Honestly?

The Women’s Ministry at our church has developed a new logo. I am so excited to see the new design and get going on using it as we promote our events etc. We also have a mission statement that reads: Equipping the women of Hillside in God’s abundant love so that it overflows through them to their community and world.

Hillside Womens Ministry_Logo_col.jpg

I began to consider that at the end of the day the logo is empty if there is not action behind our mission. Further, it made me wonder how exactly we go about creating this idea in our community.

As I considered this, it occurred to me that what God would really like from us and would really serve us well in this endeavour is a little bit of plain old fashioned honesty. A long hard look at who we are and a sincere attempt to be honest, authentic and real about what is inside our hearts.

I think there is already a desire and spirit to strive for this in our church walls and community and so I sincerely want us to nurture that.

The thing about this journey is that it doesn’t start with our friends or social media.  This is not about putting as #mommyfail beside your post each morning. This journey begins with being honest with God about things He already knows.

He knows when you are saying the right the and doing the right things and not being honest with Him about how we feel.

If you are pretending to be happy for people in your life and have a heart full of envy – He knows.

If you say you are satisfied with your means and are holding onto resentment about it – He knows.

And if you say you are so pleased with your career but really want more – He knows!

So why not tell Him? We often share our celebrations with God and send our praise to Him we shouldn’t share our struggles. Whether we choose to admit to what we are feeling or not, does not determine if that feeling exists.

No one is benefitting and we are the only ones who suffer when we choose to live airbrushed lives. Lives where we we don’t want to lie, so instead we just soften the edges, shrink the perceived downfalls and remove any blemishes.

This might work on some of the people around us, But no matter we do..God Knows. He knows and He loves you anyway.

Struggling to be completely honest with God is is also not always about challenges and undesirable thoughts. Sometimes we are unwilling to really claim our strengths and the good desires of our hearts because we are afraid or are trying not to be prideful or arrogant. We hold back for good Godly reasons.

A little while ago, we had a sermon and Scott spoke about asking for miracles. It made me think…not just miracles but why are we not asking God for big things? We don’t ask because we don’t want to seem greedy, or we don’t know if it is an ‘appropriate prayer’. So why don’t we just talk to God about it?

Recently I was praying about something in my life. I would pray  “God, whatever your desire for my life”… and… “Your will be done”…without any specific request. What I was praying was truth. I wanted Gods will to be done and desire for my life. But it wasn’t totally honest because there was something that I wanted. There was a request I was holding back because I didn’t want to be telling God or asking for something I shouldn’t be and I was worried it wasn’t the right thing to want.

And there He was saying to me “I already know what you want…why don’t you just ask for it?”

As always He was right and I just opened up my heart and told Him what I felt, told him that there was something I really wanted for my life, that I thought I was ready for it and but I didn’t know if I should want it or even it was right or wrong for my life. It was totally different kind of moment for me with God. In the end I still acknowledged that I wanted His will to be done, and would accept that, but I had been transparent in what was behind that acceptance.

You know, almost immediately God started moving and things started happening in response to my request.  I remember a couple of weeks later driving along and laughing and saying to Him..”So you were just waiting for me to ask huh?”

I had to be honest about what I wanted and was feeling. I had to be humble and admit I was just busying myself doing what I though seemed like the right thing to do and be.  To open up and say for better or worse, right or wrong, this is how I feel and leave it with Him and He will work it out. Now maybe His response would have been to refine me and help eliminate it from my life. But at least it would have been dealt with and not just buried under over Christian clichés.

I think it important to note that having a good sensible long look at who you are and assessing yourself in a very real way is often misaligned with being hard ourselves.  It does not mean we have to air out every piece of dirty laundry and mistake we make for the world to hear. It shouldn’t mean we somehow start to celebrate our failures. It does not mean we are falsely humble and open up about a mistake because we have some pride in how humble we are sounding.

Being real is not always reminding people how real you are so you can use it as an excuse to not try to be the best version of what God intended you to be.

Being honest and authentic is much more simple. It just takes time, an open mind and heart, and whole lot of humility. It is just a conversation with God.

