A Mighty Shield of Feathers

August 16, 2017 at 7:39 am (Uncategorized)

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.” 

The question to consider here is how on earth could feathers protect us from anything? How could this image of God being my refuge and place of safety in times of trouble, be considered anything but warm and fuzzy, maybe even simply whimsical?

When I think of a feather and it is light and fluffy. I couldn’t win a fight with it! The only fight I may win may be a feather-filled pillow fight with a young child!

However it comes to light with consideration and borrowing from other’s research into the feathers of birds, that feathers have a few different purposes that may help us to understand how this picture of God with feathered wings may actually represent a place of safety.  

  • Firstly some of the outer feathers are designed specifically with barbs that help them to interlock together. This together with a waxy substance provides a shield of waterproof insulation, providing proection from the elements such as rain and cold temperatures.
  • Inner feathers are found to be much softer and shorter, with less barbs that provide a warm, soft and nurturing safe environment.
  • Feathers are often extracted when required and used to line a place for rest and nurture of one that needs it, like a safe haven. 
  • Feathers in wings and tails also guide the flight path of the traveler, ensuring one gets to it’s destination.
  • Feathers are placed strategically to ensure their specific purposes are fully utilized. The different types of feathers have their specific purpose and if mixed together in the wrong order would be ineffective.
  • The colours of feathers are also vital. They help communicate and aid protection. The colours provide camouflage from the enemy.

Therefore if I were sitting under the feathers of the wings of the Most High God, I would be protected from the elements, in a safe and warm place. I would be camaflouged from one that may seek to do me harm and would also be able to rest, knowing that I would also get to the place which I am meant to be going.

That sounds to me like a place of refuge and safety in times of trouble, or even just a place of safe rest for a weary soul.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Psalm 91:1-4

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3 Men and a Firey Furnace

November 29, 2016 at 8:00 am (Uncategorized)

Daniel 3:19-30 talks about the story of 3 friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. 3 Jewish men in a position of authority at the Kings request who refused to pay homage to the gods of the King as their faith was in the God of Israel. These three men were being challenged on their values, their faith, and their personal code of ethics as individuals and as a group. 
When the King learned of this disrespect he raged in anger and ordered these 3 men, friends, to be thrown into a blazing furnace. So great was the Kings rage he ordered the furnace to be turned up to be 7 times hotter than normal. The fire burned so hot that the soldiers that were responsible for throwing them in the furnace were killed.

Whilst in the fiery furnace it became evident to those outside of the furnace that the three men that were to be put to their death were very much alive. Not only were they very much alive, however there was a fourth person with them, with the fourth person seen to have looked ‘like a god’.

A few things became evident to me as I have reflected on this story recently. God does not cause bad things to happen to His people. However He allows bad things to happen, only if He can use it for the good of His people. His people in our mind are often the ones that have already made a commitment to follow Him, however I think God’s view of who his people are may be a little different. I wonder whether His view of who His people is more inclusive of those who He is still pursuing.

The scriptures do not tell us whether Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saw God in that fire. They do not tell us whether they felt God in that fire. However God’s presence that day was witnessed by those that bore witness to the events. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego not only survived the fire that was meant to destroy them, but they came from the flames completely unharmed. 

When we go through a crisis in our life, we are quick to ask is “Where is God in this?”. It is so difficult at times when we are experiencing great sickness, pain or grief to see God in it, or to feel His presence. However, it is often those that are looking on that can see it at the time, and not until well after that as an individual may we be able to reflect back and see more clearly. And even then I wonder sometimes if we may not understand many a crisis in this life time, but have to trust that God is able to use all that transpires for some good.

There are times in life when we may be challenged because of our faith, or because we are asked to do something that does not sit well with our values. Do we keep the peace and comply, or do we take a stand for what is right even if it costs us our job, or a position, a church family or even relationships? There is something to be said for the power in numbers. It is far more difficult to take a stand in isolation. As individuals we need to be able to share our burdens and be able to pray together and be unified in our values, which are laid out in scripture. A stand taken together with other believers is powerful whether used for good or evil.

These three friends made a stand together on what they believed to be good, true and right. They trusted that even though they seemed to be going to their death, that God would protect them, and even if He didn’t save them from the fire, that they were still not prepared to sway from their stand. The threat made by the king was to terrorise them. Yet they stood their ground.

