The Sling Shot Shooter . . .

When you feel like you’re going backwards . . .

Think:
SLING SHOT!

Wikipedia describes the ‘sling shot’ as:
A small hand powered projectile weapon.
A Y-shaped frame held in the non dominant hand,
with two natural rubber latex strips attached to the uprights.
The other end of the two strips
lead back to a pocket that holds the projectile.
The dominant hand grasps the pocket and draws it back
to the desired extent to provide power for the projectile.

Sometimes we have to be pulled back,
To an extent determined by the shooter,
In order to be propelled further forward.

It is the Y-shaped frame
of our circumstances and situations,
that sets us up for the stretch.
So if you’re asking . . .
Then that’s the reason Y !

Know that He, the one in control
Has you held in a pocket,
while engaging you in the stretch
of the backward pull.

And at the right time
He’ll release you
and watch you fly
to meet your assigned target.

When I think back over my life and the various situations and circumstances I’d rather have not encountered (be they the result of my own choices or not), I can see with hindsight, that those times have pulled me back into spaces and places outside of my control, in order to deal with deeper underlying unknown and/or unseen issues, so that I may then step further forward into my future, wherever and whatever that holds for me.

As difficult as those times are, it’s a process of trusting the pull (which can also be a push) as a directive from my higher source – God, into facing issues head on, heart on, to bring those issues out into the light, thereby disempowering them from further impacting my life. But it is a HUGE journey of trust and belief. Trusting and believing that He’s holding me in that stretch. Trusting and believing that He has hold of me, like that of in a pocket. Trusting and believing that the dominant hand with which that pocket is held is the strongest hand, and who stronger than the Hand of God. So it’s up to me to see that on the other side of that pocket is the hand of the one determining the extent of the stretch that I’m in . . . and so I am therefore safe with Him to ‘lean in’ to deal with that.

As one on the journey, who has leaned in to address the why . . . I can vouch for seeing and experiencing some of the what – those assigned targets I didnt know about back then, but Im enjoying their benefits now. Internal shifts and adjustments that have taken effect as a result of leaning into the stretch. Things that are beyond my understanding, but are definitely my experience. And while I dont know why those ‘stretches’ in particular, I do know what they brought out of me, and about in me.

The process and the extent of the stretch can at times seem unbearable, like “Does He really know what He’s doing?” but now I see . . . the further back He pulls, the further forward I can go. The deeper the well, the more it can be filled, with that which it is to hold. The stronger the foundation, the higher the building . . . and so on it goes . . . BUT when you’re still in the stretch of the ‘backward pull’ that Y-shaped frame holds a lot of questions, all beginning with: “Why?” and that I believe, is because we dont yet know the “What!” What is this all for? If nothing else, then I say: Let it be (at the very least) for a better me! A more whole version of me. But at the very best, let it be (as with any parent for their child), adequate preparation time for what is ahead:

Why would He not prepare me for
What He knows He has prepared for me?
It’s the WHY behind the WHAT.
The WHY that I know now,
is preparing me for
the WHAT I dont know now,
but I WILL know it later.

So then: I wont let my WILL, WHY me out of my WHAT.

I WILL walk through my WHY, to prepare for my WHAT, so that I WILL be ready for it.

#GodIsMySlingShotShooter
#IAmHeldInHisDominantHand
#IAmHisSlingShotPocketRocket

Village Sports Days

On this 6 week trip, most of what I did focused on 3 villages around Lusaka, which involved a number of ‘Fun days’ which revolved around sports, games, and sharing stories of faith.

Across the ‘Fun days’ we played tunnel ball, netball, soccer, messy food games, and some gentler ball games for the younger kids who were too scared to get involved due to the ‘big kids’ extreme enthusiasm.

I remember the adults telling me: “While you’ve brought our children much fun and laughter! So much joy! You’ve only brought us adults work! Now that they have a netball and a soccer ball, they’ve set up their teams, and have been asking us to create for them good places to play. So now we have fields to clear in order to make a netball court and a soccer field.”

I remember playing this messy food game: . . . two teams – boys and girls, where a child from each team with their arms behind their back, had to use their teeth to pick out as many smarties as they could, out of a bowl of yellow custard, within a set time frame. So having finished the game, I put the bowls aside and walked over to where I had another game set up. But when I turned around, the kids had not followed me. Instead they had gone for the bowls and were now standing in their teams, circled around the bowls of custard taking in turns at dipping their faces in to lick out what remained. That’s a lot of nose diving! Ewww ! ! ! (I had carefully considered and discussed with my team, the idea of playing food games with kids who would likely rather eat it than play with it. But as you can see from the photos, they had just as much fun playing with it, and then eating it anyway.)

Then there was also their attempts to teach me their games, which was quite hilariuos. The game with boxes drawn in the dirt is a side ways jumping game that you sing along with as you jump. So not only was I getting a cardio workout while learning the game, I was also learning the language, all within a non english speaking environment.

One of my favourite photos is with a young boy with a fabulously lengthy name.
The cutest little kid I ever did meet. Our bond was sealed with that chupa chup.

Tunnel ball fun.
The squeals and the laughter . . .
The anticipation . . .
Kick off!
The netball team.
The soccer team.
Playing gently.
This is what we used to play football with: we would search and search for old plastics, and tie them up with string. This ball is very small because that was all the plastic we could find.

The boys representative.
The girls representative.


Kiliyu Kiliyu (Kill-ee-you! Kill-ee-you! . . In English, that sounds like an ominous game! )
I found my game instructions amongst my notes.

You had me at:” Chupa Chup?”

Racism & Prejudice

In regards to the recent (and the not so recent) deaths due to racism and prejudice, regardless of colour and/or any other perceived justified reason for such behaviour to any extent, life threatening or not, I considered my own power to have influence, based on the choices that I make.

Two stories came to mind. Both of which I experienced while in Africa in 2013.

Story One: I had gotten off my bus at the station and was now walking through a marketplace to get to the stop where I would catch my bus home. It was while I was walking through the market in the middle of the day, albeit not very busy, that a guy casually started walking beside me . . . I continued walking with my backpack on my front (because that’s the ‘safest’ place for it) when a group of guys (obviously his) stepped out from a stall and surrounded me.

First it was just the usual jeering, but then it became more threatening in the tone of their voices, their comments, and their reaching for me and my backpack. While everything within me was trembling with fear, I kept my head high, stared them down, and spoke back at them with the same volume that they were using to taunt me.

There was a brief moment of thinking: “I’m in a market with people all around me, and no one is doing anything to help out a woman being taunted by a group of young men.” It was then that I realised, that apart from divine assistance, I was in this alone.

Then I dont know how (other than that divine assistance), but one of the guys in response to something I said, stepped back laughing, and that was my ‘gate of escape’ and I ran for it!

Story two: I was walking along a street, with shop fronts on my left, and fruit and vegetable market vendors lined the curb on my right. A guy started walking along beside me, making loud intimidating comments. I was ignoring him, hoping that if I didnt respond, then he’d give up.

Then came a voice, loud and clear, a real serious ‘you better listen to me’ voice and I turned to see an African Mama behind her stall yelling something, that made him turn and walk away, leaving me alone.

I went and thanked that woman for having the courage to speak up, because without her voice, who knows how that situation may or may not have played out.

And so we all have a choice,
And we make that with our voice.

That woman changed my situation,
Through her verbal declaration.

She chose to stand in authority.
Looking out for me – a minority.

And so I’m reminded to be on the look out?
For when someone else needs a way out!

Racism: prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised. (www.lexico.com)

And so just as that African woman in her own country was able to influence one of her own to stop his behaviour, so too as an Australian in my own country, I have the same power by way of using my voice, to influence such behaviour towards anyone, minority or not.

I am well aware that as a white Australian I have not experienced racism to the degree that other cultures have. But such experiences (as in the above stories) when I am a minority in another country, have helped me to have a small insight in to how it feels to experience such treatment because of my colour, and also how it feels to be alone in that, and rescued from that.

And so out of that, here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago:

Sometimes we look without seeing it.
And sometimes we see without looking for it.

Sometimes we dont like what we see.
And so we turn our head to avert our look.

For we wont see
If we dont look.

Or maybe its a matter of listening & hearing.
Comments & conversations that resonate with slandering.

When we dont agree,
with what we hear.

But we turn away,
with a closed ear.

Listen to hear,
the words that are spoken.

Extend your ear,
to correct thoughts that are broken.

BECAUSE

Words from the mouth
BEGIN AS
Thoughts in the mind
.

Thoughts gone south
LEAD TO
Humanity bein’ unkind.

Look that you might see.
And when you see
Continue to look . . .

Search every nook.

Be it found within you.
Or seen in another.
Challenge it & change it!
Stand up for each other.

And so:
I’m challenged to look within myself.
My mind, my heart, my words and behaviours.
To see is there anything sitting on my inner shelf.

While ignorance is no excuse,
Arrogance is a form of abuse.

Connecting in Isolation

I wrote the piece below when we first went in to ‘iso.’
I share it because I can’t be the only one who has struggled? In fact, I know I’m not!
And so I’m hopeful that in sharing my thoughts and challenges, it may well help someone else.
If not, that’s okay too . . .

For me (and maybe for you too) ‘iso’ has been a time of learning how to navigate my virtual spaces. And even my ‘actual’ spaces as I restrain from the physical ribbing that goes along with my usual banter and in person interaction. So, for the virtual challenge:
Where do I ‘feel’ comfortable contributing?
Where do I ‘feel’ seen and heard?
Where do I ‘feel’ invisible?
Where do I ‘feel’ overwhelmed?
And yet it shouldn’t be about feelings, because feelings can be misguided, fleeting, and based on one’s perception.
But it is about acknowledging those feelings, so that I can learn from them, and make the necessary adjustments and corrections, to build a stronger, better me.
It is about creating a ‘healthy space’ for myself: not to be selfish, but to self care.
Because it’s from that ‘healthy space’ that I can be better, and do better, in my reaching out to help others. So . . .

When being online connected
leaves you feeling more disconnected.
When Covid isolation
highlights your solo situation.

When you dont usually hug just anybody,
but today you’d love a hug from somebody.
When you choose to disconnect,
in order to self-protect.

And you tell yourself:
Points of connection
ARE NOT
Points of validation.

You are not the value of
likes, comments, or shares.
You are not the value of
video chats, calls, or text.

You are not the value of
receiving all of these,
receiving none of these,
or any amount in between of these.

And you know it’s true
Times of isolation
make way for
internal reflection.

Your value cannot change,
it is who you are within.
But your value does have range,
in how much you share it out.

So dont withdraw, pull back, retract,
but spread it wide and send it far.
You just dont know who you impact,
when you ‘step out’ as who you are!

#MakeThatCallSendThatText
#BeProactive
#TakeTheInitiative


Core Strength!

Our physical strength
is determined by
Our core strength.

Strong Core muscles:
Give a sturdy central link.
Enhance balance and stability.
Prevent falls and injuries.
Underpinning much of what we do.
As they enable greater output from
our core, our leg & our arm muscles.

In this time of isolation
I’m challenged to look at
And to strengthen:
My cognitive core
(my thoughts and what I read).
My emotional core
(my feelings and where they lead).
My spiritual core
(through faith and prayer, how much I intercede).

Building on
a sturdy centred link spiritually.
Focusing on
cognitive balance and stability.
Aiming to
prevent emotional ‘falls’ and ‘injuries.’

They’re underpinning what I do.
Enabling greater output.
As I step out (with my feet)
To reach out (with my hands)
To help and support others.

Let’s work on our holistic core strength.
For it determines how we stand:
Physically.
Spiritually.
Cognitively.
Emotionally.
Relationally.
All of which determines our ripple effect . . .

#CoreCommitment !
#CommitmentToTheCore !

The 5 Love Languages

1) Words of Affirmation
2) Gifts
3) Quality Time
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch

In this time of isolation:
Many of us have lost number 5
And numbers 1 to 4 are surely depleted
Due to our lack of social life.

So find another way:
Numbers 1 and 2
Send a card, a gift,
Do whatever you can do.

For both numbers 3 and 4
Call for a chat,
Or leave a treat at their door.

#LoveIsNotLikeVegemite
#DontBeSpreadingItThin
#LoveNeedsToBeLikePuddingWithTheTrifecta
#TheTrifectaBeingCustardCreamANDIcecream
#LavishWithLove

Living according to ‘ACE’

I’d forgotten about this piece (the image below) that I wrote a few months back. But on the morning of Saturday April the 4th I was reminded of it in light of this current time we are in, and the limited ‘spaces’ and ‘places’ that we now have.

Fully EMBRACE:
What does it mean to fully embrace?
It’s an expression of being ‘ALL IN‘ and ‘FULLY THERE.’
How do we know if we are fully embracing somthing, or even someone?
Because we are not rushing to leave.
We’ve wrapped ourselves around it / them, and we’re not letting go.

The SPACE that you have:
As the person you are, with the gifts, abilities, personality and traits that make you you, connecting you to the individiuals / circles that you ‘mix’ with.
Even in this time of social distancing, we still have our ‘spaces’ with those people, in those circles. It’s just not in the same physical place anymore.
And so I was challenged, how am I ‘showing up’ in those circles, to occupy my space, to bring the me that is me?

In the PLACE where you are:
Wherever that may be: at home or at work (which for many is now also at home).
In as recent times as January 2019BC (BeforeCovid19), being in the same physical place together, we still each occupied our own space (I dont mean in terms of physical stature, but in our personality and humour) and what that brings to that circle.

With the GRACE that you know:
as people are stressed and stretched beyond their usual capacity, we are called to show even more grace. When we fully embrace (give a virtual hug) to the space we have been given in their world, by way of where God has placed us. Then that level of grace (that we know we have received) is what we are called to give.

For this RACE that you run:
More now than ever, the world stands united – A P A R T. All because of a virus. It’s definitely not the race that we thought we would be running. But there’s a race that is ALWAYS on, as we run in pursuit of wholeness: cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual.

1 Corithians Chapter 9 Verse 24:
(NKJ – New King James Version) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
(HP Version) Run your race, with a full embrace of grace, through every space and place.

#WeEachHaveOurOwnRaceToRunWithOurOwnPrizeToWin

#RunToWinYourRaceForYouThatYouWouldThenBeAbleToLightTheWayForOthers


seek.com

SEEK: The desire to obtain or achieve.

As we truly SEEK
We looK to SEE.

When what was hope.
Becomes our reality!

There is coming a season:

You may not know how?
Just that ‘things’ are as they be!

So S – T – R – E – T – C – H your faith
And trust in Me.

As you keep on looking
With a desire to see.

In those places
There you’ll find Me.

I’m not limited by your reason!
– God

Just as this plant grows out between the bricks in a hard place.
Developing stronger roots, all the better to ‘hang in there’ with.
God is growing us through isolation and its hard space.
Strengthening our core, to build a more resilient pith.
seek.God

A little encouragement . . .

I have tried for hours to put words to this image.
But I’m stuck!
Nothing I write captures what I’m trying to say . . .
So I’ll just tell you how it happened . . .

After a day of reading and hearing too much social media.
In a moment of angst, I said to God:
“I need something here and now!”
And this was the immediate response to my callout!

‘Wisdom & Faith’ is the ‘mantra’ of my church.
Because that is all we can do:
Use wisdom in order to flatten the curve.
Apply faith & prayer, from this we will emerge!

Be encouraged as I was at that time,
and continue to be through this time!

A reason, a season, or . . .

Today (Friday February 7th) as I was leaving work, contemplating my last day here (having spent the last 6 months working as a casual employee), before commencing my new permanent place of work next week, I consoled myself with a variation of an old quote:

from
‘Friends are for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’
to
‘Everything happens for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’

I thought about all the reasons and seasons I’ve been through in this place, and in other workplaces, but especially here as it’s been such a huge part of my lifetime. When I’ve ‘stepped out’ to travel to Africa, or to a new place of employment, ‘this place’ has been somewhere I could come back to, helping me to find my feet again.

It’s the place where I am known. The place where I grew up. The place that taught me everything I know. With all its politics and varied relationships, some close and others completely indifferent, this is another version of what I would call ‘family.’ So while it ‘feels like’ I’m leaving, I’m not. What I am leaving, is my comfort zone.

For all the years I’ve known this saying, today as I thought of moving to my new place of employment and how everything happens for a reason, a season, or a lifetime I heard this response: Could it be for a season, with a reason, for a lifeline?

Let me tell you a story about ‘Naamah’ and ‘Sarah’:

Back in November last year (2019) I briefly met my new neighbours Naamah and Boris as I was rushing out and they were coming home (our doors are side by side in our apartment building). Naamah said “We should organise tea.” But then due to a miscommunication it didn’t happen and so a few weeks later I decided to follow it up. Because I’m naturally shy, quiet and awkward, I admit that my follow up was prompted by a ‘random act of kindness’ challenge through a women’s group I’m part of within my church circle. And so it was a couple of weeks later Naamah and I met for tea, and had a great afternoon getting to know each other.

It was a week or two after that in December, that Naamah’s Aunt Sarah arrived from their home country to visit for a 6 week holiday. It was on a Sunday afternoon, Naamah asked if we could go for lunch. While we were at lunch chatting about so many things and the importance of having hobbies outside of work, Aunt Sarah asked about my hobbies. And so I told them about my writing, the 3 collaborative books I’ve written, and a brief outline of each.

Aunt Sarah was intrigued and wanted to know more about my writing, but in particular about my first chapter. A book titled Spiritual Conversations, in which my chapter is titled: A raw conversation with God. And so I delved deeper into that chapter, and my story behind it.

While telling my story, feeling choked up as I spoke (because there are parts of it that I still ‘feel’ in remembering the pain), I noticed Naamah smiling from ear to ear, and yet I didnt understand why. But then as I looked at Aunt Sarah, to see her crying, reaching in her handbag for a tissue, I would soon come to know exactly how Naamah’s smiling and Aunt Sarah’s crying was all connected to my story.

Seven months earlier (that’s about May 2019) Aunt Sarah at the age of 40, single, and no children, had a hysterectomy for the condition of uterine fibroids and the resulting anaemia. In struggling to come to terms with it all, she then had another condition to deal with: the diagnosis of depression.

‘Funny’ isn’t it . . . that Aunt Sarah’s story in May 2019, was exactly my story in May 2016 . . . just 3 years earlier, when I was 45. And so while Aunt Sarah spoke of coming to Australia to forget about her situation. I wondered, could it be that God brought Aunt Sarah to Australia, to help her in her situation? And so I love the quote below:

It’s scary to be vulnerable. But when we are (in a safe and healthy place to do so) it has the power to transform what was our pain, into someone else’s gain. While it may be a selfish reason, I like that this in turn gives a sense of purpose to my pain.

And so . . . if God can organise a woman living in another country on the other side of the world (that shares my exact story) to visit her niece, my next door neighbour (who I only just met), that I would then have opportunity to share my story and give her a copy of my book, so that maybe it can help her on her journey . . . could this then have been a 6 week season, with a hysterectomy reason, to be a lifeline for Aunt Sarah as she ‘navigates’ depression?

Who have you been a ‘lifeline’ for today?
Maybe you dont even know it!

And as for your workplace and mine, what if:
It’s not about what we ‘do’ in our place of employment.
But about who we ‘be’ in our place of deployment.
Employed? and/or Deployed?
Our employer employs us for our skills.
But God deploys us for our gifts!

In this current corona crisis, as many of my fellow nurses in casual employment are out of work, I feel like my new permanent workplace is my lifeline.
I feel for all who have lost their employment in this time. But I hope if you are reading this, that you find encouragement in it somehow.

#GodArrangesOurConnectionsLocalAndInternational
#ItIsNotAboutWhatWeDoItIsAboutWhoWeBe

#Deployed
#TheDictionarySaysForcesWereDeployedAtStrategicLocations
#YouAreAForceStrategicallyDeployedAtYourLocation
#BeTheForceYouWereDeployedFor