God’s love is a like a treasure chest in the centre of our lives. It is at the very core of our families, and is the powerhouse of our callings in the world. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians there lies an explanation of love that explores the nature of this treasure trove. We can draw from this “love stash” at any time and it never fails to deliver. Why? Because God is love! As followers of Christ we don’t have a monopoly on it. God has poured love into his creation. It seeps out of every pore! This heavenly love has touched us, no matter who we are, what our background is or what world view we happen to hold. Most of us would site loving and being loved as the most important thing in life.
So I wonder why I have not cracked it? Why do I fail so many times to get this right in my own life? I just forget the treasure that is already there. Sometimes I am too tired to open the lid and take a look, or too hurt to receive forgiveness, too rushed to be kind, too needy to be giving, or too insecure to roll out humility. Yet! If I take a moment to dust it off, and open the lid again on the treasure trove of love I have been given, something remarkable begins to happen. Grace begins to flow again in my friendships! Differences fade away under the weight of God’s acceptance, and my heart is free to give and to live.
Note to self: visit the treasure chest! x
At the beginning of a new year, many of us relish the possibility of change. For some it is the thrill of setting a new course, for others that of developing relationships in family life, for still others it is the hope for new patterns to emerge in work life. I imagine that our Heavenly Father, the one who is bursting with love and forgiveness, longs to help us to embrace all these things.
I have so many things on my New Year list! Sometimes it feels as though even making a small change can take months of pondering and planning. Sometimes changing direction is like turning a really heavy boat around against the flow of the tide! All too often in early January I see some of these hopes fizzle out, drop off my agenda or become crushed by insecurity or doubt. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. When I lift my eyes to the skies I see the birds fly where they choose on the winds of the moment! This is a beautiful metaphor for the freedom intended for us all. Why is it that so often we feel like we are moving in slow motion or dragging ourselves through treacle? Sometimes it is the well trodden paths of history which pull heavily on our decisions. At times it is the internal doubts and insecurities that confine us. At other times it is the ties in life, the responsibilities we carry, that hold us back. Or perhaps it is the way we look at these things? Could they be transformed into possibilities, joys and adventures? So let us stand, hand in hand with each other, and explore without fear! Share and laugh together. Take mini steps, moment by moment, day by day. Here we can hold steady to a loving God, and stand on the bed of grace given to us by Jesus. He is alive! And we can be alive too. So hope and breathe anew!
I like to reframe things. As an artist I have always been fascinated at looking at things from a different angle, daring to change something in a picture. Equally in real life it fascinates me how retakes can transform our thinking, unlock our heart or heal our experiences. As followers of Christ we are urged to have open eyes, to be guided by love and acceptance and to be willing to forgive. And it truly works! I have had a tendency in the past to look down upon myself, to reject who I am. These days I take each thought captive! What if my shyness was reframed as gentleness, my self-doubt recognised as humility? Gradually I am released to be all that I can be! And at times in my blindness I have needed others to reframe my circumstances for me. Like how I see my children. A friend helpfully reframing my very intense son as a gifted perfectionist, or my emotional son reframed as empathetic.
As Christians we are given the tools for harmony. We reframe with love, we reframe with acceptance, we reframe with hope, we reframe with forgiveness. Not only does this transform our lives, it sends shoots of renewal into our families as we fan into flame the Godly qualities in our characters and allow the negative ones to slowly fall away.
I wrote the following poem that you can see in the video below for a church nativity service. I love these moments in our lives, the ones that distill everything that we hold dear! Lights shining in the darkness, heaven filled with music, cherished moments watching our little ones and the feeling of unity and love. Somehow I wanted to speak something of clarity, something that caught the story of the birth of Jesus and made it more than a story, more than history! The transformational event we remember at Christmas time is alive with promise, pulsating with dramatic intention and overflowing with gentleness, grace and truth. Every aspect connects with the true nature of our Creator, the elements weaving and combining together with the unspoken yearnings that run deep within us, the fears and hopes we all hold and the counter-culture nature of Christ and His Kingdom. Here is Jesus, a King, born into the world as a poor and threatened refugee. Here is the author of time and space vulnerable, dependent and fragile.
And what of the ones who came to see this precious newborn? A doorkeeper with a soft heart, those that pastor and faithfully watch over their sheep, the wise-ones who dwell upon scripture, await the call of God and follow the signs. Like Mary, some who come will carry the gift of God deep within them. Like Joseph, others will faithfully obey the calling of God for their lives. And the miracle of Christmas is that love came! The true nature of love has been revealed, and we live in this amazing revelation:-
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Sometimes I feel it is pointless praying. At times, when faced with the terrible suffering of others or in desperate circumstances I struggle to string any words together to God. Yet it is in these times that prayer is the only place we can go, it is often all that we have. “All” – thank goodness we are told that we only need a mustard seed sized faith. Because often this is the size of my faith in these situations. Yet the Holy Spirit can be, and can do far more than we could imagine! The truth is that God really does “step it up” when his beloved children need him the most. I have seen it, felt it and in my heart I truly do know it. We are told “do not worry about tomorrow“, that God’s grace is sufficient for each moment. So – although I can not conceive of how God can meet the heartache of a grieving widow, strengthen the mind of a mother caring for a seriously sick child, or reach into someone who has suffered traumatic rejection, I know he can! And he does, and he will. If we pray – the mustard seed – can become a tree!
