Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Faith Holds

There are modern parables everywhere if you have eyes to see. ‘The winds will blow and the storms will come, but the house on the rock stood firm (Matthew 7:24-27). It was all I could see as I walked the beach today. The morning after a big storm and there was seaweed all over the beach. It had been uprooted and thrown about by the sea all night. The storm had been violent and rough, the lightning lit up the sky, the rain heavy. The seaweed’s roots were planted in the sand and as the wind blew and the storms rolled in, the seaweed was easily tossed around. There it lay, all over the beach, being tossed by the waves back and forward as each new set came in. 

And then I saw a whole lot more seaweed that had been
knocked around, but their roots were still intact. As I pulled and dug down deep … they were in the sand but had laid their foundations tightly around a rock that was buried in the sand. During the storm and winds, those that had built their life around the rock, stood firm.  

As I walked a little further, there were a few that had been uprooted by the storm. It was a strong and violent storm that night, but when this seaweed had been dislodged the rock came with them and the connection between the roots and the rock were very firm. I liked the thought that even though they got tossed around and even thrown off course, the rock stayed with the seaweed. 

“I will always be with you, even to the ends of the earth”. (Matt 28:20)

The wise man builds his house upon the rock; a parable, my childhood song, a simple but valuable teaching. Today as I walked on the beach, it had another strong reminder.  As a child I could never imagine being uprooted, being dislodged, being thrown around by life. I was blessed with a strong and stable life, living life with Christ as the centre and a family that was stable. I always thought that was a story about the importance of building your life with Christ as your foundation and if you did all would be fine. I chose to do that from a very young age. A simple and “childish” faith. 

Today I still hold onto that faith as if a child. But it is no longer “childish”. It has been tested, pushed around, knocked down at times and even at times hard to get back again. Because of that it is now a strong faith.  Seeing the seaweed today,  holding tightly to the rock as it was getting tossed by the waves in the aftermath of what would have been a big night of being thrown around, there was something about the desperate way the roots clung onto the rock, that reminded me of myself, and brought me a sense of peace. 

A reminder of when you are only holding on by a small strand, but it is enough to get you through. The thought that even when you want to let go, your roots have been growing for so long they are entwined together and very hard to break. The hope that whatever is the connection between the rock and the roots, the rock is playing a part we can’t see and we should never let us go. 

Today, I needed to know He would never let me go. We all need to know this most days, more than we are sometimes willing to admit. The storm has passed today, the calm is here. But the storm will come again. Lord, like the seaweed, give us enough time to catch our breath, to plant ourselves deeply in You even more before the next storm comes. Help us to know that when the storm comes we will be ready and that You will never leave us. All that is required is the faith of a child, a simple story, a simple visual. Today it will be all we need to face another day. Thank you.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

When "crap" literally gets in the way

I have always been fascinated with the sunrise. Something about watching it creep up and
say “hello”, turning darkness into light, and especially over the beach.  That moment when you can see the sparkle it puts on the water.  It is as if you can reach down and touch it. It is in that moment that I feel more connected to the sun, even more connected to my Creator.

I haven’t noticed it before but early in the morning as you walk along the beach the sun’s beam follows you as you walk. Sometimes leading, sometimes walking beside, sometimes slightly behind, but always close. I suspect if someone else was walking one mile behind me it would also feel the same for them. It is amazing that the sun can feel so close to everyone at the same time.

As the sun goes higher and higher, it no longer feels so close. I know it is always there, it is just harder to feel as close to it. But you know it will come close again the next morning … if you are willing to meet it again that early. It is important that the sun keeps moving.  The whole world needs to it too.  It is the sun’s job, but those precise moments when you can draw close to such a force is “life-giving”.

I think that’s why I love an early morning beach walk so much ... so why is it then that I only do it once or twice a year?

Cause crap” gets in the way, even when you make the grandest plans. 

So just recently, I planned to take my camera and watch the sunrise. I was staying right near the beach, so I thought this was a no brainer. I got up at 5:50am in the morning to capture the sunrise with my camera. It is not so easy for me to get up early. It takes more effort than I want to give in the morning but I am never disappointed. I got dressed and ran down to the beach. I had found a good position, poised ready and set with my camera to capture the moment. It was so beautiful, watching the colours change in the sky. I knew it wouldn’t be long now, the sun never disappoints.

Asthe sun starts to creep over the edge of the world, I feel a sensation in my lower region and know exactly what it meant. OMG, I need to poo”. Okay, clench hard, hold it in, this too will pass, I am staying here, this is where I want to be.

