Thursday, 6 October 2022

I HAVE CALLED YOU BY YOUR NAME

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,

And He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.

This was the memory verse and theme for our ladies' retreat recently.

I didn't realise how much that retreat was preparing me for what He was doing next in my life, calling me by name, calling me out of a stronghold that has held me captive for over 40 years. 

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Him call be by name during worship.   It wasn't the name everyone else knows me by.  It was a name He often uses and which I had learnt to hate, because of the memories it invoked, but He was determined to redeem it.

The name isn't the problem - it's what it represented, what it reminded me of.   

Once upon a time, I was Daddy's little girl, only girl, and he had a pet name for me.   It made me feel special, cherished, seen.  

But it became a symbol of my Dad's betrayal - through sexual abuse and then the verbal abuse that followed when I put a stop to the other.   

He only used that name for me one other time - the day I left home to marry another man.  Instead, other names replaced it - fat, useless, ugly, nuisance.   

So, over the last few months, the Father has been calling out that pet name - during worship, or as I'm waking for the day, often very early in the morning.   And I've hated it and said so, even yelled at Him about it.  

But He is determined.   His love is relentless, like the waves on the shore.   He kept calling, like Jesus calling Peter across the angry waves, like the Shepherd looking for the lost lamb. 





















https://catholico.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/i-am-the-good-shepherd-the-good-shepherd-lays-down-his-life-for-the-sheep/


It wasn't about the name, it was about Him restoring and redeeming the concept of me being a daughter with a good Dad.   

A few weeks back, I was struggling with fear, big time.   A friend sent me the story of Jehoshaphat and it was very helpful.  

One of the lines that caught my attention in that story was this: 

........he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness...............................                        2 Chron 20:21   

One of the strategies that kept me afloat during that time of nearly drowning in fear was hooking into the beauty of His holiness - His otherness, His superiority to me, His infinite power and mercy and understanding.    It was the only thing that gave me hope.  It was like the hook on a dock to stop this ship from sinking.   I knew, in my head, that God was bigger than me, and He reminded me of that with the huge rainbow He showed me.   But my fear was pulling me under.   

For you to move beyond that fear and brokenness, you need a reality that is stronger and deeper than your lived experience.   You need someone to be stronger than you were at the time.  You need someone's truth to be stronger than the lies you were led to believe.   You need a power stronger than the power that damaged you and held you captive.   

And therein lies the beauty of holiness.    There is beauty in Him being perfect, unchangeable, eternal, faithful, almighty, thoroughly good and kind and compassionate.   I hooked into that lifeline.

His character is stronger and deeper than the character of a father who betrayed the trust of his little girl, after all the nice words and promises.

His unwavering and predictable faithfulness is the antidote to my deep distrust.

His power is the answer for my powerlessness to help myself.

His presence is the answer for the deep loneliness that came with the self-protection mechanisms I built.  

His healing balm is stronger and deeper than my wounds. 

His love is the anaesthetic for the deep pain I have felt in recent weeks, as He took me back to that place to heal me.   

His truth is stronger and deeper than the lies I came to believe - about myself, about love, about life and relationships.  

His infinite understanding is deeper and stronger than my ability to analyse and fix and manage.  

The trouble with fear, strong fear, is that it's rooted in trauma - a real, lived experience that has not been resolved and left you damaged.    It's also rooted in lies, lies that have taken hold and become your 'truth'.   

I found myself realising that, having given up the mental strongholds I created to protect myself during the abuse, from both parents, I was now at the mercy of the memories, the pain, the lies believed, the sheer loneliness of having neither self-protect mechanisms, nor  the ability to escape.  

I was at a complete loss for what to do.   I had no strategies left, no way forward, no way out and I was in a world of pain.     We really do have to come to the end of ourselves, eh?

A friend suggested I wait and worship and I knew she was right.  What else can you do?   I think you call that  a sacrifice of praise.    I decided to worship Him - in the beauty of holiness.   I've seen too much of His kindness and goodness to give up on it.   

I knew I needed HIM to do something because I had nothing left.   

