Reintroduction: Faith

Reintroduction: Faith

In tough times, we all need something or someone to hold us up. In my challenges I was provided with everything I needed, although I couldn’t always see it at the time. I needed hope, strength, bravery, and shelter to find peace. It is my strong faith in the promises of the bible that provided all of these things in abundance.

My faith in my Lord and saviour is the reason I’m still here today, and the means by which I have been able to grow rather than wither in my trials. I simply can not imagine what it would have been like to travel the last few years without having everything I know and believe to lean on.

As a Christian, I believe in God. I believe He created the earth and all in it. I believe He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sin. And I believe in eternal life. I can’t explain my faith, even to myself. I completely understand that on the outside, it may sounds crazy. But there is  a knowing, deep inside me, that God is with me. He’s given us all a portion of faith, we just need to find it. And honestly, the peace joy and hope that comes from surrendering completely to something so much bigger than ourselves in incomparable. (As an aside, by ‘surrender’ I don’t mean that we don’t have choice, we do have free will, but that’s an conversational topic all of its own!)

So I’ve made it through the first year of marriage, a blended family no less. I’ve watched my mum (my best friend) and my Gran, pass to the next life and worked through immense grief. Grief I didn’t think was possible – grief that will be with me forever but through the passage of time, and leaning on God’s promises, grief that I can endure. I’ve had health struggles which persist, identity crisis as I tried to find the real me in the absence of the woman who shaped me, and I struggle daily as a mum (don’t we all?!).

But I’m here. And I’m strong. I’ve been wrapped up by my Lord and I know that no matter what, He will sustain me. My faith is everything.

Here are some verses which are important to me. There are more, many more. But these are the promises I lean on daily. Phillipians 4:13 has become something of a mantra when even taking the next breath seems daunting.

Hope

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.
Jeremiah 29:11

Courage

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

Strength

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.
Phillipians 4:13

Refuge

You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

Peace

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Hope. Courage. Refuge. Peace.

Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favour.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.
Job 11:13-20

|||||This post was prefaced by: Let Me Reintroduce Myself, which you can read here.

 

Let me reintroduce myself

Let me reintroduce myself

There are moments in life that define us – maybe immediately, or perhaps they set off a transformation that rolls out over time. A journey.

The last few years have been the latter for me. Quite simply, I’m different to the me who was here two years ago. It’s fair to say I’ve been through the fire and I’ve come out differently. But the same. But different.

I’m still Abbie – I still like most of the same things, my heart hasn’t changed. But I now have a different view of the world … and how I want to live in the world. So I’m back, with plenty to say, and after a process of reinvention, I think I’ve found my voice again – the authentic voice that will speak truly from my heart, no bulls*it, always keeping it real.

The marketer in me wanted to come up with a few key words to sum up my priorities. To focus on those things that have a big impact in this stage of my life, and speak about who I am (or am striving to be).

This is what I came up with:

(See what I did there? LOVE alliteration!)

Over the next few weeks I will cover these aspects and hopefully from there, you’ll have a good idea of where I’ve been.

Yay, I’m blogging again! Well, blog, singular post, but Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂

Thanks for reading x

 

My one thing

My one thing

The other day I wrote about intentionally living in the moment. Every day.

I can, and do, live here and now because I know where I’m from, where my strength comes from, and where I’m going.

I’m really enjoying the new Hillsong worship album: Open Heaven River Wild. I actually love pretty much everything any of the Hillsong bands release and love that there’s always something to lift me up, carry me through, bring me back to earth, send me into a worship party or whatever my day needs. Yep, they really do it all!

Anyway, a lyric jumped out and hit me in the face this weekend.

all I know is
everything I have
means nothing
Jesus,
if You’re not
my one thing

It’s so true. There have been times when I’ve been less than intentional about my faith and it’s not pretty – and I’m not talking about just stopping going to church (I’ll write on that another time). Jesus is my rock. When He’s my focus, my ONE THING, I have everything.

I can remember when I was a really new christian, I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand how a pastor could ask me to put my relationship with God ahead of my family – ahead of my daughter. Like what?! I was a single mum at that time and my girl was my world. I actually thought I would never be able to do that.

But I grew.

And as I got to know God and have a personal relationship with Him, I finally understood that putting Him first, makes me a better mum. A better person. A better everything. If you could see the difference on my inside – the forgiveness, the peace and true joy experience I now have, you would never be in any doubt that what I say is true.

Jesus is my ONE THING.

Here and Now

Here and Now

Life is such a journey – and every day I learn, and yearn, to live in the journey, savouring each step of the way. The good steps, the big steps, the painful steps … all the while, admiring the beautiful view. The view around me, and view that is me.

Yes I did say that: admiring me. Living in the moment, marvelling who I am, who I am growing to be, and most of all, admiring my most masterful Creator who knows and is with me on every step of this journey.

My journey has seen happy and sad, good and bad, high and low, and probably everything in between.

In the joy I offer gratitude for all of my blessings, it keeps me grounded, remembering where it all comes from.

Here and NowIn the darker times I also offer gratitude for all of my blessings, for I always have things to be grateful for which is so important to remember when the going gets rough. In those times I also ask my Lord to carry me, to take my burdens, to keep me on steady ground. He hasn’t failed me yet.

