Two years ago, when we decided to move to greener pastures, I was filled with trepidation; loath to give up the beautiful views I'd thrived on for over seventeen years. Would we find an equally loved home the next time around? I confess to moments of not trusting God wholly. But I need not have worried. The instant we entered our new habitation, it became home … and there was no looking back. I don't usually thrive on change, so however did that happen? I had also been a little worried whether I'd be able to connect with God as easily as I did in our previous home. Again, God blessed me beyond my expectations. I discovered soon enough that our new home reeks of nooks and crannies which I call God-spaces!
Thank you Papa! There's plenty of magic in my home. I love it!
One of my God-spaces is our spacious dining room. It boasts of large glass windows which overlook our backyard patio. On weekdays, I have my lunch there in solitary splendour, partaking of a boring, healthy meal with my eyes (mostly) fixed on a good book. I face the backyard then—enjoying the view of the bright yellow flowers outside as they dance in the breeze. A few days ago, the light seemed dim, so reading became difficult. Should I face the other way, allowing the sunshine from behind fall on my book? But then … I’d have to give up my gorgeous view. Hmm …! Not a good proposition.
I tried hard to keep reading, but, after straining unsuccessfully to decipher the words, I knew I had to try another spot. So reluctantly I moved to the other end of the table—and what a wonderful surprise! No view? Silly me! A stunning scene of the hills from my kitchen flooded the room from ahead. I gasped in wonder, because on my left, I had yet another picture-perfect view of our front garden. Wow! Not one view, but two. What was I grumbling about?
Often in life, God calls me to give up where I’m comfortable and head off in a new direction altogether. Change isn’t easy for me. When we’d settled into our former home over 17 years ago, (after 11 moves in 4 countries in 14 years of marriage), I was ready to stay put for the rest of my earthly existence. But two years ago, it happened. We realised we needed to move for many reasons. In addition, I felt God’s nudge in my spirit that it was time to leave. Of course, I had to say ‘Yes’. The thing is … If I refuse to walk in His ways, I would never discover the treasures He has ready to shower on me. And when I stay in the safety of the known, I would never reach my promised land.
Our intense eight month adventure of moving house took lot out of me—I’m still suffering with pain and fatigue due to the nonstop physical work involved. But when I look back on all the effort, the physical distress and the extreme pain … then look around me at my present exquisite surroundings, I look up in heartfelt gratitude. It was all worth it. More than worth it. I’d do it all over again!
Is God calling you to something new? A career? A relationship? A tough assignment? Is He asking you to give up something you enjoyed? To try something painfully different? Do you find it too hard to turn around in the direction He’s pointing at? Friend, I feel your pain. Change is rarely easy and requires courage. The longer we’ve been settled in a job or home or church or wherever, the harder it is to move out of that sweet spot into a new habitation. And yet, as long as we cling to the old, the joys and delights of a new season cannot be unearthed.
Today I testify to a God who wants only the best for His children. Who leads us with an unerring Hand. A God who asks for our all but makes it more than worthwhile when we say 'Yes' to His plans for us. He will take you through winding pathways to your unique future as you place your trust Him.
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18: 30
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure. Psalm 18:32
My purse broke the other day and I was forced to buy a new one. I had liked the way it fitted snugly into my palm when I used it. I liked its colour. I hoped I’d find a replacement when I spent the generous gift card I'd received at Christmas. But when I checked prices of purses at the shop the card belonged to, my eyebrows shot up. $175.00. Whew! I would defintely have to try elsewhere. Perhaps I might be fortunate enough to find a discounted one for $20.00.
Later, I stopped by at my favourite bag shop and was thrilled to find they had a sale on. A helpful shop assistant assessed my needs and offered me a suitable little purse. But ... it sported a black and white flowery pattern. I’m more a non-flashy-purse kind of gal. Black was what I was after. I looked and looked. I hunted and hunted. But she was right. There were no others of the size I liked in black. Disappointed, I thought I’d have to take the flowery one she’d given me, after all. As I walked to the counter to pay for it, I spotted a table next to it overflowing with bargains. Not expecting to find what I wanted, I had a quick look just in case. Eureka. I found it. A little black purse. And it only cost $12.99. Hooray!
These days, I enjoy using my unobtrusive little black purse. It reminds me how God takes care of my needs. That purse was no big deal, true, but I felt blessed because He provided for me. I’m thinking now about a far bigger need which God answered recently. In fact, my heart bursts with gratitude each day as I reflect on His lavish love.
