Thursday, August 4, 2016

9 weeks....

It is safe to say in the last 5 years since moving from Perth, I have spent my fair share of time at Airports. I still remember the day we left Perth. As I sat in my seat, clutching Daniels hand, tears streaming down my cheeks, holding closely to Emery who was just 5 months at the time. I looked out the window, and tears flooded my eyes as reality hit in of what was happening. Moving across the other side of the country, just [then] the three of us, chasing something that we felt so strongly would be the next chapter of our lives.

Living away from loved ones there have been many trips to and from Airports. Each time I have collected someone who is visiting us there is such happiness, and then taking them back so they can return home there is sadness as they leave. Holding tight to the memories we have made in those moments they have been with us.

When we return home to Perth there is such excitement brewing as in just a few hours we will be reunited with our loved ones.  As we come home there are many tears (more and more lately as both children realise the distance!) as we give lots of hugs and say goodbye, again holding on to memories made, and beginning to count down the days until we see them again.

In my many airport visits I have noticed others, sharing moments unaware of others around them.

I think of the young girl who traveled in the seat in front of us recently, unaccompanied minor, in care of the Flight Attendant, waiting until the plane had emptied to join us in the terminal. I didn’t know her story, I wondered, is she returning home? Is she holidaying? As she entered the terminal I watched from afar as she ran with such speed to another young girl, they held each other so tightly, tears of joy as they kept hugging. They then joined the adults waiting with them, and walked arm in arm into the distance. Sisters? Friends? Cousins? I’ll never know, but I know in that moment I was reminded of the many happy times of coming home to loved ones, feeling their embrace after 4 hours on a plane. Walking with them, many stories spilling out as we connected after months apart.

I remember being the young mother, saying goodbye to her children and husband and walking away from them as the children cried for me, pulling at my heartstrings, as I left for a course in Melbourne for two weeks.

I see the couple embrace for an extended time as one walks away, tears streaming down their cheeks.

I know the feeling of being the one coming off the Airplane, waiting for that moment you lock eyes with the one waiting for you, your heart leaps for joy as your walk speeds up so you can reach them that little bit quicker.

I have also witnessed the incredible amounts of Krispy Crème donuts that people bring when leaving Melbourne to loved ones waiting for them, or maybe just for themselves to enjoy in days to come.
Goodbyes are really hard, as you say goodbye to loved ones that have visited you and shared moments in your world. They are hard when you’ve been on holidays, living the dream and now needing to return to reality.  But the beauty of goodbyes is that there are always the times you are reunited with loved ones, where your heart is filled when you are with them, where the stories flow of times missed together and memories made in those moments.

Living away from family is hard it is bittersweet. It has made me stronger and it has made me appreciate my family so much more. It has made me realize what we take for granted. As I live away from them, especially now having my own children, it hurts each time I say goodbye, and the countdowns are getting bigger and bigger to give us something to be excited for.

But I know that Adelaide is where we are meant to be, for such a time as this. Who knows where we will end up, but what I do know is that my children love their family in Perth so much and I am so incredibly thankful for the times people call just to say hi, when they send a little note in the mail to surprise us and I am super thankful for Skype, Facetime and the internet!!

I am thankful for the friends and family we have now in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, because as we’ve moved around we have been blessed with more and more family to love and to do life with us.

Today I said goodbye to my Mum, I was brave….mostly. I fought back tears as I gave her the biggest hug, so thankful that she had come to visit with Dad, who had left just days before to return to work. I waited until she walked back past me for just one last wave, one last smile, one last kiss blown through the air, for now. I turned and the tears flowed, she caught me as I glanced back for one last smile.

All the while reminding myself that it is just 9 weeks until I see them again!





Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I am a child of God


Written a few days ago, sharing now as I've played with the idea, but figure it may speak to someone reading...

This morning as I stood in my bathroom getting ready for the day ahead, hair straightener in one hand, hair piled high on my head, music playing I smiled as I saw the women I'd been created to be. This beautiful mess (which I say in a loving term) staring back at me, flaws and all, in my natural state before the application of cosmetics to hide the "flaws" and enhance the beauty. 

