Sleeping chimneys & trees without leaves

It was some weeks ago that I first wrote this post. And while case numbers are starting to drop and with that, restrictions starting to ease, at the time of writing this, Melbourne was in full Stage 4 lockdown. But even as we are starting to regain some sense of normalcy to our lives, my hope is that in sharing this piece, that you would still gain some encouragement from it.

While sitting out on my blacony, contemplating the title, image and more content for this post, I stared out across my neighbours rooftops. And there it was, just like those trees, many of us feel stripped bare of what we once knew as our routine, and our ‘normal’ everyday life. With hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, or reduced work hours, many people are beyond restless for something to do, for anything to do! Many are ‘feeling’ like the chimneys pictured: there but not being utilised in their purpose. Therefore, seemingly without purpose?

As a teenager growing up, the church I went to was (and still is) on Cant Road. In remembering this, it made me think . . . how many of us, in this current time of Covid19, are stuck on Cant Road, or maybe it feels more like being stuck in and unable to turn around to get out of Cant Court? (Yes, it is an actual court in Hilary’s WA).

While not wanting to minimise anyone’s situation or circumstances (because this storm is different for everyone), one thing that has helped me is to:

not look at what
I can’t do
IN
this time.

but instead
to look at what
I can do
WITH
this time.

Not to look at it as:
a RESTRICTION FROM
But to look at it as:
an INVITATION TO.

For me it’s been an invitation to:
1) Sort, tidy, clean, re-organise and cull all the unnecessary clutter in the spaces and places within my apartment that I never get around to doing, or that just need doing again. It’s amazing that in doing all that, it unclutters my headspace and my heart space as well.
2) Start an online book club with a small group of friends. That’s my way of working through the ‘unread but still want to read’ books on my bookshelf. It’s also another pre-arranged point of connecting with friends, which is especially important for those of us who live alone. Although I must say now that I am allowed a ‘bubble buddy,’ the day I just spent with a friend and her Miss 7 was the ‘BEST DAY EVER’ in several months!
3) Do something crafty. So I am revisiting days from many years past, and experimenting at making cards again. Because in these times, encouragement is one thing everyone is in need of . . . and handmade cards . . . well I think they’re extra special and unique.
4) Write a chapter for another collaborative book. This has since been submitted, edited, and is now in the final stages before being proof read.
And last of all, my favourite achievement this far has been 5) in being able to continue doing a course that has helped me deal with difficult ‘life experience’ from my past, so that it doesn’t continue to negatively impact and influence my present, and also my future. Thanks to technology, this course was converted to an online platform, and as a result I’ve been able to complete three more units, leaving just one more unit til its completion.
But they are just my experiences, as examples that will maybe stir your thoughts to discover your own ideas as to what you may choose to do with this time.

Over the past several months, I’ve also felt the need to keep a check on my language both in my thinking and in my speaking. From can & can’t to will & won’t. In choosing not to look at what I can’t do, I then choose to see opportunities in what I can do. Out of those options that I can do, the choice is then mine as to what I decide I will and won’t do.

Here’s an example of mine:
I can apply wisdom in line with Covid safe practice, to do all that I can to minimise my risk of exposure. After that the rest is outside of my control, and so comes my will and my won’t:
I will exercise my faith in my higher power – God, to look after me through this time, whatever that journey looks like.
I won’t give in to fear and worry. As that just starts the anxiety ball rolling . . . suppressing my immune system making me more susceptible to illness, which is the opposite of what I (or any of us) need in this time. What positive effect does worrying achieve anyway?

I continue to be determined that I will come out of this as a better person for the experience, and not bitter from the experience. I will seek to do that which supports and builds not only myself, but also those that I interact with. And while being aware of the reality of life as it currently is, and all that is happening during this time, I won’t allow my eyes and ears to go to spaces and places that put my mind at risk of falling in, to be caught up in the hype and chaos of mainstream media.

So if you are feeling like a tree stripped bare, or a chimney without purpose, know this, that our feelings are unreliable and ever changing, as they come and go. Trees change through each season, and chimneys are utilised for a reason. As I reflect on the season of Winter when deciduous trees go in to a dormant state (like hibernation), it is in this same season that the chimney finds its purpose. But it’s only a well-functioning chimney that can direct the smoke away from the fireplace, and out of the house. While some things are going into hibernation, others have a fire burning beneath them that in turn requires them to fulfill their function.