So, I am taking photos and trying so hard to ignore the urges that are getting stronger and stronger and not going away. This one is persistent. Seriously, why now? I can’t hold it in. I take as many photos as I can and then stand to walk back to my cabin.  I am walking backwards, taking photos and hoping I can control this urge. But it gets the better of me and it is not stopping. I run back to my cabin and the explosion into the toilet is impressive. But sorry to say that some did not make it to the toilet! I have the stains to prove it.

Now I interrupt this story to apologise if I have offended anyone with my detail, but it is strange that we don’t talk about it much. After all, it is a part of daily life, it comes and goes every day and it is NOT a nice substance. Yet we cannot escape it, in fact it MUST come and go each day or we will be in trouble.

When we need to “poo”, it is not a surprise. For some it is a relief, for some it is a pleasure, and for most it is simply a necessary part of life. Maybe if we talked about it more it might help us realise that “crap” is a part of life and we cannot escape it.

Try as I did to hold it in, make it go away, pretend it didn’t exist, stop it from getting in the way of my special sunrise experience, it took over and took me away from the one place I wanted to be. And left me with a yucky remainder of what I now had, in place of the relaxing moment on the beach alone with my camera and the sun.

So when “crap” happens and wants to spoil the moments, you always have a choice.

My choice … 

I got changed and walked back to the beach. The sun was still there, beaming, as if waiting for me to return. I spent two more hours, walking, exploring, taking photos, watching the sun follow me, sometimes lead me, sometimes right beside.

Have you ever wanted to spent time with God, had a plan, and “crap” gets in the way? Of course you have. Any time you want to spend time with God, do the right thing, seek out good things, expect “crap” to happen. It is important to know it will come and go and still the son” will always be there when you return.

That morning it happened again in another form. Someone rang up to bother me about a vacation deal while I was enjoying my walk with my God along the beach.

My fault, you say?  Yes, I made the choice to answer the call in the middle of my beautiful walk with the sun. The world always finds a way to disturb you with things that are a distraction particular to you.  A holiday, a getaway deal ... I am a sucker every time. You might even ask, why do you take your phone with you, if you didn't want to be distracted? Well, I need it to get my steps counted, so I earn more Qantas points so I can fly for free on my next vacation ... oh, the “crap” that surrounds us, the ways we justify the distractions. 

For all of you it will be different. So, what’s your crap? Can you name it? It might help if you expect it. It will come and go, and yet you always have a choice ... to keep choosing to move closer to the “Son”, the one who never leaves, never fails and never gives up on you, always loves, always cares and walks with you every day.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Sticky Faith

This past month I was creating a heart wall mural of our wonderful community; pictures of the many wonderful memories and things God has led us in over the years. But mostly it was all about the people. I got the guys from the men’s shed to make wooden tiles, the designer in our midst to set the photos up, someone to paint, and others with accuracy and precision to stick them up so that they were perfectly placed to form the shape of a large heart on the wall. 

It was a project close to my heart and when the last tile was placed on the wall with double sided industrial tape, which the hardware man swore would hold them there securely, it was a sight to see.  It was so beautiful; the colour, the memories, the joy, the visual, the delight we shared as we stepped back and saw the heart and even more joy as it drew us closer to see the smiles, the faces, those with us and those who have moved on, the many who have called us HOME at least for a while.
Finished Mural
So, you can imagine my distress, when I arrived the next morning to discover that the tape didn't stick and many tiles had fallen to the ground.  Of course, the tape didn't stick to the wall, but it seemed to have no trouble sticking to the floor and sticking some tiles to each other. And so many were ruined, ripped by sticking to each other, dented and chipped by the fall. I was so saddened by the visual. 

So, I did what anyone would/ should do … I sought to find something stronger that would stick them to the wall. The next thing the hardware man recommended was liquid nails. It seemed to work better but each day I would come back to find more tiles had fallen off, were ruined, bent and ripped. I did have spares but they were running out, and how sad it was to see the beautiful photos (people) who had fallen and were ripped and couldn't be put back up again. Someone suggested we leave a few spaces free to remind us of those who are yet to join us, so we left 4 spaces.

Well, a month has gone and this weekend I entered the building to find 4 more had dropped off, even with liquid nails. It really affected me. No-one else seemed to notice, dare I say “care” that day. I suspect they knew that I would fix it, eventually. I know others are not as visually stimulated as me, but I am currently left with trying to find a solution to making sure that none of the tiles fall off again. 