Are we jealous? Greedy? Envious? Over Humble? Tell Him…You believe in yourself? Think you’ve done well? Are in a good place and are really happy? – Tell Him.

Once you are Honest with God you will find your capacity to connect and be vulnerable with the people around you so much easier. I dream of a place where ladies can come and connect, no pretence, no assumption, no judgement. We are not celebrating that we are always terrible nor that we are always awesome but we are celebrating the endless expanse in between. Where we recognize that sometimes life is not easy or hard, but rather, it is both.

I think it is only when we allow each other into each others lives in an honest and transparent way that we will ‘Overflow” to community around us for the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Defined By God Himself

There may be occasions you see me and I am laughing and chatting comfortably with my peers. Floating around a room interacting with people around me with comfort and ease.

I am not an extrovert.

I want time alone…need to be alone with myself. I internalize most of the struggles I face and rarely ask for help, I need to be checked on as I will almost never reach out for support.

I am not an introvert.

I am often uncomfortable meeting new people or being in environments with many unfamiliar faces.

I am not shy.

I can be crazy…and loud…and wound right up, and sometimes plain wild.

I am not hyper.

I can put my feelings aside and look through an objective lens and push through to practical ends.

I am not hard.

I cry at commercials and feel so deeply when I watch and read things that I am forced to turn it off for it causes me physical discomfort.

I am not sensitive.

I have a quick mind and think on me feet, my mind is always racing with thoughts and ideas that if I don’t deposit them somewhere will make me spin.

I am not fast.

I am trying to get healthy and eat well, be strong.

I am not a health nut.

Sometimes I don’t like to go out and prefer to sit on the couch and not move for hours in the evening.

I am not lazy.

I work hard, and enjoy my work, and I have for most of my working life been self employer, and I like that.I am not an entrepreneur.

My kids are in my mind every moment of the day and considered in every decision I make.

I am not a mother.

I am NOT these things…I am ALL these things.  I am shy and loud, I am withdrawn and social, I sensitive and hard, I am strong and weak, I am work and home. I am all of it and none of it. I am a daughter of Christ. I will celebrate ALL He made me to be. The things I know and the things I am yet to discover.

God did not make us a personality type. He made us a soul, a spirit and heart in His image. Such an intricate creation with details that we can not even being to imagine to understand.godknowsyou

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:13-16 ESV 

People will expect us to be or act a certain way because ‘that is who we are’. If we listen to them we run the risk of missing God’s big picture and tapestry of who He planned us to be. The only thing more upsetting to me than someone not striving to be more, do more and explore more of who they are because the world has labelled them a certain kind of person, is that person doing it to themselves. You are NOT who you think you are or need to be..you are God’s.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 3:20-21 ESV

Ladies, although it can be helpful to understand your tendencies and preferences of our personalities. God – the creator of every detail, every precise cell, and grand expanse created you. He does not want you to be stuffed into a personality type or boxed in by what people assume you have always been.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

Instead choose who God wants you and needs you to be. Never stop believing that He can do great works in you.  Sometimes God will call you to be exactly who you are not. He designed you to be His.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Remember the only definition you ever need of who you are is: a Daughter of Christ loved and designed by the Grand Creator who knows you better than you will ever know yourself

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – Revised

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,

Lights sparkled on houses and there was snow on the ground.

The stockings were hung and nativity set,

Still, the best part of Christmas had not arrived quite yet,

582522e3-634c-4cc7-87ff-58eff0419b98

The children were packed all snug in the van,

Looking tidy and clean, doing as best as they can,

With mom in her dress and dad in a suit,

We were all settled in and already en route.

When we finally arrived there arose such a fuss,

Away to the doors we flew in a rush,

The light from the candles and tree filled the air,

And gave a glorious glow to the activity there,

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a room full of people and their loved ones so dear,

With a Pastor and choir so lively and bright,

I knew in a moment that this was just right,

Then more rapid than eagles my tasks came to mind,

And in them no rest or peace could I find,

There were dishes, and baking and cooking and gifts,

And cleaning and wrapping and more on the list.

To the front of the room, to the nativity there,

I looked and my worries went away without care,

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

I remembered the who, and remembered the why.