So while we can’t control the seasons, weather related or otherwise, as much as is in our capacity to do so, rather than being trees in hibernation, let us seek to be (for ourselves and for those around us) well-functioning chimneys that direct the smoke of anxiety, fear and stress away from the ‘fireplace’ that is Covid19, isolation and all its restrictions.

Like smoke billowing out the top of the chimney,
As if the house is raising its hand to say:
“Pick me Pick me!”
Choose to be a chimney!
(Adapted from words of Sere Prince Halverson)

And in writing about chimneys I just couldn’t go past a Dick Van Dyke classic, one of my childhood favourites: Mary Poppins. As Bert the chimney sweep sings:

Good luck will rub off when
I shakes ‘ands with you,
or blow me a kiss
and that’s lucky too.

While there’s currently no shaking of hands, and blowing a kiss is hidden by a face mask, transference of ‘good luck’ (if that’s your belief) from one to another would seem to be blocked. So I’ve come up with my own version as a self reminder to ensure that:

A blessing rubs off when
I hangs out with you,
An encouraging word
that’s a blessing too!

And so I conclude this post with:
Chim Chiminey,
Chim chim cher-ee
Chim cher-oo!



An Iso Adventure

This all started out as a way to make walks with Miss 7 a little more exciting, and while it’s different to my usual style of post, I decided to share it anyway.

I have a friend (new to Australia in January of last year: 2019) who is a single parent mum of a 7 year old. In this time of isolation and all its restrictions, living in neighbouring suburbs has meant that we have been able to continue our regular catch-ups in the form of the allowed 1 hour of exercise. And it’s been great for all of us, especially for me!

Then one day I had an idea that while mum can’t leave Miss 7 alone to go for a walk, I could take Miss 7 for a walk as just the two of us. Then mum could have an hour to herself, which I imagine every parent needs at some point.

But as we had found on our walks as the three of us, while mum and I enjoyed the exercise, Miss 7 was not always so keen (even with her bike or scooter), especially when confronted with playgrounds wrapped in tape. In my wanting Miss 7 to enjoy our time together, I felt the need to make our 1 hour out (which could only be for exercise), somehow into an adventure.

Then came the idea (it must have been divine inspiration, because in all my years of working with children, I’ve never done this before) for each of us to have a small box and find 5 things to fit in it. Then with those 5 things, we create a story out of them to share with each other the following week.

It was Miss 7’s choice that we should each create a story out of our own box, as opposed to swapping boxes. And so we went walking about the streets of her suburb, chatting about all sorts of things, while we looked for things we could fit in our boxes, to then use in our story. It was an hour of discovery and exploring our imaginations.

In the week ahead while I had initially planned to use photos, I decided I should stay on equal playing ground with Miss 7, get over my inability to draw, and buy myself a packet of coloured pencils. And so began my own story telling adventure with my own ‘artwork’ of which the perfectionist within struggles with sharing for so many reasons. But so be it . . . it was never about the artwork. And so I’ve called this writing adventure (for however many times we ‘create’ it):

Outta the box!

Once upon a time there were three friends:One Two and Three. They were best of friends, always together.

They would often walk down to their favourite spot to sit under Pinky the pink peppercorn tree and enjoy the shade. Under Pinky the pink peppercorn tree was Lorry the log.

And so One, Two and Three would bring Green Leaf blanket with them, to spread out on the ground near Lorry the log, where they would sit. One and Two loved to sit on Green Leaf blanket while leaning their backs against Lorry the log, enjoying the shade while sitting under Pinky the pink peppercorn tree. Three, well he loved to just lay on Green Leaf blanket while looking up at the pink peppercorns hanging above, and looking at his friends as they all talked.

On this day, another boy came walking by. He didn’t look like them at all, and while he wasn’t one of their friends, they knew him as Rocky. Rocky was by himself. So One, Two and Three moved along Lorry the log and invited Rocky to sit with them, to join in their conversation.

What would Rocky do?

So Rocky choosing to accept their invitation, sat down on Green Leaf blanket, leaning his back against Lorry the log, under the shade of Pinky the pink peppercorn tree.

And so the four boys talked and laughed and told each other stories as they all sat on Green Leaf blanket, against Lorry the log, while enjoying the shade of Pinky the pink peppercorn tree. And that’s how friends are made . . .