God has laid out in scripture many times over the words, “Fear not, for I am with you.” He is with you, even when you can’t feel his presence or see His hand at work. Be encouraged. Be strengthened. Be comforted that no matter how difficult things are, God is able to transcend all things.

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The Turning Tide

June 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Have you ever felt like you are treading water?  Imagine being in the middle of the ocean, going nowhere and even if you were going somewhere, there’s no land in sight so you wouldn’t know which way to swim anyway.  You have no energy left to give. It’s getting dark. You are hungry for hope. For a beacon. For a light to mark the way.
 
I have felt like that for sometime.  My last couple of jobs feel like they have been marking time.  They have been filled with unpleasantness and I have sensed a lack of purpose. I have met some amazing people, a few who will remain with me for a long time to come.  There have been laughs and some good times had, but the overall feeling is that there has been of no direction, no purpose and a growing restlessness.  This sense colours everything.  My creativity and sense of joy was squashed.
 
A few years ago I walked away from a job I loved and it left me with such a feeling of not knowing who I was. I was amazed at how my identity had been wrapped up in what I did for employment!  It tends to be the first question you ask when you meet someone new.  It paints a picture of the person standing before us. It defines them. It defines us.
 
I’ve been praying for some time that the tide will turn.  That there would be a lightpost to guide me.  That doors would open.  That somehow I will find something I that will pay the bills, but that also ignites my spirit.  Something that aligns with my studies that will be a stepping stone in the right direction.
 
I’m reminded that the tides are also seasonal.  Just as the moon manages the tide’s rise and fall, God holds us through our personal circumstances as they rise and fall using all circumstances, the good, bad and the ugly, working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
 
This week, finally, the tide has turned. A new opportunity has presented itself and I am going to take it with two hands and a thankful heart for all I have learned and experienced as I’ve treaded water, and hope that the next tide will be the one that ignites my spirit. 
 
Psalm 118:15-16

“I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me. God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation. Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? “The hand of God has turned the tide! The hand of God is raised in victory! The hand of God has turned the tide!”

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“Be careful of the words…

August 2, 2012 at 7:26 am (Uncategorized)

“Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.”
– Anonymous

Do you ever get a sense that there is a theme for the week?  That everywhere you look or go, there is a subtle message for you to receive?  For me this week it has been about words.
 
Words are everywhere. We hear them, whether they are directed toward us or not. We see them through advertising … reading.  We soak in words from the paper, from the news, through email, through books, magazines, movies and conversation. There are the words that we use when speaking to someone about someone else that alters their thinking for good or bad. Then there are the words that are not spoken but we still hear – the words we silently utter to ourselves which generally are not uplifting.  Words.
 
They hold so much power.   Words that build – words that tear down.  Words that heal, and those that crush.  They can be like a soothing balm, or like a searing burn.
 
We can spend so much time and energy building up our spouses and children and even our friends, but a careless word can destroy so quickly.  
 
We can contemplate that as small insignificant beings we cannot bring change into a world such as this, but a few words spoken can certainly bring change.
 
The material we read can be life changing. We can be inspired by a new thought, or a new idea that someone presents to us which can set us on a different life path. 
 
It only takes one person to positively influence another’s life with words that can be the difference between someone giving up, and having hope.
 
I can name those in my lifetime that have influenced me with their words of encouragement, which are still written on my heart. 
 
I wonder what the world would be like if in every interaction everyone had with someone today, we spoke a word of encouragement, including words spoken to ourselves.

 
Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, and energy that showers blessings upon the world.”
– Lawrence G. Lovasik  

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Injured

May 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

It’s been almost a week since my freedom was stripped from me. The simplist of tasks, now so frustratingly slow and difficult.

I tore my calf muscle on the weekend, doing a triple summersault whilst shooting a goal in a netball game with the other ‘Diva’s’, when I was hit in the back of the leg with a handball, or that’s what I thought. Well the part about the handball was true, and whilst playing netball that was true too … but there was no great story to go with it.

Now, almost a week later I am still unable to put any weight on my leg, making crutches a part of my every move. This makes using the facilities a challenge, preparing any meals, carrying a drink, doing laundry, groceries or any of the usual things that I would do with ease – all but impossible.