11543561205_14c44e08d5_b

I drew in my children and was just sitting down,

When I stopped and I heard the most melodious sound,

Sweet songs of praise, they filled the whole hall,

And somehow my worries didn’t matter at all,

At the front in a manger lay a baby so sweetly,

If you do not take a moment you may miss Him completely,

He was dressed all in cloths from his head to his toe,

They were ragged and dirty from the stable floor below,

 A great gift of love, nothing it lacked,

So much better than any toy from a sack,

His eyes how they twinkled, His face how merry,

And yet for us, such a burden would carry,

I am sure that he laughed, and cried reaching for mom,

And from the very first moment, was the example of love,

And I smiled when I saw him, in spite of my heart,

For I know the ending to this child’s humble start.

But looking at this figure of a child in his bed,

Soon gave to me to know I had nothing to dread,

And after the evening I spoke not a word,

Of that moment of peace and rest that occurred,

I went straight home, and finished my tasks,

Then sat down and rested in quiet at last.

As I sat, I wondered if everyone knows,

That baby died for our sins, and to heaven He rose,

I sprang from my chair, and fell to my knees,

And endlessly thanked Him for His gift to me.

lights-of-christmas

Then I said to myself as I turned out the lights,

Merry Christmas to all, and God Bless You This Night.

 

Becoming The Church…

images

I wonder if there will be a moment when it will all becomes real for the church? We the church.

A moment when cliche words and memorized scripture stop falling lifeless to the ground without action? I wonder if it will come to pass that when we say we love – we go love, and when we say we should give – we go give, and when we say we want to life a life honouring to Christ we do that too.

I wonder if there is a moment when it will stop being about what we know to be true and become about how that truth defines who we are?

If we are going to effect change in this world, if we are going to make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us, then we have to make that decision. It only takes the breifest moment to decide and then a lifetime to pursue…and oh! what a pursuit.

Imagine if you decided today in this moment that you will just love, care for, and help EVERYone unconditionally. That you would let go of gossip, judgement, criticism, hurt, fear, jealously and hatred..Let.It.Go, it is killing you. Instead make a choice to  actively and boldly champion righteousness, holiness, humility, acceptance, compassion and love.

Consider the potential impact. Consider the reaction? Imagine the change…

We can say, do and act like all the ‘right’  Christian things, but if it is not in our heart in our very core, the words fall flat and become more damaging than the most hurtful expressions.

Is it so hard for us to seek to be Christ like…to be CHRISTIAN? Is He asking so much of us? Is it such a great task to just love?

And so it is Christmas….

Let us give Joy out of the poverty of our spirits…give money from the plenty or emptiness of our funds…give love out of the loneliness we harbour…give forgiveness out of the jealously inside. Caution ourselves to the modern trend of justification in the church. Where we become comfortable being a ‘good’ person, who seeks seemingly acceptable excuses for why we are or are not doing something.  You know, I sometimes imagine myself on that glorious day meeting my Saviour and I think of every justification, excuse and rationalization in my mind for what I have chosen to procrastinate on or not do…and not one..NOT ONE could I even imagine myself mustering the ability to utter in light of what was done for me.

We are told to Ask and it shall be given unto us. Maybe you, like me, want this change…maybe you think it’s impossible. But with God ALL things are possible  We need to come broken…actually broken…before Him and ask Him to change us…He CAN, and He will work in us to accomplish His many wonders.

Someone once told me we should not teach our children that Jesus comes into their hearts to stay. She said that when Jesus comes into your life He flows from the top of your head through the tips of your toes and explodes out of you to light the world around you! Amen!

Do think there will be a time for us the church to want that badly enough to ask Him for it? It is my deepest hope that there is, and that it would be today.

Rebecca

 

 

The God That Gives And Takes Away

God has been working in me as always to teach me many lessons. I feel like I am a forever work in progress and often wonder is He ever thinks ‘when are you ever going to get this?’.

For those of you who may not know I am in sales, and am self-employed.  In my time doing this job over the past 6 years, I have felt God use me in ways I would never have imagined. I know there have been times where my place in this industry was by His design…and let me tell you – that a good feeling to have.

