Monday, October 31, 2011

Put It Down

We all sat smiling around the table as we watched the toddler precariously balancing the 6 toy trains in his arms. He sat down in the middle of the kitchen and played with them for quite some time. We continued our conversation until we heard his cry and his mum went over to see what was wrong.

His little arms were having trouble holding all the trains as he tried to get up, and as he bent over to pick up each one that fell, another would topple to the ground. I heard his mum say some familiar words, “Put it down, that’s too much to carry”. Though he tried with all his might, he just ended up frustrated and crying. His mum held him in her arms, reassured him and helped him carry the trains to where he wanted to go.

You might not think those words are particularly familiar, but I hear them all the time when I try to hold on to too much in life. I load up my life with activities, responsibilities, worries, distractions… and very soon I end up frustrated and despairing that I can’t possibly carry them all.

Sometimes I look to my heavenly father when I feel my arms getting full, but most often I don’t run to him until my pile of cares are toppling or in a heap on the floor. But each time I go to Him, he holds me in His arms, reassures me that He is there, and reminds me I don’t have to carry all that by myself.

The little boy was so sad that He couldn’t carry his load of trains, but he never had to do it on his own. His mum gladly gave him the most special train and carried the rest herself.

God didn’t intend for us, nor does he expect us to carry our burdens alone. Sometimes he just wants us to sit at his feet, sometimes he carries the load for us, and sometimes uses a friend nearby to help. But I always find Him sympathetically drawing alongside His little child in despair and whispering these words, “Put them down, that is too much to carry.”

It might be that God wants you to put some things down and rest in His arms, but it may be that God wants you to put something down in order to carry something for Him.

On the same night I asked my son to bring the box of toys he was playing with upstairs so the other children could join him. “I can’t do that with one hand” he replied as he tightly clutched his favourite car in the other. In order to help others, he needed to let go of that one thing he considered so important so that he could share the rest of what he had with others. Often God asks us to give up that which we cling to in order to bless others. And of course in the process we are also blessed.

What things are you holding on to at the moment that God might be asking you to put down?

Are you making yourself frustrated, sad or despairing because you are trying to carry too much?

Are you saying “No” to the particular task God has for you because it will mean letting go of something important to you?

Trust Him. He sees what you are going through and wants the best for you.

It’s time to lay it down and take His hand.

my email

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Caught Short

We have taken a bit of a break from completing the renovation of our house, but have recently set aside a little more time and dollars to do a few things that need doing. We have very much appreciated cupboards in the kids' rooms, but doors on the cupboards are going to finish them off and make them much more usable ;).

The other night I was organising dates for tradesmen to come for quotes and was trying to get my iPhone calendar to sync with my computer's calendar. I could get my laptop's entries to go across to my iPhone, but not the other way around. In the end I spent a few hours, while also fiddling around with other things, and finally got the reminder I set on my phone to also remind me on my computer. 'Cause, you know, I wouldnt want to forget he was coming.

I woke up in the morning, walked into one room to get the kids ready for school, and stopped in my tracks when I realised the rooms werent actually ready for the tradesmen to come and measure up. I had spent hours thinking about it and organising the appointment, but didnt actually make sure I was ready for the event. I quickly scurried around picking up clothes and moving furniture but my time the night before would have been much better spent preparing properly.

There is a much more important event coming up that I hope you are ready for. Jesus is coming back - and it could be first thing in the morning! Some of us, however, will be caught short when He does come. Its not that we aren't expecting Him, its just that we aren't prepared.

If you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, what would you do tonight?

Is there a prayer you would pray? A conversation you would have? An apology to make? A gift to give? Some amends to be made? Some tidying up of your life you would do?

For Christians, there is no need to be scared about that day. He is coming to take us to be with Him. The renovation He started on our life will be complete in an instant. We dont have to worry about the mess we were in or where we have fallen short. When we accept Jesus as God's Son and choose to follow Him, when it comes time for the Inspection, God sees Jesus' work, not ours.

So all we have to do inwardly is make sure we know Him who is coming. We dont have to have everything perfect, but we do have to be ready. Part of that is getting things ready outwardly too. Not because we have to, but because we want to please Him.

The handymen who came to our house have given us some tasks to do before they return to complete the job. And when Jesus returns He will be checking our work too. I pray that He will find us busily doing what He has set out for us to do, focused on His work and his mission, and eagerly awaiting his arrival. And I pray that He will find that we have done work that will last, and not just wasted time on our iPhones.