So what am I learning through this? I am learning that I find it very difficult to allow other people to do things for me, let alone asking for help. I am learning that my family can step up when they need to and that maybe I need to allow them too more often because they are not only capable, but do a damned good job. When they don’t do a job as I would do it, it doesn’t disqualify them either.

I am not typically one to say ‘no’. However I’m finding that I am having to do that a bit this week. I’m in a new job, and it goes against my grain to say no when given a directive, however there are just some things I cannot do. A lesson is pushing back.

I’m also learning that I have a rebellious streak. If I’m told I can’t do something, it makes me want to do it all the more. Now where does that come from? Sit still. I don’t want to. Rest. But there’s so much to do. Do your assignment. But there’s bejewelled to play and I have the attention span of a blow fly as my brain has gone to mush.

But my rebellious streak combined with what my daughter tells me is OCD like behaviour, may get the washing done and the washing up done. It doesn’t, however, speed up my recovery so I can do these things with ease quicker.

So I resign from my need to be in control and to be independent.

I will sit still and try to do so quietly and unrebelliously. I will do my best to be gracious and not be afraid to ask for help.

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Dark Nights Don’t Last Forever

April 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I know of a young woman who has made some really significant and courageous steps over the last six months to reclaim her life from the clutches of abuse. 

 
This woman has come to terms with the reality of her childhood, and now understands why she is who she is today.  Some of the things she learned about herself she didn’t like, and has made some massive steps to change.  She has shed an enormous amount of weight as she takes back control of her life.  She has learned that for many years she had been giving her power away. Not any more.  
 
She is actively investing her energy in her marriage and family, as opposed to trying to keep the peace where peace was not desired.  
 
She has learnt that the love and acceptance she craved from her birth family that was never extended is not that she was being rejected, but that they did not and continue to not have the capacity to give her what she needs. This has enabled her to look to accepting it from her family of choice who are so definitely willing to offer it.
 
This journey has been extremely painful for her, but she never once has gave up.  She has channeled her pain into doing things for herself and her family of choice to protect and nurture them. 
 
The power of really knowing and understanding, and making sense of relationships and ourselves is enormous.  The power in the knowledge that this woman has obtained has literally changed her life forever.  In six months this amazing woman is transforming before my eyes and I am filled with joy.  I’m filled with joy as I see her beginning to become all she is meant to be, no longer being held back. No longer resorting to self harm. No longer seeing that she is rejected. 
 
As I’ve studied this week the impact of suicide on families and loved ones, I was reminded of my own journey where in my teenage years I tried to take my own life.  The world felt dark and hopeless.  It felt like there was never going to be a way out of my situation.  I firmly believed that I would be dead before I was married. I believed that noone would ever want someone like me. 20 years later I look back on those dark days and I am so thankful that my attempts to take my life were not successful.  I have a beautiful husband who I adore. We have been blessed with an amazing daughter who I can’t imagine my world without.  We have family and friends around us that enrich our lives.  
 
Yes life has it’s ups and downs. Sometimes when we are in the valleys it can feel like we will never see the sun again.  Sometimes it feels like there is noone out there that cares, hears or even sees you.  Do you ever have those days where you feel like Mr or Mrs Cellophane? If you are in that dark place and are looking for something or someone who may just throw a torch into the darkness and give you a life line, there are people out there that can help you.  There is always a new day where the sun will rise.  The sun will shine again and your darkness will also pass. With a new day comes new opportunities.   
 
The young woman I have spoken of here is dear to my heart and I’m so proud of her.  She has found that the darkness does pass and a new day has come that is filled with hope.  I am glad that on my dark day I found a way through, as I would have missed so much. 
 
If you need someone to talk to because you are experiencing a dark day, and you need someone you can trust, please speak to someone.  A friend, family member, colleague, GP, or call Life Line who are available 24 hours a day – ph: 131114. 

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Mistakes

December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

I heard this week on the radio the story of how the microwave oven was invented. The good old microwave oven evolved from a mistake! In 1946 Dr Percy Spencer was facilitating a research project on radars, when during an experience he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket melted. With curiosity he engaged in another experiment using popcorn kernels, and amazingly they popped and cracked all over his lab. His mistake revolutionised the way we cook and formed the basis of a multi-million dollar industry.

