Thursday, 27 December 2012

A gift with a difference.

It is uncle Baden's fault. I received a Christmas card from him a couple of weeks ago, but, then, this year he decided to spend Jesus's birthday with Christ himself. He departed a few days before Christmas in his ninety-fifth year.
So last night, I found myself in Glen Innes. Steve and I had decided to drive to Uncle's funeral in Newcastle. We are on holidays after all.  Choosing the New England highway, one of his favourite roads, we left home yesterday about lunch time and skirting the heavy traffic we soon were enjoying stunning scenery. As we drove over Cunningham's Gap, through farm lands, wineries, orchards and rocky hills we were like kids in a candy shop. 'Look at that rocky bluff...the spot of sun on that hill...the shaft of light slicing through the clouds...the crop of tomatoes...the bolt of lightening over the purple hills. We could feel our souls being restored as only God's nature can.
The day was perfect for driving. Storm clouds provided a constantly changing backdrop to green hills, red cows and trees sparkling in the freshly washed sunlight.
Instead of the planned stay at the coast for these few days, we were far from the madding crowds, enjoying an evening of misty rain and an expected low of ten degrees at night.
Today we drove a road called Thunderbolts Way, for us, uncharted territory, unexplored wonder. Passing through miles of lush pasture land, towering gums, mountains and rushing rivers we stopped at a goat cheese factory to sample wondrous flavours whilst the goats were being milked outside. Ah, how I love this amazing country!
If we enjoy driving so much, why does it require a necessity to push us out of our rut and get us on the road?
God made the world for us to enjoy and I realise that in my tiredness I have neglected to worship Him in His creation for a few weeks. Maybe that is why I have been so tired!
Thanks Uncle Baden for your parting gift to us. This trip to farewell you has been a wonderful blessing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

He has His Father's eyes

   She doubled over in pain, her hand pushed into her lower back.
   'Please, Mary. Ride on the donkey. If you keep walking you'll have the baby beside the road.'
   'The donkey's back is so hard.'
   Joseph rummaged in his bag and pulled out another coat. Folding it, he placed it on the donkey's back and lifted his wife. 'I'll walk beside you. Lean on me, but lets keep moving.'
   Can you imagine trying to sit on a donkey when in the early stages of labour? I guess the discomfort took her mind off the baby. She must have had so many questions.
   Her baby was a boy, she was sure of that. But what would the son of God look like? Would he look like her or like his Father? And what did his Father look like? She had never seen God. Yes, the angel said God would overshadow her and she would become pregnant, but my guess is she didn't even know when that had happened, much less get a glimpse of the baby's Father.
   So when the Son of God emerged from her womb into the smelly stable, like any mother, she must have grabbed him and studied him carefully. Not to count fingers and toes, but to see God. Mary was the first person to come face to face with God. I can imagine her gazing with awe and wonder. 
   And then he opened His eyes. She connected with the King of Kings, not body to body but soul to soul, spirit to Spirit. It took her breathe away.
   'He has His Father's eyes.' 
   Joseph looked over her shoulder at the baby. 'What do you mean?'
   'His eyes. They are so deep, pure, clear. It's like he looked into my very heart and I could see into His heart. Never before have I seen such love. Oh, He is the Son of God!'
   Her baby squirmed and she lifted him to her breast. He latched onto her nipple and sucked. 'He loves me, Joseph. I saw it in His eyes. He loves me.'
   'The angel told me that he would save the people from their sins.' Joseph stroked the cheek of the feeding infant. 'I guess He loves everyone, Mary, everyone.'
   The moment was broken by a slight tap on the wall of the stable. 'There He is. Just as the angels said.' The shepherds were panting hard. 'Sorry Ma'am, we ran all the way. Did you know your baby is the Messiah?'
   Baby Jesus stirred and opened His eyes.
   Mary pulled back the cloths so the shepherds could see. 'I know. Look. He has His Father's eye's - eyes of love.'

Thursday, 13 December 2012

King Size Bed?

For the last ten years I have written a poem for my Christmas card. 
This year the mind is blank....
Can I send out my card with out crazy poetry?

This is last years poem.

God in a manger?
King of Kings - born in poverty?
Creator of the World
Born of the created?
Unbelievable! Inconceivable!
Born of a virgin?
Conceived by the Holy Spirit?
The God of all Gods
Reduced to a sperm?
How can that be?
The creator carried by His own created one
Baby Jesus nourished by mankind
Pushing through a birth canal
Trusting His future to one family?
My God! All this for me?
You chose to experience my experience
Suffer my sufferings
Die to open the door to my eternity?
My God! How I love thee!
Jo Wanmer

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Helter skelter
Get out of the way
We’re on an important trip
Hope we find him today!!

The King of Kings
That’s what the star does say
Just imagine … king over all other kings..
Herod, Do you know where he is, I pray?

For he is our Lord, our saviour

He’ll change the world, make it new
We want to go and worship him
Do you want to come and worship too?

King over all kings you say
Um now let me see …
The scholars say ‘Try Bethlehem’
But you must come back and tell me

I’ll find that baby and bring him in
He must be destroyed and it must be now
I won’t have another king
I won’t have anyone making me bow

There will always be Herod’s attacking my King
Faith stealers, hope destroyers
Who just ruin everything
And there will always be wise men seeking my King
Passionate eager and determined
Just longing to worship the king

Helter skelter
Get out of the way
We’re on an important trip
We are seeking the King today!!