Ill see you in the morning ;)

my email

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Running The Race - 5. Drinks Break

Sometimes in a race a runner has to stop and have a drink. While I don’t encourage my kids to do this in their 100m dash on sports day, it is important to keep the fluids up and make it for the long haul. I have a few tips then, for those of you at different stages of the race of life that Paul talks about in the New Testament.

Firstly, choose your stop. There are many people holding out refreshments for the runners or riders in famous races, but each runner knows what to look for and what to take. Many people will recommend different things if you are feeling tired, run down, disillusioned or feel like giving up. They might tell you to take some time out for yourself, go and be pampered, go shopping, have some fun. Its hard to keep running past these offers of refreshment, but they are not the real thing, they will never provide you with all you need to keep running.

Choose your stop wisely, if you are truly wanting to be refreshed, to be filled with the energy, peace and joy to keep going, then you need to look to your Team Captain who is there holding out what you really need. God provides all you need and you can find it best in the Bible. If you need a bit of help, look out for someone who has run the race before you, or fellow members of your team who might get together for Bible Study or a Conference or Church on Sunday. And think twice before grabbing those other things which only last for a moment.

Secondly, stop. Realise that sometimes, on huge marathons like life, you need to stop. You need to take on board some fuel, you need to get advice and encouragement from your Captain and teammates, you need to have your injuries seen to, and you need to look again at the map to plan out the next leg of your journey. We all need some down time. Time away from the noise and business of the race, to get our bearings and our blessings ;) and refocus.

And Thirdly, run! I think sometimes it is very tempting to just stay at the drinks station and keep sipping away. Especially if your injuries are great or if the pain is at the forefront of your mind. After you have taken the time to rest, refuel, receive and relax, then watch your Team Captain so you know when its time to run again. It might seem like too much to get back out there, but you have your team behind you, and your Team Captain there beside you all the way. If He says it’s time to get up, then do it, and take it one day at a time, one leg at a time, one step at a time.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let
us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
” Hebrews 12:1-2

my email

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Click Go The Shears, Boys

In the interests of continuing the cultural heritage of our fine nation I feel compelled to share a chorus of a supposedly famous ballad with you. Its about sheep shearing, an industry which has provided jobs and income for Australian's since 1788 and history dates it back to 3500BC!

Click go the shears boys, click, click, click,
Wide is his blow and his hands move quick,
The ringer looks around and is beaten by a blow,
And curses the old snagger with the bare-bellied Joe.

I say it is in the interest of cultural heritage but actually its more for my personal benefit.

A bare-bellied Joe is a sheep with no wool on its belly, hence making it quicker to shear. Its like volunteering to help only to find out the trickiest part of the job is already done, or being on the Sunday School roster when most kids are away on holidays, or coming home to cook dinner and finding plenty of leftovers in the fridge.

Its important to appreciate these things in life, and to congratulate others when they receive them. In the ballad, the head shearer curses the new bloke for beating him by one swipe of the shear. And dont we often to do the same. But next time you hear of someone getting a break, a bargain or a blessing, share their joy. And next time it happens to you, smile and thank God for the unexpected blessings.

And next time I joke about getting a bare bellied Joe, you can laugh at my joke cause now you know what it means ;)

my email

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Running The Race - 4. The Crowd

What do you hear? Are you in quiet surrounds right now? Are you reading this on your iphone with lots of people bustling around and the sound of people talking and laughing and kids playing?

Maybe you are at home with a hot cuppa. Wherever you are, I want you to listen a bit closer. Just like during a race, you have to listen closely to hear specific voices, specific words or phrases called out from the crowd. They could be cheers of encouragement, pieces of advice or not so positive remarks.

When you are running your Christian race, what do you hear? Who do you look for in the crowd? I pray that you see friends in the crowd, that your family members cheer you on, that your church family inspires and encourages you from the sidelines. But what do you do if that is not the case? Do you feel like you are running this race alone? Or even worse, are the people in your life critical of the path you have set out on? Who do you see in the crowd and what do you hear?

I am training my son not to look for me in the crowd during his running races, but to keep his eyes on the finish line. Otherwise he slows down, loses track and even strays off course. We do draw strength and encouragement from those around us, but our focus and goal should always remain at the finish line. The Bible gives us some great encouragement to help us with this task.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..." Heb 12:1-2.

Our main goal is to fix our eyes on Jesus. Then we hear the words of truth, and we are on the true path. He called us to begin this race of faith, and he will be there at the end, when faith will no longer be required because we will see Him face to face. The 'great cloud of witnesses' that inspire us are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11. Since so many have gone before us, and run this race, when we remember them, and focus on Jesus who is the Saviour of us all, we can get a second wind and run all the more.