So often we fear making mistakes for a gammut of reasons, yet these mistakes are often what we learn from. They are usually not something to be feared at all, however are a learning opportunity. There are so many things we fear such as public speaking – what if I say the wrong thing? Forget my lines? We fear making mistakes in our exams. Some fear social engagements that maybe they won’t be dressed appropriately. We fear doing something new incase we fail. We fear saying the wrong thing to a friend. We make errors of judgement in traffic. We misjudge people. We misinterpret people. We make mistakes in the kitchen, garages, in parenting, in marriages. Noone is immune!

There are times, however when making a simple mistake can mean that other people over react and we bear the brunt of anger, ridicule, sometimes even loosing a friend, family or a job in the process. We all make mistakes – I know I certainly do! I’m so thankful that my husband, daughter, friends and bosses are generally quite forgiving! So I guess it’s important to ensure that as individuals we treat those errors we make as a learning opportunity, and encourage other people to do the same, and also have a forgiving heart for those who make mistakes around us that impact us.

We should not, however, fear making errors or mistakes, because who knows maybe the next ‘mistake’ may lead to something that may impact the world for the greater good? The only true mistake is that from which we have learned nothing!

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You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover!

November 3, 2011 at 12:32 am (Carol's Musings) (, , , , )

You know the old saying!  You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover!  But it’s what draws me to a good book first! It’s not it’s title, or generally the author – but the cover and how it’s imagery stands out over all the rest.  I walked past a book store whilst in Kiama on the weekend and was taken by one book.  On it’s cover stood the drawing of a tree and at the top the creative artist drew within it’s trunk a face and it’s branches grew into long arms with fingers and the rich folliage became his crowning hair.  This tree took on a new, more human like lifeform. Very creative!

I was reminded today of some years ago as I travelled to and from work by train into the City of Sydney.  On this particular very hot summers day, when all the city ‘suits’ hurry to the closest underground station where we all stand bunched together for the race to get through those sliding doors of the train first, in the hope of winning that window seat on the non-air conditioned trains so you could control the air circulation. The ultimate prize would be to get the seats that would be on the eastern traveling side so as not to have the hot summer sun baking you in an over crowded smelly, sweaty train.

This particular day I didn’t make it as far as a seat, and instead crammed like sardines in the vestibule area near those sliding doors, I was squeezed between a few well dressed fellows  with sweaty, smelly armpits as they clung to those poles for stability as the train jolts along tracks. A few stations along we came to Redfern station, a rougher neighbourhood, where a fellow pushed his way into our vestibule area.  He was looked rough and ready, looking like he hadn’t washed in months. His front teeth were missing. His hair a matted mess.  His eyes glazed over – but the smell!  The women around me, including myself hugged our handbags that little bit closer.

The train pulled into Sydneyham, the very next stop and you could actually see, hear and feel those alongside me, myself included let out a long breath of relief as this fellow left the carriage.  Before the doors had a chance to close to depart the station, the fellow reboarded this train – into our carriage! What happened next I will never forget.  This man, who looked like the scum of the earth had seen what noone else saw that afternoon.  This man saw a woman in our carriage who wasn’t feeling so well.   He left the train at the station as he saw a vending machine close to where our carriage pulled up.  He purchased a bottle of water with the very few coins he held in his possession. He came back on board, and gave the ailing woman his purchase and asked for seated passengers to give up their seat for her.  That woman was so thankful and I’m sure his gesture touched and stunned her even more than it touched and stunned me.

How quick I was to judge this man because of the way he looked and smelled. We have many homeless people in our suburbs and our beautiful city, many of which are not there by choice, but due to mental illnesses, sex  trafficking, abuse and hopelessness. How quick I was that day to judge this man and yet who was the better person that day?   The one that looked out for someone in need, and did something about it, regardless of what he looked like.

I thank that man publicly, for the message he gave me that day, many years ago and the impact that he had on me that day through his selflessness.  May I be half the person he was that day.  He taught me that I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover no more than I should judge another person by what I first see.

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Kiama – Scoops

October 31, 2011 at 3:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.”  Jim Fiebig

A family trip to Kiama, whether it be a day trip or a week long stay, is not a trip without a visit to Scoops.  My daughter has discovered their delightful array of flavours and choice being the highlight of highlights.

We spent a lovely weekend just passed, in beautiful Kiama, where regardless of the weather, together we take a daily stroll or cycle across the beaches, around the coastline into town where we fosick through St Vincents for a good ‘find’ and enjoy an icecream. 

