we dare not let them get up when they please – it’s a case of “Do hurry up—you’ll be late.”

 

Children seem to have precious little time for relaxation, no time at all “to stand and stare.” And I guess I am not the only mother who in my anxiety, am guilty of nagging a good deal. Children are not left in peace even to perform their natural functions. I bang on the bathroom door with the eternal “Hurry up—you’ll be late!” Even when they come home tired from school they cannot dawdle over their tea. They must wash and change quickly and dash onto their next assignment—music, elocution, dancing or just extra tuition.

 

When mother starts to feel a mental wreck just to get the children off in time for everything, it is also time she paused awhile to consider whether she might not be driving them nuts eventually unless she slows down the pace. So that’s another of my good resolutions for 1961:

·        TO GO SLOW WITH THE CHILDREN THIS YEAR

·        TO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH OF THEM.

·        TO LET THEM ENJOY LIFE WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG.

On a Christmas visit to friends who have no children, I was happily surprised when our host and hostess both commented on our children’s good manners. “They all say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ remarked our friends in evident surprise. “That’s after years of dinning it into them”, I said. “But so few parents seem to trouble to “din it into them today” our hosts replied.

 

I don’t know if that is so, but I have another aspect to this matter of teaching children good manners; in their eagerness to turn out polite, well mannered citizens, many mothers are guilty of discourtesy and impoliteness themselves. I know I am.

 

Instead of setting my children a gentle example of courtesy in my daily dealings with them (and alas even with their father), I tend to shout precepts at them in an impatient tone. I forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in daily intercourse with family, I am a bad listener. I interrupt children’s conversations. I break up their games. I shout at them with scant regard for their feelings. I am often rude.

 

I remember once, my eldest daughter related a rambling account of something that happened at school and all the time I was thinking that her teeth looked yellow. The moment she finished, I said “You must brush your teeth properly”, and she replied in disgust: “Oh Amma, you never listen!”

 

I seldom conceal my irritation at their constant questions. Even husband has now become accustomed to receiving impatient answers to simple queries, though he once mildly observed that I was much more polite when we were newly married. So it is no wonder that my third New Year resolution is:

 

TO BE MORE POLITE.

 

I have one last and final resolution too, one that I sincerely mean to try to keep, even if I fail with all the others. 

 

TO BE MORE LOVING.

 

It is a harsh complex world that our children face today, with conflicts and problems that are not of their own making. Today’s children are aware of racial and religious antagonisms, of class conflicts, of all kinds of issues in which their parents are involved, of the great ideological differences that divide mankind to opposing camps, of the possibility of extermination through nuclear warfare and of man’s general inhumanity to man.

 

If I can help it, I should like my children to grow up in a home where love is the binding force and where they see in concrete form that if there is any way to soften this human heart, to kill evil and hatred and all that goes with it, it is not through hatred and cruelty, but through charity, love and understanding.

                                                                       Anne Abayasekara - Sunday Times of Ceylon, 15th Jan 1961

In conclusion, I’d like to add, 55 years on, that Mum's aspirations have been amply realised. I know I speak for my brothers and sisters as much as myself, when I say we are deeply grateful to God for Amma and Thatha, for all they have been to us over the years, mostly for the secure foundation they gave us in a very happy childhood. Our parents' unconditional love for us was the binding force in our home and the cornerstone of our lives. 

 

And after all, love is the key to life isn't it?

 

We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

 

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 10:13:4-7

 
 
           
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