Jo Wanmer 2008

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas is coming, ready or not!

   I did it. I have pulled my head out of the sand and faced the fact. Christmas is nearly here.
It's not that I don't like Christmas. I'm not ready. They must be scheduling it twice a year now. It was only the other day that I pulled the tree down and stored it in the shed. Now there are voices everywhere demanding its return to my living room.
   Santa arrived at our local Westfield store about two weeks ago. I know that because my granddaughters were two of the elves that escorted him, along with a strange mix of animals, into the centre. I can understand Santa wanting to escape from his exile at the North Pole, but his timing is affecting all of us.
   My gift cupboard isn't ready for Christmas. Nor is my pantry. My daughter-in-law has been asking where we are gathering for the celebrations. I have been  plugging my fingers in my ears and singing, 'lalal alala,' very loudly.

   However, yesterday I was briefly inspired. I pulled down my book display and replaced it with Christmas decorations. I even added three pieces of tinsel to the house. The plan is to add a little bit more each day so that I ease into the season gently.
   Today I placed my little nativity figurines in front of my fireplace. Even though baby Jesus is already in the feeding trough, but I began thinking about Mary walking to Bethlehem carrying her unborn baby. And as a grandmother, I've been thinking about Mary's Mum and Joseph's Mum. I wonder how those grandmas were feeling as they waited for the pending birth. I sympathise with them. My guess is the community of Nazareth didn't buy the angel story. I can hear the women outside the synagogue whispering now. 
   'That's the worst excuse I've ever heard for turning up at your wedding, large with child! I hear she says its God's son. Blasphemy! She should have been stoned! I don't know what Joseph is thinking! He should have demanded her punishment  Oh! Don't give me that story about an angel in a dream. God stopped speaking four hundred years ago. Disgusting it is...'
    Being a grandma is a wonderful experience, unless the baby is out of timing, or something goes wrong. This whole episode must have seemed like a nightmare to these Grandmothers who were part of the earthly family chosen as to raise the Son of God. I wonder did they understand, or were they so consumed by the sorrow surrounding the illegitimate child they couldn't hear the story their children were telling?
   There would have been many who judged Mary and Joseph, not knowing, or being willing to accept the truth. I'm sure our Lord's family suffered gossip and rejection for years.
    Today, as I place my little Mary and Joseph beside the crib, I'm challenged again. How often do I judge others without understanding their full story?What if I poured contempt on someone when, in truth, it was God doing something unusual in an unexpected way? 
    Pausing, I realise I'm closer to the Christmas spirit than I thought. Maybe I'll go and play, 'Joy to the World.'

Friday, 23 November 2012

Tiny Aerodynamic Flying Machines

   Flicking my clean white sheets over my guest bed I noticed something dark. A feather had attached itself to my washing. Picking it off, I dropped it in the waste paper basket. Simple, right? No! First it didn't want to leave my finger and then instead of dropping into the bin it decided to float down. Gently, slowly and indirectly. It eventually hit the floor but missed the bin.
   Fascinating. The aerodynamics of one single feather. No wonder a bird flies so effortlessly. Each spread wing is covered with hundreds of these little flying machines, who individually want to float and never touch the ground.
   Have you ever watched a feather fall from the sky, a bird-less sky, and wonder where it came from? Well now we know! The bird, after discarded its feather, has flown a kilometre while the little feather has floated and danced its way towards the ground.
   Recently, while walking, I observed a spinning top falling to the road in front of me. Well, it looked like a spinning top. It had a pointy end and was turning quickly as it dropped from the sky. Yes, it was a feather. Not one of the soft fluffy ones, but a strong, slender one. It dropped, shaft first, and turned on its own axis as it fell. Then another fell right in front of me.
   Again I stand in awe at the wonder of creation, and its creator. Each bird created with different styled and shaped aerodynamic feathers covering their whole body!
    And the colours! I've picked up so many that have a dab of blue here and then a slash of pink, or a spot of brown, or even bright aqua. Then there are the soft fluffy bits at the end of each feather that keep the bird's body cool and dry, like waterproof pyjamas incorporated into the flying suit. Ah, yes. Did I say that my God is exceedingly clever!
   So today I worship Him, for I, too am fearfully and wonderfully made, even if I can't fly! What makes you stop in awe, as we delight in this wonderful world we live in?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Who is accountable in Child Sexual Abuse debacle.

   I welcome Julia Gillard's decision to have a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse within institutions in our nation. Child sexual abuse is disgraceful, disgusting, devastating and a blot on any society. It has also been part of our society since 'Adam was a boy.' It entered the world when Adam and Eve opened the door to 'knowledge.' 

   After eating the fruit that promised them the knowledge of good and evil, one of their first understandings was shame. "Oh, My Goodness! I'm naked. Adam stop looking at me like that!' When evil enters, sexual perversion follows. Fact.

   Our society constantly opens the door to evil. It dominates our television screens, it screams at us from bill boards, it leers at us from news-stands and parades down our streets. Sex is used to sell anything and everything. It lures our young men and women from the screen in their palm. It is socially acceptable in society between any consenting adults, regardless of gender or marital status. Masturbation is considered normal. Partner swapping, group sex and nameless other activities abound. 

   Why, then, are we surprised to discover sexual perversion has an appetite for children. If you let the colt out of a paddock, it is very hard to reign him in and bring him back under control. As a society we have relinquished control of explicit sexual viewing. informs me 

"Every second,28,258 people access pornography, and 70% of adult men visit porn sites every month. Of all porn uses, one in three are women."

