Monday, 28 October 2013


Hebrews 5:8 says this "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered"

There you have it. Jesus learned obedience through suffering!
But Jesus is perfect, and always was.. so why then did he learn it??

Jesus learned the heart of God through the things he suffered.

Obedience is more than just the act of doing what is right. Its the heart to do what is right. Its a knowing of the heart of the one that instructs it.
Take my children, I dont want them to simply obey because I tell them they ought to. I spend hours talking with them about my heart for them. I pray with them. The bottom line is, I see further down the line than they can. I understand the laws of consequence and I want them to trust me, to obey me because they know Sam and my heart for them. Then their obedience is a submission of their wills, and mark me, I know the difference even though the actions might look the same.

In our childrens lives, we use consequences to follow up disobedience. Time out or whatever means of 'restraint', allows the child to reflect on their foolishness and consider a better way. If obedience were simply all that we required, why is it then, that when we see a child pouting and sulking in time out, that it raises our eyebrows? Is it not because what we desire to see is a change of heart? More than just a 'chin up and chug along' what we desire to hear, or see is a "mum/ dad, I yield my limited insight and perspective of this situation to the precepts you are teaching me, because I know you know better, and therefore, I will choose to do what is right". I want them to run back into my arms and obey, an expression of their understanding of how much I love them, and that they love me.

Suffering gives us opportunity to learn the heart of God towards us.

But who wants it right??

Romans 8
<i>From Suffering to Glory</i>

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There is a glory being revealed in our lives, through which suffering makes a pathway. Like a rushing river, it carves course through our lives enabling the Word of God to flow with gusto. *If* we allow it.

The enemy would want nothing of that. In your pain, either self caused or in circumstances beyond your control, God has a plan. He even has a back up plan for the plans that you got wrong. Still, the enemy would not want you to believe a word of it.

If he can suffocate you in despair and discouragement, your hope will become a wheezing and oxygen starved expression of the once faith filled you. He'd like nothing more.
He has many means and ways to try...

# Self preservation: For what logical reason would you stick it out? I deserve better, or at least I dont deserve this, so Im outa here! On pinterest you'll see many expressions of it "Friendship is those who have time for you" and so on. Ie, dont trust a soul. Youre better on your own. Proverbs 18:1 A man who <b>isolates</b> himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment

#Internalisation: You do deserve this, this suffering is because you are a sinner, and if you can find the root cause of your sin, than you will no longer suffer. But you will have a hard job finding the root cause of your sin, because the lie is buried in a great fog of condemnation. What is condemnation? Its great disapproval. The withdrawing of affection and punishment. It hurts. It cuts. It destroys. Its NOTHING of Gods character.. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you". He will never withdraw and reject us!

#Fight: After thinking it all through, anger rages inside "I am not putting up with this". JUSTICE! Im going to be better, think better, postively think my way out of this. But its draining. Because no matter how many times you dig in your heels and steadfastly declare that this wont get the better of you, that you sure as hang are going to show this 'thing' its place.. your energies become entirely directed in things that actually are beyond your control.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

So what is left then? To just fall into an exhausted heap on the floor and declare "what will be will be".. it would seem so. But no.

Guess what Jesus says? REJOICE! Show great delight and joy. Jump up and down, lift your feet in the air!!
Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

1 Peter 4:13
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

When we obey, we take the hand of God and thats security. Though the way be dark and dangerous, obedience says "I trust you here"..
Psalm 121
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord..
He will not allow your foot to be moved
The Lord is your keeper..
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

When we suffer, God extends to us grace. Its the grace to forgive. The grace to extend mercy. The grace to love. The grace to serve, to bless, to see things as He sees them. If youre not suffering right now, this sounds like a nice and great concept, but if you are, chances are youre thinking that there is no way you feel like loving those whove hurt you, or embracing the cause of your suffering. Gods grace gives us discernment, and not just that, it gives us the ability to respond outside of our own pain. Have you ever seen that in action? I recently walked through a situation like that with someone that was absolutely beautiful. In the light of Gods grace, there was healing and life and beauty. In fact, the things that had hurt me, God showed me as jewels in my life. Intimacy was wrought. Forgiveness became the means by which God could work healing and wholeness.

