Posted in Christian living, communication, grief, health and wellness, Life, Love, Parenthood, Uncategorized

A Time to Move – A Time for Change

While undergoing missionary training I will never forget the comment by our lecturer who said the life of a missionary is one of good-byes. Never a truer word was spoken!

We said goodbye to elderly parents, siblings, our older children and in time our grandchildren as we moved across nations. I said goodbye to my father not knowing it would be the last time I saw him alive.

Goodbyes and change are never easy. As “third culture kids” missionary children are quite adept at change but nevertheless it is still a major grief process for them as well.

Grief is the word I use because ultimately no matter how “exciting” a new venture is whether it is leaving country, town or house, there is always going to be elements of grief associated. Here is a quick overview of what you leave behind.

  1. Family and friends – You are almost certainly leaving behind many you love, in some cases never to see them again or perhaps with an interlude of many years.
  2. Familiar places – Familiarity breeds contempt but mostly it breeds a sense of comfort. We like to know what the packaging says on what we eat. We like to go to our favourite hairdresser, car mechanic, business operator, or any of the many other connections we make when settling in to a place.
  3. Church family – We know these people. We have journeyed with them for perhaps many years. We know what to expect in a worship service or at least be able to understand what is being said and sung!
  4. Our precious things – Sadly we all are attached to the “Things” in our lives. When they are packed away and we don’t know when or if we will ever see them again there is an element of grief attached to that also.
  5. Work and school – Leaving behind familiar work and school situations, friends and colleagues. Also leaving again the comfort of familiarity as we move on to the unknown.  Encourage them to stay in touch with old friends as I do myself. You will of course drift away from certain friendships but I do try to stay connected with friends and families as well as old work mates.
  6. Memories – We accumulate just as many memories as we do “stuff”. To leave these behind can be heart wrenching.

Allowing ourselves to walk through the process of grief is imperative and to each of us this will look different.

I remember one of my little girls I taught, going about the classroom just before she and her family were due to leave the country. She was touching each book, special place, saying out loud this would be the last time for…  She also talked frequently about her last experiences; sleep over, concert here, etc etc. It went on for a few weeks and towards the end of the school year she wanted to have a farewell party for her little friends. Her mother eventually came in very concerned.

I asked why?

“Because when I leave a place I don’t say goodbye. I just leave without looking back or really having a farewell anything.”

To me, her daughter had the better coping mechanism! She was finalizing her memories, and giving healthy closure to her relationships! You must give yourself and your family time to grieve and process. We each do that differently!

Grief comes in many shapes and forms but if not dealt with well, can leave lasting negative impacts, particularly on children. Here are some practical helps I have learned over the past 30 years of traveling and change.

  1. Family and friends – Set them up for the farewells. Give them time to process and also try to be as cheerful as possible. I remember crying myself to sleep each night before we left country as I faced the prospect I might never see my parents again. I had a tape that I was playing and after the tears it brought peace to my soul. “Because He lives I can face tomorrow!” None of us knows what tomorrow will hold whether we stay or leave but we know that He does know and we can trust in Him. He will take care of those we leave behind. Grieve certainly, but then find your peace in Him.
  2. Familiar places – When we go overseas it is always a challenge to establish new connections but we face it positively and with anticipation of finding new friends. Someone said to me just the other day about Paul, “He doesn’t know a stranger does he.” I think that is a key. We embrace the challenges of finding the new! If you complain and whine and harp back to the “old place” you will definitely feel the negative affects of change. Embrace positively. Talk to new friends about their best people they have found for tasks until you set up your own network of the familiar.
  3. Church Family – I thank God I am part of an amazing world wide family! It is not just one denomination or people group. It is “church” the body of Christ and in our many years of travels we have been blessed by many different church family. It is good to get rooted in one family but not always possible. Keep your arms and heart open to the family.
  4. Our precious things – We always take just a couple of precious things with us, including photos (now more easily transported with digital photos). This is really important for children and I don’t recommend leaving behind their favourite toy. I remember one woman who said each time they moved as a Navy brat, she had to leave her toys behind! They don’t need to take it all but the really precious ones for sure. I also made sure we took a couple of familiar Christmas decorations, to make it feel like home. Naomi has one donkey made from a wooden peg in first grade that has traveled the world and is still placed on her tree each Christmas!
  5. Work and school – For adults it will require time to adjust to new work place routines and colleagues, and so it is with children – but on steroids! They are already facing daily challenges, particularly teenagers, but to uproot them at that age creates a whole different set of emotions and issues. I remember in my 5th or 6th grade Janice left town! I couldn’t believe how it made me feel to think I would never see her again! Encourage your children regularly! Naomi found her strength and peace as she left school, family and even country with two scriptures. Psalm 91 and Joshua 1. Be strong and of good courage. You can encourage them to grow through the time rather then succumb to the pain of grief.
  6. Memories – These you will always have. But you are pressing on, moving forward into new memories. Take the time to talk with children and encourage them to start to believe for new memories.