"I am a child of God" was sung out of my phone, "from my mothers womb, you have chosen me, your love flows through my veins". I think of the things I struggle with,  depression, anxiety, self loathe, homesickness, but in this moment it all faded away as I was reminded I am a child of God.

I thought about my own children, two beautiful little humans, each unique, but yet so similar. Their lives entrusted to me, to care for them, guide them, nurture them and encourage them to explore. The times that there's incredible frustration around the choices they make, their actions, but I'm quickly taken to the moments that they take my breath away, the heart over flowing love that I have for them, as I puff out my chest and say "yes they are my kids, aren't they incredible!!"

This is how God sees us, he sees our hurts, our struggles, but he also stands there as the proud Father saying "yes they are my children, aren't they incredible!!"

I love the moments where my children come to snuggle, where they tell me they love me completely out of the blue, where they just want to hang out with me and I am reminded that God longs for us to be just like this, to hang with him for no reason, to tell him we love him out of the blue, to just sit in his presence, to connect with him.

Today I am thankful for the 10 mins I got to get ready on my own and for in this time the way God revealed this to me. I am thankful for my family who love me just as I am, a husband who walks this journey with me and for parents who have loved, guided and encouraged me along the way. I am incredibly thankful for a God who pours out Grace, because as I have explored life I haven't always made the greatest choices, but I am welcomed arms wide open to sit with him, to be restored and to be encouraged as I walk this life, as I walk I am not alone, He is always there and at times when I've needed it he's carried me through those times! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My behind the scenes.....

Edits, filters, sharing the good parts of life, the bragging of accomplishments, social media actually gives us unrealistic views of what others lives look like, we see the good parts of their lives and feel connected, but we rarely see the trials, struggles and the parts where they feel so alone. People let us into their lives partially and often are screaming for the interaction with others but are afraid to let people in, incase they begin to see that there are cracks....how long can you truly keep up the appearance of life is wonderful?

I remember reading a saying somewhere on social media (ironically) which stated:

"stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel"

How true is this? I know I fall victim to only really sharing the good from life, I put filters on photos which make my skin look better, the food more appealing, my day more interesting. I put unrealistic expectations on myself because of what I see others doing/achieving. But what about my behind-the-scenes? 

My behind the scenes, is a 29 year old mother of two, with an amazing husband. Living in Highett away from family, and where friends are spread anything from 20mins away to a plane flight of 4 hours. I'm planting a Church for the Salvation Army, and that brings many challenges, questions and frustrations and also expectations from what others perceive to be "church". This year has been one of the hardest times ever, moving away from a community where we lived for two years with constant support, people always willing to be sociable when we needed it. My dad being diagnosed with Cancer and multiple trips back to Perth, and then the tearing of the heart when having to leave the family to come "home". The struggle of wanting to be there but knowing its right for me to be here. The pain of other challenges in Perth and not being there to journey in person with loved ones when they most need it. Add to the mix of having our second child and learning to find the rhythm of life as a family of four. And that is just the big things!

Sometimes I cry, actually often I cry lately.

Somedays I want to pack everything up and move back to Perth, but then reality hits and I realise life won't be instantly better because that in itself would bring challenges. 

Sometimes I'm so content with being here in Melbourne, doing what I do. 

Occasionally I find I have no answers, no direction, no motivation. 

Often life is overwhelming and I want to run. 

I'm often trying to get life back to "how it used to be", when I was most happy, most feeling myself, most motivated. 

But I'm exhausted. I admitted I needed help. It was scary but I feel although I'm still feeling all of the above, I'm in a good place, to be able to move forward, pursue life to its fullest and to be content with the highlights and the behind the scenes. 

