It was like I had been blanketed in a fog. I could almost tangibly feel the discouragement descend on me. And like when one is in a fog my vision felt obscured and impaired. There had been no trigger point rather just a general feeling of malaise. The discouragement, like a fog, was slow in its appearance. Maybe brought on by a week of being sick and not sleeping well. Feeling claustrophobic indoors and driven by a sense of urgency the boys were bundled into the car and we headed out for a drive. I wanted to get to a mountain top – somewhere high. Seeking elevation in the hope that as my physical position changed so would my soul. And so in the cold and the wind we did. I found my mountain. As I overlooked the city below and the boys excitedly explored around me, I breathed in the fresh air and felt the discouragement lift. In this pause on top of a mountain I opened my heart to God and was enveloped in His love. Strengthened by His presence.
Lift up your eyes and look to the Heavens…(Isaiah 40:26)
In life we need to be intentional, proactive when feelings of negativity, of discouragement or failure come against us. Like David we need to speak to our soul, inquire what is wrong and then encourage it. We need to remind our souls of what God has done for us and how He is there for us. And sometimes it means connecting with God as you stand on a mountain, gaining some perspective.
Whatever is causing your eyes to be downcast, be it fear or illness or just a general out of sorts, lift your eyes – for where does your help come from?
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)
God I look to You
I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You
You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do
And I will love You Lord my strength
And I will love you Lord my shield
And I will love You Lord my rock
Forever all my days I will love you God
(God I look to you – Bethel Live)
Yay – Mother’s Day! And that means a treat day for me! A sleep-in and new slippers! Yes it is the simple things in life! It would be fair though to say that Mother’s Day has different connotations for each of us. For some it’s all about some time to sleep in, breakfast in bed and a day without attending to chores, (whilst of course appreciating the little darlings that have enabled this celebration!). For others it is poignant remembering the mother who is no longer with us. It can also be a day that causes our hearts to ache as we long to embrace motherhood but have yet to be blessed with a child or has suffered loss.
Motherhood itself is full of seasons – from being the expectant mother, the mother of a baby through to the school years and then the “empty nesters”. Each season brings its own challenges. Whether it is the broken nights being up feeding a new-born or nursing a sick one to the busy times taxiing to and from after school activities. Each season too brings its own blessings – the priceless first smile of the baby, the first steps of the toddler, conversations of older ones and then the joy of being a grandparent.
The one constant over all these seasons is grace. The one constant over all our responses to Mother’s day is grace. God’s grace. God gives us grace for the season that we are in. Grace to get up multiple times in the night. Grace to surrender our children to God. Grace to comfort hurting hearts. Grace to give peace to hearts missing a mother. Grace.
So to the exhausted one, the reminiscing one, the working one, the at home one, and to the yet to be one – Happy Mother’s Day. May you find God’s grace for your journey. May you find His healing and hope and may you find His love for you this Mother’s Day.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
And to my own mum – Happy Mother’s day! Thanks for all have done and continue to do! For praying! For listening and encouraging, for loving my 3 little boys! For babysitting and for helping out in all the multitude of ways that you do!
Being the summer holidays we’ve been having a lot fun and amongst other summer activities we have explored a lot of different playgrounds. No matter the playground though, it is only a matter of time before my 3 year old is calling out to me to “Mummy, look at me! Look at me!” His enjoyment at the playground definitely includes ensuring that there is an audience to watch the slide he will take or the monkey bars he will climb.
In the trials we walk through or even perhaps the mundane that we endure, I am sure that our hearts too sometimes whisper or cry out – “look at me!” Not so much. of course, for the reaction my son was after – the “aren’t you clever….brave….etc.” reaction, but for the knowing that God sees us. Sometimes too in the pouring out when no one else seems to notice or care our hearts cry out to be encouraged, to know that we are seen by God.
I love the story that Bobby Conner shares about giving a lady in her 80’s a prophetic word in front of thousands of people. One that the Lord had told him would give this lady’s life meaning and purpose. I could imagine the excitement – what noble, amazing word was going to follow?! But the word was simply this – “Yes, honey, I saw you picking that duck.”
To me, and I am sure to others who heard it at the time, and also to Bobby Conner, it seemed like a confusing and very underwhelming word. But to the lady it meant the world! On receiving it, she laughed and she cried and then she shared how decades earlier, as a young woman during the war, the only job she could find was one that had her on a dock plucking feathers from ducks to be used for military clothing. One day in desperation, she cried out to the Lord, “Oh God, do you even know where I am?”
And yes God did see and know!