   Even our children are increasingly exposed to pornography, which in its self is a form of child sexual abuse.

   "Children in Australia have extensive exposure to pornography. Just under three-quarters (73 per cent) of boys and 11 per cent of girls report that they have watched an X-rated video. Eighty-four per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls say they have been exposed accidentally to sex sites on the Internet and two in five boys deliberately use the Internet to see sexually explicit material, with four to five per cent doing so frequently."
(Clive Hamilton & Michael Flood in the Australia Institute's 2003 Regulating Youth Access to Pornography study (PDF) and Youth and Pornography in Australia) 

   Evil is ravenous, narcissistic, and self serving. It has no regard for age, standing or gender. Maybe the best known example of evil in modern times is Hitler's regime. Babies, the elderly, male and female were all victims of barbarism in Germany. As long as evil is allowed to rule, our little ones will suffer.

Yes, this Royal Commission will undercover horror stories and there will be consequences for perpetrators and for those who have chosen to protect the guilty. But, as that happens, lets ask ourselves a question. What has been my part in allowing such sexual degradation to enter our society? What can I do to fight the flood of evil that parades into our living rooms and mobile devices every second of every day?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Different forms of New Life

   New life does something to stir our souls. Whether its a clutch of day old chicks, a baby foal or a new baby.  
For me, its been a week of new beginnings. Two of my friends welcomed tiny granddaughters this week and one of my friends began a new life - life in heaven.
   Through tears, we sat in a church and celebrated her earthly life, while in heaven, she celebrated her final transition. She has grasped the new life - no longer restricted by a dragging, fleshly body, but now clothed in immortality. No longer held down by gravity, but free to fly throughout the spiritual world.
   As we understand life, it begins when sperm meets egg, or does it? Our physical bodies come from dust and to dust will return, says the Good book. But our souls? Where did they originate? Did they have life before they were confined to a foetus which was restricted within a womb? Jesus did. He chose to be 'confined to a span, incomprehensibly made man.'
   When a foetus bursts forth into the world, we call it a 'new life,' as if it wasn't alive before. The baby grows effortlessly, naturally. It morphs and changes, year after year until, finally, its span is finished. Discarding the worn out restrictions of flesh, life continues in a glorious, if mysterious, dimension.
   In a way, our earthly span is similar to what we know as high school. It is a training ground for the rest of eternal life. As the decisions we make in our high school years determine our course for the remainder of our earthly span, so our decisions made in our physical life affect our eternal destiny.
   As we farewelled my friend, Barb the church was filled with the lasting evidence of her decisions. Decisions to take colour and blend them into works of art. Decisions to raise godly sons. Decisions to worship God and love him forever. Her decision to accept Jesus' sacrifice for her wrongs.
Vibrant display of Barb's love of colour and creativity
at her farewell service
   So it was with great confidence we celebrated her new life today. There are no question marks hanging over her future like the unknowns that hang over a new born baby. What will their life be like? Will they be healthy and strong? Will they make good decisions?
   No! As Barb enters her new life we know with confidence that she's finding her spiritual feet in her corner of heaven and rearranging the colours and hues. How will her creativity manifest in heaven? I don't know as I am still anticipating this section of my life. But this much I'm sure of. Barb will be worshipping in wonderful harmony and vivid colour. Ah, yes! New life. I love it.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Love makes the World go Around. But what is it?

   I have a few questions for you about an important topic!
   For the last few weeks, I've been pondering the meaning behind the overused, misunderstood, little word 'love'. Love is important to me. I need it to survive and, like food, I seem to crave lots of it!
  Being fortunate among women, I live with a man that loves me, constantly, unwaveringly, and for ever. I know he does, even if he's too tired to talk, forgets to tell me things and appears to be more interested in the television than my sparkling wit and scintillating conversation. Is our love measured by the attention he pours out on me, my numberless faults he overlooks, or is it my decision to let him enjoy his show in peace and find something else to do?
   Grandchildren are wonderful for love, when they're in the mood. Arriving at my daughter's house early in the morning, Miss Nearly Five, looked at me from under her sheets  and yelled, 'No kisses!' 
I walked on to the kitchen startling Miss eleven who was still half asleep. 'Why are you here?' 
   It was lucky I wan't relying on grand kids to fill my love tank that day! Is love measured on their reactions to me or by my responses to them?
   Saint John tells us 'God is love.' There's a clue. Does that mean the essence of God is love? His very being is concentrated love - whatever that is? Does that mean that Jesus was love in skin, walking the streets of earth, defining love, as it were? 
   So what is the opposite of love? I asked my Facebook readers. They leaned toward 'indifference' and searches on the world wide web shows most people agree with them.

Romanian born American writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986, Elie Wiesel, writes, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
   The whole thing leaves me feeling a little... indifferent! What about you? I guess the opposite of indifference is passion. Ah! We are close to love again.
   What is the opposite of God? If God is love, the opposite of love must be the opposite of God. In the theatre of life, the Devil plays opposite God. He is pride and all things self centred. The sweetener he offered Eve was, 'You will know...just as God does.' In other words, grab what you can for yourself. Self is more important than God's guidelines. His love is restrictive. love an outward flowing force that focuses on the good of others, while the inward pull of caring firstly about ourselves is the opposite?