So if you have slowed down, or lost track, or been distracted by the crowd, look up. Fix your eyes on Jesus, read Hebrews 11 and remember those that have gone before us. And while you are running, be one of those witnesses for someone else. Be an encouragement. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds...let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:23-34.

I pray that as you hold this in your hand, as you read your Bible, as you meet with other Christians, that you would be encouraged, and encourage one another to fix your eyes on Jesus, and that you would be equipped to run the race, and to be one of the witnesses that encourages someone else.

my email

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Running The Race - 3. Interrupted

Little ones start off so eagerly in the school cross-country run. They are all smiles as they do their warm-ups and line up at the starting line. In an attempt to be a cool and supportive mother I also line up and take my place with the runners. We don't get very far unfortunately.

Not too far into the race I end up with a growing band of girls who have stopped running, and are barely managing a brisk walk. There are stitches, a grazed knee, tired muscles, and weakened wills. They started with good intentions but something happened which stopped them and made them feel like they couldn't go on.

You started the year with good intentions. You wanted to be more devoted to God, maybe to attend church more or start going to a Bible study. You wanted to spend more time in prayer, or more time reading the Bible, you wanted to learn scripture to spur yourself and others on in the race of life. But you got interrupted.Interrupted by stress, busyness, heartache, contentedness, boredom, depression, work, ministry, friends, family.

Paul encourages Christians with these words, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you”. (Galatians 5:7-8)

No matter where the distraction comes from, we need to recognize that it is distracting us from running our race and deal with it accordingly. Whether we can change our circumstances or just change our perspective, we need to refocus our gaze on the one who calls us, and keeps calling us to look to Him in the midst of difficult or distracting circumstances.

Paul precedes that verse with this one, “…the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6) Even though our faith may not fail, it is only when we keep our eyes on Him that we are in step with Him and expressing our faith through love. Usually it is our response to those people or circumstances that cut in on us that show us how much our eyes and our hearts have strayed. Take for example your response to someone cutting in on you in traffic or in the supermarket line.

Do you want to get back in the race? Just fix your eyes on Jesus, submit yourself to Him, obey His commands, and let your faith be expressed in love towards Him and others. And next time we get interrupted, I pray that both you and I will see a different response thanks to His Spirit at work in us when our eyes are on Him.

my email

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Running The Race - 2. Ready Set Go

Whether you are a seasoned runner or a mum getting ready to heard the kids to the car in the pouring rain, you will have heard the starter making three calls before the runners take one step –Ready, Set, Go!

So what do we need to do as we prepare for and seek to “run the race marked out for us”? (Heb 12:1)

1. Get Ready
1 Peter 1:13 gives us a great picture of what is necessary and starts with the age old phrase ‘gird up your loins’ which might translate ‘hitch up your skirt’. The NIV reads “prepare your minds for action” and encourages us to remove anything that will hinder us from staying on course or completing the journey that lies ahead of us.

Getting ready ensures that we have everything we need to complete the task, finish the journey, run the race. We might need to let some things go, gain self control (v13), and take up some essential items so that we are ready to go.

Having our minds ready for action doesn’t mean just being prepared to move ahead, but being equipped for a fight if need be. It means keeping an eye out for potholes or wayward runners and having all we need to ensure our course stays true.

Are you ready? Are you holding on to something like unforgiveness or bitterness that is going to slow you down or take you off course? Are you busy comparing yourself to others or afraid of what they might think? Have you been filling your mind with your Heavenly Coach’s words to bring back to memory when the course gets tough?

2. Get Set

With our minds ready for action, its time to knuckle down and focus. 1 Peter 1:13 goes on to say “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Remember Philippians 3:13-14? We are to have the prize, the finish at the forefront of our minds.

Where are you going? What are you trying to achieve? It’s good to have goals in life, but our ultimate goal is the life that we have a taste of now and get to experience fully when our time here on earth is up. Have the finish line at the forefront of your mind. Let every step you take and decision you make be made in the light of what is to come, not just what you experience in this moment. Jesus Christ is God, and He is coming back very soon. He has a plan for you and He wants you to join Him in sharing that good news with others.

3. Go!

So with the finish in mind, and everything you need for the journey, Go! Run! Finish!

Our heavenly prize has already been won for us. By the blood of Jesus we are counted as winners, but we still run with all our might because we have been called by our heavenly Coach to finish. We strive ‘not to confirm to our selfish desires, but to be holy in all that we do, because He who called us is holy.’ (1 Peter 1:15)

So we obey the truth that we have received, we seek to honour Him and please Him, and as His Spirit works in us and we have that love for others, we seek to follow the greatest command, repeated here “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (vs 22)

There are many signs of a race run for Christ, but the clearest testimony will be that of love. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) And Jesus’ final command to His disciples is also to us: In your going, make disciples. (Matt 28:19)

As we run after Christ, we are to encourage others to follow too.

