Just keep moving

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It surprises me that my kids are so different – same recipe but definitely different kids. Jenny is a whirlwind of drama and curls – skirts and glitter flying everywhere. Whilst Liam is so chilled and relaxed with a little twinkle in his eye. I have even noticed now that Liam is trying to crawl that I am seeing even more how different they are . Jenny spent about a month on her hands and knees in the proper crawl position before anything happened – she just rocked and it was like ‘On your marks, get set ………….. sit down’. Liam has developed his own crawl style which is inelegant and caterpillar like  – it involves bum in the air and face scraped along the ground. Sometimes he’ll stick his bum up too far and topple over – but he gets to where he wants to go, even if he crashed head first into it.

It has reminded me that sometimes my walk with God is not very elegant – it is not the acceptable text book style – but the least I can do is keep moving.

Philippians 3.12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So if my walk with God is not so perfect looking today I’ll not be too worried – as long as I keep moving with and towards Him.

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.

Cultivating Beautiful Weeds

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I’m not the world’s best gardener – in fact anything that grows in our garden really has to have its own will to survive. We do have a veggie patch, which I like to call the ‘Garden of Neglect’. In an old shoe display case we grow spinach, peas and tomatoes – well we do as long as the rain waters them! One thing I am quite good at growing are weeds – look at this beautiful example:

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Obviously this weed has been given free reign & rain for most of the Cape Town’s winter and has become a beautiful flower. I always heard that a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place.

a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop. any undesirable or troublesome plant, especially one that grows profusely where it is not wanted

The problem with my beautiful weed is that it will eventually do damage to our wall and drive way. It looks beautiful and harmless, but eventually it will not be. Why have I not taken it out? Two reasons – honestly I’m lazy when it comes to weeding and I think it is rather beautiful!

There in lies the problem – I think it is the same in my life when it comes to weeding out bad habits and sins. I get lazy, change is too much hard work and if I am honest sin feels good (maybe not now – that is part of the damage that comes later – guilt, shame, separation from God). Jesus suggested a very radical solution for sin weeds and bad habits – serious gardening:

Matthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

I am guilty of not taking sin in my life seriously, of being lazy and being comfortable with my beautiful flowering weeds. The damage comes later – the roots go too deep, causing cracks in relationships and it becomes more and more difficult to get rid of the sin weed. The only solution is to cut out the weed – it is dirty, hard work – not fun, and not easy. But God offers us help:

1 Corinthians 10.13  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it

God takes sin seriously as it is so damaging to us and our relationships – the good news is that He also takes forgiveness and reconciliation seriously too.

Lord, help me to be radical in dealing with sin weeds in my own life. Help me to weed out bad habits before they become flowers that I have grown too found of and whose roots go too deep.

Sorting the NEED from the want

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Need is a very common word in our house at the moment. Jenny is 2 ½ a basically NEEDS everything – I need it mommy. I need a sweetie. I need up. I need that thing. Sometimes when she doesn’t even know what she needs she will just say: I NEED something. There is no difference between wanting and needing – she cannot sort out the difference yet. At home we have an expression that someone can’t see green cheese (Actually turns out it is Scottish, not Irish – who knew??). It means even if something is rotten because they have seen it they want it – well if it is Jenny she needs it!

Even for us as grown up big people sorting out our wants and our needs is tough. There are so many things that we can live without but we feel like we need them, like we are entitled to them. Need is a really strong word to dislodge from our mental vocabulary.

I did a little word study of Need in the bible and came across these verses:

Exodus 14:14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Sometimes what we really need is to stand still and let God do what He says He will do

Exodus 16:16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'”

Sometimes we need only take what we really need, not what we want – like mana if we take too much it will rot and be useless anyway.

Psalms 79:8 Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.

Sometimes what we really need is God’s grace and forgiveness.

I don’t know what you need today but I do know if you spend sometime sorting out your wants from your needs you will find that God does infact supply everything we need.