When I started I took one verse and pinned to my office wall and it is still there reads:

Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. ” Proverbs 3:9-10

I also read and re-read “Commit your actions to the Lordand your plans will succeed.” Proverb 16:3.  

I spent time in prayer and acknowledged that there would not be a client or deal that was not brought but by Him, and that I would commit to keep my focus on Him and not me.  He chose to bless me and my business has grown and I find myself very busy. Sometimes I even wonder if He is sure I can manage all he has provided. It would seem my ‘barns are filled with plenty’ of business indeed.

I am so grateful. My thanksgiving comes easy and it is so apparent in my life that God is great, that it is His glory and His power that has brought me to this place. I am happy to worship and sing praise to Him for all He has done and provided.

However recently He has been working in me and pressing me with challenges, questions and circumstances that I have little understanding of. Over several months it has left me wondering why He has been trying to get my attention

Well, the other day when I was driving – and if you read these often, you know it is often when I am driving – it came to me. Struck me crystal clear . He wanted to ask me something…

“Would you praise Me if it were all gone?”

Somehow I knew He was challenging me specifically in my area of work.  I knew it in my heart…this is what He wanted me to face.

If I never did another deal, if I never got another client, if it all fell apart and I was called to walk away completely and start over elsewhere, would I still be singing praise to the Glory of God?

Do I really give praise to the God that gives AND the God that takes away?

Was my praise and worship conditional on what I had been provided?

Questions that burned, challenged my core thoughts and feelings. Questions that went against my human nature.

struggle

Then I opened up my Bible Study homework. We are doing a Beth Moore study on Breaking Free from the things that bring us bondage in life.  And doesn’t my homework find me learning about how we are to find satisfaction in God and God alone. That He wants to bring us back from captivity and bring complete satisfaction that will renew our spirit, and meet all our needs.

It took a while and I struggled but I found myself in prayer and found myself praying these words:

“God, deep down the selfish part of me struggles with the increasing importance ‘me’, So often my praise and thanks to you comes in response to action or blessing. I forget to thank You just for being who You are. You are the God who gives and the God who takes away. It is not what you have done for me that I source my praise in, but who You are. If You choose that any or all that I have been afford shall be taken, I will still praise You and seek to find peace, hope and satisfaction in You alone. You are great and greatly to be praised regardless of the circumstance I find myself in. Help me to remember this – remind me often… and keep me humble, that You may never find the need to humble me to get my attention”

I can not even put into the words the feeling once I admitted how hard seeking that truth was, working through it and admitting it to God.  The amazing part was He always knew I had it in me…He was just drawing it out of me so I too knew it was there. God is great and greatly to be praised!

free

I wonder if any of those reading have been in a similar place. Where praising, loving and sensing all God has done for you is seemingly easy and comfortable? I wonder if God has ever pressed you to really think about why you praise Him. Whether what He does matters more than who He is?  I wonder if like me, He is looking to you and asking Will you declare the glory and sing praise to the God who gives and to the God that takes away?

It is a big question and one worth struggling with.

Rebecca

Faith Like A Little Child

On September 26th there was a Family Fall Festival here in Mount Albert. Our Children’s choir was asked to perform.  The request was very last-minute and at a very busy time of year. Donna, being the wonder that she is, graciously worked her magic to get as many children out to attend as she could.  As expected, God was good and about 10 children came. They were completely unprepared, they did not have a great sound system, it was not a formal stage, and they had not rehearsed at all.

The music started and they stood there and began to sing song after song from church and VBS about God and Jesus to the families and members of the community around them. They laughed and danced and did their actions and without doubt, fear or concern of any judgement and they preformed beautifully – all to God’s glory.

I had another mom say to me it had made her emotional watching them shine like little lights to the community around them. That comment is what inspired this message today.light

I wonder if at the end of their performance the kids had said “and now our parents will sing with us too!” how many of us would have got up and joined in. I wonder how unashamed and excited we would have been to sing of God’s love to the community around us? I can almost hear the excuses…’We are not prepared’ or ‘We don’t know all the words’  and perhaps even more loudly I can hear the thoughts like: ‘What will people think?’, ‘I didn’t dress for this’, ‘I am not a singer’…etc., etc., etc.

