I have been given tea leaves and tea pots over the years as gifts as well as buying my own fair share of both. I love tea. I love trying different flavours of tea and love the whole process of brewing and pouring my tea. I have also been known to boil the kettle, put tea in the pot, pour the boiling water into the pot, sit back and wait for the tea to brew … then completely forget about drinking it. You see, for me, the process is part of what I use to calm and relax myself.
So, why am I writing this? I have been thinking about how we see the Holy Spirit in our life and wondering if perhaps we have missed an important part. Let me first let you know that I am not a Theologian however, I am an enquirer of the Lord.
We believe that the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us and purifies us from within. What if the Holy Spirit comes to help infuse our personal flavour? You see, when you add water to tea, the dry leaves become plump and the flavour is released to create a refreshing drink and a pleasant aroma. As a Christian I believe that I am being made new through the Holy Spirit that lives within me. The Holy Spirit is the cleansing water renewing my soul however, what if the renewing is more to do with adding water to bring out the flavour of who God created me to be in order to refresh others who are dry and needing infusing? Rather than seeing the Holy Spirit as an agent of change, what if the Holy Spirit infuses the dryness of our hearts so we can use our individual flavour to minister with others who have a similar flavour to us?
What are your thoughts?
by Jon Gibson 23-11-14
LAYING DOWN AND LETTING GO
TAKING UP AND EMBRACING ALL THE MORE
GIVING UP AND GIVING IN
TO GAIN IT ALL AND LOSE NOT A THING
SUBMITTING SELF AND SACRIFICING THE CHARADE
TO FIND TRUE IDENTITY AND REAL LIFE THAT WILL NOT FADE
UNDENIED, UNHAMPERED, UNSHELTERED, UNINHIBITED, UNREGISTERED REAL LIFE
REINVENTED, REDIRECTED, REUNITED, REINVIGORATED, REDEEMED, REAL LIFE
NEEDING NOTHING BUT YOU; GIVEN EVERYTHING BY YOU
MY LIFE FREELY GIVEN; MY LOVE FULLY DEVOTED
YOU ARE MY ALL IN ALL AND I AM ALL YOURS
LOVING YOU COMPLETELY BECAUSE I AM COMPLETELY LOVED BY YOU
LAYING DOWN AND LETTING GO
I SURRENDER ALL
My story involves surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse by more than one perpetrator, having a couple of life changing car accidents in my early 20’s, my husband almost being wiped out the same year, giving birth to two children on the Autism Spectrum and with other issues, and living with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Severe Pain, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I know what it is like to be suicidal. I know what it is like to struggle to stay in relationship with God and being on the edge of throwing it all away. But praise God, He’s not finished with me yet.
Some of us may struggle with one issue, some of us may struggle with multiple issues, we feel like we’ve been side swiped from every direction and wonder what on earth it is that we aren’t learning.
Have you or someone in your family struggled with an Anxiety Disorder, and that has affected your life?
Have you or someone in your family struggled with Depression, and that has affected your life?
Have you or someone in your family struggled with some form of Abuse or Family Violence and that has affected you?
Have you or someone in your family struggled with being able to make ends meet with the budget and that has affected you.
Have you or someone in your family struggled with a disability of some sort?
Have you or someone in your family struggled with an addiction and that has affected you?
Have you have never, ever struggled with anything in your life?
The struggles that we face and deal with on a day to day basis, are the experiences that we can reach through and encourage each other with, giving each other hope to take another breath, another step. It’s time that we stand up and get real with each other. It’s time to realise we are not alone!
PLEASE TELL ME WHEN
Please tell me when you will acknowledge my abuse.
Please tell me when you will say sorry you allowed it to happen.
Please tell me when you will teach me to be safe.
Please tell me when you will show me how to be safe.
Please tell me when you will protect me from the perpetrators that sit beside us in our pews.
Please tell me when you will help those souls too.
