Withholding Praise

In a previous blog post, I wrote about making the choice to praise and thank God.  I mentioned that I realised I had been withholding part of my heart from giving God full and free praise, and said I would write about that later.
Well, ‘later’ has arrived …

It took decades before my husband, Chris, and I made a habit of praying together every night.  It’s not that we’d never prayed together before; and it’s not that we didn’t pray regularly by ourselves.  But organising ourselves to pray together on a daily basis seemed to be a small challenge that we just never managed to rise to – until very early in December 2010.

Just about every night for nearly five and a half years now, my husband and I have prayed together.  By ‘together’, I mean that we first pray simultaneously, but in separate rooms, for fifteen minutes, and then we join and pray together for another ten minutes or so.
When we pray together, Chris usually does the bulk of the praying, and I agree with him.  He often begins by declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness, then thanking Him for it.

About five months ago, I noticed that when Chris was honouring God in this way, I wasn’t able to give God full and free praise, but only a measured amount of praise.  At first I didn’t know why this was happening, Continue reading

Let’s Visit Our Overseas Friends

‘You know what I’d like to do?’
I looked across at Chris and waited for a response.  We were in our eight seater Mazda van on the three hour journey north to visit my parents who lived in a little town called Wahgunyah.  Chris was at the wheel, and our five sons, aged 6 – 14,  were all seated comfortably behind us.
Chris gave me a quick enquiring glance, but didn’t say anything.
‘I’d like to visit our overseas friends.’
Our conversation to that point had been quite random.  However,  this desire had settled on me and stayed so determinedly, that I finally voiced it.
Chris had never shown any more than a casual interest in travel, so his response surprised me.
‘Let’s do it!’
The very notion was preposterous.  We had little income, no savings, and no prospect of any immediate change. Continue reading

‘Nevertheless’

Have you lost count of the number of times you’ve been faced with challenging circumstances?
Has God ever asked you to do something difficult?

About nine years ago we were faced with some challenging circumstances that weren’t going to go away in a hurry.  My preferred course of action would have been to go to sleep and wake up when it was all over.

About six years ago, we had the chance to escape the limitations that the challenge had brought us, but at the decisive moment, my husband and I both realised that God didn’t want us to ‘escape’, but to ‘go through’.  That was the most pivotal time of this whole nine year journey because the wrong decision would have relieved us of the challenge that weighed heavily on us, and the right decision initially took us to a place of great loss. Continue reading

Our First Overseas Trip

It was an evening in December 1977 just days before Christmas, when the phone rang.  I was attending to our three young children, so Chris answered it.
At the other end of the phone, was the somewhat urgent voice of his father.
“I’ve just got out of the shower and HAD to ring you.  I believe God is saying you aren’t to sign any binding contracts.  He wants me to remind you about your commitment to go to Bible College.  It’s been so strong, I just had to ring you straight away.”
It was a very timely phone call.  Just two months earlier, some complete strangers had given us the opportunity to test a franchise business.  It was in the education arena, and we were able to test it with no obligation.  We were also given use of all equipment for nothing and there was no restriction on how much we could earn while in the testing phase.
The business was proving itself to be quite lucrative Continue reading

Fruit in an Unexpected Place

We live on a property belonging to a ministry whose focus is Christian education and training.  It’s a lovely property, set on the edge of the suburbs  The countryside literally begins at the back fences of the houses across the road.  The gum trees are always green, birds frequent the property, and you can be sure you’ll find flowers blooming no matter what the time of year.

About a kilometre away is a popular walking track which my husband likes to frequent.  I’m a little less ambitious so the walk up the road, then down the steep hill to the start of the track satisfies me well enough, and doesn’t take too much time away from other things.  At other times though, I just like to amble around the property.

Recently, as I followed the line of the bank fence of this property, my attention was drawn to a large bush.  Growing boldly over it were the long branches of a blackberry bush, and scattered along some of these tentacle-like branches were berries in varying stages of ripeness.