There are other areas of my life where I long to see the other side of the messy tapestry which is before me. I am learning to rest in His grace... He is working a far bigger picture than just what I see. Mostly, can I share with you something that may sound so far fetched to you. I cant share it better than a man did, who had been in prison for months, tortured, isolated and in pitch darkness. He had no human pleasure, utter despairing human conditions. When he was freed, he was asked what it was like. His reply "a honeymoon with God". I cant say it makes the idea of his pain any less scary, but I get a little of that kind of intimacy. Suffering opens up the doorway in our lives for heavens love. Its sweetness is unable to be feigned, and far deeper than anything this earth can offer.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Best friends...

When we arrived home from our final leg of our trip, Tim jumped out of the car and ran to the front door. Out came Ben and Nate, running with excitment.. Ben leapt up on Tim and Tim held him, the 3 of them jumping around for joy. They had missed each other so much. It will possibly stand as one of the sweetest moments of my life. Never underestimate how very dear siblings are to each other. Never underestimate the significance of your role in raising them to be friends. All the hours spent teaching them to love and be kind to one another, to think of each other first, the time spent staying at home so they can be each others playmates when heading out would be a far sight easier... all of it, all of it counts. Thank you to my brothers, Chris and Aidy, who loved me when I was a little pain of a sister. You set the bar high in my life. You have doted and cared for me and I treasure you both. xxxx