And so He came.  He showed up.  I was sitting with a friend - crying, praying, just waiting and He came.

He showed me that I had a deep-seated fear of HIM betraying me, just like Dad had, that Him calling me by that name was going to set me up for more pain and disappointment, and I was holding out on Him.   He sure knows how to expose our deeply-held disbelief.

I was looking for something solid.  I had been relying on me to be that something solid, but I couldn't do it.   I was never meant to.   He IS the something solid.  More than that, He is Someone solid.    

I had a choice - to move out of my secret place into HIS, to be a cherished daughter, again.    

He came and said, "If you're ready, Katie, let's get out of here and not come back, eh?"

It was an invitation to leave that place of pain, but also of self-reliance.  It was one of the hardest things I've had to do, to make that choice, to take the risk and go with Him.  Then I remembered the beauty of His holiness.   In the light of that, the choice is clear enough.   Through tears and pain and confession of unbelief, I held out my hands in surrender.   That word surrender - again.   

And I saw a picture of Him carrying me out of that place through the ceiling - the physical room/house/situation of my childhood - but more than that.  He was taking me out of that stronghold of unbelief and fear, of self-reliance and aloneness and brokenness.   

Let those who fear the Lord now say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

I called on the Lord in distress;

The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  Ps 118:4-6


So now, I will learn to walk in this broad place, with a limp, if necessary, in HIS secret place, to abide in HIS pavilion and to worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, as He reveals it to me, more and more each time I look into His face.  

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;

In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;

He shall set me high upon a rock.  Ps 27:4-5


This is a song I've sung and cried again and again over the last few weeks, when I've been at a loss as to what else to do.   


Oh how I need Your grace

More than my words can say

Jesus I come, Jesus I come

In all my weaknesses

You are my confidence

Jesus I come, Jesus I come


I will rise, stand redeemed

Heaven open over me

To Your name eternally

Endless glory I will bring 


Oh what amazing love

Beneath Your cleansing flood

Jesus I come, Jesus I come

In every broken place

You are my righteousness

Jesus I come, Jesus I come


Thank You, Jesus

Just as I am I come

Hallelujah

Oh what amazing love!

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

DON'T NAG - THANK HIM AND WAIT

Years ago, we had a severe drought on our farm.  We've had quite a few severe droughts but this one was particularly bad.  

The ground was bare and like concrete.   We were losing sheep every day because we barely had any water or feed, and they were weak.   We were hand-feeding them because there was absolutely nothing left for them to forage.    All but one of our dams was empty and the one dam with water was surrounded by mud that pulled the sheep down, and they were mostly too weak to climb back out.















The dust would blow around and it was so disheartening to watch.   Sometimes, the clouds would build up, and so would our hopes, and then they would blow away without a drop. 

It was an emotional roller coaster and pretty darn exhausting for everyone, in so many ways.   We got tired of waiting and watching and hoping and praying.  















One day, I went outside to pray - again.   

And the Lord spoke to me, very clearly, almost audibly, but not quite.   

'Stop nagging Me about this like I don't see, don't know and don't care.   Start thanking Me for what I AM doing that you can't see, for what I WILL do that you can't see or imagine, and that I AM faithful'.   

Light bulb moment - there was no faith in my prayers, just empty words, nagging words, hopeless words.   So I stopped nagging and started thanking Him instead.    Every time I went outside to look at the situation,  I thanked Him for all His faithfulness to us over the years.  I thanked Him for His current faithfulness IN the situation.  I thanked Him for what He wanted to do and was going to do - more than I could see or imagine.   And it shifted my praying.  It shifted my focus from the problem to Him - bigger than the problem.   It shifted my attitude from disbelief to belief, from hopelessness to hope, from fear to faith.    

About a week later, it started to rain - a lot!    I heard this roaring noise, and realised that it was water literally pouring into our huge empty dam, the one closest to the house.  It was pouring in so fast that it was dangerous to be anywhere near the edge of that dam.    In less than six hours, every dam on our property was full to overflowing, including the biggest one.    The situation had completely turned on its head.   It took a while for things to grow again, but it gave us hope for the coming months - for water and feed.   




