   As, I said...just a few questions! I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Where is your voice when you need it?

   I lost my voice! Overnight it disappeared. I know I keep misplacing things and often have to retrace my steps to recover lost items. But my voice!
   And it happened about six hours before I was scheduled to preach to my writer colleagues at The Word Writers Getaway.
   Sunday morning, I woke at at 3 am . While trying to clear a tickle in my throat, I noticed my voice was missing. I expected it would come right back.
   As I'm lying in the dark waiting for my voice to return from its unapproved leave, God starts telling me what to say at the service. You get the idea - tear up your notes and start again. In this instance it was new thoughts saying, 'Move over ideas and make room. Let me in.'
   'God, in case you haven't noticed, I've lost my voice.'
   But God seemed unconcerned about my dilemma and continued to give me things He wanted shared.
   5 am. I manage to dress without waking hubby and drive to the beach. Voice is still AWOL. The sun rises behind a bank of cloud and colours my world in golds, pinks and mauves. I sit on a rock ledge with the waves lapping at my feet and worship God silently. I wait for the miracle - for my voice to return with an apology for being absent.
    5.45 am I preach to the seagulls in a whisper. Usually, when preparing to preach I pray, 'Lord please anoint me to preach your message.' Then I open my mouth and listen to see what God has to say.
   That morning, neither I nor the seagulls could hear a thing! But I preached anyway. I am very stubborn when it comes to doing what I believe God has asked me to do.
   6.30 am. I start to walk the beach, the deserted section so no one will think I'm crazy. And I worship God with all that is me. But there is no voice to lift up. So I offer a sacrifice of whisper to my King.  By then I had activated my intercessors by text message and I knew they were fighting on my behalf. It was about 7 am before the worship turned to a crinkle and then a crackle. When I returned for breakfast at 7.30, I could converse a little with those I met.
   My new friend Amanda led worship. It was wonderful. I couldn't sing but I could add a cackle of worship to the gathered voices.
   I stood to speak. First word was silent. I cleared my voice giving me time to yell, 'God! HELP!'
   Then I could squeak. But the microphone amplified the squeak and I delivered the message that God asked me to deliver. My voice spoke for about 45 mins and then it disappeared. But what did that matter? I had done His bidding. I didn't need to talk again. And I didn't for three days.
   On the way home that afternoon, I sat in the car with my husband and watched the ocean. I felt exhausted.
   So I whispered the question. 'Is it worth the fight? Did my croaked words achieve anything? Or was I just a silenced gong and a croaking cymbal?'
   And the Lord whispered, 'My Word shall not return to me void.'
So I'm content. God whispers too!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Communicating with a new generation

My fingers fly across the keys. Backspace...backspace. I try the keys again. This time the few words are intelligible, if not accurate.
But speed is the essence.
As long as she knows what I'm saying in my message, it is enough.
I'm in a new age. I'm pastoring on line. Over the years I've pastored people in groups, over coffee and in long telephone conversations. I've learned that two people can gather together on the phone, even in different states, and there is God, right in the midst. As we have agreed in prayer, holding handsets instead of hands, I've seen miracles, healings and people set free.
But this last week or so I've been chatting on line, listening to the deep pain of wounded hearts. For the first time I have typed prayers, instructing invisible, silent friends to pray them aloud. Or I have challenged their questionable decisions and argued for wisdom as my husband has sat beside me and prayed for victory. And I have seen, or should I say, heard of little victories. I know my love has taken wings and entered homes that my arms can't access, but my messages can.
Why don't I ditch the computer, jump in my car, and pastor properly?  Well, in some cases I don't have addresses or phone numbers. These precious people can accept my love on a screen, but fear the intimacy of contact. Their shame, however false, causes them to fear rejection.
This is their language, whether we agree or not. And there, where two or three of us are gathered together on line, Christ is with us.
And I'm excited to be part of this phenomenon. I'm sure Jesus, too, would have pounded the keyboard to reach the lost and lonely. With one big difference. His typing would be more accurate then mine!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A Bucket List - It's there somewhere

   Tonight, as I go to bed, the door labelled 'Sixty-two' is right in my face. Whether I like it or not, the turnstile of life will open that door tomorrow and I'l enter the sixty-third year of my life. So, I pause to assess my life. Am I on goal? What have I achieved? Where am I going?
   Often I hear people ticking off another item on their 'bucket list', but personally I've never written 'the twenty things I want to do before I die'. I agree with bucket lists in principle. Visions and goals are very important. They help keep us focussed and on task.
   As I'm beginning to understand my life here one earth will one day come to and end, I've been considering this matter.
   I've been  on a mission trip in South Korea, revival in Florida, conference on Long Island and stood open-mouthed in Times Square New York. I've driven across the Golden gate bridge in San Francisco and walked the beaches on Hawaii. Yet none of these things were on my list. I've driven the great Ocean Road and watched the fairy penguins on Philip Island, explored Victoria and luxuriated in Port Douglas. I've watched babies being birthed, officiated at a wedding and written a book. I've lived life beyond what I could ask dream or even imagine! All this without my goals written on the wall.
   Why don't I have a bucket list, I wondered? And I realised that my list is written in my heart.
   What do I want to achieve before I die? What is at the top of my list? It hasn't changed since 1995. The closer I walk toward it, the bigger it gets. It burns in me like a fire that, in a way, is never satisfied. Will I ever be able to reach the goal?
   It started simply. I was in a chapel service one day. God asked me to preach His message. We went through the usual process that goes something like this
   Who are you talking to God? Me? Can't be? Are you joking? You're not! You can't be serious! You     know me. I've can't speak well and I have a voice like a foghorn with a cold. Me preach? I don't think so...
   But God always wins arguments. He does with me anyway.
   As I emerge from the chapel, trying to repair my face, a lady waylays me. 'God gave me this! It is for you'.
She handed me a poem that described me preaching. The fire was lit. Every year it burns stronger. Preaching the word of God satisfies me like food.
   Climbing the Eiffel Tower, taking a cruise in Alaska, or flying over the South Pole would be fantastic, but If had to choose between those and preaching God's love, hope and healing to people across my nation and beyond...let me preach any day.  
   Why? Do I want the attention and the platform? No! As I said at the beginning, I'm an old lady! But I love to see lives changed, people healed and released from years of emotional pain. I want everyone to experience the amazing love of God.
   Yes, it's my birthday and I'm excited. There is another sparkling new year in front of me that is full of unimagined adventures to fill my bucket to the brim. Yes, I'm a lucky girl.