My mouth watered.   I hadn’t picked blackberries for several decades.  Continue reading

Saved By An Angel

I was a young Mum expecting my second child and was nearing the end of my first trimester.  My tummy had developed enough of a bump that anyone with an eye for it would have suspected I was pregnant.

It was early afternoon on a bright Spring day in October 1975, and I was unpacking the shopping.  I had bought two dozen eggs and as I went to place them in the door of my fridge, I noticed that some of them were cracked.  Further investigation revealed that of the 24 eggs, 12 were cracked.  Unable to think of any reason why I could be responsible for the damage, I decided to pack the 12 cracked eggs into one carton and take them back to the supermarket in the hope that they would be replaced.

Our home was situated on a fairly steep slope, Continue reading

The Lost Diamond

My father’s car slowed as we entered the large car park, and rolled to a stop some forty or so metres from the church.  The church building was perched near the top of the hill and, as we walked up the slope, the crunch of the stone topping under our feet broke the silence of the morning air.

As I approached the church entrance, I turned to look at the countryside spread before me.  It was bathed in autumn sunlight, casting a slightly golden hue over everything, and as I stood I took a deep breath as if to drink in the silence and the peace.

‘Good morning.’   My thoughts were interrupted by a stranger who extended his hand in welcome.  ‘You’re George’s daughter aren’t you?’

’Oh.  Good morning.  Thank you.  Ah, yes, George is my Dad’, I said, while taking his outstretched hand and giving it a hearty shake.

My Dad was a ‘lay preacher’, which meant that he wasn’t an ordained minister, but was allowed to preach and lead services in his denomination.  He was often invited to take the service at this little country church, and while I was savouring the country ambience, he had entered the building to make preparations for the service.

I lingered outside a while longer, chatting to a few people and enjoying the warmth of the sun, but finally made my way toward the door to find a seat.  As I moved between the pews, my left hand ran along the top of the pew in front of me.  For a quick moment, I glanced at my hand.  My engagement ring was sitting snugly against my wedding band as usual – but there was something about it that was distinctly not ‘usual’.

I drew a quick breath and held it, as I raised my hand to look more closely.  Continue reading

I Will Praise

Has anyone counted how many times the Bible tells us to praise the Lord?

A quick internet search didn’t give me the answer.  Perhaps no-one knows the exact number.  Nevertheless, I think we would agree that the Bible tells us multiple times to praise and thank the Lord.   Add to that the mere references to praising God, and the inescapable fact is that praise is a significant Biblical theme.

It’s not just something to do when things are going well, or when we feel like it.  King David often told himself to praise God – and many of those times were when things were going badly.  Psalms 42 and 43 were written at a time when David was in exile because of his son Absolom’s rebellion.  Continue reading

Does the Bible Forbid ‘Swearing’?

Little girl me

I was a very literal child.  This gave one of my elder brothers no end of amusement as he trained me to be a pedantic debater, and some of my greatest Moments of Triumph as a child were when I successfully defeated this brother with his own logic.

I was also a remarkably deep thinker.  I remember a church camp one year where there was a trampoline, accompanied by the usual RULES sign: Shoes off; One at a time; No dangerous tricks, etc.  Good and literal child that I was, I was extremely distressed that some of these rules were being disregarded, specifically ‘One at a time.’