Change is inevitable no matter where you are or what stage of life you are at. Paul gives the analogy of a boxer. If you resist a punch it will hurt but if you move with it, it won’t hurt as much. The more resistant you are to change the more it will hurt. A positive, respectful attitude towards each other will help you all move through the process and enjoy the journey.

You have a choice on how you handle change – Choose life or death. Choose to live in a positive, embracing mode or resist and fight with a negative attitude. It is up to you. There are so many wonderful new adventures you can enjoy.

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Posted in Christian living, communication, Life, Love, Marriage, Parenthood, Uncategorized

Keeping on Top of Attitudes

How often are we let down by our poor attitude, or those of others around us. Every day we meet someone who challenges our attitudes! It can be as simple as being challenged by our children or spouse before we have left the house. Then as we drive to work or shopping, the person who cuts us off on the highway. Then there is the stand in line or waiting on line for service!

This is not to mention traumatic situations that occur behind closed doors. These are severe stress situations that I won’t broach here too much as they create deeper issues that need to be addressed. However, every day in many ways we are confronted with how we handle testing situations.

Most of us can feel we are alright emotionally and spiritually until we are confronted by our own attitudes towards a situation! Its all good until it isn’t!

The Bible tells us to love others as we love ourselves. So many don’t love themselves and are incapable of  loving others in a healthy manner. So we need to start there by loving ourselves and who we are.

Recently I posted about turning 60 and having felt pretty much invisible during my 50’s. It was interesting to see some of the comments. I think women particularly who don’t have an established career which carries them through that period, find themselves once children leave home, redefining themselves and who they are at this stage. When we don’t know who we are or it is in a bit of chaos, we can find our attitudes start to get smelly. We must understand our identity is not found in what we do but whose we are!

When we forget whose we are and loose our identity at any stage of our life, when we are tired, stressed, have financial worries or health issues, we can find ourselves coming out with some pretty poor attitudes.

It’s then we have to fall back in to the arms of our Saviour and say, “Lord help me put off this stench and put on your fragrance!” The stench of the flesh is sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies.  His is the fragrance of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, kindness.

When I place the mirror of His word up to gaze in to, I see that I must constantly move back into the Spirit. This is hard when you are confronted with situations that make you angry, hurt or offend. When we loose our peace and feel that churn within our gut towards someone we think about who has offended or hurt us, we need to forgive and begin to put on that fragrance again! 20151025_115756.jpg

It is our choice. We chose life or death every day when we are confronted with situations. Taking a deep breath and not allowing the overwhelming anger to envelope ourselves, is the first step.  Count to 10 wasn’t such a silly idea! Don’t confront at that moment in anger. Take time to calm down.

There is a lot more to talk about this but suffice to say for the moment is just breathe!

B – Back away, r – resist, e – emotional, a- action, t – think, h- healthy, e – emotions!

Until next time

Let it go – Let it go – (Frozen theme running through your head now?)