Dummy Dummy Dummy and other habits

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A few weeks ago I had decided that if my daughter’s dummy goes missing again I would see how she does without it. It was one of those decision made without really thinking about the fear and trepidation that would follow when it actually came to pass. Two nights ago dummy dummy was nowhere to be found. I looked high and low, and panicked. All the spare dummies are also awol – our dummy count went from four to one and now disaster to zero. I asked Jenny where it was – she told me confidently it was in the bin. Then she told me it was in the fish that was in the cake!! Not very helpful. So with a prayer I told her that it was gone. She did ask for I a few times that evening but went to bed without much of a protest. The next morning she did ask for it and the poor thing walked around the house trying out her dollies little plastic dummies and bottles – she looked like an addict trying to get a fix but finding none, gave up.

We are now on day two – two nights normal sleep with no dummy and this morning there had been no request for dummy dummy at all. Phew – have we made it or is she plotting some kind of terrible revenge??

It got me thinking about what are my dummy dummies – what things do I hold too close to that have become an addiction. Habits that are comfortable but destructive. Sins that are well worn that you keep going back to because they are too comfortable. Why can I not quit them as easily? Maybe the hold is too long and too deep. But ff dummy was there Jenny would be using it – the same is with my sin and bad habits – the environment is there, you are always tripping over temptation. If I truly want to give some of my junk up I would need to take radical measures – to cut myself off from the environment that holds temptation and also to have some intervention. Jenny did not willing give up her dummy – she had outside help. I need outside help too and thankfully I have a Father God who can play the parent in this.

1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Lord, when I am tempted to pick up my junk and sin, to turn to old habits for comfort, help me to trust them to you. Help me to look for your way out.

Flying snails and other bad habits

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(Photo Credits: Adam Foster)

Mum was right all along. The best thing to do with snails in your garden is to throw them into your neighbours – it turns out that a snail will not travel more than 20 metres to get back to your garden again. This was a technique my Mum practised for a long time, but it is not without its risks. I do remember one afternoon coming home and going out to the garden to look for Mum. She was lying in a bush flat against the fence between our house and the neighbours. When I asked her what she was doing she said: shss, get down! She had thrown a snail into the neighbours and it had crashed into their kitchen window so she had had to duck for cover!

That principle of distance is a good one though. We do need to out a reasonable distance between whatever tempts us to sin:

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

I am not a strong willed person when it comes to temptation – for example if I’m dieting I cannot keep cookies in the house – there is no point even trying. It is better to cut myself off from them altogether (or to store them in the neighbours). God calls us to take drastic measures when dealing with sin in our lives, to separate ourselves from whatever causes / tempts us to sin. Too often we toy with temptation, testing our limits, knowing God’s forgiveness is a prayer away. God takes sin seriously and calls us to do the same.

Lord, help me deal drastically with sin in my life, help me to throw away and put distance between whatever is tempting me. Thank you that your forgiveness is always available, but help me not take it for granted.

Growing Giants

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(Photo credit: Henry Burrows)

This weekend I was told if I measure my two year old now and double her height I will find out how tall she will be as an adult. The result surprised me – 170 cm – a whole 7cm taller than me. I’m not convinced – she seems quite petite to me, but you never know. I suppose that could be her potential growth, but factoring in environment, diet, health, if she takes up smoking (she better not!!!) the end results may come out differently. There are many ways that growth can be stunted – according to one blog I read even your beliefs can affect your height!!

It got me to thinking about my spiritual growth – I wonder what my potential is and have I stunted my growth along the way. If I were to list the things that potential stop spiritual growth I would include:

  1. Sin
  2. Bad habits
  3. Wrong thoughts
  4. Lack of discipline – inc prayer and reading bible
  5. Influence of wrong company
  6. Lack of rootedness in God

I’m sure there are others. But what is my potential? According to 1 John our potential is to one day be like Him – Jesus.

1 John 3:1-7 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

What amazing potential we have to grow and be like Jesus – I know we won’t achieve this this side of heaven, but it is certainly worth aiming for. Just as I can provide the best diet and environment I can for my daughter’s growth so I can try to do the same for myself.

Lord help me to deal with anything in my life that stunts my growth in You. When you see me you see I have the potential to be like your Son – help me aim for that.

What stunts your growth?