LOVE IS …

Love IS

Love is… a lot of things! Jesus loved us perfectly even while we were still sinners He died for our sins so we could have a relationship with our Heavenly Father and be with Him in eternity. For us mere mortals where we are not perfected yet, love can be tricky. Love is not about getting everything perfect or being perfect or expecting others to be perfect! Love the ones your with! And if they are, or if you are… ever unlovely, give or ask for forgiveness and move on. Life is too short to hold onto un-forgiveness or bitterness.

I have been crazy busy with another international move and our family has become extremely close. I think giving each other grace for our unlovely moments helps. There has been a lot to do and there still is a lot to do but God has really held us close as we transitioned into new communities and ministries. I am learning to understand that God hasn’t called me to watch life pass by in a safe and easy way being able to live in one place. He has called our family to participate and live life to the full in Him. Often we have to move to where ever He leads us in the world. God calls each one of us differently and some He calls to live in one place all their lives and be of great value and service to their community. (I hope one day He will call us to live in one place!) For our family for the time being we have been asked to move around the world. I don’t find change easy I find it stressful and my autoimmune diseases flare up and I have all that drama to deal with. I guess when you move there are a lot of challenges but there is also joy. There is the delight of seeing how God stretches our faith to solely rely on Him. It is exciting and fun getting to know new people. There are a million other things to be grateful for. Anyhoo, I just wanted to quickly write something since I have been M.I.A. for so long. I will pop by Living in Grace now and again. To all those who have written beautiful notes to me I want to say how thankful I am that you would be so kind as to think of me and my family. I will reply to you all individually (now that we have the internet up and running). Hope you are having a great day where ever you may be in the world! ~ Sarah

CLAIMING FAME

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I wish I could write as amazing as Stuart McAllister! Below is a fantastic article. A link to the original is at the bottom of the article. Enjoy reading it, I know I did.
Blessings,
Sarah
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CLAIMING FAME
In a very perceptive book called Life: The Movie, author Neal Gabler argues that entertainment has conquered reality. All of life has become a stage, and the way to success is through the pathway of becoming a celebrity. Gabler suggests that we spend our lives buying and shopping according to images and ideals that we hold as we seek to shape ourselves for our own performance. The constant use of significant celebrities to model lines of clothing, sporting goods, and cosmetics tell us subtly that if we own these items, we too can be like our heroes. We are strategically convinced that we don’t simply have to watch the rich and famous; we can become them. The democratization of credit and the availability of easily-accessed goods guarantee our ability to play the part or parts we choose.

The practical aids are many. Credit and finance options bluntly inquire, “Why wait?” In earlier times people had to consider whether they could afford such things, and they might have had to delay while they saved. The time between viewing and having was often considerable, but not anymore. The messages are clear that we can have it if we want it, and we can have it now. It comes, of course, with a huge price tag in terms of increasing debt and anxiety. But even as the social crisis ticks like a time bomb in many homes, the waiting has been taken out of wanting.

It has become the job of the advertising industry to keep us in a state of permanent dissatisfaction and restlessness with who we are or what we have. The answer is always bigger, better, faster, or more like someone else. Words like “enough,” “sufficient,” and “wait” are derided in favor of having what you want now and immediately becoming who you really want to be. We are informed of our lack of something and then told it is ruining the quality of our lives. But the voices of the media then tell us salvation is at hand! The new product or service will liberate you. It will initiate you into a better world, a new life, an alternative salvation.

Is it possible that we are trapped in a web of deception, and that we are being conditioned to blindly follow the pied pipers of fame and fashion as they determine who and what we are and how we should live? Is the bottom line to make money at all costs? Is happiness really being able to get what you want when you want it? Maybe it is time to recognize that life is far more than these trivial yet powerful views. Maybe it is time to call foul, to insist that real life is something far more nuanced, focused, and holistic than what the prophets of materialism have to offer.

The Christian view and alternative is that we are the products of a personal, loving creator, and that our lives, opportunities, and resources are gifts to us. We interact with nature and the material world, we see God within it, but we also have other dimensions to our nature. The psalmist explains it in a way that much of the world rejects: The earth is filled with the glory of God. Because we have been made by God and for God, our ultimate glory is found in Him.

The pretensions of the world are many, the seductions vast, and the attractions powerful. Yet in a world of invasive desires, intrusive demands, and restless indulgence another voice can be heard: “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The answer is not in a product but in a living person. Which answer do you hold?

Written by Stuart McAllister vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

FOR ORIGINAL ARTICLE CLICK HERE

How do you raise children in this day and age?

How do you raise children in this day in age? A friend with young ones asked me. All I could say and my only advice for her is that you raise each child one prayer at a time.