We couldn't do it - we couldn't fill that dam or any other dam.   We couldn't change the situation at all.  There was absolutely nothing we could do ourselves to fix it.   We were managing it as best as we could, but we couldn't change it.    And that's such a frustrating place to be.   

And yet, that's where the power is, really.   That's when we have nowhere left to turn but to Him, if we choose to.   When we finally get to the end of ourselves, to the end of what we can do, we allow Him to do what He's wanted to do all along - show up as God Almighty, and meet our need, the way He knows best, with His mercy and grace.   

That's when you see:

His power

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us   Eph 3:20

His infinite understanding of the problem

His understanding is infinite...........  Ps 147:5

His mercy

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Isa 30:18

His faithfulness

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.   Ps 33:4

His love

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him   1 John 4:16

His patience

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love... Ps 103:8

And with all of that, His command - do not be afraid, spoken so many times to so many of His people throughout the centuries and still valid today, because He hasn't changed.  

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isa 41:10

His plans are eternal, His character is eternal, His power is eternal, never changing, never failing.   His mercy is new every.single.day.   That's the point of mercy - God doing what we can't.   

I must be a bit thick though, because once again I'm faced with something I can't change and I am incredibly frustrated - and fearful, if I'm honest.    I've got to a certain point on this healing journey and I'm stuck and I have no idea how to fix it, how to change it, how to move forward.   

It's been clear up to this point, where He'll show me something to surrender, to forgive, to rethink, to change, and I do, albeit after some wrestling.   But this time, it's like I'm stuck in one of those dust storms and got nowhere to go with it, no way to fix it, can't see enough to know what to do.   















He's not giving me something to do to move forward.   I'm in pain and I can't fix it, can't heal it, can't even bandage it up.   Every attempt on my part to re-bury it is unsuccessful.   He's decided it's time to heal this wound and only He can do it.    I wish I understood it, but wishing doesn't change anything.   

I can't do anything but wait - on Him.    Maybe that's the point.   Maybe the lesson IS the waiting, the not being able to do anything to move forward.    I'm a fixer, always trying to put things right, but He's actually trying to teach me to rest, to wait, to be still.   Goes against everything I've learnt to do.    

That's when He leads me here, to realise it's not MY strength that impresses Him.    Instead, He takes pleasure in me understanding that HE is God, that HE is merciful,  that HE is above me and my ability to shift this.   

He does not delight in the strength of the horse;

He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear HIM,

In those who hope in His mercy.  Ps 147:11

Maybe in the forced waiting, I'll learn something about myself that will change the way I relate to Him, that will heal something that is very broken.   

It's not MY strength that is going to get me through this - it's His.   It's not my wisdom or nouse or perseverance or anything else I can muster up.    It's just me waiting, and therein lies the victory I think (and the frustration).    Therein is the change that needs to happen in my brain - that it's okay to stop being the fixer and lean instead into His mercy, and that He will come through.    

The spoils of the victory will be mine, but the power and the timing and the glory will not.   

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all.   1 Chron 29:11


I discovered this beautiful song and reminder yesterday that God is in my story.   


God is in this story

God is in the details

Even in the broken parts

He holds my heart, He never fails

When I'm at my weakest

I will trust in Jesus

Always in the highs and lows

The One who goes before me

God is in this story


So if the storm you're walking through

Feels like it's too much and you

Wonder if He even cares at all

Well, hold on tight to what you know

He promised He won't let you go

Your song of healing's written in His scars


Friday, 30 September 2022

THE LONG ROAD HOME

I'm writing for Five Minute Friday and today's prompt word is ROAD.  


How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home...............   Ps 84:1-3

All roads lead home.   Well no, they don't, but one road does - the road He calls you on to get home - to Him.   