I'm on a journey and this one thing I know is that I don't do it alone. All throughout this year, I've held onto one verse in the Bible especially Hebrews 6:19 

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

Jesus keeps me grounded, he was human and he knows the struggles I go through. 
Jesus gives me purpose, he lived this world and he knows there are people struggling, he showed me how to live amongst them and do life with them. 
Jesus is my constant companion when things get tough and I have no-one to turn to, His Spirit guides me, comforts me & gives me the words to say when I don't feel I have any. 
Jesus is the hope of the world, the cornerstone, the foundation. 

My prayer is that Jesus be at the centre of my life, and then I can face anything thrown at me. 

I show you my behind-the-scenes, because I want you to see you are not alone, my life isn't all peachy that you see when I post photos, but I truly with all my heart believe that life with Jesus is so much better than what it would be if I didn't have him. My faith allows me to journey through this stuff, my battle with depression & anxiety, my struggles in life, my insecurities, because I know I was born for more than just the now. I hold onto those blessings that God has placed in my life - my Husband, my kids, the friends both near and far. I wouldn't trade them for life "as it used to be", because this is life, this is who I am, I am moving forward, not backwards. I've asked for help and I am seeing Jesus work in my weaknesses. Because it is in my weaknesses that He is the strongest. When I admit I can't do it anymore, that He proves He can do it, and He has been the one carrying me through the hard times. 

Each day I must bring everything to Jesus, and allow him to work in and through me. 

My behind the scenes picture, no makeup, no filter, just raw me!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Community


Today we are looking at community. The Salvation Army’s mission value on community states:

“Owning our common humanity as we engage with people, working and journeying together, for mutual capacity building.  We build community and meet with God in our encounter with others”

The passage that is connected to this value is Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

So I’m wondering if you could throw at me some things that come to mind for you when you think of community?

When I think of community, I think of people meeting together, sharing common interests, I think of friendships, and the people that surround me in the area that I live in, or work in.

But you see I think the problem with community, is that everyone seems so busy. Life is extremely busy and demanding the mundane things of life take up so much time and at times trying to fit others in or extra responsibilities can become impossible.

If we were to sit down each week and plan out all that needs doing how much free time would you have left? For example, you put in the time for cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, rest, odd jobs around the home, the list could go on and on depending on each of our life situations and responsibilities.

But what would this day look like if we also chose to engage with people intentionally as we did these “mundane chores in life” and chose to build relationships with them. What if we begun to show people love in all areas of our life.

You see in John 13:34-35 Jesus gives his disciples a commandment:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Take your grocery shopping for instance, we all do it. How many times have you engaged in a conversation with the check out operator? Or do you just switch off thinking about the other million things you need to do.

I have been on both ends of this situation.

When I was younger and studying I worked at Coles as a check out operator. It was a pretty mundane job, interesting in some ways because you got to see what people where buying, a huge variety of products, but generally it was the same thing each shift. People come to your check out, you put their shopping through, they pay, you have minimal conversation with them, because they seemed rushed, and then you begin again with the next customer. Occasionally someone would come through that actually wanted to talk, and this made the job more interesting. People actually engaging with you, then seeing them again and again, building on these relationships you had begun building whilst you each did the mundane chores of life.  Showing love to someone who not necessarily expects it!

But what does love look like in a practical non-romantic way?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 explains:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

If we apply this definition of love to the example of our grocery shopping, what could it look like?

Patience – would be exactly that, not getting frustrated if we have to wait in line to be served, understanding if something isn’t scanning correctly.

Kindness – would be chatting to the check out operator, asking them how their day has been? Showing interest in them as a person, rather than just expecting them to do their job.

Rudeness  - would be diminished through our patience and kindness.

Just by applying these few things, I can guarantee that the operator would begin to appreciate the love you show, and through your love, be shown a glimpse of true community in action.

But you see, I think another major problem is that within our churches, we don’t show love to those within the church. So if we can’t be showing love to those people right here, in these 4 walls, how can we then show love to those outside, to those in our greater communities?

