Root Canals & Guinea Fowls

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For the past few weeks I was in denial that my tooth had cracked and I was in pain. The kids were sick, the dentist fees to much, but eventually I could not bear it any longer and visited the dentist. Now I am halfway through a root canal treatment (Ekk for pain & for wallet!). But that first night after the initial treatment was bliss – no pain. How wonderful. Yet last night I realized that I had a dull ache again – how come? I forgot to take my antibiotics at lunchtime and I also left them at work – I had missed two doses. This morning I observed the sticker on my medicine: (Finish the Course). So now a few hours later having taken my medicine I am pain free again.

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Previously I have compared my daughter to a Guinea Fowl – she gets easily distracted and changes course often. If you send her to her room to find shoes you will find her playing with a toy that go her attention while on the way to her shoes. I think I am pretty much the same – sticking to the same course can be tricky.

Proverbs 15.21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

My medicine has reminded me again of the need for consistency and sticking to a straight course – a long obedience in the same direction. But going off course I ended up in pain that was not necessary. Distractions, sin habits, can through us off course, especially when we lose focus of Jesus and the life he has called us to.

Hebrews 12.1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lord, help me keep on course for you and minimize my distractions – the often end in needless pain.

Breathe deeply and slow down to see Tigers

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Our girl has a good imagination. For about a month she shouted ‘Tiger’ when we drove past a certain spot on our way home each day. I could not work out where she was seeing tiger and thought it was just her imagination. She is prone to declare that so-and-so was eaten by a crocodile and I often hear very tall tales of what happens at day-care. One day we got stuck in the traffic about the ‘Tiger’ spot and I finally saw what she had been seeing:

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(Photo credit: Bampa Sam :))

It was an electrical pole that was waiting for repair and had been taped up with orange plastic and black tape. When you were driving it was easy to miss as you concentrate on the road. But Jenny has the time to look out the window as we went by each day and the creativity to see what I did not see.

I often think it is the same way with God. He is there, but not everyone has an eye to see or the time to stop and look. We get distracted with where we are rushing to so we miss Him. Other times we are looking for Him in obvious ways, but God is more creative than we are. If we take time we will see His fingerprints everywhere.

Psalm 19: 1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

So as I whizz through life, busy and often distracted, I want to take a deep breath, slow down and see that God is there all along.

As vast as the sand on my kitchen floor

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Sand Patterns

(photo credit: Royce Bair)

I have an on-going battle in the house – me against the sand. I’m not winning. I seem to spend endless time on the weekends brushing up and vacuuming up sand from the floors. We live in a sandy area and it is windy at the movement. Also we have a sandy girl in the house who swiftly runs from sandpit to sofa without a shake in between. Even on Saturday I made myself some almond bread – a little assistant ran through and insisted on stirring  – when I munched my bread later there were little gritty bits of sand throughout!

But yesterday I decided to change my attitude towards my current pet peeve. It is like trying to keep your house sand free in the Sahara. So instead I have changed my thinking – instead I will look at the grains of sand that are plaguing me as a reminder:

Psalm 139 17-18 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

So as I sweep up the sand, wipe it from a little girl and munch some in my sand-which I will choose to be reminded of how amazing God thoughts are, how many they are and how some of those thoughts are about me. An everyday reminder that I cannot escape the love of God.

Choose to grow?

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It is funny – I have discovered as have many other teachers that often the one preparing the message gets more out of it than those who listen to it as it has lived in our hearts and minds for longing than those listening to us. This was the case last night – I was sharing a wrap of Romans 12 after 6 weeks of the church doing the R12 series. You can hear the full message here , but here is a snippet that spoke to my heart most.

Romans 12:1-21 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

What Paul is asking of us here is hard – to willingly sacrifice your life – to give it over to God. Sacrifice is not easy and to be a willing sacrifice is hard. They have a saying that the problem with living sacrifices – they keep crawling off the altar. To sacrifice our lives to God is to hand back our lives to Him and to say God take every part of my life and do with it what you will – something that is easy to say, but hard to do in reality.

  •  To grow give your life to God

Elisabeth Elliot said: ‘To be a follower of the Crucified Christ means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss.

Jesus made it clear that to follow him would be costly:

 Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

But Paul also tells us that it is a matter of perspective – what we gain by giving up is so much greater:

Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…

I gave out little cards with John 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. On this card I also taped some seeds. The seed is to remind us that there can be no growth without death and sacrifice. We can choose to remain a seed, to stay safe in our spiritual life, or we can surrender to God and Grow. Do you choose to grow and mature into a person is who bears fruit and gives glory to God or do you choose to stay a safe little seed?

Am I my mother’s daughter?

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Today would have been mum’s birthday – she has missed a few of those now. I miss the hunting for the prefect present and the way, no matter how obscure, she took satisfaction in guessing correctly what it was – I’m fairly sure that there was a good bit of snooping involved.

When I’m at home in Ireland it feels like I make some people sad because I look like her – some people even slip up and call me Jenny, which actually I don’t mind, as they also slipped up and called me Jenny when she was alive!

I sometimes wonder how much I’m like her. I love cooking and feeding people, but I’m rubbish at sewing. We have in common our inability to make the perfect hot-cross buns – mine are apparently suitable for stoning people if we ever need to. I love gardening but have no patience so Ramos says I intimidate the vegetables into growing. I hope that I’m generous and fun-loving like her. But I wonder about the other parts – the MS, the depression, the stubbornness – will they also be mine?

How much of our character is inherited and how much is choice? The bible tells me that some of my character is by choice and action:

Colossians 3:12-17 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We don’t have just the characteristics of our biological parents to choose from but we can choose also those characteristics displayed in our heavenly Father. We can choose the best of both and honour God and our parents with legacies that bring joy to others. So in honour of Mum I will try to make hot-cross again this Easter, and even if they don’t work out I will be thankful to God for the fun of trying (again!)