Blessings Narelle

Posted in Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Love, Parenthood, Uncategorized

The Birth of

I wrote this while waiting for my 6th grandchild to be born in 2012. What was it? Tell you later…

Well today is D-DAY Delivery day. What a long 9 months it has been. But we have so much to be thankful for.

Where do we begin with this past 12 months? Josiah’s diagnosis of A.L.L. Acute Lymphatic Leukemia saw us in and out of hospital until just recently. We have traveled a long road; diagnosis; shock, treatment, ecstatic as responses to treatment, and pain of watching him go through the distressing mucositis which ulcerated his entire mouth and esophagus down to the anus; loss of hair; ballooning and gorging from the steroids to all the fevers and sicknesses from a compromised immune system.

After finding out in April this year intensive chemotherapy was over and maintenance would begin we were shocked to discover Sherri was pregnant.

They were not sure how it happened. Come on – after 3 children! But the treatment of Josiah had caused a bit of a mental block as is often the case with parents with children undergoing treatment. So number 4 is being awaited. We are sitting here in the labor ward as I reflect on the past year and its highs and lows.

After the high of Josiah finishing his intensive program early, and discovering Sherri was pregnant, we were hit with another blow. Sherri was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension: A disease of the heart and lungs that ultimately and worse-case scenario ends in death of the mother, or perhaps requiring a heart lung transplant. However, after weeks of levels climbing we called for prayer!

Doctors were amazed when after only a few days in hospital undergoing bed-rest and no other intervention, her levels came down! Doctors went back to the drawing board because the levels of this disease, NEVER go down. Despite another diagnosis of some “Anomaly”  levels have not gone back up over the past 9 months. After a projected delivery date of 28 weeks, here we sit at 36 weeks awaiting the birth under very calm, happy conditions with Sherri’s strength intact and in fact stronger than at the beginning of the pregnancy with no symptoms of breathlessness or fatigue.

So we stand amazed at the hand of God over her life. I remember after spending a night of research lying, crying in the arms of my husband saying, “I wish I could take this on myself – I have had our family she has 4 little ones.” When all of a sudden even as the words came out of mouth I remembered that I didn’t have to take it on myself…that is what Jesus did at the cross. He took our sicknesses and infirmities upon Himself!

That same morning Paul came in to my office and said, “No one has to die to give her a new heart and lungs – Christ died to give her those.” With those two revelations we have been able to stand in faith and in her healing, praying and believing for safe delivery for not only her but her child also.

We also heard a tape on how Satan wants our Seed. But that is another story…Oh by the way – it was a boy!

 

Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, grandparenting, Life, Marriage, Parenthood

Love is – Not Arrogant or Rude

20170112_153645Arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

Arrogant synonyms: haughtyconceitedhubristicself-importantopinionated, egotistic, full of oneself, superioroverbearingpompoushigh-handed, swaggering, boastfulbumptious, blustering, patronizing, condescendingdisdainfulcontemptuousimperiousproudvainimmodestloftylordlysnobbishsnobbyoverweeningsupercilioussmugpretentiousaffectedscornfulmocking, sneering, scoffing; informalhoity-toity, high and mighty, uppitysnootystuck-uptoffee-nosedfancy-pantssnotty, jumped up, too big for one’s boots, big-headed

Rude: offensively impolite or bad-mannered. “she had been rude to her boss”

Ill-mannered, bad mannered,  impolite,  discourteous,  impertinent,  insolent,  impudent,  cheeky,audaciouspresumptuousuncivildisrespectfulunmannerlyill-bred,  churlish,  crasscurtbrusquebluntungraciousgracelessbrashunpleasantdisagreeableoff-handshortsharpoffensiveinsultingderogatorydisparagingabusivetactlessundiplomaticuncomplimentaryuncharitableunchivalrousungallantungentlemanlyunladylikearchaic malapertcontumeliousrare underbred, mannerless

Love is not arrogant or rude. Hm..On looking at these I wonder at the times I have placed myself above others, with feelings of being of more importance. I also look at the synonyms of rude and see, sharp, short, offhand, unpleasant, disagreeable and see my myself in the mirror of His Word.