“This I Know” is a song that came to me in a moment of confusion. I had made mistakes that had badly hurt others, and I felt very shaken. The song takes the form of a gentle lullaby, reminding us that whatever befalls us, we have a refuge, a safe place, a sanctuary we can abide in.
What I most love about the Gospel is that it is a simple “come to me” message, that we don’t need to learn, earn or win our inheritance, we simply need to receive it! For many years I have had the privilege of working closely with adults who have learning disabilities. I have received so much in this time. I have found joy and freedom in their friendship and enlightenment as I have felt Christ at work in their lives. The transformational birth, death and resurrection of Jesus doesn’t need to be studied like a scholar or dissected like a surgeon. It is like a beautiful pattern, like a glorious jigsaw puzzle. It fits all hearts, all peoples and surpasses all things generational, physical or mental. Wow!! How remarkable is the power of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? The three-in-one is like a dance we are caught up in, receiving the love and forgiveness of the Father, following the call and example of Jesus, and then allowing the Spirit of God to transform us and live deeply within us. It is my prayer that “This I Know” will lead you into that place of deep security and transformation:-
“Even when the earth is breaking, You abide.
Even if I fail, I’m shaken, there is life, life in You, hope in You”.
It’s possible to download and keep this film in HD for $2.50 by clicking on this link.
Where does my gifting begin and the anointing of God end? When people encounter me, do they clock how much of who I am is actually God working through me? When I speak out encouragement, give of myself or take time to pray, I am sometimes concerned that others may perceive me as something I am not! At times the timid, frightened me stands up to speak out on behalf of the marginalized. At other times the stuttering, confused me finds words full of love and eloquence. And at times the hesitant, doubting me finds faith to share, and bring hope and reassurance to the lost and the broken.
Yet I am a blend, a mix of human and heavenly. I’m stirred by kingdom promises, to create new flavours. I truly am a fusion of redemptive love and vulnerable humanity. Believe me, this is not an equation complete. I am work in progress! When I walk daily upon the love, truth and grace laid out in the word of God, I find kingdom life awakens. Now, in the darkness and dirt of a fallen world, truly amazing life moments happen. May I always give this life out to others. This is not the “old” me, but the “new” me. The restored me! Forgiven me! Free me! Hopeful me! God through me!
I have been so blessed over the last 25 years to be part of a church that regularly stands and prays for individuals. Over this time an extraordinary amount of special people have come alongside me and prayed for me. There have been so many – from those who sheltered me in my early days of faith as a student, through work and career choices, having my first child, praying with me in illness and encouraging me to stand up and try again after disappointment or failure. And what is even more extraordinary – it feels like one long prayer – like a whole thing – each person speaking out God’s heart for me, proclaiming God’s love over me and instilling God’s hope within me. Wow! So many different prayers, yet it has been one song, one story, one voice! God has used so many different people to reveal His heart for me.
I will never ever forget the first time someone actually said “can I pray for you?” Standing with me, interceding for me. Such things have changed the course of my life. And the most remarkable truth is this – we are all invited to this lavish banquet, this beautiful taste of heaven.
This poem about love just poured out of me in one continuous flow of writing. I feel the words are a gift from God, from the heart of God.
I am a thinker, I dwell upon the deep things in life, and I am also a romantic. When I received the Holy Spirit into my life, a new and more intimate connection with God happened. So it is understandable that God would use a thinking, romantic and creative girl to communicate something.
When Jesus died and rose again the very nature of love was transformed. Love was released into the world like never before – love grace, love forgiveness, love freedom! So although I am a romantic it is never in a fluffy, rose-tinted kind of way. I am continually seeing love in action, releasing love, speaking love and building love in every way I can! I have a feeling that you will too. Let this great love adventure take flight!
You can download the film in HD & read the words by clicking here.
Sometimes I just stop and listen. I might be in a cafe, picking up children from school, or walking down the street. It is an extraordinary thing to dwell for a moment on the sounds that surround us – the chatter of voices, scrapes and scratches from chairs and cutlery, the hum of appliances or the buzz of traffic. I wonder how God must feel when from this collage of sounds he hears us address him?
“Father” – a silent prayer amidst a social gathering.
“God it’s me” from behind the desk in a classroom.
“Jesus I love you” – grace filled singing heard above the cacophony of city life.
“Help me” – a fleeting thought within a workplace.
The sound of beautiful heart cries rising from a fallen world.
At times when I find I’m once again bewildered, confused by all around me I will try to listen for birdsong. Sometimes I find I can tune into their songs, and I sit and wonder. How is it that they sing so sweetly? These thoughts lead me home. Home to a creative Father, home to love reigning, home to the beautiful music which resounds from creation. “Lord, may this birdsong in my life take centre stage. May I tune into the kingdom of heaven more and more each day.”