When my beloved and I realised it was time to move from our cherished home of 17 plus years, it was a tough decision. What I’d loved most about our former home was that it was easy to connect with God there, mostly due to the beauty of its surrounds. I was filled by the glorious vista stretching far beyond our front door reaching sea views of 25 km away. The scene from my backdoor and kitchen window also fed my soul often as I drank in the lush green outdoors and the tall beautiful trees standing on our back yard. But our driveway was now too steep for this 60 year old; the garden far too big. We needed more living space.
Would we find a home that matched our needs but also nourished my spirit?
We started the long difficult process of house hunting, house cleaning, decluttering, work, work, work and hope, hope hope! People had told me it was a stressful journey and I’d laughed it off … until I too joined their bandwagon. They were right. The exhaustion, crushed hopes, never-ending hard work and long waiting periods all created a much tougher season than I’d envisaged. Anyone who’s sold and bought a home knows there are numerous factors in the process that are completely out of one's hands.
In October 2018, when our home was finally ready for sale, I scanned my computer looking for our next home, when a picture of one jumped out of the computer screen and took residence in my heart.
“This is the next home I have for you, Nushi” God whispered.
And so began a three month journey of working towards it. Of praying much, every single day. Did it come easy? Not at all. We faced obstacle after obstacle. We were exhausted. And often discouraged. But God. God was at work in the background. Twice, the price of the house came down till it finally sat smack bang in the middle of our price range. Amazing! While we waited weeks to sell ours, our dream home didn’t sell for 2 ½ months—nothing short of a miracle. There were other miracles too. Perhaps I’ll write a book about it one day.
On the 2nd of March 2018, the dots connected. Finally. Thank you God. So here we are today, settling down in our dream home, surrounded by boxes. Filled with joy. Thank you dear family and friends. Your prayers and good wishes have been answered. God showed me what persistence in prayer could achieve. And that He cares. He cares very much. He even gave me a little den to do my writing in. Not something I’d expected. A BIG bonus.
That’s what God is like, you know. No, He’s not a genie who’ll always give me what I ask for. But He’s a gracious, giving God who’s love outstrips me all the time. He asks that I seek His heart and pray according to His will. He loves it when I follow His lead. Just as I hoped, I now feel His presence in our new home. The little nature reserve next door, picturesque walking trails outside my front door, a view of the hills from our front yard and kitchen, proclaim God’s goodness and love to my soul.
My faith muscles were strengthened over these past few months as He surprised and delighted me with umpteen answers to prayer. So more than ever before, I’m filled with faith in a mighty God as I bring the needs of family and friends before Him.
Do you have a need today? He loves you more than you could ever imagine. Yes, He does. I pray that He will provide you with all your heart hungers for. And may He whisper through His answers how very much He loves you.
“Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2,5
Some years ago, I studied the book of Exodus, enjoying the riveting story of God’s deliverance of His chosen people, the children of Israel. I must confess that I felt a stab of envy when I read that Moses was called God’s friend. I’d love to be called a friend of God too!
A song on one of my CD’s has a catchy tune. “I am a friend of God” it declares in bright, breezy tones. The song sounds a little too brash for the likes of me. The words are spot on and based on scripture, but the tune didn’t convey what that truly means:
That He is a holy God and that we should fall down before Him in worship and awe,
thrilled but also amazed at the preposterous idea that He calls us FRIENDS!
How could I boast about it (as the tune implies) when it's only
His grace and mercy which make it possible?
I remember a time when someone I looked up to, called me friend. I was both surprised and honoured! How much more of a privilege it is to be called a friend of the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe! And yet ... how often do we stop to marvel at the incredible nature of such a gift?
There was once a troubled young man I encountered who was in dire need. I listened to him, feeling deeply for him as I sensed the confusion raging in his heart.
‘So do you know Jesus personally?’ he asked.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Wow!” Amazement was scrawled across his face in large letters.
“And the Holy Spirit?”
I nodded. “Yes, Him too.” I smiled at Stewart (not his real name).
“Wow”. Stewart was clearly astounded.
I hastened to re-assure him. “No! No! No! It’s not just me, Stewart. God’s friendship is available to all people. Everyone who comes to Him in repentance and faith will find Him.”
Stewart sighed. “I’ve prayed the salvation prayer a hundred times but nothing has happened."
My heart ached for him. I had no doubt that he believed in God. I had no doubt he was sincere in his search for God’s presence. We prayed together. Stewart asked if he could repeat the salvation prayer after me and he did. I haven’t met him since but I continue to pray for Stewart that his perplexity would be replaced by new life, hope and God’s perfect peace.