The End!

In finishing sharing my story with Miss 7, she loved it! Especially my drawings, with such comments as: “Wow! They (the three friends) look just like them!” and “You can draw really good! You should be an artist!” I laughed out loud, but appreciated her sincere tone saying: “You really think so?” I have however decided not to pursue such artistic expression, but instead to stick with words and writing. Lol !

Introducing the original cast members:

One, Two and Three 3 friends always together – haha !
Pinky the pink peppercorn tree and Lorry the log (because lorries carry logs).
Good times with Green Leaf blanket!
Introducing Rocky!
The making of new friends!

Stay tuned for Miss 7 and her story coming soon! My very first guest! Miss 7 has accepted my invitation to launch her own story writing here on my blog platform. I’m so excited, as I believe you’re going to love it! There’s a message within it, from a child’s perspective, which I think will encourage you in this time of isolation.

#makingfriends #adventurewalks #iso #isoideasforkids #story #storytime #storyteller #storytelling

Paper Planes & Shadows

On Father’s Day I was trying to create a post on social media to wish all the Dad’s a “Happy Father’s Day.” But I wanted it to say more than that, not just to the Dad’s but to men as a whole. Because regardless of your status as a biological father, I believe that men (without discrediting the role of Mother’s and women) are such important figures in the modelling of the next generation: today’s children.

Anyway, as I struggled to find the right amount of words to articulate my thoughts for such a post, my thoughts went to seeking an image from the options provided. In looking for something masculine, I felt my options were very limited. I started out with cactus, but then decided ‘prickly’ is not very endearing for such a tribute. Skulls? Nope! Then I found it! Paper planes!!! That’s the one! Then came the analogy that follows, and my limited word count was now out of control. So I didn’t post anything on social media, but sent a few private messages instead.

So this post is for all the men in the world, regardless of your status as a biological father it is attributed to you for the man that you are. It is my attempt to encourage you in the influence you have over the children in your world, be they still young and small, or growing up tall.

While at work a few weeks back, in the midst of our current lockdown under the Covid19 restrictions, my bosses organised a paper plane flying contest. Everyone took a piece of plain A4 paper and began folding. At that moment, a distant memory flooded back. One from my childhood of my brothers having a book on the art of folding paper planes. But I could only remember the most basic 5 fold step paper plane. Then as I saw others revealing their various creations, more of those memories were triggered, but not enough for me to actually be able to implement those skills for myself.

For my creation I had used the full A4 piece of paper. But some of these other creations by my work colleagues had obviously been torn down to a smaller size, and then carefully folded with the aim for each plane to have the best aerodynamics to fly the furthest, in order to win the prize.

In thinking about all of this, I thought of how much this parallels with our influence over the children in our world. We all start with a child: a ‘blank piece of paper.’

Some of us have books on how to do it right, and some of us don’t. But if we are to equip and prepare our ‘paper planes’ for their best flight, then we need to equip and prepare ourselves to be able to do so. Because the knowing ‘how to’ isn’t necessarily built in to us, and maybe that’s in part due to it not being modelled well for us. But for whatever the reason we may be lacking in ‘know how’, the reality is that for the ‘paper planes’ in our world to have the best chance at being able to fly the furthest they can (as they set out to achieve all that they desire in life), all starts with us knowing the best way in which we can ‘fold’ them.

Just as some of my work colleagues knew how to tear and fold their pieces of paper to create a plane with maximum aerodynamic capacity, we need to know how to separate right and wrong, good and bad, (without tearing down) as we navigate the attitudes and behaviours of those under our care, and in our circle of influence. All this in the hope of establishing them to be model citizens that go on to live a life that contributes to society in such a way as to benefit themselves and those around them.

I’m reminded of an outing last week with Miss 7 for an hour of exercise. As we walked along, she was a few steps behind me, jumping this way and that along the fence line of houses, when she called out: “Hey wait! I’m trying to stay in the shadow, but there’s no more. Can you step this way so I can walk in your shadow?” And so I adjusted my position in order to move my shadow for her to be able to walk in it.