My eldest son phoned me to let me know he was in a accident with a truck. His little car was hit from behind by a huge truck. My son walked away without a scratch on him. No one was injured apart from his car being a total right off. He was confident and not phased at all by this accident. Would the outcome be different without praying parent?

My eldest daughter told me with a quivering voice. She got on the wrong train and day turned to night. The train guards saw her and rode the train with her. She lost her phone and couldn’t phone anyone. She said she was praying for protection the whole time on the train and on her walk all alone late at night to her flat. She told me if only she had written down emergency numbers on some paper in her purse like I use to do for them when they were small she could have got some help. She told me once she had lost her phone she had no way of calling anyone. The only thing she could think to do was pray and then the guards turned up and then she kept praying in the dark until she got to her flat safely. Would the outcome be different without the prayers of a daughter and Mother?

I see my oldest children run to and then away from God. They sometimes live in a worldly way. In times of trouble they run to and seek God. Isn’t that the way for a lot of us. I am thankful they do believe and have been baptized. They have been taught and know the truth. It is up to them if they choose to follow Jesus. God gave us free will. To choose Him or to reject Him. Even Pastor’s kids get to choose.

At times it can be a hard and narrow road being a Christian in this world. It isn’t easy. The life of parties and worldly living is enticing to teenagers and young adults. The thrill of the unknown and the new. The worldly life is empty, hollow and fleeting. Age teaches us that those thrills are nothing compared to the thrill and joy in walking with Jesus. But that is just it. There is a wise saying that says “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders”. In other words young people don’t have the wisdom that experience and age gives you.

When your children are small you think the struggles of the day are difficult. Just to get your gorgeous baby to sleep is a triumph. When they are small you can know they are safe cradled in your arms at home. Putting band aids on grazed knee’s is simple solution to their pain. Listening to their big problems of so and so has had more time on the computer and life is so unfair. Can frazzle the best of parents. For me it has been far harder seeing my older kids make mistakes and watching them do it. I have learnt lessons in letting go. The lessons they have to learn is between them and God. Mum’s can’t always be there to catch them when they fall like when they were little. Mum and Dad can pray, listen, use wisdom when to let go, step in or to speak at the right moments. Parents can always have a welcoming heart and a warm home and arms ready to hug the prodigal child.

While my big kids have breath there is hope. While anyone has breath there is hope. While I have breath I will pray, pray and pray some more. There is no doubt in my mind God and His Angels have been watching over our family especially my children my big kids. God has been protecting them without a doubt.

My mind turns to how many times in the bible men argue with God and pray for His intervention for God to change His Holy mind. The scripture that helps me through these tricky times with my big kids is in James 5:16 (NKJV)… “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

I know for my family prayer has availed much. I can never thank my Saviour enough for answered prayer.

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When the ground shakes

I am reminded of Romans 15:13 scripture… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

This scripture is a beautiful reminder that in spite of circumstance or what we see around us or our frame of mind, we can trust and rely on God and know that He is our joy and peace. Even when it doesn’t feel like it and the ground is shaky.

My home town in Christchurch, New Zealand had another earth quake today. This one is far worse than many other after shocks and earth quakes Christchurch has had previously. In school at age 5 you are taught about earthquakes and you are taught to hide under school desks in an emergency. Our immediate family currently lives in Australia and we have recently come through floods and Cyclone Yasi. But of course we still have friends and family who still live in Christchurch are going through a hard time right now. I have heard from most of my loved ones and they are safe but I haven’t heard from my oldest friends yet. We started school together at age 5. Her family live in the city in an apartment so I am very concerned for her and her young family at the moment.

I don’t have the answers to this devastation but I know the one who does. What do you do when the very ground underneath you can’t be trusted and shakes? What do you do when the ground is swaying and rattling. When buildings are turning to rubble in front of your eyes. What do you do? What can you say? All I can think is that we can hope and trust in the Lord through the Holy Spirit. When devastation, fear or hard times hit sometimes you can’t get your head around it all and you don’t have the answers. During these times all I can do is to surrender my head, heart, fear to God and trust in Him and know He is always good no matter what. I can’t do it in my own strength only through the power of the Holy Spirit.

My love, thoughts and prayers are with Christchurch today.

God loves us PERFECTLY

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will… Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NIV)

Don’t you love those scriptures full of promise. Love how God works on you according to his purpose and his will. He wants us to know him and to want to live out his will in our lives and share his love with those we come across in our daily lives, our family, children, friends, people at the grocery store and work colleagues. I’m not talking about preaching to people but living along side them in the way God wants us to.

Sometimes life gets tough but remember God is working on us even when we are not thrilled with the process or hardship life can bring. God is more interested in developing our Godly character in us and he sometimes uses hard times or difficulties to do that. Hardship can help us turn to God and reach toward him. Often when we are living on easy street and when everything runs smoothly we trust ourselves and our own resources rather than God and his resources. God can turn any situation or life around. Often God’s way can seem topsy turvy. Your know the first shall be last. And that Christ came to serve. And how when we give up our life we then truly gain it. But ya know what… God knows what he is doing with each of us!