For I will tell you when every second, every minute, every hour that you wait. Another soul will be lost, walked away, suicided, now it's too late!
How many days, years must we wait,
Before the church wakes up and recognises why there is so much hate?
"Not true" they cry "not in our church, not in our school." Well, I'll tell you what, I have the scars on my soul.
And you who turn a blind eye to my pain,
Are just as guilty as the ones who should wear the blame.
For in your silence, in your ignorance lives are lost.
"Nothing wrong with our church" you claim, but at what cost?
Now is the time to dig deep and bear it.
Acknowledge the abuse, apologize and wear it.
Develop the materials and programs to prevent it.
For those accused, make a safe place for the accusers to vent it.
A place where there is love and acceptance, even with the foul words that may come with repentance.
And for those who abuse, they need support too. Hold them accountable for all that they do.
So will you tell me how long I must wait for this to happen?
Will it be this side of Heaven?
Or is it too much of a task to mention?
So to all of those who have experienced the pain and loss that I have mentioned
And to all of those who are willing to listen.
I dare you to stand up, speak up and make others listen.
For as our voices become stronger our words turn into action.
Just maybe on day a soul, a life will not be taken.
(c) Kerene Whelan, 26th August. 2001
I wrote the above poem as a older teen out of the pain and frustration I experienced growing up. God placed on my heart a life changing dream to stand up and make a difference for the children who came after me. Now thanks to Safe Place Services Victoria, this dream has become a reality and is making a difference to children around Australia, in New Zealand and America. May God bless those who use this tool, give the children the courage to speak up, and provide safe Adults who will stand up and take up the challenge to make our Churches, our Homes, our Community, a safer place.
Seasons come and it changes, but the word of God remains the same. The most difficult part of a season is the kick off and when it catches you off guard and most times it catches us when we are doing fine. What is your foundation? What or who is your life built on? My life is built on Jesus Christ he is my foundation and when these seasons hit me I knew who my foundation is.
Here in South Africa, Cape Town we can often have four seasons (weather) in one day. Like the weather, at times I experience many things in one season of my life. Yet I have learned to hold on to what is important to me and that is my God given destiny and to reach the destiny God has for me. I pursue the purpose of God for my life, yet at times I focus on the many things that come my way that could appear to break me, make me lose hope. These things bring confusion as to who we are and what we really want to do! What I have learnt is that I need to be steadfast in what I believe & find safety in my foundation which is Christ, also being grounded in the Word of God, as many will come & try to destroy what God is building.
I am going through all of this, but I know HE is in control. We must be willing to work with God for He is for us and not against us. A renewed mind in every difficult situation is the way to a positive life. Seek God in all you do, many will come during your seasons & try to advise you or tell you what to do, but what got me through was staying at His feet and always seeking Him for answers. Do not be discouraged or dismayed when no-one understands the way you handle your seasons, because it is all about what God says and not man for man’s ways are not God’s and people often will not understand.
When you are broken you are at the right place for Jesus to bring healing. Another thing I have realised going through seasons was always to renew my mind, to change my attitude to positive. Your reputation will be spoilt, rumours will be spread, you will be frustrated, hurt confused and angry. As long as that does not shape you or change who you are. We all have a God given purpose and the important thing to remember in life is to keep going through the season. When you know where you are heading and that you are fighting to get to where God wants you to be, you should focus your eyes on the “I AM”.
The things of this world will distract you from what is really on the inside of you. It is the choices that we make during our season that brings out the fruits of the spirit & what God has called us to as we begin to mature, seasons are there to grow us into maturity. It is a choice you have on how you will respond. I will choose to keep quiet, stay calm, seek God for wisdom, not to retaliate. If you do not change during or after a season you have something to worry about so what is important during suffering, difficulties & trouble is to focus on your growth, improvement & most importantly maturing.
God uses the seasons to make us stronger, to bring out of us what is not of Him, to build us, to mould us and to shape us into sons and daughters of Him and it is all for His Glory & once we can understand His will how we see things will change.
