Friday, November 27, 2009

Spring Favourites

Here are some things I love about Spring... that is when it is 'normal' Spring weather (not like the hot days we had last week!).

You know those low 20 degree days when the sky is blue and there are a few wispy clouds floating around and there's a gentle breeze in the air....

I love lazing on blankets and cushions in the sun,

Going for walks to the park and friends houses


Going to the park for dinner and watching our crazy, cute kids play cricket...

Flying kites (this one was a really groovy red octopus my dad brought us back from China!)...

Days at home with friends....they love painting the wall with water!

And one of my favourite things is tea parties on the back lawn!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

Monday, November 23, 2009

Justified by faith alone!

Justification is a word I don't spend enough time thinking about, and I am only just beginning to realise how vital it is for me to think about it more.

Recently I have had days when I feel like the worst mother, wife, friend...I have called upon the Lord constantly to help me with my attitude, my heart, but what I have failed to realise is that the reason I feel these things so much is because of my own self-righteousness.

If I were to examine my heart more honestly, I know that I am more grieved at my inadequacies rather than been grieved that God is not being glorified when my heart is not totally fixed on Him.

The cross is my only cure. The realisation that it's only by the blood of Christ that I have any worth, it's only because of what He has done that I have been made righteous before a Holy God.

The book I was reading today, Your Home a Place of Grace, by Susan Hunt reminded me of justification.

"Most of us struggle with accepting the people and circumstances in our lives and with feeling accepted by others. Our performance orientation is heard in statements as:

......If I do more for the Lord, He will love me more.
And the guilt-ridden hyperactive child of God eventually loses joy and grows weary of well-doing.

This type of thinking displays a theological problem - a failure to understand the glorious doctrine of justification by faith alone. Martin Luther said that justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls.

...This doctrine is an essential building block in a haven of grace because our acceptance of ourselves, our circumstances, and others will be in proportion to our understanding of our acceptance before the judgement seat of God."

A few months ago, after reading The Cross Centred Life - Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C J Mahaney, I was challenged to read over passages about the cross daily, to help me keep my mind cross centred. I am starting to realise how essential this is. I have had Romans 5:1-11 pinned on my bathroom wall all this year and the times I have meditated and saturated my mind with it have been so enriching...but lately I haven't been focused on it....

I think I need to spend some more time in the bathroom!

Mahaney lists the following passages to help us preach to ourselves, that speak of God's work of salvation through the cross.

Isaiah 53:3-6
Romans 3:23-26
Romans 5:6-11
Romans 8:32-29
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Galatians 2:21

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Link to great looking recipes

I have come across two yummy recipes on the back of Arnotts biscuit packets in the past week, so I decided to check out their website for more recipe ideas, and there were lots of them! I am am a bit of a fan of biscuits so lots of these recipes look very appealing to me!

Here are some I liked the sound of.

Black Forest Choc Ripple Cake

Sao Vanilla Slice

Malt O Milk Chocolate Layer Cake

Apricot and White Chocolate Granita Slice

Caramelised Strawberry Shortcakes

Butternut Snap Chocolate Ganache Tartlets

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our day at the Christmas pageant

We braved the heat on Saturday and went to the Christmas pageant.

I don't' have any clear memories of going to the pageant when I was a child and my husband has never gone, so this year I really wanted to go. It all seemed a lot more manageable now that we don't have prams and nappies to work around!

Another motivating factor was the possibility of us going to the USA next year, we wouldn't have the chance to go to the pageant again for another 3-4 years and our kids will be older then!

Even though the weather prediction was for 39 degrees, we went along. We managed to find a shady spot, and were thankfully in the shade for half the time, (the time we were waiting to start). When it did start we were so focused on the pageant that we didn't notice the heat too much, I had a little girl in a pram behind me who kept spraying me with water, which was wonderfully refreshing.

I am so glad we went, our kids loved it. When the nativity float went past, my son said to me quietly, "Do they know that story mummy?". Even though he knows that Christmas is all about Jesus, he is starting to realise that there are a lot of people who think Christmas is all about Santa, presents and parties!

After the pageant we went to the markets for lunch and then back to my dad's for a swim!

Here are a few snaps of the day, the kids loved writing with chalk all over the road, and the pink fluffy 'Bruto' and 'Toby the tow truck' were favourite floats!

The Young Mother

Just before I was pregnant with number 1 child, I listened to a sermon by John MaCarthur called Hannah: A Godly Mother . This was the sermon that gave me purpose for having kids!

It wasn't long (only a month or two) after listening to this sermon that we decided to start trying and then got pregnant!

I decided to listen to it again because I was teaching about Hannah in Sunday school last Sunday, and listening to this message again, now that I have children has been very inspiring and challenging!

I was moved by this story he read out, its a bit long, but worth the read!

"The young mother set her foot on the path of life.
Is the way long, she asked?
And her guide said yes and the way is hard and you will be old before you reach the end of it but the end will be better than the beginning.
But the young mother was happy and she would not believe
that anything could be better than these years.
So she played with her children and gathered flowers for them
along the way and bathed with them in the clear streams.
And the sun shone on them and life was good and the young mother cried,
`Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.'
And then night came and storm and the path was dark and the children shook with fear and cold and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said,
`O mother, we're not afraid for you are near and no harm can come.'
And the mother said,
`This is better than the brightness of day for I have taught my children courage.'