When does that happen I wonder? When does the innocence and joy of singing aloud about God give way to the worry and fear of perception and judgement? Now, I am not saying we should just randomly be forced to get up and perform any time, anywhere. What I AM saying is that it makes my heart sad that at some point we stopped just unashamedly talking, praying, sing, worshipping God whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit leads. It is a dark consideration that the fear of public judgement sometimes becomes priority over God’s leading.

Perhaps that is why in Matthew 18:3 it says:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Holy Spirit guides us everyday in God’s will. Maybe a whisper to ask someone to pray for them, or to raise your hands in church, or fall to you knees in humility. Maybe it is to share the gospel with a neighbour or to talk about Jesus more in our everyday lives. Maybe this verse is reminding of us of a time when we would happily been lights to the world around us instead of micromanaging all the details to make it ‘right’. When we would just leave to all to God, and do it His way.

Next time you feel the Holy Spirit leading you. I encourage you do not let doubt or fear of anything prevent you from being a beacon of God’s love, light and joy to those around you…just like those amazing little children of God who represented Him so very well just a few weeks ago.

Rooted In Christ

Many years ago when I was living at home I recall we had a terrible storm.  One of the over Manitoba Maples that lined our drive came down in front of our house, all 50′ feet of it…right in front of the house. It damaged some eaves, took down the hydro line and scratched the aluminium a bit, but with amazingly little damage to the house.
I have no idea how long those trees were there, but from the size of them I would say a very, very long time. I remember thinking they were so huge and mighty, and had you asked me what it would have taken to bring them down I would have imagined a much greater force that a thunder storm. This tree in particular also served as a great home to many creatures over the years, including squirrel birds, chipmunks and insects of course. It was also the home of our tire swing and place we had many climbing adventures. It was massive, strong, seemingly very purpose filled, and yet the right storm came along and completely uprooted it from the ground. I recall being fascinated with the scene of this enormous tree laying there across our property and this, in comparison, small grouping of roots coming up out of the sand.

uprootedtree(1998 actual tree down at my house)

Well, this summer we had a nasty storm and my brother-in-law had the same thing happen at his place. The family went to help clean up the mess, and as they were describing to me what had happened I knew I had seen it before, at our home those many years ago.

It got me thinking about us as believers, about how we seem and appear to those around us. I began to wonder how many of us seem mighty, impressive and powerful in our Christian lives and beliefs, but our roots are weak and planted in sand? I wonder how many of us are one good storm away from completely uprooting and falling over?

It reminded me of the Sunday School song:

The foolish man built his house upon the sand,
The foolish man built his house upon the sand,
The foolish man built his house upon the sand,
And the rains came tumbling down.
The rains came down and the floods came up,
The rains came down and the floods came up,
The rains came down and the floods came up,
And the house on the sand fell flat.

The other reality, and perhaps the more intriguing one was that when that mighty impressive tree fell, it left an enormous amount of damage and mess to deal with after. When we are in positions or places where people look to us as sources of strength and purpose, and we have put ourselves there by our own strength and determination, we should never take lightly the damage that will happen when our own strength fails, and it will, and we find ourselves uprooted and falling over.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to work to ensure our roots are deep, constantly stretching down to the good earth, to the water, nutrients and essentials to keep our system strong and purposeful.

It brings to mind verses like this one:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

This reminds us that the growth and strength of our spirit will come if we take care and nurture our roots. Our outward appearance, studies, activities and nature do not create in us spiritual maturity, but rather are the result of it.

God’s creation is all around us, and as Autumn comes we are often drawn to look at the trees. Perhaps this year as you look around you will be reminded of this and remind yourself of the importance to care for your roots in God, after all Psalms tells us:

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Imagine what we could see happen in our lives if we sank out roots deep into the word of God DAY AND NIGHT and allowed Him to be our sustenance and power to grow, flourish and produce fruit. Just imagine what works He would do!

Have a blessed night.