Category Archives: Grateful

Scored

Today God has so kindly allowed me to experience more fully what it is like to LOVE my family, instead of seeking my own good. I totally suspect God did it. I know he did.

I was sitting at the table playing a game with my husband and son. I was frustrated with the noise of the younger kids, irritated by my husband’s drumming fingers and my son’s exasperated noises. I felt like I didn’t want to be with them. And then I remembered how I had been choosing love with my husband, especially in moments where I was NOT inspired. And so I decided to choose love at the table in this moment. I started thinking, what would they want right now? I decided to play quietly, to speak kindly. It was like a gentle battle, of going back to my selfish ways, then choosing love. God made it easy for me.

Then at the end of the game, which I have played hundreds of times with different people over the course of my 42 year life, something happened that had NEVER happened before. The three of us ended up with identical scores – 195 each. We were all in disbelief. My husband took a photo and texted it to my dad, who also loves the game.

Afterwards I felt that the scores were a sign. A sign related to my choosing love. By choosing love, the three of us ended up level, equal. By choosing love, I did’t stand above in pride or judgment. We ended up all winning.

As I came upstairs and sat at my desk I was full of joy. Light, refreshing joy (not happiness). It just flowed through me, effortless.

I am so grateful to God for this experience. I long to remember to live this everyday. I know I need to practice it. New things take time to learn. And I know God will continue to give me the grace to learn this. He knows how much I long to live fully from love, not self ambition.

Four Glimpses of Possible

God gives me glimpses of things. Of what is possible. Of what it would feel like to be transformed by him in some specific way…

  1. How it feels to have absolute peace in my gut and how this dissolves stress in those around me
  2. How it feels to react with powerful love instead of anxiety in stressful situations
  3. How it feels to have an absence of pride
  4. How it feels to have body and mind vitality, through eating the right diet for me

These glimpses have been momentary, but profound. Tastes of what is possible. So now I’m wrecked for anything less. How can you be satisfied with the ordinary when you’ve experienced freedom in a certain area?

I’ve heard countless sermons about having peace, of having love, of having humility and of eating right. But nothing has motivated me like the experience of feeling the momentary freedom of what it is actually like to live in this zone. Honestly it became real, incredible, beyond my ordinary dreams of what is possible. They say Jesus is the best. Haha he actually is. And way better than you think.

So what do the ravings of this Jesus loony amount to? How did the glimpses happen? What did they feel like? OK one at a time…

  1. Peace in my gut

With five kids, two with special needs, the stress was extreme and had impacted my body to breakdown point. I lost my energy, like someone pulled the plug. My husband stopped work to take care of the kids while I tried to recover. After six weeks he couldn’t cope so we reached out for a DHHS package for carer support. Six months later we were operating with carers in the home 15 hours per week. My husband was back at work. But the stress didn’t disappear. And I was in a weakened state to handle it.

It got to the point, where wise advise from a close family member was to put Summer (our middle daughter with moderate intellectual disability and autism) in a home for 6-12 months so we could recover.

I was desperate. A dear saint urged me to rest in Jesus.

So I determined to try.

I sat in my lounge chair. I was too tired to pray. I just shut my eyes and sank down deep into a posture of rest. But different from normal. I imagined myself resting in Jesus. And then I remember that Jesus has no weights for me, but wants to unburden me. Then I relax deeper, with relief that I didn’t have to strive. Then I start to laugh and cry and laugh and cry. It just kept bubbling out. My friends call it craughing.

I did this on and off for three days. I would feel myself getting filled with feelings of relief, and of spiritual living water going inside my gut. Hard to imagine I know. It wasn’t long periods of time. I would get distracted, then concentrate again and do the inner posture of resting in Jesus. Trying to do this did nothing. It was when I knew Jesus was my rest, that the faith switch went on, and then the craughing would start. So good!!!

After three days, I felt peace in my gut. It felt wonderful. I can’t describe what a relief that feeling was. All I remember is always feeling uptight in my middle. But I couldn’t find any uptight feeling, even though I was looking hard for it. Just peace. And this feeling of living water.

So then the kids came home and I braced myself. No help from carers or hubby that night. How would I cope! Well the kids came in all manic, bubbling over through the door. They came near me and I watched their energy dissolve. They became settled and at peace without me saying a word. I’ll never forget that. I’ve read about that. But I actually experienced it.

That’s what I need every day. God give me that glimpse back. God help me build that as consistent reality.