I wonder, will anyone else notice?  Will anyone care enough to ask how they can help to make the tiles stick? I wonder what will eventually be sticky enough so they never fall off again? I wonder if there are some that need to come off and stay off? I wonder if it is like the FAITH journey …. many start but all do not stay? I wonder how sticky our methods/message must be. Or are there some people who will never let it stick? I wonder who we are to listen to for advice on how to make things stick? I wonder what substandard glue we are using today, that was never, ever going to work but we keep using it, over and over again and hope that the result changes? 

So much to wonder about. So much I don’t know. But I tell you what I do know. I will not give up until I find out how to stick those tiles on the wall so they don't come off. I will replace the bent and broken ones and even put some of the broken, chipped ones back up again, because they continue to tell the story. And maybe that is all we are asked to do … continue to tell the story, seeking to celebrate the joys and people, accepting everyone, chipped and bent and even broken, and keep seeking to refine the methods/message so that it sticks as well as it can. We must also accept that they are some who just won't allow themselves to stick and we simply must miss them dearly and love them all the same. 

Monday, 29 April 2019

What do we do with our scars?

Just recently my husband accidentally burnt me with a cigar. He doesn't smoke them often, but when you are in Cuba it is hard not to have a go. In his haste of looking at things in a market we were in, he forgot he was given a cigar and that it was in his hand. He turned toward me and the cigar went straight into my arm.  It really hurt and I walked around the rest of the day with an ice cold water bottle on my arm. But we did laugh. It was such an accident and he felt so bad, I could only see the funny side of it, knowing my husband. I took a photo of it and sent it to the kids straight away.

He felt so bad he kept asking me how I was and it was fun to play on it a bit. After a few hours it was fine, but it was going to leave a scar for sure.  

For the next 7 days afterward, it was still looking really sore, so I started putting pure vitamin E oil on it each night. It is amazing stuff and each morning I would wake up and couldn't believe the difference in the healing simply in one night. 

I joked with Dave, that I considered leaving it and not putting the healing balm on it, so I would be scarred for life and when people asked what it was, I would have a good story of my husband burning me with a cigar. Or worse I could play on it and get his sympathy and guilt for the rest of my life with a scar like that.  At one point it was looking better and then I bumped it and it started to bleed again, that was a good time to let David know what he done to me….. again. 

But, instead after 3 weeks it was completely gone, simple by putting the right healing balm on it each night. 

After 35 years of being together, believe me there are deeper scars we both carry, more painful than a cigar burn. It made me think about the scars we carry on the inside and the outside and how quickly they can become the story we hold onto for all the wrong reasons. 

It is a choice what we do with our burns or the painful experiences. We can carry them like an open, painful scar, in order to guilt or shame the one who caused it. We can choose for it to become our victim story, the battle scars we get to tell anyone who will listen, for sympathy or attention. We can chose to use the battle scars as excuses to not venture out and try new things as they are dangerous. We can choose to look at our scars and hold anger and bitterness, that if someone can do that to me, then I can do it to someone else. 

Or we can choose to seek the healing balm that not only takes the pain away, but in some cases can make all things new as if it never happened. 

For many of our deep inner scars it will take more that "Pure Vitamin E oil", but I do know that with the right healing balm all things are possible. The hardest part is the choice, to walk towards healing and not in the other direction. I want to say that there is even more that is possible. When the healing has become so complete that it is not just healed, but has become something more beautiful. Like the refiners fire, more beauty is found only once something has gone through the fire and come out the other end.  But it doesn't have to stop there either, for when that healed scar is so strong it is able to help others who are wounded, it becomes a gift and privilege. This has been my experience over the last 20 years with many of my scars, although I have many more I am working on.  

The greatest gift is that we don't have to do this alone. Christ has been my healing balm, for the deep inner hurts that simply come with life. But I know that the key on my part is to CHOOSE to lean into Him and be willing to use the correct healing balm and to use it regularly. That is why Dave and I can joke about a cigar burn, because we know the real healing power of Jesus’ grace and love and forgiveness in our own lives and in our marriage and it is truly a gift. 

So what do you do with your scars? 

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Are our Churches/Children just “seedless watermelons”?

I have always been fascinated with trees. They are so beautiful and majestic.  Each country has its  own unique trees and Jamaica is no exception.