I don’t pretend that my distress didn’t stem from my selfish disappointment in the fact that whilst there was a single other child on the trampoline I couldn’t jump on it.  Nonetheless, my key memory is the shock of telling these children they were breaking this rule, only to hear in response, “Well, we’re not breaking any other rules!” Continue reading

An Unusual Car Crash

The heavy afternoon traffic was merciless. Turning right seemed an impossibility. The vehicles kept up their relentless pace, allowing no opportunity for anyone to break in.
I had crossed the south bound lanes without too much difficulty, but was now stuck in the middle of the road, poised, and ready to press the accelerator.
I took no real notice of a semi-trailer approaching from my left until its right side indicators signalled the driver’s intention to turn right into the road from which I was emerging.
‘This should be my opportunity’, I said to myself.  There was a right turning lane into which the semi-trailer had only just begun to move and within moments, the space vacated by it would be mine to take.
It all worked beautifully.  I carefully joined the inside lane of the north-bound traffic which, for an unknown reason, had suddenly slowed and was by then barely going faster than the proverbial ‘snail’s pace’.
Bang!  Crunch!  Bounce! Continue reading

Quit Being Selfish – and Take It!

I was very young when I first noticed it.
Mum and Dad and my little brother and I all went to a holiday resort for a week, and my aunt came along too.  Mum and Dad had paid for the resort, but my had aunt arrived first.

When we walked into our accommodation, a HUGE hamper was sitting on the bench, overflowing with goodies.  I was old enough to understand what had happened from the conversation that followed.  (No, of COURSE I don’t remember who said what, when, where, or how.  But the conversation MUST have gone SOMETHING like this…)

Mum: Wow, look at this!
Dad: Wow!
Me: Wow!
Bro: Wow!
Mum: The resort can’t have left this. Continue reading

Resenting God, and a Fresh ‘I Trust You’.

This morning I repented of resenting God.
You see, the last eight years have been extremely challenging.  My husband and I, along with our two youngest children, have been through some very deep waters.  I’ve lost count of the times I have had to say a fresh ‘I trust You Lord’ after yet another round in which we were knocked down.  I even got to the point I said to God, ‘I’m tired of having to get back onto my feet.  I’m tired of having to encourage myself in You.’
The amazing thing though is that every time I have determined afresh to trust God, He has given me the added strength I’ve needed.  He’s simply never failed me.
Despite that, and without my realising it, the difficulties, the losses, the restrictions, the pain, had resulted in a quiet resentment toward God settling in my heart.  Continue reading

The Mystery of the Gumby Gumby Capsules

‘Why don’t you try Gumby Gumby capsules?’  Chris’s brother-in-law, Trevor, looked enquiringly into Chris’ face then continued.  “I’ve been taking them for a while and I think they’re helping.’

A few weeks later, a parcel arrived and inside were eight packets of Gumby Gumby capsules.

I emptied a packet into a small plastic container and placed the container in a convenient place for Chris to access.  Because the container was clear, I could easily see when it needed replenishing, so when there were one to three capsules left, I would empty the next packet of capsules into it.
This was the routine over the next year until the day came that I emptied the last of the eight packets into that container.

About two weeks later, I realised that the container still looked full.  I picked it up and shook it.  It didn’t even rattle. Continue reading

Lessons from a Perilous Journey.

One of the ‘warm and fuzzy’ family experiences I enjoyed as our children grew, was listening to my husband read books to us.  He tended to choose ‘real life’ accounts that inspired and encouraged us as Christians.

One such book was ‘The Small Woman’ (or ‘The Little Woman’)  It’s the story of Gladys Aylward and her work in China.  My purpose here isn’t to summarise the book for you, so if you aren’t familiar with Gladys’ life then I urge you to read the book – you can get it on Amazon.

Gladys answers the call of God to go to China as a missionary – and eventually finds herself in a war zone.  She ends up taking 100 children on a perilous journey to safety.

As I reflected on the book, I wondered how Gladys felt on that amazing journey with the children.   The thing that struck me most was that, as we read about those events and consider them retrospectively, it’s easy to see how God was looking after Gladys and the children.  ‘But’, I asked myself, ‘was God’s daily care something that was obvious to them during the journey?’

The journey was very taxing physically.  There were 100 mouths to feed and, and apart from 2 baskets of millet that lasted just a few days, she had neither food nor money.  They relied on dew and streams for water.  They went hungry and thirsty.  They had to hide in caves away from Japanese soldiers.  Continue reading