Are you ready to run?

my email

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This morning a friend of mine met Jesus.

She had been waiting for it for a while, but it came sooner than expected, and sooner than we had hoped. However, she was ready. After battling breast cancer for 5 years our gracious God chose to relieve her of her suffering and take her to be with Him.

In an instant she stepped out of her body, out of her hospital room and was in the presence of Jesus.

In an instant it will happen to us.

Whether our heart ceases to function or we get the privilege of meeting Jesus in the air. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:52)

At any moment we could be standing in the presence of our Saviour and King.

That changes my perspective, changes my priorities and changes my passion.

It changes my perspective- The way I: think about today, enjoy relationships, talk to my kids, love my husband, respond to requests, care for the needy, pray to God.

It changes my priorities: I will play with my kids before I finish the housework, I will ask a friend how they are going instead of rushing off to run errands, I will enjoy the sunrise instead of sleeping in, I will stop and take in creation instead of speeding past

It changes my passion: If this is my last decade, last year, last month, last week, last day on earth, then I am going to make it count by investing in eternity. I am going to read my Bible which renews my perspective, I am going to pray more which changes my priorities to be more like His, and I am going to serve Him wherever I am which changes my passion.
Col 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were working for the Lord”

I am going to let Him fill me, use me, and change me, so that I can experience real life here on earth, and when I get to heaven I might even hear those words my friend heard today – “Welcome home, good and faithful servant”. But more so, I am going to share it with others so they can hear that too.

See you soon Steph…

my email

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Running The Race

This is the first of 10 articles Published in ConXion magazine 2011.

Happy New Year! Have you started the year running? I’m not talking about physical exercise, so breathe easy, grab a cuppa and read on!

I started the year running, but I feel like I am already behind as I attempt to complete things I didn’t finish last year and catch up on my list for this year which is getting longer by the day. As I think about what I want to accomplish this year my shoulders sag slightly, my head dips and my pace slows. This isn’t the way it’s meant to be!

So today I am going to stop.

I’m already late, already behind, already burdened by the weight of what has to be done. But when I think and pray about what it is that God would like to accomplish through me there is a gleam in my eye, a lifting of my chin and spring in my step.

The analogy of running a race is used many times in the New Testament to describe our journey as Christians so this year in ConXion I’d like to ‘run’ you through some of those likenesses and encourage you in the journey that God has for you this year.

Instead of prioritizing my time and energy to achieve all of my goals for the year, I remember Philippians 3 where Paul writes about the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord, with the goal that we may gain Christ, and be found in Him, having the righteousness not of ourselves but from God, through Christ. I love his quote: “Forgetting what is behind and straining to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

With the goal of truly knowing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and having our strength, our security and our sanity in Him, we will accomplish what He has planned and will find that our feet and our hearts are lighter as we run the race he has marked out for us.

Are you ready to run?

my email

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Hold

I know those of you who have mysteriously lost brain cells somewhere in the process of having children will sympathise with me. Today I forgot my best friend. She doesn’t mind, though. That’s one of the great things about BFF’s. But no matter which one of the myriad of excuses I tried, nothing made it OK. To make me feel better however, let me run you through the scenario.

Rinna rang while I was typing up an online form for mystery shopping. In this scenario, I order pizzas to be home delivered, answer questions online about the timing, service, product etc, and they pay me for my trouble and my takeout. Well, we chatted for a while but were interrupted when the pizza delivery man arrived 20 minutes early. Top marks for that by the way, but it caught me off guard and I asked if my friend would mind if I popped the phone down to get the pizza. I paid the driver and mentally took note of his name, car, greeting, change, farewell etc and as I stepped inside I realized I had forgotten to ask for the receipt so I ran back out, got the receipt and returned inside. By then my hungry family had opened the pizza boxes so I whipped out my camera to take photos of the pizzas before they were devoured. Then of course I sat down to enter those things I just noted before they too were gone forever.

I’m not sure what happened next, but somewhere between grace and eating pizza an interesting email caught my eye which I shared with everyone around, ate some more pizza, filled in some more of my mystery shopping form and chatted over the rest of the pizza. I missed the next email that came through which said “I’m still on the phone hon, should I call back later?” and didn’t realize until I had that strange feeling like I was meant to be doing something, that I had forgotten my friend and she was STILL waiting on the other end of the phone!