I was stopped by an impressive tree. It was large and strong, the roots were clearly deep as well as coming out in all directions. There was a smaller plant right beside it, being shadowed by it and growing up healthy and strong beside it. The large tree had beautiful reddish fruit on it, which I soon found out was a “Jamaican apple”. 

There are so many things I learn from trees and nature. God challenges me every time with new things. I was given the apple to eat and it was very different to an apple in Australia. It was soft and almost pear/peach like in texture, but it was white and fluffy. As I was enjoying the fruit, I noticed it had a large hard seed in the middle.

Psalm 1 says “but those whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and who mediates on His Law day and night, that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.”

Leadership, parenting … these are challenging things. They require much delighting in God’s word and His truth to be able to yield fruit. How I long to yield fruit! As I ate the apple, being such a new experience, I loved the reminder of how nourishing fruit can be and how precious it is to be able to bear fruit for others to enjoy. How important it is that we as leaders and parents actually produce fruit that sustains others, that we focus on how we attract and sustain those we lead, and make sure our fruit is appetising enough that they want to eat it. Which is hard these days, as there are so many other options than a healthy piece of fruit, which are available all the time, not just in season.  You know how horrible it can be when you eat fruit that is out of season, and that just can’t compete with the many other sweet and now artificial options that our children and people would much rather eat than healthy and natural fruit. 

But this big large seed that I was left with, caught my attention. It was hard and strong and significant. Of course you can’t eat it, so we often throw it away after eating the fruit. Well, at least in the western world we do. So, as I was about to throw it away, I realised that this is such an important part of the fruit.  Without the seed, there is not new and sustaining life. The seed needs to be replanted for it to grow. 

It is one thing for me as a leader or parent to delight in the Lord so that I may grow and yield fruit, but if that fruit is not then taken, consumed and replanted, its enjoyment and value only lasts for moments. Very quickly we find we want more and more of the light fluffy flesh without understanding the fruit has a seed of replenishing life that is important to be replanted for life to continue. 

It made me consider in Western Society how much we love
the “Seedless Watermelon”, a recent human creation to make the fruit easy to consume. When we serve fruit platters we cut out all the seeds so it is all easily consumable and looking ascetically pleasing. I know I love mandarins, (which are small oranges), but I specifically look for the ones with no seeds because the number of seeds in a normal mandarin drives me crazy to eat. Our children today are growing up believing that Watermelons and Mandarins have no seeds. Sure, it is much easier to eat, but what does it say to our children? What does that subconsciously teach us all?

I wonder how many of our churches, our programs, our ministries are like “seedless fruit”? Tasty and attractive, but without seeds that get replanted into the souls and hearts that come, so that they might be able to grow and yield their own fruit?  How often are our churches centred around the leader’s spiritual strength, that might come from delighting in the Lord and His word and bearing fruit that is delicious to eat, but by the next week those that came last week are craving for more to sustain them another week? 

Francis Chan tells a story of a Mega Church pastor in Seoul. He asked “How can I get my people to leave and live by faith? He explained how he had become really proficient at gathering people together but his intention was to get them to disperse to share the Gospel and live by faith. But now they had grown comfortable and didn't want to leave” (F. Chan, “Letters to the Church”, p 153)

As parents, we can be so meticulous about cutting up bite sizes of fruit and taking out the seeds or much worse feeding them substitutes to healthy fruit all together and not actually giving them the seeds of what they actually need to grow up and bear their own fruit.  Please, know that I am not just talking about feeding our kids healthy fruit with seeds here. (Although that is important as well). 

Whatever space we are in as leaders or parents, let’s be careful that we are bearing fruit that comes with a seed of truth. 
   “A farmer went out to sow his seed” Mathew 13:3

A seed of truth that can be replanted and grow independent of us being there. We are called to plant the seed, and God will grow it, but if we are only giving out fluffy, sweet fruit with no seeds, we have missed the point of being planted deeply in God and the blessing that comes with it.  This is not about yielding a fruit for ourselves, or unto ourselves, or drawing people towards us. It is so that the seed of truth may not only prosper in us but also spread to the ends of the earth.  

I want to see my children grow and become bigger, stronger trees than I can ever be. I long to see those I am called to lead, go and plant their own trees and reproduce over and over again. But it must start with me and the question, “Am I bearing seedless fruit?”