When we looked back to the verse in John, Jesus tells his disciples “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Jesus had this community of people, the Disciples, who He was telling to love one another, so that then the world would know they were his people. And we as believers, are also Jesus disciples so therefore this instruction from Jesus, relates just as much to us as it did to the disciples back then.

I think the opportunity we have to show love, begins here. Our mission statement says “we build community and meet with God in our encounter with others”. The opportunity is in that, to build a community of people, engaging together, journeying with each other as we encounter God in those moments. As God shows us areas of our lives where we can show love to those we come in contact with.

The outcome I believe for us beginning to show love in our churches, is that this love would over pour into everything we do outside of the church also.

If we think back to those mundane things in life – that “need” to be done, We might not feel so overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, if we see that most of those things can give us opportunities to meet people in our wider communities and to show them love.

The saying “All you need is love” comes to mind. Imagine that checkout operator who is having a bad day, is struggling to get through their shift, and you come through and show some kindness, some patience and some genuine interest into their life. We really have the chance as individuals to come alongside people and as our mission value states “to own common humanity as we engage with them, working and journeying together for mutual building”.
To put this plainly is to show compassion as we interact with people we meet, working and journeying together for united empowerment in each of our lives.

My hope today for you is that you will begin to identify areas in your life that you can show love to those you come in contact with. That we as a community of believers can go and spread the good news of Jesus Christ to those we come in contact with in our everyday lives. We have the opportunity to shine Jesus love to those who need to feel it the most, but we can only begin to do this when we begin to show love.  When love is the attitude in which we live our lives, showing kindness, patience, grace and most of all sticking through the hard times with those we meet to bring about opportunities to show the freedom that Jesus brings.

I have chosen a song by Kari Jobe for our reflection today, the lyrics state:

“We are called to spread the news,
Tell the world the simple truth,
Jesus came to save,
There’s freedom in His name,
So let His love break through.

We are the light of the world,
We are a city on a hill,
We are the light of the world,
We’ve gotta let the light shine

So as we listen and reflect upon the words, I encourage you to open your heart to allow God to speak to you on how you can show love more in your lives, to then shine His love to those who need to feel it the most.


Note: This Message was given at The Salvation Army St Arnaud on the 21st April as part of our series on The Salvation Army Mission Values



Friday, April 19, 2013

What is Compassion?



So what is compassion? Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnections. Compassion is a Latin word meaning “co-suffering” and commonly ignites in people the desire to alleviate another’s suffering.

Bill Withers wrote the song “Lean on Me” with inspiration after a move from his childhood town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, to Los Angeles where he found himself missing the strong community ethic of his hometown which he had grown up in.

When we take a community of people and bring in compassion I see that this is the way in which God intended us to live.  To be living and sharing life together.  Connecting with others pain. Helping share the load, even in the good times. Helping others reach goals. This is compassion.

We read in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 a model for compassion:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also though Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation, if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our suffering, so also you share in our comfort.

This model seems ideal right? God comforting us in our troubles and then us comforting others from the comfort we have received from God.

But the problem I see is that often people are so concerned about themselves, we get so caught up in our own worlds, that we are consumed by our own needs, our own struggles and forget to look for God in those moments, Sure we call out for him to help us, we call out for him to get us through, but sometimes we forget to ask him what it is He is wanting us to learn from those moments. 

For example, recenlty Daniel went to Manus Island for his social outplacement, which meant he would be away for 4 weeks.  For me this meant I would need to look after Emery as a sole parent, continue my studies and placement, and deal with anything else that arose. During this time, Emery became quite unwell, which resulted in her being placed in hospital and although I had been coping pretty well up until then, these last few days were extremly testing. I called out to God to give me strength, I called out to him to heal her little body, I called out and Thanked Him for the support in which I was given. 

But instead of just stopping there, I also asked him what he wanted me to learn in that moment. The answer came quickly to me as I looked around the hopstial. I was able to see that God was also giving me opportunites to be compassionate to others around me.  In the time that Daniel had been away I had learnt of many of the struggles that sole parents faced when looking after children, and because my eyes had been opened to this, I was able to be used by God in several instances to come alongside others in the hospital with me and assist them in their suffering as I too had suffered and was going through tough times also.