I know we are not condemned but the Word is a mirror and as I study the reflection of myself in it, I see the areas I still lack in walking in love!

Love is not arrogant, proud or rude. I am quick to judge others when they are rude to me, slight me, are disparaging, tactless etc, but judge my own self with a far less stringent measure, knowing I don’t intentionally aim to hurt others, yet think they do to me! I need to keep watch over my own self, my feelings and attitudes. It is no easy task and as I study this passage so easily quoted yet so hard to live, I am reminded that it is only by Grace are we able to walk this walk and live in that place of love. Love Him and others.

It is ok to love those who are friendly and loving toward us but when others turn their backs on us, treat us with contempt or hatred, are rude, arrogant, kill, maim, or torture us, how do we responded?

Do we respond in kind? One of my challenging scriptures (of which there are many) is the one that says we don’t trade insult for insult or evil for evil, but overcome evil with good! This is no small feat and again, it can only be done by His love outworking in us. We set the frame work of putting off those things of malice, bitterness, hatred, and putting on His clothing of humility and love.

Oh!!! This so easily flows off the keyboard or out of the mouth but to live this life…well like us all, I struggle to put off those things. Sometimes we continue to pick at the wound received, reciting, rehearsing the hurt, reliving the pain, and wonder why it starts to bleed again! Best to cover it with the soothing oil of love, and bandage it with His Grace and Mercy. Oh again so easily said, but such a challenge to do!

Anyway this is the mirror I stand in front of tonight as I think of Him and how He loved me even when I cursed His name and turned my eyes to the world, constantly looking for love, affirmation and security. His is the only love I can trust in fully and I must walk in that knowledge that I am so loved by Him and stand above reproach in the eyes of my God. So are you!

 

 

Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, Life, Parenthood, Philippines, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?!!

Again this post was written in 2014 after a nice trip up to Manila having a hot shower and sleeping on a comfortable bed (actually a bed and not a piece of foam on the floor) as well as putting on some glad rags for an amazing evening of celebration of the work accomplished in East Samar.

2014 reflections continue….

This week we had the privilege to meet some amazing world changers. The Alverez Foundation set up Pinoy Relief as their disaster relief foundation.  They have affected change using their influence to raise dollars towards amazing projects including, rebuilding schools, homes, and boats to re-establish the fishing fleets lost to the typhoon.

Appl.D.App was there cheering the family foundation on. Who is Appl.D.App I hear you over 50’s ask? Oh…Oh…(hand raised) I know……A singer from the Black Eyed Peas! You know the ones who sing, “Tonight’s going to be a good night!” I have to admit I didn’t have a clue. I know the song and had heard of Black Eyed Peas but didn’t know who Appl.D.App was. But what a nice guy! His story is amazing. He is a Filipino boy who was sponsored by an American and grew up to see his dreams fulfilled.  It’s a great story and he is now giving back to his homeland through promotions and support.

He was just one of the rich and famous at the “Thank You Gala” we attended on behalf of Pinoy Relief and Operation Blessing. So many influential people and for the two of us from the land down under it could have been just a little intimidating!

Paul and I arrived early (actually the first to arrive) which we didn’t mind. We had met the Alverez family the day before as they came for a tour of the work their support had made possible in the Guiuan area. We met the sons and daughter and other family members from New York- A world away from our “place.”  They were lovely people and keen to make a difference in their worlds.

As we sat on the open roof top of the building, only knowing a few people, everyone rocked up and we were feeling a lot like fish out of water – Then we looked up..

We saw the moon and the stars and the reality hit both of us at the same time! We may not be famous or have worldly wealthy but our Daddy made the heavens and earth that we are all sitting under and on: He measures the UNIVERSE in the palm of His hand!

Is 40:12 asks the question, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, marked off the heavens with a (nine-inch) span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance..?”

Whose my Daddy? The one who does that! How big is He? He marks off the heavens with His hand width. That’s pretty cool!