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;

They will still be praising You. Selah

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,

Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

Each one appears before God in Zion  Ps 84:5, 7

A home is a structure, a house, but it's more than that.     A home has walls and a ceiling for protection.  It has pretty things and special things to celebrate milestones, achievements, a person's value in the home.   It has necessary things like food and clothing and tools.  It is a place to stop and rest and refresh.  It's a place to learn and grow in a safe environment.    Or at least it should be.   

Home is a place where children should feel safe, and be safe. 

Home is a place where children should be allowed to be children - not carrying responsibility beyond their ability and maturity.

Home is a place where children should be nurtured, taught, loved, and protected. 

What if home wasn't like that for you, for me?   Well, that makes the road home, to Him, a lot harder but more precious.   

There were some aspects of my childhood home that were helpful and nurturing.   But there were some aspects that were incredibly harmful and where I learnt, at a very deep level, at the age of 12, that being alone was the only safe place to be.    I was not at home - at rest - in my parents' home.   

So I created another structure, a mental stronghold and a place in my heart that was my 'safe' place.   It was a necessary thing to do but it's been a very lonely 'safe' place.   The walls that protect you and that you build by necessity, often are the same walls that keep out real love.   Actually, I had no idea just how much of a stronghold that 'safe' place was for me and how much it was impacting my relationship with the Father.   

I've spent the last two weeks wrestling with fear, in a big way, and this week has been particularly difficult.   The Lord has been peeling back the layers, yet again, this time to a core issue - where is your home?   Is your home in Me?   Or are you hiding and letting me come and go on your terms?    

This week, He invited me to let go of my hidey hole, my safety structure, to come into HIS secret place, HIS home instead.   














https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/atthefeetofJesus


Once I could see it for what it was, I knew what I needed to do, but it was terrifying, because that structure, that 'safe' place, was built as a result of deep trauma and betrayal, by a father and a mother.    You can read more about it here, if you'd like to.   

About 20 years ago, the Lord led me to Psalm 27.  And He's led me there again and again.   It's a story of coming home, and the road it takes to get there - through fear, attack, rejection, violence, lies, misunderstanding, trouble.    This road leads to the Father, but it takes believing in the goodness of God, hooking into His strength to stay on that road when you want to quit and settle for less.   

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed 

that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Ps 27:13  

When your trust has been shattered, at an early age, it takes some doing, this staying on the road that leads you home.  The road seems especially daunting when the goal itself is unclear.   You don't know what it is to actually to feel safe, to be able to relax in this home, this safe place that you're heading to, because your safe place is all you've known and so you wonder if the difficulties of the road are actually worth it.    Sometimes, you wonder just how long this road through the valley is - does it ever end?   It seems to have a lot of twists and turns and bogholes, this road home, to the Father's safety.   

Every time I go back to this psalm, another truth jumps out at me and I wonder how I could have missed it the last fifty times I've read it.   

This week He led me here, verse 5.

For in the time of trouble HE shall hide me in HIS pavilion;

In the secret place of HIS tabernacle He shall hide me;

He shall set me high upon a rock.

All along, this psalm contained the concept of a safe place and somehow I missed it.   

As I discovered, a pavilion is a tent, a place to dwell, to live, to stay, a place of protection and covering and provision.  While a tent is a temporary dwelling, the belonging and protection He offers is not.   

The dwelling place of God is His mercy seat, the place to come boldly and meet with Him and receive grace and mercy, as needed, whenever needed.  

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Heb 4:16 

It takes some relearning to come.     It takes courage to come out of hiding.  

That mercy seat reminds me of the Father's lap - a better safe place.      It's like finally being able to drop the backpack, take off my shoes and fall in an exhausted heap, to stop striving, stop looking over my shoulder, to stop running, to stop being strong for Him, and let Him be strong for me.   The revelation of being able to finally and properly rest in HIS safe place blows my mind - I've been carrying a heavy load since I was 12, all my adult life and then some.   

He is my safe place.  End of story.   I may not be at the end of this healing journey, but I suspect that I can do the rest of it in the safety of His dwelling place, in His tent.      

It's been a long road home.   


Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death, 

my eyes from tears,

And my feet from falling.

I will walk before the Lord

In the land of the living.   Ps 116:7-9


I sat and played this song on my guitar this morning, even though I have little voice today.   