Remember in the end it is not about the season or tribulation you are going through, it is ultimately about you & God and where you are going (destiny/purpose) not about everything else around you.
As unique as our DNA, our thumb print, so unique is the story of our life. None of our stories are the same, it might have the same form but it can never be the same. People may be able to take many things from you, but they will never be able to take your very own story from you. Some people use their story for good of others, or for bad, many deny their story, but the empowered woman uses it to shape, influence and craft the next chapter of her life and those around her.
Our story is the fundamental foundation on which to build the life we desire. The building blocks are secured by powerful life cement called choice. What we choose today, we will live through tomorrow.
Choice is important daily in the way we approach our story and in the way we share our story. You can change how your story unfolds any moment you choose. I had a choice how I want my story to influence by future. So I chose a different direction. I choose Life.
Because of the abuse I experienced as a child, fear, loneliness and rejection had gripped me and I faced these feelings every day. My story of abuse was shaping my life, for a long time my thoughts and mind was shaped by the opinion of others, their opinion about me made me believe that I was worthless and nothing. I have come to realise that our words determine what we will have tomorrow. We shape our worlds by the words we speak.
There were two things I had to hold onto while finding myself in a place of despair and that was: My Faith and Dreams. You have the power in your hands to change how your story unfolds any moment you choose. Your circumstances and your environment has shaped you for long enough. It is now time for you to shape your environment and your life. After all – Your future is not a place you merely get to go too. Your future is the place you choose to create. Our story is there as a stepping stone to change us for the better, to empower and inspire us to choose a better life.
As we reflect on our individual stories each day, my hope is that we will realise that we were created for far more than we have settled for. Every day we are writing a page in the history book of our life.
Before I was a piece of paper, where did I begin?
Falsified birth extract entry number 22694
'A' class fit for adoption
From a mother that gave birth and travelled alone
Transferring her bloodline to a matronly cap into the unknown.
A fertility charm for those that couldn't have one of their own,
The fable is told that I smiled from my cot to select my future home
A deed foretelling one's own fate,
Perhaps from wind or loneliness,
A journey of trust and confusion begins.
Such is the destiny of my own choosing, the duality of self
No similarities apparent, always standing out
Not dark, pale and timid but blonde, brown and adventurous,
Rootless rebellion, the good-bad adoptee
A psychological vagrant seeking another self.
Nameless seeds and eggs, mere anonymous donations
Adoption, donor insemination or surrogacy
Nurturing in utero, ancestral knowledge betrayed,
The iron curtain descends, a bogus identity created
From the rich to the gay, Madonna to Elton John.
Best the child doesn't know cut off from the past
Little clean slates to be modelled in an image
Commissioned for another's dreams,
But beneath the surface secrets lie lurking
Neonate awareness lingering, sensing, pondering, wondering.
Growing up without a face to reflect upon
The little smirk, the longing green eyes, the curl upon the lips
No gazing up into the reflections of genetic resemblance,
Those intangible signs from which to decide
That one is family, owned or disowned.
Life is a precious gift
It comes and goes
It’s given and taken away
The value of one’s life
Who's to say
When life begins, when it ends
New life comes in the absence of another
One celebrated while another mourned
All in a day
The day, the hour, no one can know
The where, the why, the rhythm and flow
The beginning, the end, or somewhere along the way
Life is to be celebrated each and every day
Life beckons to be noticed
And to notice is to understand
Life is a precious gift
Growing up in an abusive family meant that life was excruciating and crushing more often than not. I’ve spent a lifetime (it feels) trying to recover and to be well.
A mutual friend introduced Craig, a full-time Dad with 2 children aged 11 and 12, to me with three children aged 5, 7 and 8 and it was an instant ‘full house’, our lives have never been the same since. Craig has loved me from the start where as I was still holding a lot of anger, hurt and betrayal so I ended up hurting the people I should have loved - I needed to change! Through time, counselling and prayer I’ve learnt to overcome lots and to do things differently. We both knew from the start that it was indeed God who brought our two families together and though our marriage has been uphill at times it has also been great for healing and fulfilment too.