My friend sent a little reminder, which I was too busy to read, and so she waited patiently, listened to our conversation and laughed at our banter until I got around to noticing something wasn’t quite complete. Laugh if you will, but there is always a sting in the tail (or a silver lining depending on how you look at it ;)…

This morning my conversation with God was interrupted. I don’t even remember what it was that pulled my attention away, but I did feel all day like I had unfinished business. Interruptions occasionally come in the form of the voice of an early riser, sometimes a phonecall, sometimes a thought that ‘needs’ seeing to right away, sometimes my own mind wandering, but it happens way too often to laugh at.

God understands my fickle devotion and waits patiently for me to finish our conversation. He sends many reminders throughout the day, and occasionally we pick up where we left off, but many times all He hears is background noise.

My friendship with Corinne is far too important to let something like that happen again, and my relationship with God is far too important to keep allowing that to happen day by day. So next time I set aside time with my Friend I am going to do it more intentionally. If I am praying, I will write it down to keep my mind on track, I will read His word so I can concentrate and hear more clearly, and I will hold off on seeing to life’s distractions till we have finished our conversation.

Corinne and I found a way to chat while we did our housework… see picture above - and can I patent a handset sticky-taped to an elf hat??

But chatting to God is much easier (and looks way less weird). We can do it any time: while we are working, playing, sitting, driving, singing, laughing. Some times of deep conversation are essential, but chatting throughout the day and throughout the week is what doing life with God is all about.

Let me leave you with a song that you can carry into your day. Click here to listen on You Tube.

Gotta go now, have some unfinished business to attend to…

my email

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Flavour

I got a little bit excited when I saw the new slurpee flavour while on holidays.

But I had to smile when I read the words at the bottom of the poster -
"Fruit images shown are illustrative of flavour only and are not ingredients of the product."

So Lemon Lime Bitters Slurpee has no lemon, lime or bitters and Wild Berries Slurpee has no berries. I'm guessing the same goes for other flavours on offer: Raspberry, Citrus Kick, Berry Ice, Orange, Strawberry Citron, Orange Mango, Sour Apple, Apple Blackcurrant, Blackcurrant, Lemon Squash, Grape, Kiwi Lime and Lime!

Why advertise the real thing, yet only provide substitutes? Maybe because of the cost. Maybe the real thing wouldn't easily combine with the rest of the ingredients. Obviously the artificial stuff is easier to source, store, transport and package.

Unfortunately the same is true in our everyday lives, and sadly, even for Christians. Jesus said in John 14:4 that He came to give us life, and life to the full, but so many of us settle for artificial pursuits that look good from a distance but aren't the real thing. Many of our churches experience the same problem, even if we can do a schmick poster presentation of what people can expect when they come along on a Sunday morning.

Church is more than turning up on Sunday mornings, and being a Christian is more than believing in God. Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is about receiving the real life that He offers, and then living that life every day. And 'church' can happen when anywhere from 2 or 3, to 200, 2000 or 2 million, followers of Jesus gather together, share life, share a meal, share in worship, share in prayer, share in service and share in teaching from the Bible.

Why do we so easily settle for something less than this then? Something that appears to be the real thing but lacks life? Maybe the cost is too great. Maybe the artificial things are easier to manufacture, easier to store, make looking good easier. Maybe we don't really want to give up those artificial things which give us the sense of security and predictability we are used to.

Maybe ...
real joy through thankfulness rather than wealth,
real peace through trusting rather than control,
real belonging through submission rather than membership ...
...wouldn't gel with the other things we hold as important like providing for ourselves, having things our own way, and experiencing church the way we like it.

Examine your own life. Could there be an area in your life which is all appearance and no reality? Which is just a thin veneer of spiritual reality but isn’t the real thing? Which gives the appearance of certain ingredients, of spiritual life, of having a devoted love for Jesus, but isn’t there?
Jesus had this message to the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2. "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance...Yet this I hold against you: You have forsaken your first love." I know you are doing all these great things, but you have forsaken me. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do those things you did at first. Reality is the most important thing, not the appearance.

I don't want to go into another year being a Christian but not walking closely with Christ. I am going to put a stop to the production lines, examine each ingredient and start from scratch. What others see might look a bit different. It wont always be the same. They might not even like it! But it will be real. Real Life.

This is where I'm going to start. Here is a song by Sidewalk Prophets called "You Can Have Me" (photos by someone else on you tube). It starts like this...

"If I saw you on the street
And you said "Come and follow me"
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams
Would I love you enough to let go?
Or would my love run dry
When you asked for my life?"

When I heard that for the first time, I didn't know what my response would be.

Today, I do. I pray that you will too.

my email