GOD WILL EQUIP US WITH HIS GODLY TOOLS, TO DO HIS WILL, IN HIS TIME, IN HIS WAY. All that is required from us is a little FAITH and KNOW that he is GOD.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his… Psalm 100:3 (NIV)

Did you know that the most common command in the bible is “Do not be afraid.”  It can be scary doing God’s will especially when you can’t see the future like God can. “Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18 And lets face it, God loves us perfectly.

Moving house

Moving house can be one of the most stressful times in your life. So is losing your job, divorce, end of a relationship or the death of a family member or close friend. So we have 2 of those happening right now. AND a number of those have happened with in the last 6 months. I am so thankful that I can put my hope and trust in the Lord. Moving can be stressful but I really feel that God is carrying me atm. Psalms 130:5  says: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope”. AND Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” These scriptures give me comfort and strength as we wait on God and trust him for the next season in our lives. “Praise God” that he gave us his God breathed bible for instruction and comfort.

We have moved before. In 2006  my husband and I sold our house along with most of our belongings and moved from New Zealand to Cincinnati, Ohio US of A with our  kids. Then we moved again to another country from the USA to Australia. Where we had to co-ordinate things that were stored in New Zealand and also boxes of books etc from the USA.  And now we have another pending move. Each change was ordered by God we had no doubt at all. And he blessed us abundantly we would never have known his complete unfailing love for us if we had not stepped out in faith not knowing what the future held for us.

Moving house was easier in the USA, because by then we had some of our things stored in New Zealand and only arrived in the USA with a few suitcases for our possessions. When we arrived in the USA a lovely church organised a home for us including some food in the cupboards. Talk about Godly people being Jesus to us in a tangible way. By the time we got to the States we got good at giving things away, selling them or just chucking out all that rubbish that collects and clutters up our lives. The biggest change was to entirely give up our own personal wills and have them align with God’s will for us. When leaving the USA we were able to give our belongings to some overseas students who had next to nothing. What a blessing and a joy to give.

Moving out of our home in New Zealand was huge for me. We left a home with an ocean view (we even had a view from our bedroom) to live in the mid-west with no ocean in sight. Not even the smell of salt in the air. In the end moving house and countries was one way to declutter our lives. Albeit a drastic way to declutter!

Tips for a less stressful move:

1. Get organised in advance. If you leave everything until the last-minute it will be stressful. In New Zealand we sold our house and then rented it back from the new owner. This gave us time to sort and organise the house and all our stuff before moving day.

2. Start selling or giving away non-essential items as soon as you can. Don’t wait! Leaving things to the last-minute will add stress to an already potentially stressful time.

3. Organise your important papers and personal information. Get a folder for essential documents like passports, medical information, birth certificates. Make sure you photo copy passports (if moving overseas) of all the members of the family. Give the children copies of your passport as well. Sort out your personal photos. We scanned all our photo’s so we could take them overseas with us on a hard drive and know they wouldn’t get damaged in storage. We gave small album of photo’s to each of the kids special friends. I also made up a tiny album for each of the kids to take with them of important friends and family to pop into their bags and to show new friends.

4. Make up a new family saying. Don’t forget to encourage the kids. Ours was/is “every last step on a journey is a new step in an adventure.” They loved this and while traveling we would often say this family quote.

5. Take this opportunity to simplify. There’s no point in keeping stuff you haven’t used or probably will never use. Storing, moving or sending it to another state or overseas may cost more than replacing it. If you haven’t used it in  6 months then it is time to let it go. Don’t get rid of anything you feel is personal or sentimental and that you may regret not having in the future. In saying that you can’t keep every tiny little scrap of paper your child ever drew on either. We took photo’s of some items the kids had made or pictures and kept those on a hard drive. Easy to store a hard drive than a million bits of papers and sock dolls etc.

6. Have a garage sale or eBay your stuff.

7. Packing. Start packing up things early. Especially books you are not reading and any non-essentials. Buy a huge roll of bubble wrap, tape, cardboard corners for pictures, marker pens, mattress covers. Try local shops and ask if they want to get rid of their boxes. They often are happy to reduce their rubbish pile.

If you can afford it, seriously consider having the professional packers do your packing for you. Then you won’t need to bother with packing apart from personal items and you will save your back. Most times we pack ourselves BUT the times we have had the professionals in it was much less stressful and our backs were thankful too.

Give the kids a limit to how many boxes they can fill with toys. Let them pack some of their boxes themselves. Get rid of worn clothing or things that they will grow out of. If you don’t limit the boxes you will have everything from a scrap of paper to soft toy’s coming out your ears.