Sunday, 6 October 2013

In appreciation of the French

There are some little things Sam and I noticed, while in France, that I dont want to forget. They were observations for me highlighted, after reading 'French Kids Eat Everything' by Karen Le Billon. Things beyond just food, which made my time there so much more amazing. I hadn't realized the impact on me, till in getting back home, how Ive noticed a small shift in my sense of normal. The first chance I had, on Day one of arriving into St Remi Les Chevreuse, was to walk into the village and past the local school. It was playtime, so young children were running around playing. I paused for a while, to watch them interact. There was nothing that seemed strange to me.. cute kids interacting normally... but then I caught it. They werent exactly running. They werent hyped or scatty, there was a calm and order, even in their play. From there, we walked 100m down the road where preschool children were gathered, in what looked like a shop with a window. This very one, in fact! . All the toys and play area was laid out tidily and glass was across the front so anyone could see in. I looked for the shop sign, but there was none. And then I noticed that all the young children (aged around 2-4) were seated around a small table, with a few adults, eating. Once again, there was order. There wasnt food everywhere... kids werent getting up or walking around. They were seated and slowly being fed their lunch, by one of the adults with them. We walked on through town and went back that way, a while later. There they still were, sitting and still eating. I marvelled. No rush, no impatience, no scrambled sense of urgency. It was so lovely to see I just wanted to sit down and watch them for the next hour. I wondered how many preschools in NZ we would be happy to put in the town centre with a ceiling to floor glass window for all passing by to see? French children and the French in general are never in a hurry to eat. There are no rushed and gulped down meals, no panic. Lunch times are for eating. You arent expected to achieve anything beyond enjoying a fully cooked meal, that is standardly provided to you at your work place, or school place. My Aunty Louise explained that its not just about the nourishment. Its just as much about the socialization, a chance to enjoyably interact with your colleagues and peers. The times that I did get to see French kids eating, I noticed there meals consisted of the same things adults would eat. I had to look twice when I noticed two young children at a salad with their forks, eagerly devouring it. Their enjoyment had me thinking twice about how we tend to limit our children's meals to simplistic alternatives. Being there also made me very glad for the time Id taken to instill in Tim and Amy the rules of French eating and encouraged me to keep it up further when we returned home. The following day, we walked through Trocadero, which gave me opportunity to see parents interacting with their children. Some school children were out and about on excursions, dressed in beautiful clothes. Their attire was tasteful and tidy. There wasnt a mass of loud and kiddy colours, in fact, you and I would have worn anything they were wearing. On a whole, they appeared as children in training to be adults and dressed thus. Practical and tasteful. I loved it! We passed a park where two mothers were talking while their girls played on the swings and grass area there. I glanced and then and noticed one wee girl wearing white pants. WHITE pants! I swung back around to look thinking "she will never keep them clean" and then allowed myself to be amused. She likely would. They dont eat on the go. They are normal kids, but its expected that they wont run around like silly uncontrolled kids. Adults had the same etiquette. We arrived on lunch hour so watched from our cafe, as many business people walked by, men and woman. We probably saw at least 200 people walk by. Not one was eating on the go. I counted one woman who had a McDonalds bag closed and clutched in her hand and I smiled as she walked with it, almost hiding it embarrassed. They too had a meticulous dress code. It wasnt showy. Woman were modest and well dressed and tidy. It was so refreshing!! Shopping too was a completely different story. As we walked around, Sam and I tried to put our finger on what was different. Eventually Sam figured it. There wasnt a single store with loud blaring music. Not one! I recall a couple of French restaurants quietly playing music, but it was tasteful, mellow and there to accentuate atmosphere. You barely noticed it. As a result, one slowed down. The ease in the pace, got me wondering about one final thing I discovered. Allergies are unheard of in France. I was aware of it particularly because Im allergic to honey. My Aunty Louise explained that this is foreign to the French and she had never heard of gluten or wheat intolerance in her entire time of living there. She didnt have a single friend she knew, that had an allergy of any description!! I came home convinced that we significantly underestimate the affect of our adrenal glands on our wellbeing. I noticed the first shop we visited in London, after arriving on the Eurostar out of Paris, that music was beating loud and fast. My heart literally started racing and I felt panicked and driven with a sense of urgency. Sam felt it too and commented, pointing out what a difference it makes. I noticed food was eaten on the streets again and litter was everywhere. Complexions were more dull and problematic. It made me stand back to consider how there is a lesson in all of this. My Aunty Louise explained that the French spend a lot on food. Even those on a small budget. Food would be their number one expense. They dont just buy food because they like good food, but because eating around the table together, is one of the most poignant and building aspects of family and work life. Coming home, Ive begun to translate these things into my daily life. I take the time to dress the kids tidily in the morning. I keep the music and noise off. Around the table, I try to encourage them to slow down. Ive pulled out the placemats and instead of being just for good, they are on my table all the time along with the serviettes. I encourage the kids to talk less, and to talk quieter. Im quicker to intervene if I hear escalation in their interaction. And most importantly, Ive slowed down. I make a point to not rush. To not exist on a permanent adrenalin output... but to allow myself the space to rest and even dare I say it, sometimes sit and read. Its lovely. You should try it!!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Home is where the heart is...