Friday, 21 September 2012

I want what I want and I want it now!

   She stood to her full height. 'I don't want my birthday to be 'next', and I don't want it to be 'soon'.' She glared at me, tossing her long blonde hair.
   I was confused.  'When do you want your birthday to be, Honey?'
   I knew when her birthday was, and I also knew the day wouldn't be changing to suit her, but I find a little active listening works much better than an argument.
   'I want it to be NOW!'
   'Why do you want it now?'
   'Cause it Braydens' birthday tomorrow and Shi's the next day.' She struggling to hold back the tears. 'I want it to be mine.'
   I could sympathise with her. Waiting is hard to do, for anyone, especially for a little girl who is about to turn five.
   I have a T-shirt that says "I want what I want and I want it now!" I found it in a local store the day before I was preaching on revival. It perfectly summed up my sermon and my emotions.
   A couple of weeks ago, while preaching on breakthrough I nailed my colours to the wall. 'I'm sick of prophetic words telling me that revival is coming to South East Queensland. I don't want to hear any more.'
   I want what I want and I want it now. I've waited long enough. I've heard enough promises. We have the word of God. I want action and I want it NOW.
   About six years ago, I attended a conference where Apostle Barbara Yoder was speaking. What an inspiring woman of God.
   Her eyes challenged us from the platform. 'How many more generations are you going to allow to pass, before you Aussies fulfil Smith Wiggleworth's prophetic words over this nation. Will you be generation that rises up and makes revival happen in Australia.'
   I was challenged. Until that revelation, I was waiting passively to see what God was going to do. Since then I've been hungry - hungry for a mighty move of God. What am I going to do about it? I've given the rest of my life to God for revival.
   Why do I want revival? Same reason as Miss 'Soon to be Five' wants a birthday. Excitement, action and most of all - presents!
   Why do I expect revival to bring me presents? What wonderful surprises am I waiting for? I want to see people set free! Free from the bondage of addiction, hopelessness  depression, grief and sickness. I want to see broken families restored, cancer wards closed, gambling cease, prostitutes released and prisoner set free. No, I'm not dreaming the impossible. The power of God and the presence of Jesus, in the midst of us, will change people's hearts, break their anger and selfishness and renew our nation.    
   History confirms it. Prophecy predicts it. I expect it.
   As I said, 'I don't want revival 'next' or 'soon'. I want it NOW.'

Friday, 14 September 2012

Pink is the new red

    It was very exciting. This day was her very first sports day. She had been to many similiar events and cheered as her sisters won ribbon after ribbon. At last it was her turn. Today was her day.This was her kindy sports day
   There was only one problem. She was on the red team.
   Red was okay. She didn't mind, but she didn't own any red t-shirts. So Mum had loaned a shirt from her teacher. But it was branded with the word Kindy. Everyone would know it wasn't hers. There was no time to get to the shops, but Mum had a plan. This morning they were going to visit friends who had lots of red shirts and she could have one of theirs.
   But they were all too big! So many shirts, but they were for school kids and she was still a kindy kid. On the way home and she tried to listen to her Mum's gentle persuasion that the kindy shirt would be fine.
Her big sister helped her put it on. It was massive. Not too big like the others, but massive. It was all too hard for her to bear.
   'I'm not going! I hate sports days. I'm staying home all day!'
   She retreated under her bed, right to the wall where she felt safe. Where noone could laugh at her. Where there was no chance of not winning. Her sisters always won. Now she was ugly and a loser. The agony was just too much and her tears pooled onto the floor.
   'Maybe the kindy has a smaller t-shirt.' Mum always had an answer, but Mum had to work and couldn't go. Who would ask?
   'I'll talk to your teacher.' Big sisters were close to mothers, but never quite the same. She contemplated the idea.
   Mum found a big red ribbon and reluctantly she emerged to have it tied in her hair.
   Grandma tried to adjust the big shirt. It was disgusting! She took it off and searched for something else to wear until she got to kindy. In the drawer they found an old pink shirt. It matched her shorts and her cap. It was the right size. Maybe she could manage. She took a deep breathe and put it on and marched to the car.
    No one noticed. Pink is faded red really. She knew that. She wasn't wearing blue or green or yellow. She lined up with the red team and marched into the day. She even won the three legged race, until they swapped partners and tried again and then she managed to say, 'Good run,' just as Mum had taught her.
   It was such fun. And everyone won. And she was presented with a gold medal, like every other kid.
Go home? No, she didn't want to go home. She wanted to stay. Ah, yes. Miss Four loved sports day.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Some weeks feel like blah

   Thank God for the challenging weeks! As Steve said the other day, some weeks seem to blend into blaahhh. There is that sense that one has survived, rather than thrived, stayed alive rather than contributed to the on going good of either society as a whole or the fulfilment of our personal plans.