He is my rock.

Intentionally living in every moment, knowing with complete certainty where I came from, in fact where everything came from, and where I’m going for all eternity, is the greatest joy and hope for my soul.

Beautiful Heart

Beautiful Heart

My daughter is without doubt, the biggest challenge of my life so far. I love her dearly – each and every part of her that makes her … well, … her. But boy oh boy is my intelligent, highly emotional, stroppy, strong-willed girl a challenge to every bit of patience that I have.

She was the dream baby, healthy from the outset, slept through the nights from eight weeks old, and met all her milestones, many ahead of time. Because it was just her and I from when she was only weeks old, she quickly became mummy’s best little friend.

She was so compliant … until she wasn’t.

I don’t know what changed, but about the time she turned four, my little lady found her will. Her VERY STRONG will. Four years later, we’re still trying to find that compliant heart I know is there. But I have to be honest, compliance isn’t the most important thing to me.

Love, respect, honesty, integrity, being a great friend, humility, reverence, generosity. These are important, in a child and in the amazing adult I know she will become.

This doesn’t win me a lot of fans. I’m probably the mum that you hear repeating herself over and over in the supermarket and just want to shake while you yell ‘woman your child is a brat’. I get that. But I don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore. Yes, I have learnt a LOT about tolerance too!

She does have a strong will, but I see an amazing will that can take her far. Stubborn yes, tenacious too. Quick to question yes, an open heart and mind to learn too. Emotional yes, a big heart too. Stroppy yes, hmmmm, not sure I can find an upside to that 😉

I know God has an amazing plan for her life and I don’t want to break her spirit. I know that if I focus only on behaviour of instant compliance, we’ll only be frustrated – I don’t want her to be a robot, she has so much more to offer than that. Besides I also know I’m never going to achieve that. Don’t get me wrong, she still has to respect authority and rules, we just have to go about things a slightly different way. I will let some things slide that you might not, but in the big picture, it’s small stuff on the Natalie scale.

So lately, seeing a few glimpses of the amazing heart I know is in there, makes me more joyful than the words I write can possibly convey.

Over the weekend I received an email from another parent thanking me for raising Natalie to be the good friend she is. HALLELUJAH! I’m not happy for the praise of my parenting (ok, truth, it feels good), I’m really happy that my gorgeous girl is being an amazing friend. Standing steadfastly on the side of her friend who is being bullied, instead of straying to the side of the bully who is relentlessly trying to break them apart.

My girl was bullied for a long time last year, that’s why she’s at the school she’s at now. We’ve spent many hours pondering friendships and talking about being a good friend. I’m so grateful that her bad experience has come to good in that she can help her friend now. Generally in her new school she’s chosen to surround herself with beautiful girls and when the going gets tough, she stands strong beside them. That’s the kind of friend I want her to be. I’m happy.

I’m also happy that yesterday she got angry at me. Because I wouldn’t stop the car and drive back around the intersection – for a third time. Hmmm, ok, I’ll back up. Yesterday there was a man cleaning car windows at the traffic lights. This isn’t a common occurrence where we live so my ever-inquisitive daughter needed to know why. When I saw his pack on the side of the road I explained there was a good chance the man didn’t have a job, maybe he didn’t even have a place to live, so he was trying to earn money. Well, she was ready to jump out of the car then and there and hand over my wallet! She made me drive around the block and back to hand him some money. I did turn around, I couldn’t quash that sort of thinking, but we didn’t catch a red light so I had to keep driving past a second time.

Boy oh boy did my little lady get stroppy and let me have it (verbally).

So we’re not all the way there. Well actually we’re not even part of the way there. But she’s showing that she’s hearing me, the love, the words, the lessons … they’re getting in. I know they’re going to pay off in the adult she becomes.

Isn’t that really what we all want as parents?

Note to self: Honesty

Note to self: Honesty

There’s a song I’ve been playing over and over a lot lately.

If We’re Honest. I love love love this song. The tone, the lyrics, the message, and of course the divine voice of Francesca Battistelli (I love this vibe for her, much more than her more commercial ‘pop’ sound).

Honesty is something that’s very much on my heart at the moment. It always is, really. But I’ve been living ‘pretend’ for a while now and I’m really needing to not do that anymore.

I’ve been unwell for over a year. Really feeling horrible and struggling each day to do what is required of me. I’ve hidden it. Always pretending I’m fine. Pretending to myself to a point, yes, to the rest of the world, definitely. It’s only in the last couple of months I’ve been admitting my weaknesses to some friends and family. I find that really hard. Those who see my Instagram posts will have seen a little more transparency (isn’t it funny how I, and maybe you, find is easier to be real with complete strangers?!).

I’m so much about ‘keeping it real’ yet by hiding this very big part of my life, I’m not being authentic. And that bugs me. It’s hard to be happy when I’m not being myself.

I know why I hide. I grew up in a home where, if someone asked how you were, you replied ‘I’m fine thank you’. It’s not that nobody cared, I guess I was just taught that we keep our private issues private, we don’t head out into the world looking for sympathy. That stance right there has also stopped me being good at reaching out for help. I also place extreme standards upon myself. Yup, I’m a bit of an overachiever in a lot of ways. At the moment, I consider myself failing as a wife and mother because I’m physically not able to do all that’s required of me in these roles. I’m a stay at home mum, my kids are at school, yet I still struggle to do the basics – the driving, washing, meals, cleaning. And that’s really hard to admit.