Home, they say, is where the heart is. That being the case, ours might be aptly described as being split in half. As Sam and I walked through the Auckland terminal this morning, we both paused for a moment.. only 24hrs flying away is a place so different, and just as much loved, because of the awesome people in it. We packed up our luggage early Tuesday morning in Frinton and headed straight to see Dan and Clare. Sam is not one for sentimentality, but he wanted to spend every last inch of time with them.. and seeing first hand how incredibally dear they are to him (and to me), brought a permanent lump to my throat. Sam and I both agreed, as we unpack and reflect these next few days, there will be tears. I cant go on here without saying a few things about Clare and Dan. Besides being part of a circle of lifelong best friends that Sam had, they are of themselves, gold. It seems just as easy to laugh and play xbox as it does to talk about the things of God. Ive never seen Sam feel so free to just be himself with friends, as he does with them. Love mixed with laughter and acceptance. What a precious blend. Bless her, Clare knew that I had yet to try clotted cream so baked up some delicious "scoanes" (pronounce it right!) and served them with tea. Oh clotted cream. Where have you been my whole life and why in our great dairy farming nation, cant we buy the stuff? This has fast moved to my must try recipe list. Even more special than that, was the little gifts Clare and Rebecca gave to us, and especially one that Clare made for me. I had been collecting seaglass to make my own shadow box art piece in memory of Frinton. I had sat down and laid out all my pieces and was missing two green pieces. I asked God to help me find them. I had also asked God for one aqua piece. Ive fast learnt on this trip that God is able to fulfill the tiniest desires of our hearts. And of course, come the day we were flying out, we had run out of time to search the Frinton shores. But one of the gifts that Clare gave me, was this gorgeous handmade wee purse. Its so esquisite and she really needs to go into business making them. And inside it.. guess what was there?! A handful of seaglass... including the green bits I needed and one extra special aqua piece. It still chokes me up. We said goodbye, with a "see you soon" grin and full faith that it would be so. And drove with plenty of time to spare to Heathrow. Good thing we allowed plenty of time because right as we were about to take the exit in Heathrow to the car hire company, we missed and accidentally took the exit which had only one destination in which we could reroute.... Borehamwood... only 17 miles away from Heathrow. We attempted the route again with me in charge of reading the exits and praying to get it right. Thank you God, we made it to the car hire company, at 4:30pm, with plenty of time to drop offsaid car, catch the prebooked connecting bus to drive us the 20min journey to the airport, and check in at 6:30pm,... except that after waiting an hour or so for that bus, the manager eventually came out and told us that the connecting bus was stuck in traffic. He wasnt sure what time it would arrive but would contact them again in five or so minutes. The 'can do' Kiwi in me took over and I decided, wisely, not to leave the fate of our arrival time in the hands of an Indian manager and a bus company and had them dial a taxi. He thankfully got us there right on time! Thankyou God! This whole process of juggling routes and deadlines, checking in untold luggage and meeting security requirements, had left me with a thumping headache. I downed some Panadol and boarded the plane. I got smart here and smothered the remaining journey in prayer.. glad I did so, because seriously, the take off was the worst Ive ever experienced. It sort of juddered and wobbled off the runway like a kid fresh off its trainer wheels. I had that "der dum" moment when Amy's tv wouldnt turn on, and after asking a few different flight attendants for help, one kindly offered their sincere apologies that this was a new plane, and they were having a few aircraft engineering issues. They offered to send the engineer down to discuss it with me. Can I just say, when youre flying, what you dont want to know is that you *new* plane is having issues and the 'fix it up' chappie is onboard just in case. I saw the comical side of Amy not having tv on the 14hr flight from London to Singapore.. and whilst tempted to express how fairly ridiculous I felt it was to NOT have entertainment for my 3yr old daughter, and envisioning demanding business class upgrade etc etc.. I restrained myself. I reasoned tv had not always been available on long flights and that being content would serve my character growth well. It wasnt such a bad thing, Amy and I were able to get a lot of sleep and at the end we were gifted a $75 to spend on inflight shopping. I was able to use this to buy a Revlon cube of 9 lipsticks in my colours, which usually retail at $25e. I smiled with Sam that the inconveniences in our trip have often turned out not to be that inconvenient, when weve sought to keep our attitude right.. and often, those inconveniences have been restituted with blessings. Theres a lesson there to be had for me in the everyday. Stay flexible. God is just as much in charge of the things that dont go to plan! In Singapore we relaxed around the pool together and then boarded again a few hours later and flew on the last leg to Auckland. Amy has surprised me this entire trip. Even today she was asking me if we could go on the train, and another plane trip. She has been an utter delight to take with us. As has Tim. The second leg was on an older plane. I like older planes :) Theyre like travelling with a reliable parent. It was smooth. As we approached NZ, Tim and I watched the land come into view and our home shores take shape. Beautiful. Cleared customs with utter ease, despite having a suitcase alone for all our food and seaglass finds, including the sharks teeth Clare gave us for the boys. We drove home, albeit slowly, ridiculously jet lagged. Stopped for a catnap and to swap drivers when the other could bear it no longer. Nate and Ben greeted us with huge hugs and beaming faces and signs for the door.. and mum, bless her, an immaculate home, a fridge with food and milk and a light dinner. Everyone has crashed into bed and are sound asleep. I think I will quietly unpack and enjoy this tidy home and thinking over memories and moments which will be with me for a lifetime.