   Is that the truth? Or is it an emotional perception that pervades our thinking and we start to believe the niggling thought that we are just a waste of space?
   Or is there a reason for those times when we feel unproductive and unsuccessful?
   We measure production and success on things achieved. We are, after all, a product of the twenty-first century where great achievement is measured in gold medals, rising share prices or 'A's on a report card. 
   Yet we as people we quickly dump our 'stars' when the media discloses some impropriety. We don't even bother to check if the story is true. We don't allow for the pressure that our adulation has caused, or the fact that they are now living daily in a reality TV show environment, caused by our fascination. 
   We jump up and down on our couches in front of our wide screens and complain about the standard they are setting for our kids. We condemn their loss of control as we bellow at our kids because we are too lazy to lever our own bodies up and walk the length of the hall to relate to our family members.
   Jesus said something about exposing the splinter in the other's eye, whilst ignoring the plank in our own. We don't mean to ignore it. We just don't even realise it is there.
   But I digress.
   What is success? As a Christian, how do I measure success? I don't believe that God meant for us to live under such a hard task master as that which we place upon our own shoulders.
   We look back on a week where I have spent much time sitting in my chair due to a back problem and Steve has seen doors closing, rather than opening. Is that a wasted week? 
   I must take time to look for the flecks of gold among the dust and debris. And I see many flecks. One friend has reported complete freedom from pain after I prayed, on the phone, for the stabbing pain in her shoulders. And today I sat and held hands with an old friend that I've seen rarely in the last 25 years and listened as she poured out her struggles. I've spend the afternoon with some of my grand-kids, sat with another friend who is house bound. As I dig deeper, I've appreciated the comforts of my home which I so often take for granted and I've been reminded what a great hubby I have as he did hours of ironing!
   But what about the 'to do' lists that aren't done? The clients that haven't signed up? The person that I missed  caring for?
   Firmly, I remind myself that my task is to forget what lies behind and press onward to my calling. My first task is to worship the King of Kings, to go after His Kingdom and then everything else falls into place.
   Yes, I'm glad I remembered that. I feel better now.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Bud Takes a Risk

I love the quote, by Anais Nin
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
It caused me to think ….
When a bud is closed tight, it is protected from the wind and rain.  Its delicate petals and stamens are enclosed, safe from harm, bundled up tight and secure. But the pressure is building!  Some thing is pushing them, one against the other and gossip is that at the top of the bud, the protective case has split and some of the petals are being pushed out!
Some of the petals shimmered in excitement at the prospect of being free, of being able to move as they wished, of greeting the ‘Sun’ that they had heard so much about.  Others were more cautious – fearing unnecessary change!  Now the report had come back from the top petals that the sun was dulled, and they were being battered by the wind.  They were trying to get back in the bud – and all that was doing was increasing the split – and other petals were exposed.
One big petal was very quiet in all the ensuing discussion!  He knew he was close to the Sun now. He had waited so long! He pushed up and out with all his might.  He could see the split just above him now! 
He determined to try again. ‘I must get a glimpse!’  So he focussed and tried again.  He pushed and pushed and the pressure was too much for the bud and it split down the side.  The petal turned his eyes outward.  What wonder! What fresh air!  The smells! The perfume!  The possibilities!  The freedom!
 “It is wonderful, just wonderful!” He yelled to the petals behind him, Urging the to follow.  “Come on!  Let’s show the world how beautiful we are!”
“But, the risk!” The other petals weren’t sure. “Let’s stay here – it is more comfortable now the bud is split!”
Just then a little voice was heard outside.  “Daddy, come quick.  The bud is opening!!  Look at the beautiful colour!”  
“Can you smell the perfume?”
“No, Daddy, no smell!”
 “You will be able to smell it when all the petals are open.  It will be wonderful.”
The petals were all quiet for a few moments.  Suddenly they understood!  To bloom would eventually cost them everything.  But to bloom is what they were created for.  To remain a bud and die on the vine was unthinkable.  
“We must bloom.  We must all push together.  We must be the best, most attractive bloom.  Then the bees will come and sup with us, and though we die we will actually live forever!”

PS  A week later a satisfied petal lay under the vine, blown against the fence.  His colour was fading, but his perfume was still strong.  They had done well.  The little girl had admired them everyday – but more importantly they had opened themselves completely to the Sun – and the bees had come.  And as he looked up to the vine, even now he could see the swelling, just below the last few petals, that spoke of fruit, with its promise of new life.  Near him on the ground was a bud – it had never opened itself to the Sun.  The vine had dropped it to the ground as useless.  How sad to have never experienced the Sun – to never have reached fulfilment!  How thankful he was that the big petal had the vision and courage to lead them out!