Monday, 25 February 2019

The things you learn when you choose to follow "Google"

So, the day’s adventure began, just a normal day in Cambodia, riding Moto’s around the streets of Kep. We were going to meet a man who was going to show us a new campsite being built. He suggested we take the coast road to the property. David put the address into google and decided to follow “google” instead. It said 20 minutes till arrival and so we set off.  It is a “free” feeling riding a moto in Cambodia. There are few rules and so much to see as you ride along. I was enjoying my trip on the open road, not taking much notice of the driving part. The open road was pretty straight forward … just stay on the bitumen. Then, we took a right and headed down a dirt road. My eyes needed to quickly divert to the road, to avoid every pot hole, forced to make choices second by second as to where to place the wheel to navigate each piece of the road. I slowed down considerably and I couldn't enjoy the view as much as my eyes were focussed on the task at hand. Such a different way to drive! 

There’s a life lesson right there. It is so much easier to take the open road, the road well-trodden and marked out, the one everyone takes. It was much more challenging to take the road less travelled, no markings, every turn a challenge and yet for me the drive just got more exciting. Through little villages, the houses and people right there, doing life metres away. Sometimes if felt like I was riding through their lounge room. The smells, the sights, the beauty of everyday life in Cambodia all of sudden got more real.  Some were drying out their meal for the evening in the hot sun, others lying under the house to keep away from the heat, some cooking on a gas fire, others eating their morning noodles. Something you could easily pass by and not notice on the open road.

Avoiding the potholes and choosing the smoother path required more mental energy and physical energy, requiring both hands to be firmly on the handlebars, while maneuvering the bike on the dirt track, with the exception of the occasional one handed wave to those we passed as they yelled out “hello” to us foreigners invading their lounge room. 

 After 30 minutes, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, no houses, no signs. The track was getting thinner and less ridden, mud holes getting bigger and before we knew it we were off road, trail riding. YAY!  30 minutes turned to 40 minutes, turned to 60 minutes, turned to 90 minutes.  Each time we took a new road, it ended with either a washed out, unpassable road, a creek, a fence, or a big mud hole. “Google” didn't know where it was going. We could see the campsite (across the river), it was 5 minutes away if we walked and swam across a creek, but we just couldn't get there. My feet were covered in mud, not to mention my bike. At one point I missed the small path and landed in the mud and fell off, ripped my pants and then took 5 minutes get out of the mud hole. It was all part of the fun and challenge. Needless to say we had to turn back, retrace our path back to the road and take the Coast road, as our friend had originally suggested. “Google” was still unhelpful and we had to ring our friend a couple of times to get his directions to eventually find the correct way to the property. 

Now, where do I go from here? So many life lessons! I can see my kids rolling their eyes.  So many things were running through my mind as we drove the coast road to the campsite. I pondered … who are we going to listen to in this world?  “Google”? (the one the world trusts, the one we always refer to whenever we need to know something) OR a friend, the one that takes the drive each day to his place of work, the one who has gone there before and knows that while all those tracks “google” took us down are tracks that can get you there some parts of the year, but it didn't know that they were not passable today?  This was a reminder that there are many roads we can take, and while they lead to adventure, they also could lead to trouble, to being lost, to getting hurt. 

Or do I ponder … that taking the less ridden track brings adventure, which is fine, as long as we know who to call when we run into roadblocks and when we get into trouble. When we are on the open road there are many people who can help when we get stuck. Every corner is a place to get petrol, a place to get our moto fixed, a place to get water if we’re thirsty. Out in the middle of nowhere, as we sat at a creek blocking our way to the campsite, we could ring our friend and he was able to let us know how to get back on track while “google” still continued to tell us to go forward. 

Do I wish we took the coast road to begin with?  Hmmm … and miss the adventure, the story? No, probably not. That’s the challenge isn't it? If we went the coast road I wouldn't have the battle scars on my leg to show people and tell the story. It’s in the experience that we learn. But if it wasn’t for our friend, we wouldn't have made it to a beautiful campsite, and we did we have to go the wrong road to more appreciate the right one? So much to consider, to reflect on? 

Matthew 7:13-14 says to enter through narrow Gate. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only few find it”.  The metaphor talks of having fewer choices on the narrow road and too many ways to get distracted on the broad road leading to destruction. And yet for me, I felt like I had more choices on the narrow road, or did I?  On the open road, I didn't think, I just rode, all my choices were made for me. I just blindly followed the signs. There were more choices, and more options for sure, but I wasn’t even aware of them. On the narrow road, my choices suddenly became real for me, each choice really made a difference to the ride. I engaged my thoughts, my body, my heart more as I navigated the track, the sights, the smells. I was more aware of my choices. It led to life and adventure and it meant I had to rely on someone else to help us each step of the way to get through.  The focus became clearer and I was so thankful that I was with my life partner (my husband) the whole time. This was not a track you’d want to venture on alone. I knew if we were together we could face any challenge and we would get there eventually. For the narrow track leads to life and, I agree, few find it, as the wider track is safe and clear and easy to follow. 