Come live in me

All my life

Take over

Come breathe in me

And I will rise

On eagle's wings


Here I am waiting

Abide in me I pray

Here I am longing

For You

Hide me in Your love

Bring me to my knees

May I know Jesus

More and more



Wednesday, 28 September 2022

LET GO OF THE HIDING PLACE

Have you ever built a cubby house out of branches and sticks and bark?   Not one of those nice, tidy, prefabricated structures you put up in a back yard, but something you build out in the bush when you're exploring and camping out.  













https://www.briar-hill-ps.vic.edu.au/cubbies.html


I built one with my older brother, Pete, when we were 14 and 12 - long time ago.   It was in someone's back paddock, where our Dad used to go shooting.   We spent hours building it, perfecting it, gathering supplies, making it weather-proof.   Our plan was to live in it, because  we were going to run away from home.    

Home was not a healthy place to be and escaping seemed like the logical thing to do.    So we picked a day (first Saturday of the school holidays) and we took off, before anyone was up and about, and started walking.   We hadn't thought too well about how long it was going to take to walk the 15km to get there.   It didn't take too long for us to realise that the police were out looking for us.   We'd left a note but my mother thought we'd been kidnapped.   Pete chickened out and we ended up hiding in the backyard for a bit, then taking off again, till the police finally found us wandering.    

Pete got a thrashing from Dad, as often happened, and I got let off, but I paid for it later, from Mum, when Dad wasn't looking.   

We wanted to hide.   I remember reading a book a few years ago now, called 'Hiding From Love'.  It's a powerful book, part novel, part counselling book, about how many of us hide hide in relationships because of a difficult and toxic family life.   The trouble with hiding, is that we end up hiding from the One person who can help us - the Father. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been wrestling with fear, huge fear, and just asking the Lord to show me what it is and why and how and what to do about it?  Lots of questions, lots of wrestling.    I've been working through grief and that brought to the surface this fear and I couldn't see how the two were connected.  

On Monday morning, the Lord told me to spend the week fasting from certain things and to pray about it.  He also told me to send out a call to various sisters in the Lord to pray for this stronghold of fear to break, because it was deeply-rooted and had been there a long time.    I really couldn't see it clearly but I felt it well enough.  Fear is paralysing, stops us doing the things we should do and even want to do.   

So, the Lord showed me this picture.  He speaks to me in pictures often, then explains them, gradually, over time.    I saw this cubby-house-like structure, built into the floor of a room.   It was roughly made, out of odds and ends, had different layers to it, was almost coffin-like in its shape and size, but had no lid.   It was like a hidey hole inside a cupboard that had no doors.   

So, I asked Him for an explanation.   And He took me backwards through a doorway of pain, as Joyce Meyer calls it, so that He could heal something that has been broken for a very long time - trust.   

When I was 12, Mum 'snapped', after months of struggling with grief and marital tension, and no doubt many other things.   I asked for help with something and she yelled and raged and swore, and I cried.   Well, that made her even angrier and she beat me and wouldn't stop until I stopped crying.  I ended up backed into a corner, on the floor, with my hands over my face, begging her to stop, but she wouldn't stop until I got quiet.    When I finally gave up making any noise, she was satisfied and she walked away, and we never spoke of it, even to this day.  I made a silent vow that day to not cry and I didn't.  It's only been in the last eighteen months, that that has changed somewhat.   

I didn't realise until just a few years ago, that it had impacted me deeply.    I remembered it at a conscious level, but had buried the pain of that.  I've written about it, talked about it, but God decided I needed to go back to that this week, because that's the reason I can't cry with others, and I need to.  More on that another day. 

So, He showed me that I built this mindset, this safety mechanism, this hidey hole, when I was 12, and would retreat there whenever I got a chance.   

When I was 14, we moved into my father's childhood home, and our toxic situation went from bad to worse.   For some reason, being in that house ramped up my father's narcissism and it exacerbated my mother's isolation (we moved out of town).    I split my time between propping Mum up so she didn't have breakdowns, and retreating to my room.    It became my refuge, and I would retreat there with food and books.   