Friday, 3 August 2012

I resigned to myself

   Yesterday I considered firing myself. I became so frustrated with my own inefficiencies. This staff member is a drain on our company. Her mistakes are taking valuable time. Get rid of her!
   Then I was challenged. God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. I also know the law in our country. Three warnings are required before I could replace myself. So I gave myself a warning in the nicest possible way! And came home!
   Why all this drama. I am the bookkeeper in our family's business. It only requires my attention about twenty hours a month. I'm good at figures, so it can't be that bad.
Problem #1. There are lots of other things that demand my attention, so I try to do the work in ten hours!
Problem #2. While I loved maths, I'm not good with detail. I'm innovative, creative. So I think of the fast way of doing things. I'm the queen of cutting corners. I coined the phrase 'Creative Accounting'. My accountant smiles nicely and works with me.
   But once a month a big crowd of angry figures gather together and demand to be reconciled! I clear my throat, use my most authoritative tone and tell them to all line up and behave. After all I'm the boss!
   But figures are a law unto themselves. They are not concerned about my position in the company! Instead of calling me 'Financial Controller' they call me to account!
   So we struggled and battled. They won again. I capitulated and fixed the errors that caused the angst. 
   Then I realised what I could do! I resigned to myself! Yes! I'm free. And now there will be no more errors.    But wait a minute. I'd have to train someone. That would take hours. 
   So I decided to stay. But I do have a warning!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Recovering a lost heirloom ring

   I lost my husband's grandmother's engagement ring about ten days ago. I looked at my hand and it wasn't there. 
   I berated myself for being so careless. When I had dressed that morning my fingers seemed swollen, so I wore it on a smaller finger. I realised during the day it was loose, so I decided to be careful! Now it was gone.
Possessions aren't that important to me, but this was a family heirloom. My daughter was not happy. I made a couple of enquiries on the phone without any success. I cleaned out my handbag in the hope it had fallen into its cavernous depths when I tried to extract my purse. No luck.
   Eventually, I told my husband. He was disappointed, but gracious with me.
I began to pray. "God, I want my ring back!" Nothing complex. But I prayed every time I thought of it.
   Then on Friday morning, I searched for my sunglasses without success. I had to leave home without them. My eyes were complaining and I was disappointed with myself. Why was I so careless? Why don't I pay more attention to detail? 
   I remembered taking them off when having coffee with a friend the previous afternoon. I placed them on the table around the sugar caddy. I could also remember telling myself not to do that, but put them safely in my bag. I had searched my bag under the downlights before I left home. I couldn't remember picking them up. I rang the coffee shop. No sunglasses.
   I was very cross with myself. When I bought these glasses I'd asked God for good sunglasses at a good price. Walking into a department store, I expecting to see sale signs in answer to my prayer. Not a single sale in sight! As I turned away, a salesperson stopped me. After talking to me and assessing my needs, she turned to one of the locked glass-fronted cabinets. I prepared myself to decline any offer she had for me. I never buy sunglasses that are expensive enough to be stored in locked cabinets!
   She looked for a few seconds. 'Ah! Here they are! I thought they must have been sold.'
   Turning to me, she held them out. 'Try these on. I think they are just what you're looking for.'
Not wanting to appear rude, I tried them on. They were perfect. Sighing, I handed them back.
   'It's your lucky day. These are reduced.'
   I bought those glasses for much less than half price, just within my budget. They were the best  sunglasses I'd  ever owned. I left the shop thanking God. He's so clever at shopping. 
   But now, I'd lost them. 'God, I want my glasses back!'
   I met my sister-in-law and we enjoyed coffee and conversation for a couple of hours. Returning to the glare of the sunlight, I remembered my lost glasses. 'God, I want my glasses back!'
       Look in your handbag!
   I nearly ignored the prompt. After all I had searched it thoroughly. However, I grabbed my bag and started to look.
      Try the side pockets
   I never use the side pockets. I store stuff, but don't open them, but sure enough, there they    were. Yay! Thank you God.
   "God, I want my ring back."
   I didn't mean to be pushy, but if He bought my glasses back, He could return my ring. I looked around the floor of the car, expecting to find it, but it wasn't there.
   Days have passed. There has been an expectation in me, but still no ring.
   This morning, I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen, following the route I walk countless times everyday. There winking at me from the floor is a ring. Surely not! I swoop and pick it up. Yes, Grandma Wanmer's ring. 
   My faith is high now. God, you have promised you will restore everything the enemy has stolen!
   What will you call back today?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Why do we pretend evil doesn't exist?

It is nearly eight weeks since we launched 'Though the Bud be Bruised'. It has travelled far and wide to places and people I guess I will never know. 

For the first few weeks I felt as though I was sitting on the edge of a volcano, wondering if it would erupt. Now I feel a little easier. Mostly reviews and readers alike have been very positive in their comments. 
The book has its controversial places and I know it would have been a very difficult read for many of my friends and family.
However I have been great blessed by many emails, comments and reviews. This story is bringing hope and restoration as well as a challenge to many. I am well pleased. 
I really enjoyed a chance meeting with a friend from the era of the book. She was delighted to have the truth exposed, everything out in the open. Others still don't want to know. I find that many Christians, when confronted with evil, like to hide it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn't exist. We as a family had to deal with wickedness. It invaded our lives in several forms. We were shocked by its presence, but no longer could we pretend it wasn't there. 