So the time has come for honesty.

To be honest with myself about what is real and realistic foremost.

Nothing good will ever come from dishonesty. From lying or misleading, no matter how good the intentions.

To be authentic is to be honest, dependable, trustworthy and real. This is who I am.

So honestly: I’m not perfect, I’m fully flawed and I need to accept this. I am how my creator made me. I will not hide from or be ashamed of His plan for my life.


In case anyone is wondering, my Dr is working hard to reach a diagnosis for me on the health issues. It’s a process but after many (many!) tests and specialist appts we’re hopefully closer to working this out. That will be a happy day, to have an answer and hopefully, a plan…

Touch the sky

I’m just loving this song at the moment. Actually, the whole new Hillsong United album, Empires, is working pretty well for me.

These lyrics, such a truth!

Touch the sky Hillsong United

My hope

Hope found in God

This quote speaks for itself but can I just say, if you’re looking for a great devotional resource, visit She Reads Truth, which is where I found these words. These study plans are written by a variety of authors – they are so genuine and heartfelt. I have the free app on my phone and am using it daily to help me delve into the Word in a new way. I’m loving it!

Abbie x

Watering your dreams

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” Lao Tzu.

photo credit: Stourhead (National Trust) via photopin (license)
photo credit: Stourhead (National Trust) via photopin (license)

My dreams are big at the moment, although I can’t say for sure what they are, I just know there’s something bubbling. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next step in God’s plan for me is. I’m determined to hang on to this hope and optimism – patiently (not my most well developed trait)! Rather than get bogged down in the details, and the everyday, that can suffocate dreams.

I know the rights doors will be opened and closed at the right times but I’m not going to sit back passively. I shall water my dreams with prayer and persistence.

Abbie x

Sinking Deep: Hillsong Y&F

Music moves me. No question. There are lyrics, songs, albums and artists that define periods of my life.

I have no doubt that Hillsong Young & Free is going to be the music I look back and identify with this early part of 2015. My entire adult life has been about trying to control everything. And worrying what people might think about me. But this is the time when I’m (finally) throwing myself with complete surrender into my relationship with my Lord. Now, without fear, I am His and I am letting Him lead my life.

I am so undeserving of his love, mercy and grace yet He continues to offer that to me. To all of us.

I’m grateful. I’m humbled. I’m excited. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Y&F We are young and freeI want and need my music to express that.

Which is why I can’t get enough of Hillsong Young and Free at the moment. We were lucky enough to worship with Y&F live at Cloud Festival in January. That was a truly awesome experience. I might not quite be their target demographic (I’m, um *cough* a decade or so older than they probably pitch at) but I got in there and loved every second of the worship.

This album offers me the opportunity to praise and worship. It goes fast and takes me to a happy, shout it out and dance worship, then it drops slow and and reaches deep into my heart pulling out genuine love.  You will often find me dancing around the house while doing housework, or ‘wunning’ (walk/run – I walk really fast) down the river tracks in the morning with Y&F in my ears. It’s equally likely I’ll have it plugged in for a quiet journal session in the evening.

The song that speaks to me most is Sinking Deep. The melody and the lyrics just tug my soul. This is what I yearn for, this is how I’m being called at the moment. It’s beautiful and I love it.

Standing here in your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won by perfect love
Wrapped within arms of heaven
In a peace that last forever
Sinking deep in mercy’s sea

I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace
And all my heart is yours
All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into Your love

Your love so deep, Is washing over me
Your face is all I seek, you are my everything
Jesus Christ, You are my one desire
Lord hear my only cry, to know you all my life

I’m also listening to a lot of Jesus Culture, Lauren Diagle, Julia Grace and Newsboys.

Abbie x

Prowess – I am / You are ENOUGH

Yesterday I posted about being enough. I am enough. You are enough. Even on the days when we feel like we don’t measure up WE ARE ENOUGH.

This morning a friend posted this story on her Facebook feed. This friend has the most amazingly beautiful heart and I’m almost always inspired by what she posts. She is such an encourager (as you can see). Today her words just tied in perfectly with what’s in my head and heart, and what I wrote yesterday.

Tracey Prowess

Here was this amazing woman, a life saver, carer, nurturer, who felt like she wasn’t enough because she wasn’t a great baker. Honestly, if that’s not getting tied up in society’s standards for us, I don’t know what is?! I love that my friend encouraged her so, a complete stranger, but she spoke to this woman’s heart. We should all encourage each other, these opportunities probably pass us by every day.

The word ‘prowess’ really hit me. It means “exceptional or superior ability, skill, or strength”. Yes! We’re all good at something, we can’t be good at everything. And that right there, is probably why we so often think we don’t measure up. We’re trying to be everything to everyone. Which I wrote about yesterday. Don’t do that. Be true to you and who you are. For me, that is my identity in Christ first, everything else second. I can focus on ONE thing and ONE set of standards – especially when I know those standards won’t change.

Remember – you are enough. Now go find someone else to tell that they are enough too!