Trouble is, once Mum moved out of their bedroom, Dad turned to me for his sexual 'needs'.    So my bedroom was no longer a safe place to be either.   In fact, it was very unsafe.   And Mum was not a refuge for me.   She'd certainly made it very clear, more than once, that I could not lean on her in any way.    One day, she walked up the hallway and stood outside my bedroom door, and could hear what was happening, and walked away.    I knew then that I was on my own.   

And I think I added a few more layers to that mental structure that day.

I did eventually manage to stop the abuse by locking Dad out of my bedroom.   After that, it was constant verbal abuse, cruel and unrelenting, towards me and Mum, and physical abuse for the boys.  Pete left that year, couldn't take it any more, had given up trying to stop them from hurting each other.    And my younger brother was my responsibility, so super Kath kicked in.  I felt Pete's departure deeply.  Even more alone now.    Add another layer to the structure, the hidey hole, the safe place.   

Perhaps that's why the picture He gave me had several layers and odd shapes about it.   

After that, Dad only ever came back into my bedroom once before I left home.  I'd got hurt by my boyfriend (now husband), something he'd said or done, and Dad saw that I was upset, saw my vulnerability and came to comfort me.  I fell for that, briefly, but then this safety mechanism kicked in, because I knew that I couldn't open that door again, couldn't trust myself to be close to him again, so I asked him to leave.    Add another few layers to this structure, this mindset, that it's not safe to cry, not safe to be vulnerable, not safe to be held, not safe to be anything other than strong and stoic and 'fine'!  

Fast forward many years, to a time when I was in my office at the farm house.  It was my safe place, and I would often retreat in there, do some paperwork but also play word games on the computer.    Things were difficult in our marriage and with other family dynamics and I would retreat when I could.  

The Lord said to me one day, while I was playing a word game, 

What are you doing?

I'm hiding.  This is my safe place, when no one else is in here. 

I know.    Why are you hiding? 

Because I need to be alone to feel safe.

Mind if I join you in your hiding place?   

I suppose not.   

Good.   


And we've been doing that ever since.   

Trouble is, hiding places are also incredibly lonely places.    Hiding behind 'I'm fine', 'everything is okay', 'I'm strong', 'I can manage, thanks' is great until it isn't.   Many times, I come down with a crashing thud once I've been super Kath for a while, in whatever capacity that is - daughter, wife, parent, teacher, helper, friend, mentor, Sunday school helper, retreat leader, etc, etc, etc.    Because I'm not good at being vulnerable, even with the Lord, or leaning on others, I eventually crash.   And it's a lonely place.    

So, this week, the challenge was to let go of MY hiding place and walk into His - and stay there.   I really thought I had this sorted.  Like, I thought I was in a much better place with Him, and honestly, I am compared to years ago, or even months ago.  

But, He showed me that all this time, while He's appreciated being welcome in MY hiding place, it's time for me to let it go, to surrender it, to walk out of it, to let Him dismantle it, and walk instead into HIS hiding place, the secret place.   And the choice is mine, it always is, because that's how He works.  He is a gentleman - strong but gentle.   

I realise now that when He showed up as gentle and strong during worship a while back, He didn't actually touch me, didn't push or shove or intimidate because He wanted it to be MY choice.   

I got this from my friend Jane, after I sent out the call for people to please pray.  

'As you put your hand on that handle, stand still, quiet, take a slow breath, look into His eyes, turn the handle and enter His secret place, confident He is for you and will carry you through this next section of the road.'

And so I have, in words, given Him that structure, that mindset, my safety mechanism, my hiding place, because I know from my journey so far, that He is good and kind and can be trusted.  I don't feel it yet, but I've experienced His goodness and kindness, and I'll trust Him until I do feel safe, more than the pain that caused me to hide.  Right now, I am feeling incredibly 'unsafe', and it's just as disorienting and frightening as surrendering that blanket of shame He asked for a couple of months back.  