My favourite quote from the book is Where evil is protected, evil thrives!’ Why does the church create an environment that covers (and hence incubates) anything unsavoury? Supposedly it is to make us good 'witnesses', so we look good to the world! But it isn't working. The world isn't blind or stupid. While we hide bad behaviour behind a veil of secrecy, they laugh at us and call us hypocrites and worse. Sadly, they are right. Hiding evil isn't displaying God's glory. His glory is shown when evil is exposed, defeated and the situation is restored! Only those who don't understand the mighty power of God to heal, restore and deliver keep the unsavoury in the dark! The world longs to see a power that can defeat their personal demons.
Someone said to me recently. 'I don't like fighting, so I don't participate in spiritual warfare.' My reply? 'You do participate - whether you like it or not. You are in a war and if you don't fight you are permanently defeated.'
Another friend commented on the phone. 'I'm just hanging in there. I'm hoping the devil will give up soon.' 
That won't work. He's never going to stop terrorising us while we don't resist. 

You, I and that lady all have within us the authority to send him packing! If we resist him he will flee. That is the Word of God. But resistance must be active and requires focus, determination and effort. If we really understood why Jesus came we would rush to His feet, in public, as the woman who had suffered from endless vaginal bleeding. She found wholeness, victory and new life. And then we would be able to share this victory with those who fight the ravages of evil every day. 
C'mon church! Rise up and fight! You can do it!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

You call that love?

"Before you commit to loving someone, make sure they can love you unconditionally.'
It was typed over a pretty picture on Facebook. You know the ones where sayings are presented beautifully so we all share the concept?
But this statement is seriously flawed. It advices holding love until...until something happens. In other words, your love should be conditional on the other person's love being unconditional!

Do we even understand what unconditional love is? While the term is used a lot, but rarely is real love displayed. Everyone is hungry for it. We look for approval, acceptance, affirmation and call that love. But our need is deeper. We long for a person to relate to. We want to feel secure as we share our history, mistakes and hopes,  knowing it won't appear on facebook next week. We crave a person that will walk the road beside us. But will they love us when we're sick and ugly; ill or even dying? What about when they encounter our smelly feet or discover all their chocolate has been eaten?

Unconditional love is deeper than all the above. It lays down its life, puts aside its needs and wants, forgives and forgives again. It loves even when relationships can no longer be reconciled because of abuse. It loves until death.Only one who has experienced love can give such a love. When a person's love tank is full, they have a capacity to continue loving other, regardless. 

As a parent my love ran out. I could no longer give anything of myself to my child. Lies and false accusations, rejection and constant demands had bled me dry. I was finished, ready to give up, run away or die. Anything to escape the pain.

Good friends halted my flight. Trapped with no escape, I sought God. I asked Him a simple question. 'What message can I send her?'

Revelation broke through. I was in a busy shopping centre. Did others see it or hear bells? No. As I sat, I suddenly understood that regardless of the abuse and blame I had hurled at God most of my life, He still suffered and died for me. Yes, I'd been taught such things. But that day my heart burst open as I experienced His love poured out for me. He loved me regardless of my behaviour toward Him, my indifference to His love, my rejection of His quiet words. He was still there waiting, offering forgiveness, restoration, a new beginning. Never condoning my stupid behaviour, but never withdrawing His affection for me. In a matter of minutes everything changed. Now I could love my child continually, regardless of behaviour and words spoken. 

No longer was I trying to get my love from her. She couldn't supply it. Now my source of love never stops and it overflows to others, bringing healing, acceptance and wholeness. That was twenty years ago. I've tested it. Yes, His love for me (and for you) never runs dry.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

God loves grey days

Dull. Drab. Grey.
Where is the sun? This is Queensland!  I need vivid blue skies and bright sun to warm my world. I'm used to clear horizons and running all day with a light jacket.
But this week is different.
I have to drag myself out of bed for my not-so-early walk. Where are the colours of the sunrise, the shafts of early morning light that brighten my world and form dancing reflections in the little creek? These are the things that make my heart worship everyday. The greens that usually sparkled in countless different shades are all dull greyish green
Walking along the creek, I spy two koalas, high in the gum trees, huddled against the cool day. Then across the creek there is one little head with two pricked ears . A wallaby! I haven't seen one on this tiny reserve for a couple of years. As I stand and watch, he turns and jumps above the long grass so I can see him. He's a large black wallaby with a white tip on his tail. He disappears into the long grass, completely hidden again. The day seems brighter. 
I walk another hundred metres past my local supermarket. My route takes me down a suburban street which skirts the other side of the same reserve that follows the creek. The birds are going crazy. Crows are yelling, parrots are squawking and two galahs are screeching as they fly around in a large circle.
There is always a reason for birds to be so disturbed. I stop, forgetting the demands of the pedometer in my pocket. I watch. What are they concerned about. The galahs are circling the tallest gum tree and there, in the top branches, is an eagle. Too high for me to see clearly, he is about six times larger than the crows. He seems unperturbed by their screaming at him as they swoop past. The only thing that moves is his head. I watch until the parrots settle in a branch above him, the galahs disappear and the crows return to normal behaviour. 
Realising that he isn't going to fly, I head home. What a wonderful walk I had on a grey morning. Then I noticed the wonderful pale pink blossom on a Eucalyptus tree. Somehow the dull background highlighted the pale colour.
Ah, God, I think I'm starting to understand. Today you have spoken in a different way. You're always speaking but sometimes I don't hear because you don't always communicate the same way. You have so many differnt languages. In shine and in rain, in good times and bad your voice is always there. Please tune my ear and train my eye to see it. I want to know you more and more and more.
As the words came out of my mouth He replied. Right there in front of me. A love letter from God!