God really doesn’t have a problem with people being rich. His problem is when they forget who enabled them to get wealth and also warns us not to be consumed with riches. He instructs those with wealth to use it well and not wastefully. But we must all realize how infinitesimal in the scheme of the universe we all are!

Our God is big but also cares for the smallest sparrow that dies and knows the numbers of hairs on our head or lack thereof in some cases.  How can we ever feel intimidated by anyone in this world knowing who we belong to?

Today look up see the sun, see the moon, see the stars, smell the air, watch the waves, and know that Your Daddy is the one who made all that and you are His Heir!

Until next time

Look up and remember He’s your Daddy!

Blessings Narelle

A fun video for a fun night – Appl.D.App working the disco for the night!

 

 

 

Posted in Christian living, grandparenting, health and wellness, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, travel, Uncategorized

Achieving Goals – Change Now!

Again I wrote this in 2015 but still as relevant today two years later!! It doesn’t have to be the New Year to start to change your life!

The way to achieving your goals – START

I saw a great post the other day that basically said , “In 2015 I am going to complete the goals I set in 2014 that I didn’t finish in 2013 that I had set in 2012 etc”

How many of us do that? Set goals and then life gets in the way and bang before you know it the year has flown and nothing has been done to get you toward your goal. We should say we are setting up our good intentions!

One day a few years ago when I was jalking (jog-walking) along the beach I noticed something about focus.

As I headed up the beach I kept my eyes focused on a cliff that overshadows the beach area. Whenever I stayed focus, I could look behind me and see my footprints in the sand were fairly straight. When I strayed in thought and started to wander off , I could look behind and see my foot prints straying all over the place. I was still heading the right direction but I was deviating off course considerably without noticing.

I realized how important focus was to not waste time or energy or direction.

Last year was one of those years. As a couple we had determined a few goals. However, immediately, I became sick in the first few weeks of the year and was flat on my back. I read a book by an old missionary, Praying Hyde. It was inspiring to hear of the amount of prayer this faithful intercessor did: Praying all night, for hours, for days. I was inspired and determined. Things were going to change.

I set myself to focus on prayer, fasting and studying the Word. The days turned to weeks, turned to nearly 2 months. In that time I can honestly say I really didn’t “feel” like I had broken through to any great degree yet within a couple of days I was amazed how quickly God moved. One of those areas was for Paul to get work he loved and opportunities to open up before us.

We shouldn’t have been but we were surprised when literally a day after praying that way the phone rang and he was asked to go to the Philippines to help with the rebuild after Typhoon Yolanda.

He headed off while I planned to go to him after getting a few things sorted in Australia. Then a few weeks after that we received some very challenging news – our grandson Josiah had the leukaemia he had been in remission from, return. It was a blow to us all but our daughter told us to continue to make plans to go thinking they had another 2 years left of chemotherapy. However, a few weeks later it became evident the cancer was not going into remission as well as the doctors liked, enough to say it would never come back.

Bone marrow was really the only option in the natural to follow up on for him to survive – in the natural.

In the spirit we continued to believe that as his name says, Healed by Jehovah. Josiah was an amazing little trooper and literally from March through to October his life and the family’s life revolved around hospitals and doctors. For a 4 year old he was inspirational!

As I reflect on just what goals I set myself during that time of prayer I realize just how much we did achieve what we set out to do despite the challenges and forced change of direction!

Reflecting on goals these are my 5 steps to achieving them in 2015

  • Check your progress.

One of the keys to setting goals is to look behind.  Watch just how far your footprints have deviated off course or stayed on course depending on your focus.

  • Celebrate the victories along the way.

One of my goals was to lose 20 Kilos by Dec 2014. I managed 17. Am I unhappy with that? Of course not but I am still inspired to complete my goal this year and in fact need to add another 5kg on to that amount to achieve my final goal weight.

  • Be realistic.

A building has to have a plan, projections, a budget, a time frame and resources to see it happen. A plan doesn’t happen just by writing it down but that is the start and you need to start. Be realistic in terms of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve. But by the same token – dream big. 

  • Let go.