So, here I am, in His secret place and I don't like it particularly, not yet anyway.    I'm sure I will grow to love it and appreciate it and Him in new ways.   From here on, He needs to be my new cubby house - my refuge and my fortress.  

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust.”   Ps 91:1,2


In the wrestling yesterday, I had my Spotify list playing and this song came on. 

Good timing, Lord!!  

I'm putting all the lyrics here, because they're all worth reading.  


Your Spirit is a gentleman

Standing at my hidden doors within

Where You wait for me to let You in

So You can set me free


Your Spirit is a wrecking ball

Tearing through my rebel walls

And one by one, I watch them fall

'Til You are all I see


Oh, You're the life in me

Oh, You're the air I breathe

Oh, You're the change in me

You're the change in me


Your Spirit is a whispering

When all the lies are deafening

You speak to the very heart of me

And fear cannot remain


Your Spirit is the light ahead

Calling me into the depths

And daring me to take a step

And let You lead the way


Oh, You're the life in me

Oh, You're the air I breathe

Oh, You're the change in me

You're the change in me


Your Spirit is a holy flame

Burning all the old away

Here I am, Lord, have Your way

'Til all that's left is You

All that's left is You


Oh, You're the life in me

Oh, You're the air I breathe

Oh, You're the change in me

You're the change in me


Your Spirit is my constant friend

You're with me to the very end

I'll never be alone again

You're the change in me


Sunday, 25 September 2022

I'LL FIGHT ON MY KNEES!

Something that I, and several of my friends, are struggling with at the moment is trusting God for breakthrough in areas of relationships or health, situations that just aren't budging, that have been long-standing battles, in my life, in their lives or in the lives of those they love.

And that is part of the problem I think - it's a battleground and we are the main players - in our own minds. 

Somehow, we have to shift that narrative that we are the main players.   We are not!!  God is the main player in these struggles and we need to learn to look to Him, to actually believe that the outcome is His responsibility.

A friend recently reminded me of the story of Jehoshaphat, who faced an unbeatable enemy, and his response to that.  His response was to get on his knees.   And God's response was to honour Jehoshaphat's acknowledgement that he could not manage the situation.   

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.  The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him.  2 Chron 20:3-4

When you grow up with an out-of-balance sense of responsibility, you carry that into your relationship with God.  If you've been in an adult relationship where you've had to carry more than your share of the load - the physical work, the blame, the guilt, the relational work, the outcome  - you also carry that into your relationship with God.  You learn to be the micro and maxi manager, because you have to, because if you don't, no one else will.   

What we need to learn instead is to place those battles in the Lord's hands.  We have to stop fighting with clenched fists and start fighting on bended knees, because the battle is the Lord's - His battle, His fight, His timing, His way.  















He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Chron 20:15

One of the most liberating things that I have realised lately, and still realising, is that I have limits - my responsibility, my ability, my understanding, my fault, my wisdom, my strength and more - all limited.  And that's good!!     Yep, huge revelation.    It's a relief actually.    It's good that I have limits.  And God doesn't love me less because of them.   Other people have for sure.  But God doesn't.   He doesn't need me to be super Kath.   

He is the One who is strong and powerful and knows everything that needs to be known about that person, that relationship, that health issue, that stronghold.   It's Him!   And He is limit-less.  

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.  Ps 145:3

It doesn't take long to search out my greatness.  It's incredibly limited.  But His greatness - unsearchable.    I can't begin to fathom that out and I don't need to.    But I need to lean into it, intentionally and consistently and keep doing that until it becomes my new normal.   But  that can only happen when I first recognise MY limits.    That's the hardest part of leaning in - is to first stop leaning on myself.  

I've felt so powerless in so many relationships and situations.  And that has made me angry and frustrated and touchy and resentful and pushy.   When we feel powerless and frustrated, we get pushy.  Pushy in our prayers, pushy in our attitudes and opinions that spill over into comments, pushy in our actions, pushy in our 'love' - because we want something to change so much that we're prepared to push for it.   That's not how God works.   