Abbie x

I’m not enough

I’m not enough

I can’t be all things to all people. I’m always letting someone down. I know that. On some level, I know that trying to be what everyone else wants/needs is a pursuit that will never end well. I also know that I probably place more of those pressures on myself than anyone else.

But don’t we all have days where, in our own heads, we just don’t measure up?

The days I run non stop after the kids so that by the time I get to sit down with my husband in the evening I don’t have anything left to give him. I’ve let him down. The fact that I’m not the uncomplicated daughter/sister my family would like, the woman who will accept anything they say or do. To them, I’m a Jesus freak. I let them down all the time because I’m ‘different’. The days my body lets me down and then I barely function outside of the bathroom or lying on my bed. Those days I let everyone down.

I’m learning something though.

Even though I might fail to my own standards, or even to someone else’s standards, I am enough. Continue reading “I’m not enough”

Where to start?! New adventures for a new year!

#newyear #blankpageYou know I’ve been away so long, I almost don’t know where to start. There’s so much busting to get out of me here that when I start writing, I can’t be sure I’ll be able to stop. Could be a long night!

OK, let’s just start with where we are.

So it’s February. Already! I know right … how did that happen so fast? We spent most of December and January on summer holiday, travelling around the country visiting family and friends, and camping at the beach. It’s been blissful. I will post more about our holidays separately. I took a LOT of photos so should (fingers crossed) have some decent photos to share too (in the meantime there are quite a few on Instagram).

The kids have all been back at school for at least a week now. Our eldest second year high school (quick to settle, happy and excited about his year), middle boys back to their primary school (same old) and youngest started a new school after our bullying challenges last year. Happy to report she’s a different child. Excited to go to school, happy and chatty at the end of the day, making new friends and settling in well. Phew. Hang on, that was understated … PHEW!!!!!

Tomorrow we have a student from Vietnam joining us for a few months. He’s older than our kids so will be interesting to see how he settles. It does mean I now have four schools on my daily run but I’m up for it. I love setting up the room for guests and wondering what they will be like and how we will all get on. It’s a little scary but a lot exciting. It’s so good for our kids (and we grown ups) to share our home and to learn about the wider world.

Something I’ve become really focused on is spending time diving into God’s word. Deeply. I can honestly say that I haven’t been so drawn to my bible in my adult life – and the more I study, the more I want to study. I’m being pulled into a closer relationship with my Lord daily which is so exciting and terrifying. Terrifying because I know he has plans for my life and I know I have to surrender to them. Whatever they are. I’m such a control freak and just learning to let go. It’s beautiful scary. Does that make sense?!

I spent last week getting the house up to speed after a lot of inattention. I’m not working out of the house this year (at this stage) so it’s wonderful to have the time to really get things in order … and to stay on top of things. I’ve already been signed up to work at Swimming Sports next week and to manage one hockey fundraiser so my days will not be empty. I love being able to get more involved with the kids’ school and extracurricular stuff, not just be the tired taxi driver. I’m also going to be contributing over at another blog but I’ll introduce them to you when I’ve officially been introduced over there 🙂

And the really good news, I now know why I have been walking through life fighting feeling like a tired, forgetful, cranky zombie! Last month I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Which came as a real shock, but since then quite a few ‘ah-ha’ moments. No medication required, I can fix this myself, by taking gluten out of my diet. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds but I’m off to a good start. I will definitely be writing more about this, it is kind of a big deal in terms of lifestyle adjustment and is taking a bit to get my brain around. But ultimately I’m looking at this as a positive thing.

So, there’s a quick catch up on Abbie. I have a notebook I’ve been carrying around full of notes for blog posts so there will be much more babble. And now the kids are settled back at school hopefully I can make it back here a few times a week.

Ax

It’s been so long it’s a new year!

Hello hello hello my lovely blog world. Happy New Year!!!

Me and my rock x
Me and my rock x

I have been so super busy since school finished for the summer on 12 December but I have constantly missed the world of blog. I’ve been away from home (still am) and traveling without a laptop which has forced some serious down time. What can I say, much as I miss blogging, having the persistent online distraction taken away from me has been great. Loads of time spent with the family, I’ve already read a few books and taken a lot (seriously, a LOT) of naps! Still doing lots of writing, my journal has taken a hammering 🙂

In the last four weeks, including the last week before school finished, a lot has happened. I only have a short time on a borrowed computer so here’s some highlights as a reminder of posts I want to write/things I want to reflect on in the new year…

  • We’d been struggling with bullying at Nat’s school, I removed her from school 10 days before the end of the year. After a meeting with the school Principal, who completely denied a problem (don’t get me started!), Nat has been enrolled in a new school for 2015. I’ll reflect more on this later as I think it’s something a lot of parents, unfortunately, go through.
  • RoadtrippingWe’ve already traveled over 1,000km this holidays. We have plans for around another 1,700km yet. Much of it with our caravan. That’s a lot of travel in a pretty small country. Good thing our family loves road trips huh?!
  • We had a lovely weekend mid-December to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday and an early Christmas for that side of our family. These people are so special and I’m so honored to be adopted into their family. Being Aunty Abbie to 10 nieces and nephews is just fabulous! Technically they’re not my in-laws, they are my husband’s in-laws (his late wife’s family) but they have wholeheartedly opened their arms, hearts and lives to me, and I love them all to pieces. AMAZING people.
  • I’ve had a REALLY bumpy lead up to the holiday period, this being the first Christmas and New Year since my Mum died. And still raw as we come to the first anniversary of her passing in a couple of weeks. A lot of reflection and I know that a lot of people will be experiencing similar things. I didn’t expect the grief bug to bite me again so hard, but that was probably just naive (or really hopeful!). Still standing, and still moving forward though 🙂
  • I wrote about feeling strong late in November. I feel like I’ve been pulled through a storm backwards since then, but as a new year dawned this morning, those feelings remained. 2014 has been pretty brutal and a year I’ll never forget. Now I’m looking into 2015 knowing it will be different. There is hope. There is always hope, and I’m going to fight hard to stop smothering mine. My focus is on my faith for my strength. A lot to look back on from 2014 and move forward with in 2015, watch this space.