So imagine if in our struggles we looked to God to reveal to us areas that we can grow in, rather than just looking at the struggles we face as things to overcome. If we allowed God to comfort us, and through that comfort strengthen us, open our eyes to others around us, facing similar situations that we can then reach out to once we feel ready to use our experience to then assist them.

Imagine also if we allowed our struggles to help us grow deeper in our relationship with God, and to shape our faith. I believe this can be done if we seek God in our sufferings and reflect on our situations to allow God to shine light into areas we have neglected before.

For example, my experience when Daniel went to Manus Island, taught me many things, but through my struggles God revealed to me some ways in which I could be compassionate to other sole parents.

One of the experiences I had was sitting in Emergency late one night and I had not eaten because of Emery being sick. Those of you who have ever had a sick child, or someone you loved, would know that you don’t really want to leave them, so for me this meant not being able to duck of and get some food to eat. I was starving, but my main concern was Emery and I didn’t feel I could leave her.
Fast forward to the next evening, Emery had been admitted and Daniel had now returned home and was with me at the hopstial. I grabbed a moment to go and get some food now that he was with me.

In the same room as Emery was another small child with his mother, she had been with him all afternoon as I had been with Emery. As I returned with my meal, we were told that we could go home. I thought for a moment about the food I had in my hands and felt prompted to ask this other mother if she would like it. She warmly accepted it and I felt that moment was one of those compassion moments – where God was able to shine through me to show love and compassion to a mother who was also suffering at that time.

Some of you might wonder what this has to do with growing my faith, but I believe that when we seek God in moments he truly does prompt us.  We know his promptings whether it be a gentle nudge or something that truly compels us to take action.  When we come to know God in a deeper level and as our faith grows, we live out our faith by showing Christ love towards others. As we grow in our faith it brings what we know together with how we can show that to others. And as God comforts us in our sufferings, he too models how we can comfort others in their sufferings.

Romans 5:3-4 says : “we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

It seems like a strange concept to rejoice and be happy in our sufferings, but what Paul is trying to get across is that God can use life’s difficulties and Satans attacks to build our character, they build in us perseverance, strengthen who we are and deepen our trust in God. We just need to seek Him in these times especially.

If there is one thing I want you to take away from today, is that in everything you go through, you can learn from it and then use your experience to reach out to others. You may not be able to look at it that way now, but as you work through your struggles, my prayer for you is that God does allow you to reach others through your expereinces in life that you have overcome.

As the body of Christ we all here represent different walks of life, different life experiences and struggles. As we go about our daily lives, the people we come in contact with who don’t know the love and compassion of our God, my prayer is we may be able to show that to them, so that they may come to expereince the same love and compassion from Him. That we may not be so consumed in our own lives and struggles but be able to connect with others in their pain and suffering.

Some of us may be struggling right now to overcome difficult situations in life, and reaching out to God for comfort and strength, experiencing his compassion as he wraps His loving arms around us and guides us through.

Some of us may still feel alone, and yet to feel compassion from God or others around us. And if you are feeling like that right now, I give you the opportunity to come  pray (if you are reading this and need some support please contact me and we can discuss this further  I would love to prayer for you and with you!), to ask our Father God to comfort you and guide you through these tough times you are experiencing. Surrender to Him today, everything you are struggling with, all your fears and failures, bring them to Him today and see how He can move in your life.

In the clip  it stated: Being compassionate is to be fully human. H- Help, U – Unselfishly, M-Meet, A-Another’s, N- Needs.

Being compassionate isn’t about our own self gain, but rather compasion is sharing someone elses struggles, coming alongside them and helping them through life.

God offers this compassion to us, so that we can then offer it to others.

Note: This Message was given at The Salvation Army Maryborough & Avoca on the 14th April as part of our series on The Salvation Army Mission Values