God sees, God knows and God loves you!
You may feel insignificant, small or unimportant, you may feel unappreciated by those around you. But you, you are not unnoticed by and you are certainly not insignificant to God. He knows who you are and where you are. He knows your circumstances and what you are going through and He cares because He loves you.
You don’t even need to cry out “Look at me! Do you see me?” because His eyes are upon you, His grace is around you and His love is upholding you. In God you will always find encouragement.
“Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:2)
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Last week I was parent help on my son’s school trip to the Maritime Museum. Fantastic trip, great kids, great school and they even let us parents do a coffee run! The children were very well behaved but were also understandably excited. At the end of the trip when the kids were safely back at school, the parents left for a precious hour to rest before school was out for the day. And I say rest as the trip was immensely enjoyable but exhausting even with the caffeine shot at midday!
As we left the classroom, the comments from all of us was the same – the noise of the voices of excited children was notably absent. It was only as we walked away that we realised for 5 hours we’d been surrounded by constant chatter. The silence we then encountered on leaving was as a result almost deafening.
Constant questions, observations, opinions, exclamations had been made in my ear relentlessly. It made me think of the voices that surround us every day. Not just the general buzz of conversation around us at work, home, or at play (ie coffee in a café for me!), but the ones speaking into our lives. In all that noise what are the voices that we tune into? And more importantly what voice are we to those around us?
I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently. She was wants to do a Post Graduate Degree in Business and wanted my opinion since I had done the same degree. I could hear the hesitation and doubt in her voice as she asked me did I think she could do it. Having left school at 16, was she good enough, intelligent enough to do it? I know she can – she’s an exceptional sales manager, with great business acumen and very, very good at what she does. So I, at that point, decided to be the loud voice in her ear to encourage her with all the reasons why she would be good at this, how it would challenge her in good ways. I reiterated to her what her strengths and skills were. I also said I would be there for her.
When you are in a situation and you can genuinely be the encouragement to someone, the giver of courage, then do it. Be that person that cheers them on and supports them. So many times we stay silent, we assume either that they don’t need our verbal support or that they’re getting plenty from others. Yet so many times people falter for doubt and for lack of encouragement.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
According to the conversation between my sons, the “real” Clark Kent goes to our church. As an avid Superman fan, my 6 year old was excited to meet and to talk to the “real” Clark Kent. But I’ll let you in on a secret, he’s not the real Clark Kent. He’s a friend who with his new glasses can pull off the Clark Kent look exceedingly well. Successfully enough to convince my son. An indepth conversation (mainly one-sided) ensued as my son upskilled Clark Kent on Superman and his “special” abilities!
It’s a humourous but true portrayal of community life. In a community we all have the opportunity to be heroes – super heroes for the children around us. Whether they are nieces or nephews, pupils, friends of your children, children in church, there are children looking up at us – looking for role models, looking for heroes. And while I’m not suggesting that we adopt a super hero persona (with the exception of our “real” Clark Kent, because he’s fantastic!), we can encourage them in their endeavours, we can show them what they can achieve, we can coach them. And we can lift them onto our shoulders and let them go further and higher than us.
So take a look around you – you just never know – you could be a hero to someone. Please don’t disappoint, our Clark Kent certainly hasn’t!
Tomorrow we celebrate Father’s Day in New Zealand. A fantastic opportunity for me to celebrate my Father and my husband. For me it is a day to take time and pause to acknowledge these 2 great men in my life. Father’s Day is a great opportunity, for Fathers everywhere to be celebrated and thanked.
There are other Fathers around us too – not our natural fathers but mentors, friends, leaders that pour into our lives, encourage and support us. My old boss is one of these. He took a young team under his wing, gave us the opportunities of a lifetime, believed in us, encouraged us. He was as interested in our lives as he was in the work that we had to do. If someone needed help – he was the first to step in and offer assistance. I remember being in a meeting once and watch him walk past the meeting room with one of the Accounts clerks, a coat hanger in his hand – she’d locked her keys in the car and to him she turned for help. If you wanted anything duty free when he was travelling, no problem he’d pick it up.
To this day, some 7 years after I left working for him we still keep in touch. In fact he’s the link keeping the old guard together. Years later, we’ve all moved on to other organisations, but you can still pick up the phone and have a catch up with him. We all do.
So tomorrow if you’re celebrating Father’s Day, think about the other Fathers in your life as well and let them know how much you appreciate them too. Actually, even it isn’t Father’s Day in your part of the world – let the Dads know they’re appreciated.
Happy Father’s Day!