On Saturday as I enjoyed my aromatic coffee and my husband, daughter and nephew enjoyed their icecreams, I pondered over the different flavours on offer.  At our table I was surrounded by cookie dough, mango gelato and a stairway to heaven.   A ‘Stairway to Heaven’ just about sums up our stays in Kiama, as it is there that we stop, and just enjoy each other’s company, the beautiful view of an Australian beach and coastline with it’s lighthouse out on the point, and all the stress of our daily chaotic lives melts away like the ice cream on a hot summers day, as the waves continue to roll in. There’s nothing like falling asleep to the sound of the ocean’s gentle rhythm of waves crashing along the beach, and the trill of birds calling out to each other high up in the pine tree’s above.

I am reminded as we come back to reality (home) of the importance of that down time, and the simple pleasures that we so often deny ourselves, and it makes me wonder why? It’s often the simple things like buying an icecream from our favourite place, or swimming at the beach or in the local river, or a simple picnic at the park that provide that nurture to our spirits, at very little expense.  There’s nothing like reading a good book, whilst watching the kids create blisters on their hands from riding their bikes around the park for hours on end, building creative new paths and challenges to test their skills and racing each other, even in the rain.

On Saturday afternoon my husband and I took a lovely stroll along the beach to dip a toe in the water to test it’s degree of iciness (and it was damned cold!) and arrived back to our simple pop up and out coleman caravan, with the kids looking like they were up to no good, to find that they had laid out an afternoon spread of nibblies and drinks. They were so excited to have been able to surprise us, not to mention fill a hole in their hungry stomach’s from all the riding!

So pondering the weekend I think my challenge is to create that little down time space not just for myself, but for my family at least once over a weekend from this point on, where we remove ourselves from our chores and to do list and do something different just to be… maybe a bushwalk to the local creek, a swim by the river, a spot of fishing, a picnic dinner on a Friday night, a walk through the rockpools out at Kurnell. The options are only limited by my thinking. 

So thank you to all that Kiama represents to me, for refueling my creativity and desire for balance!  Oh – and to Scoops – for the delight I see in my daughter’s eyes at the mere mention of the name!

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School

October 14, 2011 at 1:09 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

When you were five and walked to school,
And you met things to tremble at,
Were you as brave as great big men,
Or did your heart go pit-a-pat?

Author: Etherl Turner

As we commence Term 4 of the school year as a parent of a Year 6 child, it is with some excitement and at the same time a touch of anxiety at High School beckoning, hormones raging and all that goes with that.

I reflect upon my own Year 6 expectations of High School and recall Year 7 kids that had left us only the year before come back to tell us of their experiences of head dunking in toilets, and glad wrap over toilet bowls, honey on seats and the bigger thugs expressing their experience and power. I remember the fear of going to High School.

High School wasn’t like that for me, however I wasn’t really a fan all the same. They were difficult years, although not due to High School itself. The benefits from High School were having met my husband, and a few good friends I maintain contact with now.

I left High School at the end of Year 10 and remember thinking that was it for school. Done and dusted, as I wiped my hands of all that I saw held me back from perceived freedom.

What I didn’t know then, was that 10-15 years later I would be back there. I would be back for my first day of Kindergarten, wondering whether any of the other parents would ‘be my friend’. Would I be the mother that forgot to pack their child’s lunch, or remember to pack the necessary items for each different day. Would my daughter be accepted and meet nice friends, or would her school years be fraught with bullying and challenges in her academic studies?

For my husband, Brad returns quite literally to his school whenever he goes to support our daughter in school events, as he attended the same primary school just a few years ago (being kind…).  As our daughter started Kindy the librarian was still there that taught Brad!

And here we are on the edge of yet another era of schooling – as we prepare to make my daughters transition from Primary School to High School. And then it’s over, right?

I walked up the street this morning and bumped into a beautiful lady, who is the mother of one of those good friends from High School. She told me that at a young 68 years old she is still helping with the HSC Exams! I remember she was serving in that same capacity when I was at school. So at 68 years of age and still actually attending school!

Come to think of it, one day there may well be grandchildren and I am sure I will be front row centre to support my grandkids in their schooling achievements, just as my daughter has her grandparents come along to different events throughout the year, rain (and there’s been a lot of rain), hail or shine.

So I’m learning that school is a part of life from the beginning right to the end!  It ain’t over ’till it’s over!

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