I hope you’ve all had a lovely, blessed holiday period. I look forward to catching up on blogs in February. I haven’t given up on blogging, despite the long absence, I’m just living the summer in the real world with my family. I will be back!

InstagramIn the meantime, I’m a very regular Instagrammer so head on over to my page @abbiesbabble if you want to see what we’re up to.

 

AbbiesBabble

Just a thought

As I’m jounaling these are the words that come to me:

I live in my identity as a daughter of the Almighty King. I  am a princess. His love, grace and mercy cover me as I walk in the plan He has for my life. I follow His will, not that of the world.

It’s summer holidays here and our end of term was bumpy. I haven’t been near a computer in weeks (on phone now, very tedious!) but oh I miss writing posts.  Hopefully I will be able to catch you all up on happenings here before Christmas.

I hope your holiday season is truly blessed where ever you are.

Ax

This is my story #testimony

Last week I wrote about how, for the longest time, I didn’t think I had a testimony to share. I was ordinary. God hadn’t changed my life in big, jaw dropping ways. Or so it seemed. And wasn’t that the point of people who shared their testimony at church – the high impact, spectacular stories, the near death and life altering interventions by God.

Yeah … nah.

We DO all have a story and we should all share it. If we have God in our lives, then our story has started. The way I see it, our testimony is quite simply, how God came into our lives, and the changes he has made since. By telling our story, we can glorify Him and His work in us. It doesn’t have to be attention grabbing, I think it’s more important that it’s real. And it doesn’t have to be full of biblical jargon. Keep it simple, keep it real and make it about God.

We all have a #story #testimony abbiesbabble.wordpress.com

So here’s my story…

I grew up with parents who didn’t want to believe in God. My mum grew up with extremely religious parents and unfortunately, after a life of having religion shoved down her throat, she rejected all things to do with Christianity (as far as I could see) until the last months of her life. I, however, was completely open-minded and quite curious about God. My brother and I spent part of most school holidays with our grandparents who took us to church and ensured we were exposed to the bible – which I loved. It was one school holidays, when I was seven, that I responded to an altar call at their church. I can still remember pulling on my Nan’s arm, looking up at her and saying “Nan, that’s me, I want that, I want to give my heart to Jesus”. And I did.

I didn’t do a lot with that decision growing up. Sure I went to youth group as a teen but that was more of a social thing than anything else. I always believed in God, I always defended never denied that faith, but never did I seek out a relationship with Him. Then came my 20’s, leaving home, going to University, then moving on to a bigger city. Life was busy establishing a career and partying far too hard. On the outside I was living a great big life. I was empty inside and totally dissatisfied, but never did I think to call on God.

God started tapping on my shoulder when I was married in my late 20’s. I pushed Him away saying ‘some day I will listen’. A few years after this (yes, I’m still ignoring the gentle, yet persistent reminders saying ‘Abbie I am here for you’) my first husband left me. Our daughter was six weeks old at the time. My life was thrown into turmoil. This time I responded to God. Over the next few months I talked to Him. I learnt to trust Him. I found a church – ironically my mum, who didn’t want anything to do with religion was instrumental in getting me there. The first time I walked through those doors and the worship started my heart melted. I’d never felt anything quite like that before. I was home. And I haven’t looked back.

Since then (seven years now) I have actively worked on my relationship with my heavenly father. He has changed me from the inside out in ways I didn’t know were possible. He doesn’t stop working on me – I screw up and he’s still there. And that right there is the beauty, the spectacular, the amazing and most definitely the life-altering in my story.

The emptiness I endured in my 20’s has been replaced by peace and confidence in who I am (in Him). The fears and insecurities I faced are melting away as I learn to see myself as God sees me.

He has taught me about forgiveness. I have been able to genuinely forgive people in my past – people I thought I had forgiven but until I had been truly forgiven myself, I didn’t understand what this meant.

I have been able to lean on God through the most stressful periods of my life, and retain a sense of knowing, that in spite of everything else, He will carry me through. Life hurts, but I am never alone and there is always hope.

I was sustained through five years of being single, holding on to the promise that there is a greater plan for my life – that promise is the most amazing thing. Now I am being shown what it is to be a wife within a christian marriage which is truly blessed.

I am grateful for everything I have, which I know comes from God. I also strive daily to actually live a Christian life. It doesn’t always come naturally to me (especially patience!) but as each day passes, I find the things I need coming to me more and more. I know that this is the work of my amazing God. I slip up. Often. And I am forgiven. Always.

