In The Midst of Shipwrecks

“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness. ” ― John Calvin

Somebody sent me the above quote. I was not ready to hear it. At least, my mind wasn’t ready. I was so broken from the breakdown of a relationship I believed in, that I felt like I was shipwrecked. Somewhere between the warm sunshine on the sand and the cold deep ocean. I hadn’t sunk completely. But I remember feeling like I was close to those waves that would engulf me at any moment. I felt like I was smashed into a thousand pieces on a rocky reef and there was no way of picking up the scattered pieces of my heart and life.

But tear by tear, day by day, step by step, through the patience, gentleness and love of family and friends, I started to see that I had to hold on.

I had to grasp the hand of the ‘pilot’ and trust him to steer, even if it was into the storm. And when I could finally let go of the fears crowding in on me, I could see his peace shining like a beacon through the fog. All the scattered pieces no longer mattered, because it wasn’t the ship that I held on to. But it’s Captain.

I read Psalm 46 a few days after I felt like my world had crumbled.

Listen to what it says in Verse 2:

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging

Verse 5:

God is within her, she will not fall

Verse 7 & 11:

The Lord Almighty is with us…

He reiterates that NO MATTER the circumstance, no matter the trial, He is there. He never leaves. WE should not fear.

And it was what my heart needed to hear. Even in the midst of a Shipwreck.

And He never let me go.

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’ So I went forth and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.”

~ Minnie Louise Haskins

Mia Mamma

My mother.

She is a quietly determined person. She doesn’t force her opinion on anyone, but lets you know what she thinks.

She is an amazing artist, pushing it to the side to raise her children.

She never compromised in taking us to church, even when my dad wouldn’t go. She would stay up late with us to help finish assignments. She went to every school concert, and encouraged us to do as well as we could.

She was never trendy, preferring to go against the grain and she taught us to question everything- don’t believe what you see on TV, but research, compare, make informed decisions.

Speaking of which, we were only allowed about 30 mins of TV (later 60 mins) a week, and she taught us to love books. To read, to ponder, to be creative.

She had to be mother and father for us, endured great loss, never hid her tears and yet she never quit.

She laughs easily, stirs just as easily, and was always there for us.

We will never forget the sacrifices she made for us.

Love you Mama.

I believe in a Big God

I’m trying to be bold and courageous.

Its tough to be bold when you have so many insecurities going round in your head. I’m working on being courageous…sometimes it is more challenging than I think. Especially when it comes to my work and dealing with parents. But I keep praying God will help me to give all my anxieties to him.

I remember a sermon from last year based on the book of Joshua and about believing in a Big God. I really think Joshua of the BIble believed in a Big God. Some of the points that caught my attention were:

a) If God created us he cares for us, he does not abandon us.

b) believing in a big God does not cause me to live in fear of others or crave their approval or praise  when it is better to seek the love and and opinion of a Big God.

c) if we allow the material world to consume us sooner or later we stop noticing our souls.

d) be encouraged to hand over everything in prayer to God.

I am really learning to trust him, especially on those nights I’m alone in my house and hear creepy noises. haha

Psalm 34:4,7 ‘he delivered me from all my fears. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him’. 

I am certain I believe in a Big God.

Grace and tribulation

CS Lewis on Grace and tribulation

God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.

This is thought-provoking. How do you get through something that tears your world apart without stain? I am reminded of our family crest. I have always loved crests and coats of arms and things like that. We used to have them displayed on our wall when I was a kid. The motto on one of ours was ‘Sans Tache’. Which means ‘without stain.’ It can be easy to let our circumstance change us. Indeed, I’m guilty of letting circumstances dictate how I respond to a trial, feeling angry or bitter, or deeply saddened when my plans don’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Yet, as a Christian I have hope. And unchangeable rock on which to stand no matter the storm. 

He has armed us with His word to fight with in a trial. He has felt and understood the emotions we experience. he offers himself, for us to hold on to when it seems there is no hope and all we see is the darkness closing in around us. 

And we can stand, we can fight, we can cling to him. and we can let Him change us and not our circumstances. 

A Treasure

Today would have been my Nanna’s birthday. She died 11 years ago.

I don’t have any pictures of her. My Family has very few. My Nanna rarely had her picture taken. Apparently, she disliked it. And yet sometimes my memories of her are so vivid I wonder if I really need a picture. I still remember her beautiful smile and her blue eyes that sparkled when she was amused by something. She wasn’t given to streams of chatter, nor did she enjoy busy and loud areas. Her father was a Swede and her first name Olga, gave away her scandinavian heritage.

She loved spending time in her garden. Even in the months before she died, she was out there enjoying her roses. I remember roses were her favourite. And to this day, I can remember being awed by the exquisite colours that she had, and how they sparkled on dewy mornings with the sun shining on them. It was almost a place of solace for me. Standing in her rose garden.