My best advice I can give you while packing is to listen to happy music. I listen to Christian and or jazz music on the stereo or computer while I pack. And if you are packing on your own why not listen on your iPod. You can’t be stressed and grumpy if you a listening to Godly or perky music. You know what they say in Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” You need all your strength while in the process of moving.

8. Friends and Family. Don’t forget to put aside time to visit and say goodbye to friends and family. Go out for dinner or have coffee and enjoy spending time with your friends. Some friends or family may not be able to understand your leap of faith and may get upset. Listen and encourage them. Often they are more upset because they themselves can’t do what you are doing and feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it is because they feel you are leaving them behind. Reassure them that we all have seasons in our lives where change occurs. Make sure you have Skype and/or e-mail to keep up the contact. Now is the time to let unhealthy relationships go.

Let the kids have their friends stay over and let them stay up as long as they can. You could have a movie marathon and let them sleep in the lounge or put the TV in their room and watch movies all night. You will find that those kids who can’t stay awake will happily sleep while the others chat all night long. Especially teenage girls!!!

9. Moving day. Don’t pack up your kettle or coffee machine up until the last-minute. OR if you do be sure to make time to run to the cafe’ for takeaway coffee. I guarantee you will be needing a tea or coffee on your moving day. Finally have a good clean up or hire a cleaner. At the end of a stressful day you will be thankful to see the cleaners come and magically clean your house up.

10. Enjoy your new adventure and new home.

From changing nappies to changing gears…

wow, doesn’t the years fly by so fast.

My eldest son “Lukas” is getting his driver’s license. It can be a little scary sometimes. Any parent can relate to what I am saying, I’m sure 🙂

You know ya think it is pretty scary watching your child learn to crawl. Then there is learning to wobble and walk but now I am finding it a little scary watching my son drive. Yes, drive an actual car, yes, a car that moves on the road. AND yes, you maybe driving on that very same road. It is a grey Nissan Pulsar… just in case you want a heads up on what to look out for 😉

He bought his first car and he is doing really well, he is quite a good new driver. He is doing 100 hours and he has another 20 hours to go before he gets his provisional license.

While he was driving a little point about what the consequences of being distracted came to mind.

Sure being distracted while driving a car can be dangerous sure BUT being distracted in life can be far more dangerous with HUGE consequences.

Lukas was indicating to go into the next lane. He was very diligent and was looking behind him. While he was looking behind a car came from a side road in front of his car, it darted out and was turning into the same lane at the same time into the same space. I could see that this would not turn out well. SO … I told Lukas calmly “don’t move… there is a car ahead!.” He very quickly stopped moving into the next lane and carried on in the current lane. He said “thanks mum.” Of course on the outside I was calm, cool and collected and on the inside… not so much.

In an instant when we are not paying attention or  when we are focusing in the wrong direction something catastrophic can occur. We need to always be alert and focus on our present surroundings before looking forward or look backwards. We need to let go of  what has been our past to make sure we can see what is ahead in our present and  future.

I wander how many times God has put his angels around us protecting us from disaster when we have not been paying attention? I know from my own life it has been many many times.

When we can focus on the right things at the right time imagine how the Lord can use US for his glory !!  I think we need to continually be aware and alert and on guard. The enemy may scheme and try to harm us but when we are alert and have our full armour on then the enemy will not and can not succeed. We need to turn our eyes upon Jesus. When we focus on God then we are always heading in the right direction. Look up to God and not down on our problems.

Even when we have trouble in this life, and we will. Don’t focus on problems or trouble. We only need to truly focus on the one with the solution to our problems. Turn our hearts, minds and thoughts on Jesus and he will help us see through our trouble or problems to become an overcomer in Christ. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

You know that…

you have married a wonderful man when…

  • he remembers your wedding anniversary and birthday without you leaving notes around the house or sending him emails.
  • he (sometimes) lets you warm up your cold feet by putting them on him 🙂
  • he gives you a rose for every year you have been married on your wedding anniversary AND doesn’t give you a rose for every year of your life for your birthday!
  • he worries how he will afford buying roses on your 50th wedding anniversary.
  • he loves you and you love him more than the day you were married.
  • he makes you coffee every morning.
  • he writes you love notes in cards.
  • he puts my needs and the children’s needs ahead of his own everyday.
  • he see’s past the wrinkles to your heart.
  • he is the God-given father and teacher of your children.
  • he loves you enough to let you be who God made you to be.
  • he can be trusted with your heart.
  • he laughs at your dumb jokes.
  • he understands you when you haven’t said a word.
  • he never leads where I am unwilling to follow.
  • he loves me more than anyone on earth.
  • when there is not enough time or space to write about how wonderful your husband truly is …