  1. Love overflowing without any striving

Another day, I’d had a full-on hour managing Summer in the context of a car trip with all five kids, after an outing in the city where Summer refused to go back to the car. Then I got home and the three youngest ones were full-on. I felt the stress and anxiety peaking. This battle started raging inside me. I was at ‘too much’ point. My mind was telling me to go upstairs and hide and tell my husband I’d had enough. But something in my spirit was battling this. I felt it. I stayed put, feeling and watching the inner battle from outside myself. My inner spirit was wanting to overcome. It was wanting to rise above the status quo of stress overload. This almighty groan emerged from deep within me, shocking me and my kids. And I burst forward to the kids with arms outstretched and blurted out ‘I love you Summer’. And then I poured love out all over the three kids. I felt filled with immense joy and love. I was overflowing, without stress or anxiety. The situation was transformed. I was transformed. I didn’t have to rest and recuperate from stress. I was energised and inspired.

I need and want this all the time. The status quo is so ordinary. This was extraordinary.

  1. Absence of pride

When living in Sydney I had this moment. Totally unplanned. I felt the absence of pride. I know that sounds weird. But it was very distinct. I had an immense clarity of mind and uncluttered panoramic vision. I could see far and wide in my spirit, without cloudedness or confusion. I realised in this moment that this was the space I needed to live in, in order to make wise decisions in ministry and if I ever wanted to lead effectively in any sphere. I willed the clarity to stay. But after maybe 5-10 seconds it left and I went back to my immersion in my own personal level of pride. Which as a continual presence, becomes unnoticed and normal. But now I noticed it. This robber. This thief. This pride! How I despised it and wanted it gone. It clouded my vision. I couldn’t see very far ahead. The difference was immense. Like trying to walk in a fog.

This experience prompted me to pray on three occasions in my life for God to do whatever it would take to get rid of pride. Within a day or week after praying each of these prayers, I subsequently experienced the three most humbling, difficult and painful events/seasons of my life. One day I may share these stories. One of these was the adrenal crash I have referred to. This was the least painful.

Before praying the second time, I experienced the glimpse of the absence of pride again. It was in our ensuite in Dingley Village. In that moment I recalled the glimpse I had experienced years earlier and savoured the moment, wishing it would stay forever. That gave me the courage and motivation to pray the second time for God to get rid of any remaining pride. I wanted to live in that space. I don’t want to live in any other.

I have learned much, but I am still on the path.

  1. Body and mind vitality

God led me on a fast. I hate fasting. I get really grumpy when I don’t eat. And I can’t afford to be a grumpy mum. The demands are strenuous enough without adding that in the mix. So I decided I would fast everything except fruit and vegetables.

After one week, I felt amazing. I guess it was like a de-tox. But I was starving. I did a little complaint to the Holy Spirit about this and I felt him say to add rice. I was happy. For the next two weeks I had rice and fruit and vegetables. I felt full and I felt great. Then in the last week unexpectedly I felt him say to add meat, then a few days later to add eggs, then on the last day to add cheese.

My body felt clean on the inside. It felt refreshed. My mind felt clear and uncluttered. I felt alive in my body.

The day after I finished the fast, I concluded that God never let me eat flour or sugar.

I decided I would like to continue eating like this.

I failed and went back to my old ways. But I never forgot how good I felt and have wanted it ever since.

Last year I gave up flour (mostly) and made it a lifestyle. It’s now normal for me. Then in November I watched ‘That Sugar Film’ and that gave me the impetus to drop sugar. I went cold turkey and I don’t want to go back. I love being sugar free. My emotions are lighter. No depressed feelings. My head is less clouded. No cravings.

Big wins dropping flour and sugar. But I still need to have a higher proportion of vegetables, to experience the reality of the earlier fast where God taught me how to eat. Isn’t he smart. He knows my body better than any doctor. And he knows yours too. We are all different.

So I’m not fully there yet, but I’m on the path. I’m seeing change. I’m building one step at a time. And the glimpse is becoming a reality.

Conclusion

So just recently I had this awesome thought. God has given me glimpses of magnificence spiritual transformations – peace, love and absence of pride. Maybe, just maybe, these also can become my everyday reality, rather than one-off tantalising experiences.

If I follow the logic of the food experience, then it is just a matter of taking small steps every day, in order to build a lifestyle, which then becomes my everyday experience. I can do this!

So I’m starting with the peace in the gut. I’m practicing this every day – 20 minutes X 3. This is doable. I already have 20 X 3 as my normal rest routine, which I have been practicing for years. Now I just add Jesus to the rest in this same routine.

I’m going to win. I’m going to overcome. God has shown me how. And I just have to decide to do it – and I have – and then do the hard yards – and I am.

I’m going to be the peace queen. Not a pride statement here haha. Just a joy statement. Hehehehehehe. The peace queen!

And then wait until I become the love lady.

And then – wow – the absence of pride. I don’t know to walk that journey yet. I’m praying God builds humility more and more. He can do it. He can. He can. He doesn’t give glimpses for nothing.

It’s awesome walking with Jesus. He knows the path. And his path is brilliant and full of surprises that are out of this world. He gives glimpses to keep us going.