And She treasured her family. She married fairly late in life (being in your 30s was late in the 1930s) and raised six children on a station in the outback with her husband (12 years her senior). When they moved to what is now My Uncle’s farm or ‘Up Home’, she continued to work hard at taking care of her children and helping to run the farm. The stories my mum tells of those days, often show my grandparents’ sense of humour and the simple faith they shared.

My Nanna wasn’t famous. She never wrote anything important. She didn’t create a new medicine, or invent new technology. She simply lived. And she loved. and she passed on to us tiny pieces of faith and life, in small ways.

I still have the Bible she gave to me when I turned 13, inscribed in her beautiful handwriting. And I have the Hymnal she gave me when I turned 18. In it she wrote: The voice of prayer is never silent, Nor dies the strand of praise away.

The day that she died, I had spent the whole night before crying and praying, begging God not to take my beloved Nanna, was a sunday in December. That morning they played the hymn ‘How deep the father’s love for us.’

Every time I hear it I think of her, and all that she taught me, sometimes I tear up. I think of the school concerts she came to. I think if the times we stayed with her when we were living in the country and came back to Perth on visits. I think of her quirky sense-of-humour. I think of how she loved foxes and pigs. I think of the cubby house we played in at her place.  I think of the hallway and the huge bookshelf full of books and stories and other worlds. I think of how she did our hair one time (and it wasn’t very good), and how we used to nick strawberries from her strawberry plants.

And then I think of the words of the hymn by Stuart Townend.

How deep the father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

that he should give his only son

to make a wretch his treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss

The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

And I’m thankful. For all the memories of her. how much she loved each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But mostly I’m thankful for God’s deep love that has ransomed us. Yes, I loved my grandmother. And she loved us. but it was only a mere reflection of His love.

A tiny taste of a future to come.

I love you Nanna. I miss you. But I’m glad I get to spend eternity with you praising our Lord.

My Faith Journey.

My Spiritual journey cannot be defined by any one moment, as there were many moments like signposts pointing me to Christ. I grew up in the aftermath of the death of a sibling, even now I still miss him, 28 years later. It’s amazing how someone you knew for such a short time, can impact so much of your life. Though I have long-since worked it through with God, I still have days (mostly on his birthday) where I feel his ‘missing-ness’.  Where something in me longs for all of those lost years, like the bible describes ‘the years the locusts have eaten’.

Later, my sisters and I were caught up in the tragedy of divorce and the dissolution of our family unit, as a result of infidelity. I wrestled with anger, rejection and loneliness for a long time. I used things and people to try to make myself feel better, when all I wanted to do was stop the pain.  Eventually, at 16, after two suicide attempts, I had an experience with God which led me to want to know Him and to live my life for Him. I remember my second suicide attempt, lying on the cold floor watching my blood drip on the tiles, feeling only nothingness. Emptiness. A great empty hole in my life that nothing had pacified. I remember fading in and out of consciousness, whether from drugs, shock, or loss of blood I don’t remember. But as my eyes began to close and tears started falling down my cheeks I could feel my breath meeting the cold tiles. And I started to cry out to God, asking him to help me. I’m not sure it was audible, but I felt Him saying to me ‘I’m here. I’ve been waiting for you.’

My life didn’t change over night and it took many years to get my life back on track, but it was truly only possible through the grace and strength of Christ. I lived overseas for a year and I spent a lot of time questioning God, and wanting answers. Yet, I’ve noticed we don’t often get the answer to our ‘why’ straight away. Six years ago, I battled cancer and came to a real assurance that God was there during the tough times. Much time was also leant to personal reflection and through the really low moments I came to a greater understanding of his word, and his love for me. When the storm had passed and I was able to begin teaching young people, God revealed to me things I had been wondering. I had incredible suffering- and that allowed me to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, just as Jesus did. I had much experience with the depths of loneliness- which gave me strong assurance that God was one who would stick closer than a brother and loved me enough to die so that I could have life. I had many questions- and God showed me He is the only one with the answers. It was like the teaching became an answer to my ‘why’ when I saw replicated in the lives of students the heartaches and despair of my own troubled youth. For some reason this gave me an amazing sense of hope and compassion for the students entrusted to me. And it showed me that even when I didn’t understand it suffering has a purpose. His glory.

It’s interesting how time passes and healing comes, so many things you considered important seem to fall away like mist, and soon you don’t notice that you have moved on, grown, learned to love and trust again. God has honed you, like gold, refined in a fire.

Mostly, I see His peace. Joy that surges in me when I think of the darkness that cannot hide when confronted with His light. The repentance that fills my heart when I think of my own sinful nature that kept pulling me from his path. And mostly I am awed. By his power. That he never lets us go no matter how great a storm rages around us, or how lost we seem to be in the darkness. He always calls us back. He always wins the battle. He always calms the storm. He never gives up.