Then her statement echoed in my mind and I reflected on her words. Whether it’s in fun or in life itself, children are looking for shadows they can play, walk, and run in. So I’m challenged to ensure that my own shadow is one that is safe for her to follow in. And that my shadow, my reflection that she sees, will inspire and encourage her to be the best version of herself that she can aspire to. So that the influence I have in ‘folding’ her as she journeys life plays a positive part in setting her up to be a ‘paper plane’ with the right aerodynamics that can take her as far as she desires to go, in all that she desires to do.

As I’m typing this, there’s a song that comes to mind. A web search tells me it’s been recorded by more than 100 artists. And while I’ve only ever known it as a faith based song by such artists, I’ve now learnt that the music and lyrics were originally written by an Irish-Norwegian band: Secret Garden. It was first sung as a tribute to band member Rolf Lovland’s mother at her funeral. That song is titled: You raise me up.

My own interpreatation of the lyrics is this: that regardless of the role we have in the life of the children in our world, we are there to raise them up so that they can stand on mountains, whether that be in the form of attaining high achievements or conquering and overcoming difficult times. And that we would instill in them such resilience that they would learn to walk on stormy seas instead of drowning in the storms of life that may come. That they would know our shoulders are there for them to lean on when they need such support and strength. All the while raising them up (stretching their growth) to more than they can be. Because as the lyrics go: in their times of trouble and burden, they sit and wait in their silence (in the hope), that we would come and sit with them awhile.

So to all the men out there, whatever your Dad status, I congratulate you on being the men that you are, as you seek to establish the children in your world as ‘the most aerodynamic paper planes’ to fly into their best future.

Happy Father’s Day

#FathersDay
#RoleModels
#Children
#Encouragement

He wasn’t social distancing . . .

Over the last few months or so I have noticed an increase in incidents of drivers running amber and red lights at a main intersection on my way to work, as well as a number of near misses with passengers for the tram as drivers fail to stop. I don’t understand why people are rushing to get to work in this time of a pandemic, but seemingly they are.

So as a result of my observation, when the lights signal green for me to go, I have taken to delaying entering the intersection. I double check again that any traffic present has come to a complete stop, and then I enter the intersection with extra caution, just in case someone should run the red light via an empty lane.

This morning it was 6:20am, when I pulled up at the intersection described above. It’s still dark and the road is wet from the early morning rain. On my left there are no trams, there is traffic in both lanes at a complete stop, and there is no traffic on my right. Their traffic light is well and truly red, and mine has been green for some seconds, so I drive out entering the intersection to turn right.

In that moment while I’m in the middle of the intersection, crossing the tram tracks, I see the blinding headlights of a vehicle to my right, on the inside lane, coming straight at me FAST ! It all happened so quickly and yet it felt like I was in a slow motion scene of a movie. His (or her) brakes screaming, his wheels smoking! As I saw him sliding through the intersection I caught a glimpse of his vehicle, a utility tray truck coming straight at my driver door of my little two door hatchback.

something like this.

In that moment, feeling ‘cool as a cucumber’, I remember thinking: “Gently accelerate and get out of his way.” which in hindsight is a surreal memory, because I think my usual response under such circumstances would be to plant my foot in panic. But on a wet road across tram tracks, who knows where that might have landed me. In any case, my gentle acceleration meant that we each continued through the intersection, in our opposite directions, without making contact.

As I pulled up at the next set of traffic lights, my witnesses soon pulled up behind me. I wanted to get out and say “Did you see that !” (because obviously they had) but I remained in my car.

Further along on my way to work, while stopped at another set of traffic lights, I noticed the number plate on the car in front of me:

. . . and I thought . . . indeed WHY ARE YOU ‘ERE, I do not know? Other than that I am ‘ere, sitting behind ‘you’ on my way to work – which I’m currently very thankful for. But I do know HOW I am here . . . by the grace of God and His armour of protection around me.

I know this because in the moments before this ‘near miss’ took place, I had just started my morning prayer – an audio recording of ‘The Armour of God.’ Since the start of the pandemic this has been something I like to put on every morning on my way to work. Because I believe that after doing what I can do in applying wisdom to follow the hygiene guidelines, the rest is up to God. All the things that I don’t have control over in this time (in any time), I have faith to believe that God is in control, and so this is one way that I seek His help through this prayer of declaration.