My faith and my relationship with God are making me strive to be a better person – to positively impact my world where before, I was all about me. To Him be the glory. I’m just following the steps He places in front of me, and listening to the whispers of His voice.

I still consider myself a ‘baby christian’ and I’m okay with that. But in light of that, and the many and amazing ways my life has been changed, it’s pretty awesome to think of the possibilities as I get to know my heavenly father more and more.

Will you tell me your story?

AbbiesBabble

We all have a story

I used to think that I didn’t have a testimony. I am so ordinary and I didn’t have a big ‘ah-ha’ moment or life changing interaction with God. “I don’t have anything to say” I used to tell myself. How can anything I say make a difference to anyone else? I mean, we’ve all heard those amazing powerful testimonies.

  • The now successful businessman who used to be an alcoholic.
  • The local boutique owner who used to practice witchcraft.
  • The band member who was addicted to drugs.
  • The suicidal teenager, who was planning to end his life.

All now saved by the grace and mercy of God. These are actually testimonies that I have heard – in full, these stories made me weep. They are powerful. So when I hear amazing things like that, I’m even more convinced that my boring, ordinary life and faith is best kept to myself. Right?

Wrong.

We all have a story

I don’t know when, where or how I managed to change my thinking, but I now realise that we ALL have something to share. Something we should be sharing. We all have a testimony – which is, after all, simply our story of how God came into our life, and the changes He has made within us. Our opportunity to glorify the work he has done in us.

Yes, some people have one distinct moment, where they are aware God entered their lives and started to change them. Others, like myself, were more of a slow burn. I gave my heart to Christ as a seven-year old, but I didn’t develop a relationship with Christ until I was 30 years old. Either which way, once we have God in our lives, we ALL have a testimony that we should share.

I’m thinking that most people probably fall into the ‘ordinary’ category like me. Which is of course NOT to put the ‘ordinary’ tag on us, our story, or God! More to say, perhaps we fall into the majority with simple, rather than spectacular stories. So perhaps people need to hear more ‘ordinary’ testimonies to be confident to share their own.

Here’s my testimony.

If you have your story on your blog, please feel free to add the link in the comments below so we can all read of each other’s amazing journey.

AbbiesBabble

Feeling strong

It came as a bit of a shock to me the other day.

I realised I was okay.

I am actually okay. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have clarity, peace and calm – my thoughts and feelings aren’t overshadowed by one specific emotion or event. I’m living and I’m doing fine. Better than that, I feel strong!

We’ll ignore the massive head cold which has me taking over-the-counter medication every six hours just to function. Because that’s not a big deal, that’ll be done by the weekend.

I’m talking inner, emotional, I can deal with life right now, strong.

It’s probably a bit sad that this came as a shock but if I look back, well I’ve been through the wringer in the last few years. I’ve dealt with my mum’s illness and passing, moving to a new town where I don’t know anyone, blending a family, watching my daughter struggle so desperately with the changes in our lives, and saying goodbye to my Gran. Oh, and being a newlywed. So yes there have obviously been some extreme highs in that time too!

I am still grieving my mum (10 months) and my Gran (one month) and I know I will, possibly forever. I won’t ever let them go. But I’ve reached a point where my grief no longer controls me. I don’t doubt Christmas will be hard. Very hard – I’ve already swallowed back tears more than once when I’ve heard The Little Drummer Boy playing in stores. My mum used to play this on the piano, I can still see the torn yellow cover of her sheet music. But the things is, I’m able to swallow the tears now. Most of the time.

Life comes and goes in seasons. I hope that I’m approaching a season of ‘normal’ life. Whatever that is?! Something settled perhaps? My husband has only really known me when I’ve been dealing with challenges (bless him, he’s a-m-a-y-z-i-n-g). I’ve leaned on him so hard, I’m so grateful to God for sending me this wonderful man at a time I wouldn’t want to have gone through alone.

Yes I will still face challenges. Nobody ever said life was easy. But I feel more well-equipped emotionally to deal with things at the moment, without spiraling into stress with every little thing. I’ve got this. Actually, God’s got this, He’s got me. He’s had me all along. This has definitely been a year of growth in my spiritual life.

Never Lose HopePhilippians 4:13 became a bit of a mantra for me in this time, I was often muttering it under my breath.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Yeah, sometimes just saying it once wasn’t enough!

I will say, to anyone reading this who is facing tough times please hang in there. Please know that it will get better. This is the first time in 3-4 years I could ever say that I felt strong and calm. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, always hope, always a way through.

What a ramble. Thanks for still reading!

AbbiesBabble

 

Scripted Sunday: Overcomer

This is my daughter’s favourite song. Which I love for her – awesome lyrics. Not that I’ve created it, I’m going to print this and put it up on her noticeboard…

Overcomer

AbbiesBabble

Where do you get your nourishment?

Imagine if you tried to eat only once a week.

I think for most of us, that would be something of a disaster right? Our body needs nourishment, it needs food daily for us to thrive.

As my pastor pointed out the other week, we also need to nourish our souls daily – we need God’s Word. Yes, we go to church on Sunday for teaching – but that might only sustain us. If we’re to flourish we need to seek the Word throughout the week as well.