Maybe this new life, the sense of peace, growth, love is all part of restoration. I don’t know. I only know it is part of the journey.  And I am loved beyond measure…

Maybe this reason

2011…

On the way home from church one day, I was listening to ‘Insight for Living- by Chuck Swindoll’ on 98Five Sonshine FM. He was talking about suffering. He mentions that if we have not suffered we cannot empathise. If we have not lost a child or loved one, we can’t fully understand what its like. But if we have, we can reach out in love and grace and understanding to those who have. This begs the question that maybe suffering has a purpose, maybe it goes beyond the momentary pain and confusion. Maybe part of the growth is being able to move beyond the grief to reach out to others in their own journey.

For example, I can reach out to others who have lost a sibling because of that spectre that hangs over my life. The ache that never goes away no matter how many years seem to fade on the horizon. I consider what Mordecai the Jew says in the book of Esther, to the queen. “Perhaps it is for such a time as this…” And I think I agree with him. We cannot often see the end of our suffering, but there is a purpose to it. This, for me is a very good reason to keep ‘learning to fly’ no matter how many falls I have to take.

facing the Crosswinds

I’m having a lovely holiday and I’m way over due for an update.
And since I was so tardy in blogging  the next few posts will be some ponderings I wrote down last year that I wanted to digitize…
FACING THE CROSSWINDS

I am learning to be content, to trust Him, to not be alarmed when disturbing things happen that interrupt the equilibrium of my world. This I’m calling Learning to Fly.

I’ve sat and watched birds flying many times. They soar through the sky with such grace it looks carefree and content. They are happy to soar, to glide effortlessly toward their destination. Of course I know its not as easy as it looks. Nothing ever is. I wasn’t born gifted. I wasn’t born perfect. Birds can’t fly automatically, they have to learn it. They have to take the falls and the tail winds. They have plunge into a headwind on take off in order to move, then wait for a tail wind to move them forward.

I’m fascinated by flight- tailwinds and headwinds especially.

here are some interesting notes on headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds (from wikipedia.org of course!!):

In aeronautics, a headwind is favourable in takeoffs and landings.

In sailing, a headwind may make forward movement difficult, and necessitate tacking into the wind.

Headwind and Tailwind do not occur together in normal conditions.

tailwind is a wind that blows in the direction of travel of an object. A tailwind increases the object’s speed and reduces the time required to reach its destination. In aeronautics, a tailwind is unfavourable in takeoffs and landings.

crosswind is any wind that has a perpendicular component to the line or direction of travel. Inaviation, a crosswind is the component of wind that is blowing across the runway making landings and takeoffs more difficult than if the wind were blowing straight down the runway. If a crosswind is strong enough it may exceed an aircraft’s crosswind limit and an attempt to land under such conditions could cause structural damage to the aircraft’s undercarriage.   Crosswinds can also occur when traveling on wet or slippery roads (snow, ice, standing water, etc.), especially with gusting conditions and vehicles that have a large side area such as vans and SUV. This can be dangerous for motorists because of the possible lift force created as well as causing the vehicle to change direction of travel. The safest way for motorists to deal with crosswinds is by reducing their speed to reduce the effect of the lift force and to steer into the direction of the crosswind.

Its interesting to note that the safest way to deal with crosswinds it not to change direction or stop. But simply to slow down and steer in the direction of the crosswind. I also find it interesting that headwinds are favourable in take-offs and landings. But, Tailwinds which aren’t favourable for take-off or landing, help get you some where faster.

I think this can be a picture of life. We keep trying to ride the Tailwind which can be dangerous when we try to land, but we forget the tough things, the trials, agitations which feel like headwinds are necessary to help us land and to help us take of. We might encounter crosswinds and instead of trying to stop suddenly, which could cause devastation by the sheer impact of a sudden stop, instead of trying to speed up to get out of the crosswind, we are to slow down, face that wind head on and steer into it, trudging slowly into the wind. I think God created the winds that way to teach us about life- not to run from problems and uncertainties, not to try to speed through life to get everything done. But to face life head on, even though we don’t know what to expect or what state we’ll be in when we reach the other side, we are simply to trust God that he’ll carry us through those crosswinds.

 

The Day we were Magnetic

Here’s a fun post from my old blog site that I’ll soon be deleting.

(March 2011)

 

So over summer my nieces and nephew visited me lots.

One particular day we had planned for ages. 
The day we were going to paint our magnets, play games and watch Mr Bean.
We used some plaster kits I’d bought them for Christmas. We had previously mixed the plaster, then poured it into the moulds and then we sat them out in the sun to dry and harden.
So on a bright sunny Saturday Mikayla, Shakira and Jayden came over to paint and ‘prettify’ their magnets. It was fun, getting so messy! 🙂 Mikayla had a Marine creatures Theme, Shakira a jungle animals theme and Jay had a pirate theme, complete with a chest of treasure!
We played the Great Mammoth Hunt game inside after lunch and we make milkshakes and watched Mr Bean episodes til Mor Mor (grandma) came to pick them up.
It was such fun!