Throughout the years we have raised our children together plus having one of our own (6 all up). We both shared a willingness to see people set free from their hurts so with compassion and understanding we have ministered to a verity of different people that are facing what we’ve been through. We have gone out to the mission fields together, to the out back of Australia and shared about God’s great love and grace that He has for them. We have both learnt that we are to keep our eyes on the Lord at all times for when we placed them on things or our situations we tend to crumble under the shear weight of life. It’s a matter of staying focused.
The future is still to be written and it is looking brighter. God is leading us both into a deeper relationship with each other more then we have ever known before. Though I’m not there yet, over time I have come to learn and will continue to learn, to love as though I’ve never been hurt before! That’s my goal to be established and it will be achieved!
As a Pastor I have been saddened often by the vast number of people I have met who have been so wounded by their experience of Church, that it is now either impossible for them to attend or still very painful to do so. Today I feel so profoundly affected by this truth that I wish to make this sincere apology on behalf of the Church which I have served for over 50 years.
I wish to apologise, then,
To those whose experience of the church was of being judged and criticised because you did not measure up to some superficial man made standard. For behaviour condemned by Jesus as pharisaical, I apologise.
To those who have been physically, emotionally or spiritually abused by leaders in your church. For the use of power by people who were called to love, I apologise.
To those who grew up believing that God was a God of wrath and judgement and never heard of His Grace and Mercy. For the failure of some church leaders to teach the message of the Cross of Christ, I apologise.
To the families of church leaders, who felt abandoned and isolated by husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, who gave their whole energies to their church and failed to make a priority of their family. For the failure of some of us to understand what it means to love and nurture our families, I apologise
To Pastors who sought to be faithful but were opposed and restricted by their church or by their denomination. For a fear of change that causes some of us to become angry, aggressive and punitive instead of forgiving and understanding, I apologise.
To men and women who turned to the Church for help, because they were the victims of family or church abuse and were turned away. For a lack of the compassion that Jesus taught was the mark of a disciple, I apologise.
To those wounded by religion and institutional attitudes and who feel that they have not experienced the love and grace reflected in the life of Jesus. For those who stood at the door of the Kingdom refusing to go in themselves and preventing you from entering, I apologise.
I believe that God is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us with a passion and that Jesus is our Saviour in whom we find complete forgiveness and healing. I also believe in the Church as Christ intended it to be and as often, across the whole world it has been. It is not an institution, or an organisation, but the Body of Christ, made up of individual sinners who have been saved by Grace. The Church is not a perfect family, and sometimes we do get hurt, but it is the one and only place on earth where we can find complete healing and restoration.
Without negating or minimising your pain I invite you to allow God to heal your broken heart, and to restore you to a loving church family that reflects the love and grace of your Heavenly Father. Not only that but I invite you also to become beacons of hope to thousands of others as you reflect in your own life the love, acceptance and forgiveness that you have received from your Saviour and friend, Jesus Christ, who is the rightful head of the Church.
In offering this apology and invitation I feel that I need to affirm that a truth often demonstrated by godly church leaders and members, but forgotten by some is that in God’s kingdom we are called to serve Him and each other. It is when we forget this truth and resort to power instead of love and lauding it over others, instead of serving them, that people get hurt.
Pastor Graeme invites any pastor or leader who would like to add their name to this letter to do so, as a extension to those who may be hurting within their own community due to being hurt by those within the church. This can be done through comments on the top of this page. Graeme serves a pastor in Victoria, Australia.
Stories have been told from the beginning of time and stories will continue to be told till the end of time. Every life has a story and these stories inspire and encourage others on life's' journey. It is not how we start the journey that counts, but how we finish it.
Country of Origin