It’s such a simple analogy, I can’t believe I’d never heard, or thought of it before!

It got me thinking where and how I have the Word in my life. I’m terrible at sitting down and reading the bible for a set time each day. Which bugs me no end. I could justify it and say that I’m just too busy. But why justify it? It is what it is. But I’m not avoiding God. Nor am I saying I’m right by the way – I’d love to carve that time out, I know I should make my Lord priority. Hmm, that sounds bad, He is priority, I just need to shake things up to make more time to deeply study with Him.

The way I see it, the Bible is our most awesome handbook for how to live our best life. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking this life thing one day at a time. I do not have it sorted. The fact that there is a handbook, a best practice, guidelines, rules even, right there to help us get the most out of it, well that’s pretty awesome in my eyes.

I am better off when I spend more time with the Word and I know it.

In the tough times, there’s advice and comfort.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 51:4

In all times there’s the one thing I know at the core of my being, I need and want the Word to direct my path that I live my best life for God.

“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart”. Psalm 40:8

As I said, I’m not good at finding a specific time each day to sit down and study, so I’ve got to be creative about how I do this.

At the moment these are the various ways I spend time with God during the day:

  • Prayer – I pray all the time. I have an ongoing conversation with God. If someone pops into my head, I pray for them. My driving time (I do a lot of that!) is also good prayer time for me. I always end my day with prayer too.
  • Life FM – we listen to Christian radio which delivers a lot of fun, especially in the breakfast show, but the messages are great as well. I know it’s prompted some really interesting conversations with the children, and I’ve been deeply touched many times.
  • Music – I have playlist upon playlist of great worship music and christian artists on my Spotify account. My iPod travels with me everywhere and I’m all about filling my head with positive, mainly faith-based messages.
  • The Word For Today – a short daily devotional that I keep beside my toilet. Well um, sometimes that’s the only time you get a couple of minutes to yourself when you have four children!
  • Blogging – I often blog about matters of faith and this writing time in itself becomes a time with God. Not to mention reading, commenting on, and encouraging other blogs/bloggers in their faith journey.
  • My bible – yes, I do actually sit down and read my bible too. Like I said, I don’t set a specific time for this or necessarily do it daily, but I do read it. I still have the NIV Study bible I bought as a 16-year-old but The Bible is one book I prefer to read on the iPad. My favourite app is Tecarta where I’ve purchased a few bible versions and devotional books as well.
  • Devotionals – I have a few of these (books) beside my bed and on my iPad which I use from time to time for a quick dip into the Word.
  • Online Bible Studies – I’m a great one for signing up to online studies, then running out of time to follow through properly. So I label the incoming emails and file them together, then,  when I feel like tackling a particular topic, or know I have a few hours to myself, I’ll take on a few of the emails at a time. Joyce Meyer and Proverbs 31 Ministry are two of my favourite sources for these devotionals and online studies.
  • Conversation – the dinner table is a great one with the kids, or in the car.

What’s your favourite way to spend time with God?

Your word is a lamp to my feet

AbbiesBabble

To my strong-willed, passionate, very loved, almost-8-year-old daughter

Dear Nat

You have had a rough time lately and I want to encourage you. I want to tell you that you are amazing. I want you to know that even though we do most definitely have our challenges, we are going to work it out. I want to tell you (again and forever) just how loved and special you are to me.

Baby girl in your short life you’ve dealt with a lot. I say that carefully, because I know a lot of other kids have dealt with a lot too. Some of their things bigger. But you know what, in your life, you have dealt with a lot of big loss and change among other things, and I don’t want to take away from that. Nor do I want those things to define who you become in a bad way.

Yes your dad left you, pretty much at birth. I know what it is to be abandoned by your father, not so young, but I understand. I know that it makes it hard for you to trust people, especially Richard. It’s like a part of you, even though you don’t want it, is waiting for him to reject you like your father did. And I know that’s why you are so hot and cold with him. But my darling, you can trust him. He is learning to be your dad as much as you are learning to be his daughter. Please know I chose very carefully, he IS a wonderful husband and father and when you are ready, you will see that. He loves you. He makes mistakes, we all do, but he loves you. He is also sent from God. Harris6 is a family that is meant to be together and nothing will separate us. But know that I understand how you feel, it took me many years to accept my step-father too and you know that I now look at Pop-Pop as my only dad. Hang in there and trust. Trust me, trust Richard but most of all trust God’s plan for our family.

You live your life with so much passion – your emotions are so clearly on the very outside, you feel EVERYTHING so intensely. Good and bad. You are also a VERY strong-willed young lady. More than me and more than your Gee. That’s big, because you know that my mum and I are very strong ladies! These are not bad things. They can be good things if you are willing to learn about them. They definitely challenge me as your mum because at the moment, you want to question and defy pretty much everything I say and ask of you. Some days I feel like I’ve spent the day fighting a battle with you and that’s hard. I have always taught you obedience. How many times do you hear me say ‘obey straight away’? But I’m learning. I’m learning that it’s not your nature. That you need to know the reasons why, that you need to know what’s coming up, that I need to roll with it a little more and the less I fight your fighting back, the more we can get done. I’m trying baby. Every single day I’m trying to be the best mum I can – you hear me pray every night for God to guide me as your parent to help you be the best you can be, and I mean that from the bottom of my big toe.

Even on the days where your yelling and screaming and crying pushes me to the edge of crying myself, I never stop loving you. I never will bubba. I will love you to the end of the world and back. Sometimes I think your behaviour is purely to test this. Especially when I tell you I love you and you say ‘but how can you when I’ve been so naughty’. You will always get the same answer from me. “I will always love you. I might not like your behaviour but I will always love you. Nothing you can do will push me away or make me stop loving you. Same as God”. You don’t need to fear rejection from me baby. I will never do that to you.

Your strong will and passion will see you go far in life. I believe you have leadership inside of you. When you were dedicated Pastor Jack saw and prayed amazing things over your life. NEVER forget that. Sometimes, in the moment, when your emotions are running on super drive, remember that God is always working on us, always teaching us. He didn’t plant these amazing things in you to not use you for greatness in some way. And I will be your biggest cheerleader all the way.

Your Gee was also one of your biggest cheerleaders. One of her biggest sadnesses when she got really sick was that she wasn’t going to see you grow up. Wasn’t going to see you finish school, university, have a family of your own. She loved you so much and I know you loved her too. You are so lucky to have had such a special bond with a grandparent. I know you miss her crazy much, I do too. And that’s okay. You never have to stop missing her. Just know that you always carry her in your heart and she’s watching you from heaven cheering you on in everything you choose to do. Pop Pop is still here and he loves you as much as Gee did. I know it’s hard when he lives in a different town but you still get to see him and we’ll make sure you still get your special weekends with him.

You see beautiful girl, you are loved. So very loved.

Keep living a big life my girl. I think you are learning about friendships now and understanding what it is that makes a good friend. I hope for you to be a good friend and to make good choices about the people in your life. Choose people who make you the best version of you – and do that for them too. Don’t change who you are because of what someone else says or does. Don’t try to be anything other than yourself: an amazing kind and caring person who throws their whole heart into life. You don’t have to be the best at anything. You have to live a happy life and be willing to work hard. Let God direct your path, remain teachable.

Every night before I go to bed I come into your room. I switch your lamp off and kiss your cheek. And in that moment Natty, anything bad we said or did that day has disappeared. My heart grows with a wave of love for you. Together, we can work through anything. I love you so much I can’t even explain. You’ll understand one day.

Be strong, be you.

Blessings

Mummy x

Your than you

AbbiesBabble

Scripted Sunday: This I Believe

This morning in church it was so wonderful to be led in worship by the kids worship band. Their young voices (none of them yet at high school) were equally talented and genuine. I have no doubt there are future worship leaders in that group. So great to see friends of our own children up on stage.

The kids sang one of my current favs, a Hillsong Worship song. The Creed. These lyrics just hit me every time I hear them and I want to worship with every part of my being.

This is exactly what I believe.

The Creed. This I Believe

AbbiesBabble

On death and dying: Brittany Maynard made us all think

Brittany Maynard
Brittany Maynard. Image from cnn.com

Brittany Maynard was a 29 year woman who left this earth over the weekend. Her story made media headlines worldwide. Why? Because she made a choice for medically assisted suicide (legal where she lived) before the cancer in her brain could ravage her mentally and physically before killing her. You can read her story here.

There are a lot of people talking about, and writing about Brittany, and the choice that she very publicly made. Last night when her name flashed through the news headlines my husband turned to me and said ‘what do you think about all that?’. My honest answer was:

“I don’t know”.

When it comes to medically assisted suicide/euthanasia or whatever you what to call it:

On the one hand, I think Brittany made a brave and informed decision. She knew what she could be facing, and she chose to spare herself, and her loved ones from an inevitably grisly death. It’s really important that she was clinically ‘sane’ (clear in judgement) when she made this decision. I don’t judge, it’s not my place. Brittany made an impossibly hard decision in a really awful circumstance. Honestly, I’m not scared of death because I know death in this life, means the beginning of my eternal life, but if I were in Brittany’s shoes, could I say I’m not scared of dying?

On the other hand, I know that as humans, we don’t determine our days on this earth. “Mortals have a limited life span. You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—you set the boundary and no one can cross it” (Job 14:5 MSG). This is, for me, a matter of faith, and my fears have to surrender to that faith. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2Tim 1:7 NLT).

So there is my decision. It would not be the right thing for me.

It’s a murky water generally and a much bigger argument that what is right or wrong depending on the beliefs of each individual. What about the elderly who have come too far to make a ‘sane’ choice? What about children who can’t make the choice for themselves? What about the intellectually challenged without the capacity to make the decision? What about caregivers/family members with selfish motives (caring for a long-term ill loved one is taxing)? If this becomes legal, who makes the decisions, who stands up for the weak, the young, the challenged? Who makes sure this isn’t abused?

This is big. I’m not here to solve the issue.  I make the decisions for myself.  I don’t judge others. I pray.  And I pray that I never have to apply this in my life.

I will come back to Brittany to end this. I think Brittany was brave. At the end of her life, she opened herself to criticism, judgement and contempt. But she stood up and fought for what she believed was right. And she got a lot of people talking openly about a big scary controversial subject. So whether we agree with her decisions or not, I think she did good.

Brittany Maynard Words

AbbiesBabble