Hope//Be still

When I’m at the end of my rope, in God there’s still hope.

“Anchor”


I have this hope
As an anchor for my soul
Through every storm
I will hold to You

With endless love
All my fear is swept away
In everything
I will trust in You

There is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave everything to save the world You love
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand
Unshakeable

Unchanging One
You who was and is to come
Your promise sure
You will not let go

Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You

Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You

(By Hillsong Live)


All my hope is in you…

These lyrics gets me every time. It’s my ‘I’m at the end of my rope, but in God there’s still hope’ song.


I’ve had something on my mind lately – reminders here and there – of a time long past, but not forgotten. I don’t know how to describe the magnitude of the situation/experience in just a few words, so I’ll suffice with a simple recap…


As an 18 year old, I got a knock on my door from my pastors, who were there to tell me that a friend (a young child) had been tragically killed in a truck accident. Our families were and are close. It seemed surreal. I handled it as any one would – with ups and downs.


One of the most difficult things was watching his mum grieve. She had lots of ‘why?’ questions on her mind, as did we all.

I didn’t have answers (for her or myself).

But God gave me an incredible assurance – the kind you don’t forget – that while we didn’t understand the reasons, nevertheless, God is good.

GOD IS GOOD.

GOD IS GOOD.

GOD IS GOOD.

Selah…

It’s a simple statement that holds immense truth.

It’s a revelation thing – you can say it, however you don’t really know and understand it until God shows you for yourself.


I know that right now many of you may be experiencing tough times and sadness over all sorts of things. I really encourage you to ask God to show you His goodness (in spite of whatever is going on).

And rest in it.


‘Be still and know that I am God…’ (Psalm 46:10).

Xx

Scripture references: The Holy Bible (several translations)

Photo credit: lum3n.com

https://www.pexels.com/photo/anchor-architecture-building-concrete-237694/


© Girl Growing. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author and owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Girl Growing, http://www.girlgrowing.com

Treading water// Oceans deep

When you find yourself treading water, just hold tight to your mustard seed sized faith and remember that He loves you. Trust. He has you in oceans deep.

Recently I had a really rough week. It felt like I was treading water and at any moment I was going to go under and drown.

Tears flowed.


And frustration.


Sadness. Loneliness. Despair. Pain. Heartache. Grief.


I wished things were different.


They weren’t.


I’m sure you have been there too. When the oceans of life seem too deep to traverse. When all you know in your heart to be true, seems the opposite to what you experience. 


Perhaps you’ve felt bad when you’ve struggled to trust and hope. That’s the place I found myself in.  I know God doesn’t condemn, but I felt disappointed in myself. Why couldn’t I do better?


The answer, I feel, is that I am human. I hurt when my heart breaks. I don’t understand my suffering.


At one of my lowest points, I put worship radio on, trying to dig myself out of the deep pit I’d found myself floundering in. And this song came on…


Trust in you – Lauren Daigle


Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see
I try to win this war
I confess, my hands are weary, I need Your rest
Mighty warrior, king of the fight
No matter what I face You’re by my side


When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You


Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less


When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
I will trust in You


You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood


When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
I will trust in You


I fully understood those words about her struggle. I wanted to trust. I didn’t know how.


At this time, I heard God say to me, “You only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). The tiny bit of faith you feel like you have is enough”.


Wow. I knew He was right. Even at my lowest, I’ve always known that my hope is in Him.


So, if like me, you find yourself treading water, just hold tight to your mustard seed sized faith; remember that He loves you; remember that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). And trust. He has you in oceans deep. He will move mountains for you.


A girl growing mustard seed sized faith xx




Scripture references: The Holy Bible (several translations)

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-ocean-sea-water-175773/


© Girl Growing. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author and owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Girl Growing, http://www.girlgrowing.com


Hope made real

If I hope to get fit, I put my joggers on and go to the gym. If I hope to be a wife and mum I… (come find out!)

For a long time, I’ve dreamt of having an amazing husband and beautiful children, and the joys (and trials) that would come from being a wife and mum.  But you see I’m not a pipe dream kind of girl.  I’m not happy to just sit back with a vague thought in the back of my mind, that maybe one day my dreams will come to pass. 
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of the things we hope for…  and convicted of their reality” (New Century and Amplified Versions). 

I know that when we’re sure of something, we take action.  For example, if we’re sure it’s going to rain, we take our umbrella out with us.  If we’re sure we’re going camping, we take a tent.  If we’re sure we’re going to the gym, we take our joggers.
So doesn’t it make sense when we are sure of our dreams to follow through with some appropriate action?  I think so!

And that is why, in January, I wrote a list of monthly goals for 2015 – things to do to cement and make real my dreams – evidence of the fabulous future that’s ahead of me.  Just one example is that I’m sewing and crocheting some nursery items and clothes for my future babies!  I’m excited to plan and pray for these little ones, to prepare my heart and my home for their footsteps, and to let my dreams well up within me as an assurance that one day, I’m going to be Mum to some gorgeous bubs!

Check out the picture of my latest project – aren’t these pants just the cutest!!!  They remind me of my Grandad who has always worn suspenders.

image

No doubt some people will tell me that my plan will make me look like a ‘crazy cat lady’ (no I don’t own any cats!) and they’ll warn me that I’ll scare away all potential husbands (because clearly guys meeting girls who are in their 30s wouldn’t already assume that they may want kids one day… um, yeah, that’s totally crazy and unexpected). 

Yet others will stand with me and cheer me on. 

Either way, I don’t care. 

I’m a girl on a mission, a person with a plan!  A girl who believes that God is faithful and will provide a way for the hopes and dreams He has placed in my heart, to come to pass.  I’m not sitting back waiting for life to fall in my lap; I’m actively pursuing it.

I’m a girl growing the hope within me! 

I’d love to hear your stories and see your photos of how you’re putting action to your hopes and dreams!  Feel free to share …

The Waiting Game: Don’t Ask Why

Why am I still single? Does God not see or care about my pain and disappointment? Should I even be asking these questions?


When I was younger being single was easy and carefree. And then, I got a little older and suddenly, every Tom, Dick and Harry felt like they had the right to question everything about me and to give their unsolicited opinions and advice on how I should live my life.

99% of the time, I’d laugh off their ridiculous statements and questions, but occasionally, I’d rather foolishly take on board the things they said, and begin to ponder…

Why AM I still single?

Is there something wrong with me?

Am I not {prayerful, attractive, wise, faithful, Godly, financial…} enough?

Have I missed the boat?

Will I have to settle for marrying my friend’s cousin (the one that he/she wanted to set me up on a blind date with, the one that I have nothing in common with, the one I find unattractive in every way, the one who’s about a billion years too old for me, the one who has no ambition or dreams…)? And, if that’s the case, why does everyone else get to be with someone amazing, whilst I get left with the dregs?

How is it fair that I am still single, yet Mr and Mrs Crazyface are happily married? (They’re that couple we all know who seem to defy gravity – living in a self-absorbed way, never showing any wisdom in a single life decision, always taking advantage of others etc.; yet also seeming to constantly win at life)

Does God not see or care about my pain, frustration and disappointment?

These questions would swirl around my mind like a whirlpool (or more accurately – a cesspool) on those tough days. They spoke negativity. They stripped me of hope. They never made me feel good about myself or my future, or even God for that matter. They were dumb questions!

And then one day, a little while back, I read Lamentations 3:25-29 (The Message version). It says,

‘God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear.’

I thought about these words and heartily agreed… with most of them… This was my mindset, my belief, on all of my good days. But… ‘Don’t ask questions’??? When I read those words, I felt somewhat offended and got a little angry with God. Don’t ask questions – You (God) make me wait for all these years, with no answers, and then you’re like, ‘Don’t ask questions’! You’ve seen my faithfulness, even when it was the last thing I felt like giving, and you don’t think I deserve to ask a few questions? What????

And in that moment, I knew I had to decide, would I do what I knew was right even if it went against everything I felt? (Sigh… why can’t obedience be easy! Ha ha)

That day, I stopped asking why. I replaced my questions with trust.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get annoyed at the dumb things people say. But now, I don’t let their questions lead me to questioning who I am or who God is, and the plans He has for me life. When bombarded with their questions and thoughts… I anchor myself in Christ.

Like a young child will jump off the edge of the pool into his/her dad’s arms, with complete trust that he will catch them, I now remember that as I jump into the life God has for me in this moment, He will catch me and lead me forward into my tomorrows and whatever they hold.

I maintain hope as I remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), and He has good plans for my life (Ps 139:16, Jer 29:11). And furthermore, if I want good things for my life, how much more must He (Mt 7:9-11, Is 55:9)!

Whatever stage of life you’re at today, you no doubt have a few questions swirling around your own mind. Perhaps they are similar to those I had. Or perhaps you’re asking, Why don’t I seem to be able to get ahead? How will we survive financially? Have I missed my calling? Why can’t we get pregnant? Why are the kids being so challenging right now? How will I ever be enough (for my marriage, job, parenting role…)?

For me, not asking questions hasn’t meant throwing all common sense to the wind. If I was asking how I’d pay my bills, then that would be a reasonable thing if it was what was motivating me to go to work each day. I guess, I now seek answers to the things that I can do something about, but I trust God with the ‘unknowns’.

What about you and your questions?

I’m not okay

A friend committed suicide yesterday… I’m not okay… We can all lend someone support when they’re not okay…

I’m writing today’s blog entry through tears.  This week has been full of shock factor moments  – earlier in the week we learnt that Robin Williams, the guy who made us all laugh, committed suicide, then a few days later a friend let me know he’s struggling with depression, and just this morning I received a phone call telling me that one of my friends hung herself last night. 

All of this makes me think of ‘Are you okay?’ day which was held earlier in the year to bring awareness to depression and the need for checking in on our family and friends to see that they’re coping with life, and to support them if they are not.  At the time that this day was held, I thought it was a little bit tokenistic – we shouldn’t have just one day on our calendar each year when we care about the welfare of those we love.  Our ‘radars’ for this should always be switched on.

And also, it made me wonder, how many people would actually say, ‘I’m not okay’, if we asked them.  I find that all too often we live in a world where we wear our masks to hide the truth about how we’re really going.  I know myself, I’ve answered the, ‘How are you?’ question with, ‘Well, thanks’, on many occasions when I’ve been anything but. 

Fortunately for me, I have a couple of friends who pick me like a dirty nose (their words ha ha).  I’m so grateful that when I tell them I’m fine/okay, when I’m really not, they know better and they make me talk.  They are the people that I can burst into tears with and share the pain of whatever I’m struggling with at that moment, and they will show me love and give me fresh perspective, and help me know that better days are yet to come.  They don’t pretend that everything is rosy when it isn’t, but nor do they let me wallow.  They just let me express how I’m feeling, before they encourage me to take steps to walk through the pain and the difficult circumstance, and into the good future that is ahead.  I love that about them. 

On the other hand, I hate that my friend took her own life last night – that she didn’t cry out for help when she was overwhelmed with life.  I hate that our world’s mask wearing ways leave people silently hurting, fearing judgement, feeling like they are out of options.  I hate that I am going to miss my friend and all the beautiful things about her that I loved so much.  And I hate that I can’t change what she’s done.

Which is why I decided to write this blog entry – I realised that I could lay on my couch crying, or I could do something positive with my pain by talking about an issue that we all know about, but maybe should give a little more thought to.

I want to be the girl that people can come to with all their rawness, knowing that when they say, “I’m not okay”, I’ll tell them that that’s okay, and that I’m there for them and that I love them.  That I’ll walk with them through their struggles and onto the other side.  That I’ll acknowledge that life is incredibly hard sometimes.  That we all have those times when life seems like one big, black storm cloud and we wonder how we’ll ever get through it.  And, most of all, I want to be the one that helps them to discover the rainbow on the other side of the storm. 

I want to tell them that I know and understand because I’ve been there myself.  My Dad often tells me that God only gives us as much as we can handle – I hate hearing those words – yet they are about the truest words I’ve ever heard.  As I look back on my life, I know that there have been many crazy-beyond-belief storms that I really didn’t know how I’d survive.  Yet, I have.  And we all can – not on our own, but with God’s help and His strength, and some good family and friends around us who we can be real with, knowing that they’ll love and support us.

So, today I want you to think, whose nose are you picking? That is, do people know they can be real with you?  And, how are you offering hope and support to those in your world who are doing it tough? 

Also, when you are facing life’s greatest challenges, what do you do about it?  Do you have people that you can go to?  If you do, that’s amazing, and if you don’t then you need to find some.  For you are so incredibly valuable and precious.  You are loved more than you might ever imagine – even if you don’t always feel it.  And your life has incredible meaning – God created you with great purpose and if your life was to be cut short the world would be so much worse off for it.   

What I’ve written today is raw and unpolished – and I’m leaving it that way on purpose – because my life is better today for having exposed my rawest and most unpolished state/ways to those that ‘pick my nose’ – because in these vulnerable moments, I’ve gained renewed hope, had my batteries re-charged and gained strength to continue to fight my battles and conquer them.  

If today, you’re saying, “I’m not okay”, then I want you to know that admitting that makes you strong and not weak.  I want you to know you are not alone.  And I want to encourage you to get help – talk to a trusted family member or friend, someone at a local church, a counsellor, or another professional.  While you might not be okay today, with some help you can be. 

Here’s some resources that may be helpful if you or someone you know is in a hard place …

http://www.salvationarmy.org
http://www.beyondblue.org.au
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au  http://www.headspace.org.au

xxx

Just Dance!

I guess the, ‘Just Dance’ philosophy is how I want to live my life. Embracing it, living the dream, and loving it, regardless of the crazy and tough things that might be going on around me, or what others might think of me.


I’m a teacher at a beautiful primary school, in an area that can get quite bitterly cold on snowy, or even just wet and windy, days. These are some of my favourite days… especially if it happens to be sports day.
You see, it’s on these occasions that I can put ‘Just Dance’ on the interactive whiteboard and we can have a dance party for P.E. There’s really nothing much cuter than watching little ones proving that they’ve, ‘got moves like Jagger’. 🙂  Not to mention the excitement that, ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Gangnam style’ and ‘What does the fox say?’ (That song never gets old, right ;)) brings out in them.

I love that the child who was feeling sick, or the shy one of the class, is soon up dancing; leaving their troubles behind and just having fun. Unless they’ve hit the, ‘I’m too cool (read, embarrassed) for this’ stage of life, that is. When I see the struggle going on inside these kids minds as they try to decide, ‘Do I do what makes me happy or do I fit in with the crowd?’, it makes me a little sad.

I guess the, ‘Just Dance’ philosophy is how I want to live my life. Embracing it, living the dream, and loving it, regardless of the crazy and tough things that might be going on around me, or what others might think of me.

I want, like Paul, to celebrate God all day every day, to not worry, to think on lovely things, to be happy, and to be content in every situation, rather than becoming a grumbler (Philippians 4:13-14). 

I want to appreciate every good thing in my life…

I want to make the most of the opportunities I have, and to be bold enough to chase my dreams. 

I want to go against the grain, being me and not just another sheep.

I want to ‘shoosh’ the nay-sayers who tell me I’m incomplete or not enough, that my calling is dumb, or that I don’t have what it takes to fulfill my God-given purpose.

Yes, I want to be a mould-breaker, a ‘road less travelled’ kind of girl, a dancer!…

I’m not naive.  I don’t believe that life is a picnic, and I have plenty of battle wounds and scars to prove it.  I don’t want this life because it’s easy… but because it’s worth it.

How about you? 

Will you silence your critics, dream big, and,
‘Just dance.
[Knowing you’re] gonna be okay…
Dance.  Dance.  Dance. 
Just dance!’?
(Thanks, Lady Gaga!)