For me this day, while the destination was lovely, the journey was not to be missed. I suppose it was such a great adventure because the narrow track was where life was best seen and experienced. The narrow dirt tracks of the villages in Kep are always filled with fascinating sights. But also the journey confirmed to me that it is the way I want to live … exploring the narrow tracks in life that few go down rather than the open wide road that everyone travels at a fast pace and so much is missed.  And finally, the journey is always better when you are with people you trust and when you know who to call when the going gets tough. 

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important thanthe outcome.” 
– Arthur Ashe. 

Monday, 18 February 2019

The Grass is always greener ...or in this case browner!

Why do we always want what we don't have?  Why can’t we be happy with who we are?  

It is a challenge to really learn the art of “contentment”.  As Paul says …"Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6)

When in Cambodia the greatest joy I have is to hang out with some of the most wonderful Khmer people I feel privileged to call friends. In fact this trip we went on a little three day holiday with a Khmer family. We went to the beach each day, ate and laughed and hung out in Kep. It was always interesting in such a hot country to find that every time we went to the beach us Aussies would sit out in the sun as long as we could to get as brown as we could, because the bronzed Aussie dream is clearly still alive in our family. While the Cambodians covered themselves completely with clothes and stayed in the shade all day. When one of little ones was not allowed to play on the sand with us one day, I asked why.  The mother said, “I don't want her to get any browner”, to which I replied, “but her skin is beautiful, she is such a beautiful colour”. She pointed to me and said, “No, it is your skin that is beautiful. I wish I had a white baby.”  Meanwhile, my daughter continually dreams of having a “brown/black baby”. I feel like I’m saying the wrong thing even to say the word “black” baby nowadays, as it’s so politically incorrect, and yet I often look at their brown/black skin and think it is stunning. My children come to me at the end of each day and say “Do I look brown, Mum?” or “Look how brown I am” and I am jealous because my blonde haired, white skin is the way I was born and will never be called “brown”. 

If I am going somewhere special I will even get a spray tan so I feel better about myself. But in Cambodia, in their rooms I am constantly finding “white” foundation, as the Khmer wear this to make them look more like us. At times they look downright pale, and I can’t work out for the life of me how they find that attractive because I wish I was as dark skinned as them.

It just goes to show “the grass is always greener’ or in this case “browner”. The reality is we are all the same, aren't we? Always wishing we had what others had in order to feel better about ourselves. Now I know I will offend many who love to say over and over again “just be yourself”, “you do you, and I’ll do me”. And while I totally agree, I am confessing that if we are honest, we are all guilty at times of looking at others and wishing we were more like them. Now for you it might not be the colour of your skin … but what is it?  Your size? Your income? Your job? Your skills and gifts? Your Abilities? Your House? Other bodily features? Whatever it is, I can guarantee that while we might say and do all the politically correct things in public, in quiet places where no-one sees we all have thoughts of discontent and wishing we were someone or something else!

Sadly, our thoughts are often the most dangerous places, where so much damage is done. The self-talk, self-doubt, self-loathing, the self-denigration. The places we make agreements with our thoughts, that become truth and then become our new reality.  Often they are then confirmed in our culture, and it takes being in another culture to see that what we think is truth, is relative. 

One of the most powerful things about walking with God, surrendering your life to Him, is that it is in the quiet places, the places that no one else sees, my inner most thoughts, that can be easily hidden from those closest to me, God is there. I cannot escape Him. I can try to hide, try to pretend, try to say the right things, but He sees it all, knows it all and He can’t be fooled. It is in those places that He restates His truth to me, recalibrates my thinking, allows me to experience His undeserved grace and love and helps me see that “I captivate Him”. When I want to venture into the comparison game, the wish list of what I want to be like, or what I wish I had, He reminds me that I am His beloved, created child. He longs for everyone one of us to grow into a deep inner contentment, that only ever sees ourselves through His lens. Surely, then the “grass will always be green enough.” 

I haven’t got even close in the first half of my life, but now at 51, I pray that I do the second half better, always with my eyes on Him and how He sees the world and all that is in it.