  If it turns out you didn’t really want to do or become something, be prepared to let it go. Keeping on keeping on for the reason of staying the course is senseless. 

  • Don’t Give Up or In.

 Just as important as step 4 is to keep moving forward despite road blocks and humps. Despite life’s challenges goals can be achieved they just might look a little different or be on a different time line.

The Chinese are calling this the year of the sheep…We proclaim it the year of the Lord’s favour. As you wait on the Lord you will be successful in all you do!  Let’s get started. Blessed in 2015….

Now that I look back over that year I am in such amazement at just what that year produced…more on that later!

 

 

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Achieving my goal to walk every day! Something I struggled hard to achieve after years of inactivity. 
Posted in Christian living, grandparenting, internet marketing, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, pornography, sexual issues, Uncategorized

Pornography and sexual issues

fifty-shades-darker-mask
I remember a conference I was at a few years ago for internet marketing. The training led to examining such sites as Second Life where people live as avatars in a fantasy world but pay in real dollar terms. As of 2013 it had over a million users engaging in this fantasy world.

The discussion led to other sites where avatars engage in violent sexual acts on-line. During the discussion some ignorant person commented and said, “Well at least it keeps them off the streets and from acting out.”

Why do I say ignorant? Because these people obviously do not understand the phases of addiction. As a counsellor and former manager of a rehab, I have seen and studied addiction and addicts. What initially gratified will eventually no longer satisfy and a stronger more potent form will be required to try to reach the first “hit”- but will rarely succeed.

What initially satisfied with being played out on-line, in the mind, in house, can eventually lead to a much graver scenario being required to maintain or worse, increase satisfaction. The more times graphic situations are played out on-line, visually etc. the greater the action required to fulfill that desire.

Why do I broach this subject that is already so widely discussed?

Recently I noticed an article regarding the views of 15 year old girls and how they are handling or not handling the epidemic of pornography from their young male peers and the pressures they are facing in terms of sexual relationships. I was so saddened to hear the depth of expectation to perform sexual exploits to have a relationship.

I remember as a 15 year old the pressures around then,in terms of magazines, books etc. that opened the mind and eye gates to pornography. Now there are so many more avenues to contend with, for not only young people but older people also.

When we have such movies and books as 50 Shades so sought after by women – I have to ask myself two questions – Why? and When?  Why would women support such violent relationships being portrayed and then cry “foul” when men are confused with “NO”! When will we learn that what we eat we become! What we watch and read – well……I am still in shock as to how many women have sought after this book and movie, including young Christian women  with the reasoning – “But he loves her.” Sorry people wake up! This is a lie from the pit and  not the kind of love anyone should aspire to!

Lust and its acts are never going to be contained without Christ – we are human and it is a condition of sinful man, but when we see laws abolished or not upheld with limited prosecuting of those who participate or sell pornography; magazine placement in stores go unchallenged or un-protested; TV shows, questionable movies and books supported by viewing and purchasing;  we can be assured we will reap the results. Violence against women and children increases. Unplanned pregnancies of teenage girls, and subsequent abortions rise. STD’s continue to plaque the population. We reap what we sow!

I love it when I hear of young people who have kept themselves for marriage and marriages that are untouched by the smell of the fire of lust.

I don’t stand in judgement of those who have failed in those areas, because it is only by grace that any of us stand, and I know the pain of these failures, but I pray for a standard and a voice for righteousness to arise to see this flood of lust and greed stemmed. I say greed because the bottom line is they are only selling what the market demands!  And it is not just those who call themselves non-believers. I have known men in church life to visit prostitutes regularly or struggle with pornography in a big way!

Pornography does damage on so many levels: Lives shattered, physically, emotionally, and most importantly – spiritually. Paul and the other apostles warned us constantly to withdraw from sexual immorality, in whatever form that comes.

We know though that when we repent we have someone who is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins! He can set us free from the bondages of sexual issues.

We will never see a complete demise of sexual deviancy in this world, because it is a matter of sin but we can alert our young people and remind ourselves of the need to guard our hearts always and start to speak up for purity!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle