Wednesday, 30 January 2013

When I feel stuck

I remember being in labour with my first born at the doctor's maternity clinic 19 years ago.

I had checked in early that morning, and the contractions were slow and gentle in coming throughout the day. Then at 4pm, they started getting sharper and I was thinking: It shouldn't be too long now. I couldn't be more wrong; the ordeal had barely begun!

By 6pm, the pain had gotten worse and the nurse checked to see how much I had dilated. "Only 1cm; still a long way to go," she said in a matter-of-fact kind of way. I couldn't believe my ears! How long would this pain last? It seemed to be getting sharper with each contraction and I wasn't sure how long I could take this.

The next time the nurse came to check again after what seemed like hours (actually, I think it was a few hours later), the dilation was 4cm and I was in so much pain I didn't think I would be able to get through the whole thing. Again, she said there was still a way to go.

I felt trapped, like I was caught in the middle where I could neither make things go any faster to get past the pain nor turn back time to where I was before the pain began. I was completely stuck and there was nothing I could do about it except to just go with it. It was a horrible place to be in.

But like all things good and all things bad, nothing lasts forever. Despite whatever misgivings I had, the ordeal finally ended shortly after midnight. I held my newborn son in my arms, marvelling at how perfect he was and how the pain had miraculously ended the moment he arrived. Great was the joy shared by my husband and me in that magical moment!

Since that time, I have found myself in similar circumstances where I feel stuck. Sometimes, it's a little kind of stuck that lasts only momentarily; sometimes it's a bigger kind that takes a longer time to work itself through. Then there was a really huge one that lasted a few years. But the steps to getting through such times for me are the same:

* Pray and hand the whole situation over to God, asking Him for peace and for practical help.
* Get the necessary information to find the right support or service and do whatever is needed to get the help that I require.
* Cease struggling by letting go. It's easier to let the current take me to where it wants me to go rather than fight against it. Rest in the arms of Jesus and purposefully make a decision to trust that He will get me through this, no matter what my feelings tell me. 
* Recall the previous time(s) that He has gotten me through and let thankfulness, praise and faith arise from within.
* Declare that He will come through for me again, standing on the promises in His Word which I need to fill my mind with constantly.
* Keep walking; don't lie down in 'the valley of the shadow of death'! Often times it's a matter of pushing past the pain. When it feels impossible to walk anymore, just stand, leaning hard on Him if necessary.
* Know that this, too, shall pass and believe that something good will come out of it.

It is important to believe that to every problem, there is a solution. And that every trial does come to an end.

God always comes through for us. Sometimes it just takes a while to get there....

But eventually, we will get there....

And there will be something to make us smile at the end of that trial....something worth giving God praise for....

Like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow....

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." ~ Psalm 23:4 ~

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Year of Abundance

I am hopeful that 2013 would be a year of fruitfulness and abundance. So far, there have been signs....

Take the two plum trees coming over into our backyard from the neighbour's garden, for instance.

I haven't seen a harvest as big as this year's!

Enough for some friends to come help us pick and take home to either eat them fresh or to turn into plum jam.

Then there's the pot plant hanging near the front door of our house.

Every summer, it produces pink plastic-like flowers that hang down.

The first summer after we had bought it, there were only two flowers. This year, there are fifteen of them. I can't remember there being so many last year.

A year of fruitfulness and abundance, oh, yes, that would be a wonderful blessing indeed!

"How precious is your loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your pleasures. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light."
                                                                                                     ~ Psalm 36:7-9 ~

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Step Toward My God-sized Dream

I love reading Holley Gerth's posts. I'm attempting to set out with her and other women on our path to our God-sized dreams. Each week, we take one step toward making our dreams a reality. It doesn't matter if that step is a small or tiny one. It still counts.

Without realising it, I took a big step last week when I started a blog and wrote my first post on my God-sized dream. I couldn't have done that without help from my teen-aged daughter who is a lot more technology-savvy than I am. Since then, I have written two more posts and this is my fourth one.

I must confess, I love doing this. I've always enjoyed keeping a journal, but blogging sure takes journaling to a whole new level!