It was just as I was entering the intersection that I was saying: “I put on the helmet of salvation” and then the ute was there, having come around what is a slight bend in the road, at top notch speed. I find it interesting that that prayer then goes on to say: “I will not be overcome with fear and anxious thoughts . . . “ and that was my experience. For all the times I’ve declared those words on mornings past, they were with me this morning as I had felt no fear or anxious thoughts, just surprise that he (or she) was suddenly there, and how fast he must have been driving to be so. I had no adrenaline response ‘jitters’ as an after effect, just a feeling of extreme thankfulness for the covering and protection afforded to me in that moment.

Then I remembered the night before while experiencing some angst about some situations and decisions I need to make. A teary conversation with God while doing the dishes, added to the water level in the sink. And I pleaded: “God I really need You to show up for me tomorrow! I dont know how You’ll do it, but I’m trusting that You will.”

Then later in looking up the message for the day, it was 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 and in the midst of reading that passage is verse 9 which just happens to be: “God has prepared things for those who love Him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.”

Well, He had certainly proven true to His word on that already this morning. For all the caution I had taken, and my moments delay, I had no idea that ute was coming around the bend still another moment later. And so that set me up to believe that God could and would show up for me throughout the rest of my day.

And I can say for the whole of my day . . . God continued to show up, answering my prayers (about those situations for that day causing me angst), in ways I did not think was possible. For all the options I wanted to take to escape those situations, but I felt challenged to show up to them, so as to give God a chance to demonstrate how He would show up for me in them, to now be able to share this experience, that is WHY I am here!

And so as per the title of the 2006 comedy:

“Thank God you’re here!”

.

Skin Hunger

Some weeks back while scrolling through social media, I came across an advert, a Doctor/Author looking for people experiencing ‘skin hunger’ as a result of the current restrictions and isolation due to the pandemic, who were willing to share their story.

That was the first time I had heard of the term ‘skin hunger’ but I identified with it . . . thinking “Is that what I am experiencing?” ‘It’ actually has a name! And so I sent a message to find out more.

As a single person living alone, no children and no pets, I knew that as a result of the first lot of ‘contact restrictions’ apart from missing the intentional hugs, Hi5’s and so on, I was also missing the ability to be my usual self in mucking around, giving a shoulder bump or a physical ribbing here and there. It took me a little while to remember that such things are no longer acceptable in this time, and so there were many awkward moments where my approach was met with an awkward facial expression, a hand up gesture of ‘back off,’ or a quick leap back to increase the distance between us. Then I’d remember, and apologise. Doh !!! Now I think it’s sealed in my memory bank.

So began the journey with Doctor and Author Evelyn Lewin as she interviewed me via phone for the article. At first I struggled to articulate my thoughts and feelings into words. I felt like there were a number of long awkward silences before I was able to get my answer out . . . but we did it. Then the editing process back and forth via email to ensure that her written words reflected the truth of my spoken words. And now, here we are with the article published and in print . . .

To read the article as featured in the Sunday Life Magazine (The Age) on August 16th, click on the link below.

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/a-few-weeks-into-lockdown-helen-bought-herself-a-soft-toy-20200813-p55lg0.html

The storm of Covid19

I’ve heard it said:

We’re all in the same storm,
but we’re not all in the same boat.”

So as we each seek to navigate our way through this time . . .
I hope this does something to encourage you in some way:

Destruction:
the action or process of causing so much damage to something that it no longer exists,
or cannot be repaired.

Construction:
the action of building something, typically a large structure.

Someone once said to me in a ‘rubble’ time of my life:
“When you’ve got nothing left to hold on to,
hold on to God,

even if you dont want to.
Because it’s especially so in such times,
that we all need to hold on to something.”

In this time when so many are struggling with so many losses, as well as the loss (or deterioration of) good mental health, I know (for myself) the importance of protecting my eyes and ears from what, when, who and how often they see and hear from. While many of our choices have been taken away from us, this is one choice we still have. So let’s choose wisely.

My tip:
When I hit a pothole in the road . . .
When I go from feeling fine, to feeling low . . .
When I find myself reacting to a situation, instead of responding . . .
I reflect on the immediate moments before that, to see what triggered the change in me:
What was I doing?
What was I thinking?
What was I saying out loud in conversation, or silently to myself?

There I find my answer, and with that the opportunity to adjust to a better thinking space.