What glimpses does he have for you? What is he wanting to build in you? What has he done already?

Love to all

Summer’s Doggy Heaven

There is not a day that goes past that I don’t feel a sigh of relief, looking at the epitome of tolerance – Rupert – Summer’s doggy best friend.

This dog is a gem I tell you. Everyday he gets head-locked by Summer and held at ransom for long periods of time. He just takes it. He lies still while Summer rubs her face in his fur, strokes his ears, pulls his tail, squeezes his middle, leans all over him. He gets a lot of loving. And if Rupert tries to leave, Summer grabs his collar or his leg and bosses him back into position. She is strong. Rupert is very strong too. But Summer has managed to work out how to keep him.

That alone earns Rupert his keep every single day. And it happens multiple times every day. It’s very comforting for me as a mum to see this. Sometimes Summer just needs some time to re-focus, re-energise and have space from others. Rupert is a safe place for her. He is a walking, breathing therapy tool. In those moments where she is with Rupert, she is not melting down from overload, she is not getting agitated by noise or movement. She is in a happy place.

We often deliberately bring Rupert for car trips, as she loves to hug him. This makes the car trip peaceful, except for occasional demands for me to join in the hug fest while driving. It can also get problematic if Sarah is in the car, and Summer pulls Rupert to herself. Sarah knows how to express her mind and boy does she do that!

Rupert is an awesome blessing to the whole family. Stress relief and fun for everyone. Josiah loves having him sleep in his room overnight. (Summer can’t have him, as we can’t trust her unsupervised with him for that length of time. She might pull his ears and hurt him). Micah can’t decide whether he loves me more or Rupert more. He thinks he might love Rupert more. Rupert is always coming up to me and laying his head on my feet or jumping on the bed to lie next to me. (Yes we gave up the ideal of no dogs on couches or beds, after the trainer told us it was good for autistic kids to have the dog next to them on the couch etc. So I get an extra cleaning job now – vacuuming the couch of all the dog hairs!!!) Sarah can spend ages with Rupert, even sitting on him while on the iPad. Kiara and Kristin love him too.

Rupert is a great excuse to get out of the house and in the fresh air and sunshine, as he lives to chase the ball. I take him for a ball throw in the mornings. And Josiah often takes him out too.

Rupert brings down the anxiety in the home just by his presence. We noticed this considerably in the month after we first got him. The first six months was a huge blessing but Rupert was also testing boundaries. Now he has settled down beautifully and I think he has accepted that we are his forever family. He likes us, especially me for some reason. Many of us when tired or upset have been known to give Rupert a hug and cry on his doggy shoulder.

He also seems to be quite protective of Summer. If Kristin is fooling around loudly and actively with the girls, Rupert starts barking at him. Same if I give the girls a smack. He doesn’t like it and barks. I feel chastised!

I feel grateful every day for him. He can’t eliminate all our problems. But he has provided massive assistance. More so than any other strategy.

I’m reminded again of all the many individuals and groups who helped make Rupert happen for our family, especially my dad and Heatherton Christian College.

I would like to add too, that Rupert is extra special because not only has he been specially trained as a companion dog by ‘Dogs For Kids With Disabilities’, but he is the only dog that was able to be successfully matched with Rupert in the three or four years that we were waiting. All the other dogs that we met along the journey were also very high quality. And many of them from special breeders, that breed particularly to achieve the perfect characteristics for assisting disabled people. But Rupert was the right match for Summer.

We are SO blessed!

Your Sixth Sense (Better Than Sex)

You have an amazing hidden ability. You might not be aware of this yet, but you have a sixth sense. What is it? Are you using it? Have you thought about its possibilities?

Your sixth sense is the ability to sense the atmosphere…

on TWO levels…

the emotional atmosphere and the spiritual atmosphere (better than sex, more later).

Everybody has this ability. But not everybody pays attention to it. And it is attention that hones your ability.

The Emotional Atmosphere

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately noticed tension? You don’t know what happened, but you know something is really off! Perhaps there was a heated argument. Perhaps the people in the room are just seething with unspoken anger. It feels very different to walking into a room where people are happy or excited!

Part of our mood awareness comes from visual cues, such as the expression on people’s faces and their body posture. But our perception goes beyond this. I put it to you, that even with a blindfold on, many of you would still sense mood, if the emotions were pronounced enough.

Some people are better atmosphere perceivers than others. That comes down to natural ability and how much you have developed the skill. That’s like anything in life. Some people are naturally very gifted at music, for example, but everyone can still develop a degree of skill, and hone it with practice.

For some of you, the ability to sense the emotional atmosphere may be virtually non-existent. Perhaps you grew up in a household where this wasn’t valued or acknowledged, so you never paid attention to what you were sensing. Perhaps you disregard your perceptions, as they are subjective, they cannot be measured scientifically like vision or hearing, etc.