It's great to discover things that bring pleasure and enjoyment. Especially after having been through storms that you thought you weren't going to make it through. When you thought: this must surely be the end.

But with God, that's just the beginning. The time when we come to the end of ourselves is the time He steps in and takes over.

And His love that I thought I'd known comes through at a deeper level in fresh, new ways.

It is this love that I want to experience more. Because I now realise that what I have experienced is only a foretaste of what is to come; a pinch of what is available. There is so much more to enjoy, to share with others, to fall in love with Jesus together.....

It is my hope to keep on journaling, and blogging, and to write that book.....

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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Being Stretched

Just the other day, my daughter and I were at a shopping mall. We were walking past a candy store and there were some people gathered there to watch candy being made. Out of curiosity, we stopped and joined them.

There were different blocks of brightly coloured candy on the work bench with two staff members working on them. One of the staff took a big block of white candy and began kneading it as you would knead dough. After a while, he took the candy to a hook attached to the side of the work bench at about shoulder level. Placing one end of the candy on the hook, he started to pull the other end away from the hook, stretching it as far as it could go without breaking and then winding it around the hook for another stretch. This went on for a while. By the time he was done, the candy had turned a gleaming white colour and seemed bulkier in volume. It had been amazingly transformed!

A chunk was pulled off the white candy. Adding it to a lump of gleaming red candy, the combined block was rolled out into long thin strips that were later cut and moulded into the desired shapes.

We all go through similar stretching, rolling and shaping processes in life. To be honest, I don't like to be stretched. It's scary to be stretched and it can be quite uncomfortable, too. I'd rather be in my comfort zone where everything feels familiar and safe. But staying in the safe and known also means never experiencing anything new that can be rewarding or potentially life-transforming in a good way.

Being stretched may seem like a painful experience. But when I remember the transformed block of gleaming white candy at the end of its stretching process, I'm starting to think that the rewards may be greater than I imagine.

So, perhaps I should adopt a more positive attitude to the idea of being stretched the next time an opportunity presents itself.

Hey, it may not be so bad after all....

And who knows what the result may look like.....

.....a piece of gleaming red and white candy, perhaps.....

.....beautiful to behold and bursting with sweetness to the taste!

"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your habitations; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited." ~ Isaiah 54:2,3~

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Welcome 2013

With a resounding hiss, crackle and boom, the night atop the Sky Tower in Skycity, Auckland lit up in a brilliant display of colours at the stroke of midnight, heralding in the new year. Wheeeeeeeee............! Boooooooom...........!

At the same time, several ships at the nearby harbour began their cacophony of sirens at various pitches. Ouch!

We had arrived barely five minutes before the fireworks began. Just in time! It was crazy trying to find a park around the area for we were among many who had made their way to the city to watch the fireworks display. Or maybe some of them had been celebrating since earlier in the evening.

This is our twelfth year in Auckland, and the first time we welcomed the new year in the city. Well, there's always the first time for everything!

BOOOOOM.......! Happy New Year 2013, everyone! May 2013 be a fantastic and wonderful year for all!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

God-sized Dream

A God-sized dream? That sounds so huge, so far and so out of reach....

But a desire in the depths of my heart that I would like to see fulfilled one day? That, I do have.

It's to write a book about all the things that have happened in my life up to this point. Because I feel a number of significant things have happened and it would be such a waste not to write them down and share them. Maybe others can relate to the feelings that go with each of those events. Maybe my experiences are not all that extraordinary. Maybe, just maybe I can encourage someone and that will make my burden seem less heavy, my pain less pointless. And maybe I will feel encouraged at the thought of being able to encourage someone.

For we're not meant to go through life alone. Heart experiences are meant to be shared so that we can learn from each other, as well as to draw strength and comfort from one another. Has anyone discovered that it is easier at times to encourage others than ourselves?

I've often joked that the stories of my life would fill a book. So maybe it's time to take this mammoth task to hand and start taking steps towards its fulfilment. Put away those "you're not good enough" thoughts and fears that are screaming for my attention.

Baby steps if need be, one step at a I take hold of the hand of the One who has brought me this far and who promises to walk the rest of the way with me......

Here's to having taken the first step in writing this post!

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