The joyful truth is that God’s friendship is not for a select few. It’s for anyone who calls on His name. Yes, anyone! Rich or poor, old or young, sick or well, able or weak, clever or foolish, happy or sad, hopeful or hopeless, bubbly or despondent, whoever we are and in whatever situation, whatever our creed or world view, we are all welcome.
Did you know that the Omnicient Omnipotent God
who created the world, desires your friendship?
Best of all, becoming His friend is not difficult. He simply asks that we surrender to Him wholly, no holds barred. We seek His forgiveness. We repent of all our sin. We accept that Jesus death and resurrection has paved the way for us to reach eternity. We slide over to the passenger seat and ask Him to take the Driver’s seat. Yes, it is as simple as that! And as difficult as that. He does ask for our all.
I am not envious of Moses anymore. I’ve found the joy of having a Friend whose name is Jesus. I’d love to introduce my Friend to anyone who will listen. God desires your friendship and intimacy with you.
Will you respond? He is waiting for you.
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me.
Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands,
you’ll remain intimately at home in my love.” John 15:9-10
“You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer
calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master
is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you
in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” John 15:13-15 NLT
The first fourteen years of our married life included eleven moves in four countries. We took them in our stride, perhaps because we had youth and energy on our side. But during the past six months as we attempted a 12th move …. that was something else altogether. We had never sold a house before and what a learning curve! After slaving feverishly for days, weeks and months on end to create a showpiece home, I assumed that the hardest part of our work was finally behind us. How wrong I was!
Preparing our home for twelve Open inspections over the next eight weeks zapped my energy, as if I'd been struggling up a steep mountain slope with a heavy backpack on a 40 degree day. We’d spend hours moving stuff (brooms, buckets, slippers, chairs, tables and the like) to the garage, convert our home and garden into clutter-free spotless masterpiece for half an hour, then had to lug everything back afterwards so we could actually live in this masterpiece. Weariness hung on us, like heavy trench courts made of concrete. The constant emotional rollercoaster ride of being hopeful one day then having those hopes dashed the next, added rocks of tiredness into the pockets of those same trench coats.
At first, the sale of our home had seemed to go according to plan. Just five days after our first housing inspection, we received an excellent offer and we signed a contract. What joy! Perhaps this house selling business wasn’t so difficult after all. Alas, seven days later, the buyer (whose plans for our home were foiled by the council’s regulations) called it off. And … that was that! Nothing else for it but to go back to plotting, plodding and praying much. We returned to the tedious, tiring task of holding Open Inspections, week after week.
Fast forward a couple of months. Change of topic, (or so it seems). One day recently, I found to my chagrin that our toilet roll supply had dwindled. Hmmm! Would the toilet paper last till my groceries arrived next Monday? Moments later, I went to our laundry cupboard to fetch a clean towel. Imagine my surprise to discover inside it a roll of toilet paper! Unexpected. Timely. Just what I needed! Light dawned. I’d kept a few rolls in our cupboard during our open inspections. I had obviously forgotten to put this one back in its usual place afterwards. How amazing it was that I found it the very moment I needed it.
Sometimes God is silent. For days, weeks, months, years on end. And then … at the nth hour – when all hope has receded, He performs a miracle, the sound of cool welcome rains pattering down, after a long parched summer. My husband anticipated selling our home by Christmas while I’d expected to sell it well before. But there we were, preparing for the final open inspection before Christmas, our hopes receded to a far-away land, disappointment flooding our hearts. We wondered if we should take our home off the market and have some renovations done before trying to sell it again. But the thought was just too hard for me to contemplate. I was so tired—too tired to keep going.
As we trooped out of our home to greet the agent, he surprised us. We had an offer! Fancy that. A little candle of hope was re-ignited. Seven days and two more Inspections later, with an increase of the original offer, we accepted! Hope flew—an eagle soaring high. Like that one roll of toilet paper turning up at a crucial time—God answered once again with perfect precision, so we did sell it before Christmas after all. Perhaps those 12 inspections were to teach me patience, perseverance and trust. God must have known I needed to learn those lessons!
Today, you might be wondering if God has heard your prayers. You might be disappointed at His silence or even feel abandoned by Him. Please don’t give up. These past six months I’ve learnt all over again what an amazing, mighty powerful God we serve. It’s often in the desert seasons that He reveals Himself conspicuously to us. It’s when we are bankrupt of hope that He marches in, waving the flag of impossibility-turned-to-possibility. Your miracle is surely on its way. Hope for it. Pray for it. I am cheering you on. God is too.