"And the morning came and there was a hill ahead and the
children climbed and grew weary and the mother was weary.
But at all times she said to the children,
`A little patience and we'll be there.'
So the children climbed and when they reached the top they said, `
We could have not done it without you, mother.'
And the mother when she lay down that night looked up at the stars and said,
`This is a better day than the last for my children have learned strength in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage, today I have given them strength.'

"And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth,
clouds of war and hate and evil.
And the children groped and stumbled and the mother said,
`Look up, lift your eyes to the light.'
And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory
and it guided them and brought them beyond the darkness.
And that night mother talked of Jesus and said,
`This is the best day of all for I have shown my children God.'

"And the days went on and the weeks and the months and the years.
And the mother grew old and she was little and bent.
But the children were tall and strong and walked with faith and courage.
And when the way was rough they lifted her for she was as light as a feather.
And at last they came to a hill and beyond the hill they could see a
shining road and golden gates flung wide.
And the mother said,
`I have reached the end of my journey and now I know that the end is better than the beginning for my children can walk alone for they walk with God.'
And the children said,
`You will always walk with us, mother,
even when you've gone through the gates to the Savior.'
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone and the gates closed behind her.
And they said, `We cannot see her but she is still with us,
a mother like ours is more than a memory, she is a living presence.'"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How do you enjoy your family and the ministry?

Over a year ago, my husband asked Randy Alcorn this question on his blog under his question and answer of the week.

I’m a full-time youth pastor with four beautiful kids and an incredibly supportive wife. It is so hard to juggle ministry and family and do it well. As someone who has reached the other side, and now with grandkids, does it get easier? How did you find the energy and time to really enjoy the kids AND the ministry?

He wrote back an answer on my husband's blog, and just a couple of weeks ago, he used that same question and elaborated more on his answer.

Here is a link to the post.

We found his answer very helpful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What to do with a heavy heart

There are some mornings, days, weeks when whilst everything in life seems fine and rosy, but your heart feels heavy, empty, and its hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem is!

Well, I had one of those mornings...I am so thankful for God's faithfulness in drawing me to his throne of grace every morning (5am every morning!), even when I know deep down I would much prefer to still be in bed!

I started off with my bible reading, I am reading through Matthew. I am up to the crucifixion, and as I was reading I was ashamed at myself for reading over it all with such indifference, without it really impacting my heart, that was until I got to the part where Peter denied Christ 3 times and went away and wept bitterly.

I knew I needed to be on my knees praying, and that I am just as guilty as Peter of denying Christ in my heart. There was so much inside of me that wanted to resist God, I know that He hasn't been 'enough' for me these past few days, and I needed to spend time before His throne of grace, humbly asking for Him become 'enough' for me.

While I was praying I remembered something that John Piper talked about on his When I don't desire God DVD, when his heart doesn't feel right before God.

It is 4 prayers, IOUS.

I - Incline my heart to Your testimonies. Psalm 119:36a

O - Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18

U - Unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11

S - Satisfy us early with Your mercy that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

I prayed through these this morning, and it didn't take long for my heart to start desiring God and recognise just how far my heart had been from Him these past few days.

Almost instantly that heaviness was gone, when I willingly turned my heart to Him and focused on Him and the cross, my burdens were lifted.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 16:11

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Our plans to leave the country!

So my husband announced last Sunday to our church of our intentions to pull aside from full time ministry and study full time for 3 - 4 years. Over the past year his desire to study and know the Word more has grown and our dream of going back into study for a period of time started to become a reality!

We were married 11 years ago last month, and we have been involved in full time ministry our whole marriage. And after 11 years, my we are certain we don't want to be doing anything else with our lives (ie. secular work) but we are feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of full time ministry and are seeking to be better equipped to withstand the coming 20 or so years more of ministry!

So what that all means for us is that we are applying to colleges in the USA because the options for study appear to be more appealing and suited to our needs and desires. We have considered options in Australia and a few other countries, but we feel more led to the USA at the moment.

For me, I have always wanted to live in another country for a reasonably long period of time. The thought of never living anywhere else except Australia is quite stifling for me. God has made this amazing world and I want to see and experience so much more of it!

These are some of the things I am looking forward to.

- The challenges of packing up and leaving the city I have lived in for the past 34 years

- The opportunity to be completely dependant on God for provision of everything

- The opportunity to home school our 4 children for 4 years

- Taking almost nothing with us and starting out new in a completely different country

- The opportunity to experience a different church

- The opportunity to meet many new people

- The opportunity to learn, from what my husband is studying and by being involved with the college we will attend

- The opportunity for all of us to depend upon each other, and God, as we will be away from the familiarity of family and friends

....and there are so many more things I could list!

People ask me if I feel overwhelmed by everything, and my response is, if I think about it too much I do! But I have chosen to not be overwhelmed by it all, to just take things one step at a time, one day at a time, to wait patiently upon the Lord to guide and provide for us.

God's will for me this day is to love Him with all of my heart, soul and mind, to love my husband and children, and to love others, I try not to get too caught up in the tomorrows!

We would appreciate your prayers for us over the next 8 months, as you can imagine there is so much to plan and organise.