None of us have been through a pandemic before. There is no manual. There is no right way or wrong way. But the only way I know is through wisdom, faith, and prayer. So within the restrictions of the law, we need to (for our own sake) make intentional and active choices that build us up, not tear us down, so that when we come out the other side, we will (as people) be better for it (as best we can be), not bitter from it.

#OpportunityForSelfConstructionNotSelfDestruction
#BuildWithTheActionOfIntention
#ComeOutLargerThanBefore

A ‘short cable’ story . . .

Some months back in the process of tidying up my apartment, tired of all the excess cable length lying around while plugged in to various devices, I bought a super short cable for my phone to charge while sitting upright on its stand on my kitchen bench. It was a stretch, but the cable just made it from the power point to the charging port on my phone.

Long story short . . . what I thought to be just long enough . . . was creating tension . . . and I rogered my phone’s charging port.

The phone charging port (behind the pink dot) is not a stand alone piece.

So I had to return to using my original long cable, so that I could lay my phone down on the bench, with something thick enough under the tip of the plug so as to create counter pressure to ensure my phone would charge. As time went on, that wasn’t enough. Now I had to increase the counter pressure by putting something weighty on top of my phone.


Due to the unstable connection, my phone would beep every time it lost its charging connection, and again when it found it. The beeping was annoying, not to mention having to constantly re-jig the connection. Even when it was successfully charging, I had to keep checking the connection, or as had already happened, it would charge, and then in the unstable connection (and not hearing the beep), it would drain that charge.

What was supposed to have simplified my space . . . had complicated it.

So now here I am, months later, having sought out a repairer. I had been advised by my telecom service provider, I need to take it to a phone repair replace: “One of those pop up shops.” they said. But due to the pandemic, any I knew of in my local area and surrounding suburbs were now closed. I was advised to go to a major shopping centre, and given I have no land line (just one reason why my phone is an essential item), I felt justified in going there.

So I ventured out to seek this service. Unfortunately the tech repair guy was ‘enjoying’ his day off that day, so I was advised to come back on another day. I returned on that day, and unfortunately, he had been called to another job, and didn’t know when he’d be back in store. So they gave me a business card to call before my next visit. I was told that due to the pandemic, his in-shop hours are ever changing, and so getting my phone repaired was looking like an unpredictable, ongoing saga.

On my way home that same day, I needed to do some grocery shopping, but I live in one of the ‘hotspot’ suburbs, and the current guideline is: Where possible, shop within your suburb. I was dubious about going to my first choice supermarket due to it being near a particularly hot spot cluster, and so I considered going to another supermarket within my suburb. While I didn’t want to give in to fear, I questioned myself: “Is this fear? Or wisdom? Maybe I should just go to that supermarket anyway?” I decided to go with wisdom, and my second choice supermarket.

As I entered this small shopping hub, there on my right I saw a new pop up store selling phone cases and such, so I stopped and casually asked: “I don’t suppose you do phone repairs do you?” She said yes. And so it was, they checked out my phone, organised the part I needed, and in less than an hour I had a new charging port (with a 3 month warranty) all done for a cheaper price than the other place had quoted me.

While I felt guilty for avoiding going to one supermarket, because I (rightly or wrongly) perceived it to be a potentially higher ‘contact risk.’ It was that perception that then directed me to my second option supermarket, to find in the shopping hub, exactly what I needed, but didn’t know was there.

In believing my steps are directed by a higher power – God, I could only conclude that He knew what I needed, and He directed me to it. And so (relevant here and for life itself) this thought came to mind:

Maybe it’s not so much about:
What you’re steering away from
As much as it is about:
What He’s steering you toward.

If hearts were tiles . . .

While out for a walk on Saturday, thinking about the current pandemic and all the media and discussion surrounding it, I passed a small pile of 5 tiles that had been discarded on the nature strip. I saw them and kept walking. But then came a thought, and so I had to turn back and return to them.

What are you writing, on the tile that is your heart?

and then later . . .

What are you writing with, on the tile that is your heart?

Whether it’s your own words or the words of others, let all that is for one’s benefit be written in that of a permanent marker. Anything else, may those words be like that of a whiteboard marker, completely wiped away with a damp cloth.

From Psalm 45:1 “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”

What words is your tongue ready with?

#guardyourheart
#chooseyourthoughtsandwordswithcare
#bekindtoeveryoneincludingyourself

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

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.