“And my God will supply your every need according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
A few years back, I had a sudden change of calling. My church-based ministry of over a decade shifted into a do-life-as-it-happens kind of season. Our local shopping centre became my regular focus for serving others. As I walked around doing my weekly shopping, I prayed for strangers, throwing a prayer coverlet around them. I listened to sales people and checkout girls, opening my heart to them. That was how I met Dina (not her real name).
Dina is a courageous hard working single mum who does all she can to care for her lovely young daughter. I believed God asked me to look out for her, to mother her and to share His love with her. Soon Dina and I became friends. We caught up during the school holidays, chatted when she served me and communicated via text messages. Dina had a difficult life. I wished so much that I could help her in more concrete ways.
This past Christmas, when chatting to Dina I found that she’d experienced a tough year financially. It’s been a stressful season for us too with our house matters and I was exhausted. If I ever felt God’s nudge to reach out to someone, I’d do it, but didn’t have the luxury of time and energy to reflect on my actions. One day, I received a text from Dina, asking me to come to her shop to collect something from her on a certain day. I smiled, sure she had a gift for me as she’s done in the past. I wrapped gifts for her and her daughter, enclosing a part of my Christmas money in her card, asking God to multiply it.
When I reached the shop she works in, Dina was not to be found. She ignored my texts and calls so I kept going back to her shop to honour her request. Finally ... on my fourth attempt I found her. What a relief! I was very tired but it would all be worth it. I waited patiently as she served a customer. Then … Dina looked back and glared at me. With shock I realised that I was out of favour with her. I hadn’t a clue why. During a lull in her work, I was able to go up to her to give her my gift. She refused to accept it. I said “Please take it Dina”, smiled and left it for her. She in turn shoved an envelope at me. I took the envelope and left, not knowing why I was being treated that way.
Dina’s scrawled words on the envelope revealed all. I’d sent her a small portion of my birthday money as a Christmas gift—I confess I had no memory of it because life had been such a blur of late. Sadly, Dina was deeply offended. She’d written that she didn’t want any handouts. She was angry. My cash gift was returned in the envelope. A text message I sent to explain that it was a little gift given with love elicited an angry response with hurtful words. I couldn’t believe how a small caring act of friendship could be so badly misunderstood. She requested my postal address so she could post my gifts back to me. What really shocked me was that she also ended our friendship. Just like that. Whew!
Quite early on in our friendship I’d become aware that Dina is sensitive about receiving help from others. Unfortunately, this year my life has been on a crazy roller coaster ride so I was exhausted and time-poor, unable to think clearly. Small wonder then that I’d forgotten that fact. I love receiving cash gifts and offered it to Dina in the same spirit I receive similar tokens of love from family and friends. Unfortunately Dina saw it as an unforgivable insult. Oh no!
I was too shocked to even tell my husband—it took me a week to recover and before I was ready to unload my sadness into his empathetic listening ears and heart, and he encouraged me. Bless him. That day however, I simply let my tears fall, asking God for comfort, searching my heart. On further reflection I was still sure that my act was prompted by love. I had no hidden agenda—I simply sought to bless my friend. I’ve often felt that God wanted Dina to know how much He loves her—this gift was tell her so.
It was then that God spoke to my heart.
“This is how I feel Nushi—when you reject me or think wrongly of me!’
I gasped, understanding flooding me, a bright light reaching a dark corner. As Dina hurt me that day, I have hurt God. Countless times! I’ve forgotten to thank Him for blessings He daily showers on me. I’ve misunderstood His motivations. When He’s given me a present wrapped in unusual gift-wrap, I’ve got mad at Him and said things I’ve regretted. I have ignored Him or been too busy. I’ve placed him at the bottom of my To-do list. I’ve not listened to His whispers of love. I've hurt my Daddy God.
Forgive me Lord. Forgive me. I am so sorry!
His loving forgiveness wrapped itself around me like a soft cloak. I was comforted. I also felt I'd moved one step closer to understanding God's heart.
Richard Foster in his brilliant book, ‘Prayer’ shares a truth that you and I need to take seriously:
“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.”
God's heart is an open wound of love! When you and I are too busy to spend time with Him, God mourns. Every time we fill our calendars with mundane moments instead of asking Him what He requires of us, He grieves. When we cram our hours with pleasures that don’t satisfy, rather than turn to Him, the Author of Life, He is saddened.
This New year as we make time for family and friends, for work and recreation, for service and good deeds, let’s not forget what it is that God really asks of us. When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping her Jesus responded with these words:
"There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:42 NLT
Over the past 10 years, God’s been wooing my heart. A lot of His wooing occurred through difficult moments and tough seasons. On occasion, I have been rude to Him, misunderstanding His perfect love which was behind it all - just as my friend Dina misconstrued my own act of friendship. But oh what joy God gave me through those very gifts that I was tempted to reject. Intimacy with God is EVERYTHING and my life is rich and full through all He has given me of Himself.
This New Year, let’s feast on His goodness and His love, His grace and His mercy. Let’s spend time with Jesus, the Lover of our souls. Let’s delight in Him and respond to His love.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone, hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Over the last 6 months we’ve been swept along on an exhausting Roller Coaster Ride. I’m told that moving is the next most stressful event after divorce. From what we have been through, I can now testify to it. It’s been a voyage filled with highs and lows, mountain top views and sugar crashes. The number of variables out of our control cause the stress to rise—like the heat of an oven on a 40 degree day. But … I’m glad to report that there’s also been the faith-inspiring and comforting assurance of our being led, slowly but surely by a faithful, loving God.
And oh how He’s blessed us!
One such blessing came through two little plants I bought for our Open Inspections. I placed them beside our front door by our ‘Welcome mat’ to greet visitors. Our new blue beauties did not fail to deliver. I’ve given them plenty of TLC, moving them into the shade each afternoon and quenching their thirst every evening. Every time I tend them, my eyes feast on their loveliness and my heart gets filled.
A few days ago, I noticed something unusual—hydrangea flowers don’t turn brown when they dry up—did you know? They turn green. How amazing is that! It’s especially interesting because I call this my ‘Green Season’. Our Dream Home (which I hope God will secure for us) has green carpets and curtains. Not my favourite colour for carpets and curtains but God’s been whispering into my heart that this is the home for us and I am excited. (Actually, that’s putting it mildly. I’m dancing the Cha-ha-cha with rings on my fingers and bells on my toes!)
Green’s also my colour for good health and vitality and answered prayer. Whenever I take notes of my health to manage my chronic illness, I colour my bad-fibro-days red and my good days green. So yes, it’s my Green Season and I will look forward to it with eager anticipation. In fact I’ve dubbed 2018 (in faith), as my “Year of Promises Fulfilled”.
In a world which increasingly seems to value the young over the old, older people can easily be discarded. If you feel unwanted or that you have outlived your usefulness in the world, please think again. The Word of God offers encouragement and hope for us as we age. ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree … they will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green’ Psalm 92:12. Isn’t that a lovely picture? For disciples of Jesus, there is no retirement—we have exciting work to do until the day we go home to Jesus be it at 80, 90 or 100 years of age. The type of work changes of course as our bodies get tired, but no matter how old we are - at age 3 or 103, in God's kingdom there is much we can contribute to.
I love connecting with people and it’s a joy to make new friends. But thankfully, new friends will never replace ‘old’ friends. Friendships begun in childhood have lasted and added joy to life's tapestry. Those begun in my teen years as a new Christian have deepened and thrived, giving rich substance to my walk with Christ.
Recently, It was good to throw out the clutter in our home, but not every old possession was clutter. I treasure a little mirror gifted me by my Dad when I was 9, because it brings him closer. I rejoice in the 5000-odd emails written to me by my beautiful Mama—refusing to delete even one of them. I delight in cards my beloved has showered me with over the years because they add layer upon layer to our love.
How thrilled I was to find a love note from my son written when he was 7 years old – it made me cry. Equally delightful were little notes I’ve written (some in my mother tongue) to my parents when I was growing up. So despite what we may imagine, there are a number of old items which have lasting value. Recently, I found a torn piece of paper with scribbled words—written by my accountability group in YFC – almost 40 years ago. I shed tears of joy, because even now, so many years later, as I read their loving words, I still felt deeply valued and that my life mattered.
Of course, some old “possessions” are best thrown out—old ways of doing life that have no place in the future. Old habits which are better replaced with new. Unforgiveness and bitterness, doubt and discouragement, negative attitudes and hurtful ways. But … there are other old belongings which will add to our lives. Happy memories give us a springboard into the future with added joy and added wisdom. People at any and every age matter. Faith, Family, Friends, Old Books, Old Songs and Good habits will continue to be cherished as I make space for new ideas and new friends, modern music, new books and healthier ways of doing life.
Not all old things need to be kept.
But not all old things need to be thrown away.
Let’s discard what we must discard but keep back that which is helpful.
Let’s not forget that every person, both old and young has significance.
Let’s welcome the New Year in, with glad anticipation and hope.
Let’s cherish the Old as we welcome the New.
A Bright and Beautiful 2018 to you, filled with much blessing.
That is my New Year wish for you. And don’t forget … do enjoy the Journey!
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy
good health and that all may go well with
you, even as your soul is getting along well.
3 John 2
11 p.m. Wednesday 13th Dec 2017
I stand outdoors at in the cool night air, watching the skies with my beloved. A Spectacular Sky Show is expected—the Geminids Meteor shower 2017. Aaaarrrgh! Mosquitos feast on me and I am covered in bites. But ... as my eyes adjust to the night, I am mesmerised by the brilliant stars studded in the dark heavens—sparkling jewels on black velvet. And beauty wraps its soft cloak around me. Shan and I are able to make out a few constellations in the region—Taurus, The Seven Sisters, Orion, but we need to strain our eyes to locate Gemini from where the meteors would burst forth. Our long wait is rewarded as two meteors shoot across the sky. Ooo! Beautiful! This little lass can now scuttle off to bed very happy.
I was happy because I anticipated viewing an even grander display at 4.30 next morning, when the meteor appearance would peak to 22 an hour. How exciting! I put out my reading light at midnight, and set my alarm for 4.30. I’d usually sleep through ... but not this time. When my alarm jolted me awake, I jumped up half asleep. Unfortunately, in my clumsy attempts to turn it off, I knocked the clock from its perch. The loud screech however continued to penetrate the quiet night. Oh no! My man badly needed his sleep after his extra busy week.
“So sorry darling!” I groped around the carpet, hunting in vain for that dratted (pardon my language) alarm clock. My beloved was very gracious even in his drowsy state. ‘It’s OK” His loving assurance in sleep-filled syllables made me feel even worse for spoiling his much needed sleep. I scrambled around on hands and knees now, desperate, and in my haste, I banged my head. Ouch! There was still no clock to be seen. I HAD to put the light on. More fumbling, and whew … at last I found the clock, squawking rudely, wedged between the mattress and my bedside table. I turned it off, then slipped out to our family room where I got dressed. I opened our front door and stepped out. Now for the brilliant sky show. I rubbed my hands in glee and looked up at the stars!
Stars? What stars? The sky was full of clouds. Oh no! You drew the curtains on my spectacular night show, God! I’d awoken my tired hard-working husband, received a painful bump on my head, was covered in mozzie bites … all for nothing? Muttering to myself, I undressed, got back into my nightdress and went to bed. The one bright spot was that I had not disturbed my beloved after all—he was sleeping peacefully. Thank you God.
Sometimes life’s like that isn’t it? Hopes and dreams crumble. Eager desires come to naught. Clouds gather and the future is uncertain. My mind reflects on what that first Christmas must have been like. Hundreds of prophecies of a coming Messiah had been preached by many prophets sent by God over more than a thousand years. But then … a sudden silence. God was absent—or so it seemed. 400 long years of silence. Four Hundred Years!
Where was God?
What was He doing?
The curtains may have been drawn, but the stage behind them was being set. Like the cloud filled skies during my meteor-watch, the skies over God’s people were filled with the dark clouds of doubt and uncertainty. But ... that period of silence did come to an end. At the appointed time, God flung open the curtains to reveal the mystery of His plan. The mystery included a tiny baby boy born in a smelly stable. He had been a conceived by a virgin and His first visitors were a band of poor shepherds.
A bit unorthodox don't you think?
Have clouds of uncertainty been filling your skies lately? Has all hope receded? Do you wonder why God is silent and where He is? Do not despair dear friend. The world is sometimes a sad and lonely place, true, torn by suffering, sin and strife. God might seem to be absent but I can assure you that He is always present and always at work, often behind the scenes. The answer to our quest is found as we tiptoe into Bethlehem. There in a manger we will find the Saviour of the world.
The Son of God came that the sons and daughters of men would become sons and daughters of God. In a dark, cloud-filled night, Jesus Christ is the Bright Morning Star.
Let’s hurry to Bethlehem to worship Him, King of kings and Lord of Lords.
In Him, You will find in Him everything you ever need.
This Christmas, may you experience and know the love of God in all its fullness.
"It came upon that midnight clear,
That glorious song of old.
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing." Edmund Sears
A very Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones.
Ten years ago, my wayward stomach decided to play fun and games at my expense. Foods it coped with before and even thrived on, turned into arch enemies. For decades, I’d drunk three cups of tea a day, but now, all at once, ingesting caffeine gave me a belly-ache. I was forced to cut back to just one cup of tea a day and had to sadly bid farewell to coffee for good. My mid-morning cuppa was one I now looked forward to eagerly, as one might yearn for a cold glass of lemonade on a warm summer’s day.
Recently however, my naughty tummy surprised me. Apparently, it could cope with a bit of extra caffeine once again. Hooray! So after 10 years of total abstinence, I was able to have a cup of coffee again, just once a week. How good was that! I created my new weekly caffeine routine.
Monday – my weekly cup of coffee. Yay!
Wednesdays and Fridays – (when catching up with friends) - 2 cups of tea each day
Sunday - Tea after breakfast, followed by a weak cup of tea after church
It worked well and life was tickety-boo. A few months ago, there were a few changes in our church kitchen. This meant that I now had to buy a cup of tea rather than make my own. No problem at all—after all, it only cost me one dollar. I started ordering a cup of tea after service. Unfortunately, the tea (made by others) contained too much caffeine (to my temperamental tummy) and I had to stop having it. Sigh! What could I do?
After some thought and prayer God whispered a solution to my listening ears. There just might be a different way of getting my Sunday caffeine kick! So the next Sunday, I tried it—a weak cup of tea as I woke up, after one glass of water (rather than my usual two), followed by my regular cuppa after breaky about 2 hours later.
A Perfect Solution!
My Quiet Time was better than usual with that caffeine rush inside of me. My worship times at church were also more exotic than before with the extra caffeine swirling within me, before the service rather than after. I didn’t even need to waste time getting myself a cuppa after church anymore and could concentrate instead on connecting with people. Wow! What a great solution, God!
Rarely is life filled with smooth pathways and sunny skies. Problems have a way of sneaking up on us uninvited. People can be demanding. Life can be hard. Solutions are not easy to find. God has blessed me with a Treasure Chest of riches—His Word. No matter what the problem, when I come to Him with an open heart, listening for His still small Voice, He drops sparkling jewels of rich promises and hope into my heart, and gives me a fresh understanding of which path to take. The answers don't often come as easy as my caffeine-solution did. They are usually found only after much prayer, hours of seeking and months (or sometimes years) of waiting on Him. But they do arrive at the perfect time. Always.
Today are you standing at cross roads? Are solutions as hard to find as the prospect of finding a purple kangaroo in your backyard? Don’t forget that the Creator of the Universe is for you. His wisdom is available 24/7 as are His listening ears.
So no need to polish up your act. No need to wonder if He will meet you at your point of need. Simply come to Him as you are with a heart open to His Voice. His Spirit and His Word are an unbeatable combination and supply us with wisdom, truth and the way to life.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
I’m often late to bed on a Saturday night, so getting up early on Sunday is a challenge. A few months ago, one Lord’s day, surprise, surprise … I woke up bright and early. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I ambled across to our family room. When I looked out, I noticed a towel I’d hung out to dry the night before had fallen, so, still in my night-dress, I went outdoors to put it back on the clothes-line.
The air was fresh and cool. Birds twittered. Leaves rustled in the wind. I felt a tug in my heart—an invitation it was, from God Himself. I dressed quickly, slipped on my shoes and hurried outside. Sitting on our lawn that quiet rosy dawn I chatted with my Papa God, joy draped around me like a soft cloak. A precious time it was! The sun rose, spilling golden sunbeams. Winds played symphonies to awaken a sleepy world. Parrots screeched and soared. God whispered His love into my listening ears.
To live in the moment! To make every moment count! Isn’t that something to aspire to?
All too often though, life whizzes past and I forget what’s important, so God has to remind me. When my son was little, I knew I should enjoy his childhood. I did—mostly. In the blink of an eye, he turned into a tall thoughtful young man and I was surprised his little-boy-days had vanished so swiftly. I made far too many mistakes with him, alas, (I’m so sorry God) but one thing I did right was that I didn’t wish his childhood away. I loved being his mum. My little boy was a good good gift from a good, good Father.
I was walking around our community Oval one day, when a burst of colour flashed into my line of vision. I caught my breath in surprise. What a big crop of flowers for such a small plant! It reminded me of someone I knew who had made his brief life blossom—my brother in law Nirup. His life was cut short when he died of a brain tumour at age 51.
Nirup had a number of challenges to deal with throughout his life but he lived fully using all his talents and skills. Nirup loved God. He never complained at his lot though he could have. He was a wonderful big brother to my husband Shan in their childhood. And then, in later years, he cared for his aging parents, freeing our own little family to migrate to Australia. Nirup was faithful and diligent, a hard worker. I loved his bright smile and kind, caring ways. Sadly my sweet mother in law—Nirup’s Mum, died after a brief illness in 2003. It meant that his best friend and confidante was snatched away all too suddenly. It must have seared his heart but he carried on with courage and continued caring for his Dad.
Two years on, his Dad too passed away, with my beloved husband back in Sri Lanka to care for them both. Just 10 days later, Nirup went home to Jesus. It was a very sad time for us, and I wept often for a life cut short. But deep within my spirit, I knew that Nirup's work was done. I knew there would be great rejoicing in heaven. I could picture God’s smile as He welcomed him home. ‘Well done good and faithful son. Enter into the joy of your Father.' That little plant blooming bright was a perfect picture of the way Nirup lived, using his gifts to the full.
Will I too be able make my life count the way Nirup did? I hope I will. I don’t know how much time I have left on earth. All I have is this moment, but I can use it to be the best wife and mum I could be, to work hard, to use my gifts, to encourage and bless others, to be generous and kind, to let His light shine through me, to grow my character, to please my Papa God.
So as I enter the best decade into the sizzling sixties, let me live well.
Let me love God and love others.
Let me make every day count.
Will you join me?
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.
Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully
to the work of the Lord, because you know that your
labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58
The year was 2012, the month was April. My world tilted suddenly and precariously when my beloved Mama turned gravely ill. I was off to Sri Lanka in a week, praying I’d reach her in time. In the midst of the uncertainty, I wondered if God was asking something of me. Was He requesting that I’d throw out a special souvenir from my past? Having it tucked away in my home reminded that that part of my past existed. That it had mattered. Then … why did I feel so uneasy?
Was it God? Or was it The Enemy? One morning, I got ready for the support group meeting I ran in my church. To my surprise, not a single person turned up. Oh well—it was an excellent opportunity to spend time with my Heavenly Father, bringing prayer requests of family and friends. I tried to do that but … the question which had plagued me that week buzzed noisily in my brain like a persistent irritating mosquito. During the next hour, I waited before my Papa God. I listened to Him, searching the scriptures for His answer.
The peace I craved eluded me. There was a tap on the door and my beautiful friend Valerie walked in. We hugged. We smiled. Valerie handed me a card. She didn’t utter a word. She patted me; she turned and left. I blinked. Once. Twice. Thrice. What was the card about? It wasn’t my birthday!
I opened it and my jaw dropped. Nestling inside the card was a present. All of $250.00. Whew! What a generous gift! It was for my trip to Sri Lanka. I was speechless. Blessed. Amazed. Valerie is an older lady; a widow. She was not giving out of her abundance. She was giving sacrificially. How could I accept it? But ... Valerie gave it to me with a heart of love towards God and towards me and I could not say ‘No’. Through her loving act, God provided for my needs, He also answered the question that had plagued me. Did He want to take something away from me? Absolutely not! He’s a God who gives.
A God who delights in showering me with blessings far more than I deserve.
My beloved husband was providing for my needs in Sri Lanka. However, I did need some urgent help for other important things. Like … sending in my unpublished manuscript into an important writing competition. I now had the means to do so. My story “A Frog by any other Name” became a finalist in the competition. I could not have reached that point in my writing life without Valerie’s generosity. I pause with deep thanksgiving today (to God and to Valerie), as I remember.
I’ve also been looking back in wonder and gratitude these days at the Author of all the kindness in the world—who has lavished His love upon me for SIX decades of life. What a faithful God He is! He died for my sins at Calvary and gifted me with life in all its fullness. There may be times He’s emptied what I care about (both tangible and intangible) from life's plate and cup–but then … He’s exchanged them for eternal riches and my spirit has feasted on heavenly bread. My cup of joy has run over.
Are you looking back in sadness at what life’s stolen from you? Or looking with dread at a scary future that looms ahead? Let us look up instead into the face of Jesus. He knows our every need. Anything that He asks of us is like a tiny grain next to what He offers us—beautiful, golden sands on all the vast beaches the world over. So let’s come to Him with open hands. Let’s find (as I’ve often done) riches beyond compare—sparkling jewels of:
Beauty, truth, Goodness.
Hope. Love. Life.
He is a God who gives lavishly. Let’s go to Him.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor 9:8