I agree that our sixth sense is subjective. Accuracy in diagnosing emotional mood isn’t always precise – but with practice and skill, reliability can increase. This sense shouldn’t be discounted – it should be cultivated and respectfully judged. It has enormous usefulness in both one-on-one interactions and groups environments, on a personal level, work level and societal level.

So far, what I have described is a common experience for many. But there is another level of atmosphere sensing that is completely different. It is SPIRITUAL. The difference is not understood until it is experienced, like trying to imagine colour, when you see in black and white.

Let me share my experience…

Sensing Spiritual Atmosphere

Our church has a lively worship time in the service. A band and songs, like those sung by Hillsong. This creates a certain atmosphere which is awesome. But this is NOT what I’m talking about. I can sing along, I can dance, I can lift my hands and enjoy the atmosphere. But again, this is NOT what I’m talking about.

Sometimes during the worship time, all of a sudden, sometimes unexpectedly, I sense the presence of God. THIS is what I’m talking about!!!

How do I describe this?

It’s weighty.

It’s like a charged atmosphere, except that it contains LIFE.

And this is a big difference. Let me repeat – it has LIFE. This life is the presence of a being… a person… of God himself.

In this moment I can experience a lot of emotions – awe, a sense of being washed over, of being cleansed, an awareness of the goodness and purity of God. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I never want the moment to end. I cling to God in this moment. I revel in who he is. I partake of him. Sometimes I erupt in laughter, sometimes in crying, sometimes a mixture of both. I feel like rivers of living water are flowing in my being. This is glorious peoples. Nothing can compare to this.

And oh to worship him. To lift him up. With every part of my being in complete agreement. There is a rightness. A peace. An inner YES that screams out and becomes louder than any negativity or cloud. It is my place of rest. I’ve found my tribe. I’ve found my home.

And other people who’ve experienced God say the same thing. I hear their description and I go YEP – you’ve met the Father! You’ve met Jesus.

And I don’t just experience this at church. When I connect with God at home… anywhere… the more time I spend with him, the more I experience his presence. It doesn’t happen all the time, but over the years, as I have been pursuing God more, this has been increasing.

Please excuse me for this next comparison, but I want to emphasise how awesome experiencing God is. It is better than sex. It is better than great sex. It is better than ultimate fulfilment sex. Sex brings physical pleasure and the ecstasy of emotionally blurring with another, going to a heightened state of being. It is amazing. But being in the presence of God is more amazing and more fulfilling.

Experiencing a taste of who God is and his life, is what our whole being longs for. We understand our sex drive and the fulfilment this can bring, particularly when in a healthy relationship. But many of us don’t understand our drive for God. He is our ultimate source of fulfilment. Every core of our being becomes alive and energised in an encounter with him. He is transforming!

I can’t emphasise enough how knowing God is not just intellectual or emotional. It is also deeply spiritual. And this spiritual experience is tangible and available for everyone!

God wants to reveal himself to us. Why don’t you ask him to. He’s waiting… with love and forgiveness like an ocean.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

It’s Still Here!!

Vine arch

A miracle has happened in our home. I bravely or foolishly put up a fake vine around the arch of the loungeroom entrance while Summer and Sarah were at a respite house. And I am very pleased and excited to announce that after 14 days IT IS STILL THERE!!!

No-one has pulled on it. No-one has tugged it. There has been no meltdown from Summer in that area and subsequent destructive behaviour. No curious dismantling.

Wow. I am delighted and relieved.

And so the decorating continues! Plants and birds upstairs. Paintings covered by glass on coffee tables. It’s fun being creative!

My Red Chair

Red chair!!

I used to have a black chair in my office and it was OK. No emotional stirrings, just functional. Yep. Life goes on without your preferred colour.

Then one day something exciting happened. I was on my local community Facebook page and there it was! An ad wanting to give away two desk chairs FOR FREE! And one of them was RED! Super excited I typed in SOLD and hoped for the best. I knew there were a few very small imperfections where the arms had been grazed, but hoping everything else was OK.

I picked it up and brought this beauty home and boy was I happy!

I have a RED office chair. Revolves and wheels perfectly and comfortable. And did I say IT’s RED!!!! I don’t know if you’ve picked this up yet, but I particularly like RED! Especially red coats and red hats and red bags. Not too much – I do appreciate other colours. It’s just one that features in my wardrobe as it generally suits my complexion. And it’s BOLD and FUN and RED!

Every time I glance in my office now, I have a sudden happy feeling, a rush of mild endorphins, a feeling of gratefulness and satisfaction. God gets the kudos for this one. I know he knew I wanted it. He organised it. Don’t care if you disagree. I’m giving him the credit!

And oh – I nearly forgot. A red chair deserves to be sat in by a person wearing a red jacket! C’mon, this is the look people! Such fun!

Kirsten red chair!