God works through gentleness.  Yes, He's the God of the tsunami and the earthquake, because He can, but He doesn't generally work that way unless we've resisted all His other attempts to bring us to a place of surrender and trust.   Sometimes, like with Elijah, He shows up that way to remind us He's all powerful, but then He bends down to listen, He holds our tears in a bottle, He feeds us and calls us to rest, He works underneath the surface, He tends His garden carefully and quietly and consistently and gently.  

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper..........  1 Kings 19:11-12

Something similar happened to me recently.   He visited me during worship, at church, and it was so powerful and I need to keep reminding myself of what He showed me.   I felt this Presence next to me.  It wasn't a physical presence and I opened my eyes long enough to realise there was no one standing next to me.  No one physical anyways.   

The Father was standing next to me, close enough to touch, but He didn't.    I felt this overwhelming sense of how strong this Person was, and yet that strength was coupled with and contained inside an equal measure of gentleness.   It was so profound.    He could have overpowered me but didn't.  He could have pushed Himself on me, but didn't.    He could have touched me without permission, but didn't.  He could have intimidated me, but didn't.   That's gentleness.  And yet the strength that I sensed and felt was like nothing I've seen or felt anywhere, even in people who've overpowered me in the past.   

You see, God is all powerful but His actions are always contained within that deep and high mercy that is His trademark, that compassion that comes from the Father's heart, that love that becomes a river of life within us.  We are not the source of that river of life - He is!!   

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the great mountains;

Your judgments are a great deep;

O Lord, You preserve man and beast.  Ps 36:5,6

The language in these verses could not be more obvious - God's mercy and faithfulness as high as the heavens?   Based on scientific fact, that is pretty darn high.  His righteousness - ability to do right, be right, always true - like the great mountains?  His judgements, His understanding, His wisdom like the great deep?  I mean, how much higher and deeper and vast do I need Him to be?   He is more than enough for me and His capacity is well beyond my limits.   It's me not seeing my limits that has limited His capacity in my life and how I pray for others and try to help others. 

When I don't see my own limits, I live in worry.   When I don't see that it's okay to have limits, I worry.  When I don't surrender those limits to Him, I fret and worry and strive to make something happen, make something change.   When you can see how it works, you see how pointless it all is.    I liken it to sitting on a rocking chair, getting faster and faster and more and more frustrated until something gives and someone gets hurt.     You're not actually getting anywhere, but you're expending so much energy and nothing is changing, nothing for good anyways.     

We certainly can't add a single hour to our lives by it.  I suspect, instead, that we actually shorten our lives with all that pointless effort and hurt others in the process.   

We need to get off that rocking chair of worry and presumption and pride and frustration, and get back on our knees.   



















Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matt 6:26,27

Like Louie Giglio says in his new book, "Worry tells you that you are in charge. But who wants that job, anyway?   Faith tells you the God who loves you is in charge. Your Maker is in control. You can trust Him. All His ways are good."

When I recognise my limits and put limits on my responsibilities, my attitudes, my words and my actions, it opens the way for God to work.   

Something God showed me many years ago and yeah, I'm still trying to remember it and live out of it, is this: gentleness, instead of pushiness, comes from a place of wisdom and understanding - knowing who's God and who isn't - not me nor them, whoever the other battlers are in my equation.  

We can only be gentle if we understand that God is in charge, because otherwise we think we are, or should be, and then we get pushy.   

Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, His Holy Spirit.    But it seems I need to go through a major pruning process for that fruit to be manifest in my life.   

One of the hardest things I had to hear from the Lord, in a very difficult situation a few years ago where I desperately wanted to help someone, was 'please get out of My way so I can work'.   And He did, when I did.   It was hard, really hard, to let Him do what I couldn't.   But my goodness, He made a much better job of it than anything I had tried.  Funny that?!

Back to Jehoshaphat.   

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,  and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,  ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 2 Chron 20:5-9

When I read these verses, something jumped out at me - we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.  

If we will just come into the presence of the Lord, into His overarching strength and wisdom and gentleness and mercy, that is well beyond anything we can come up with, and if we intentionally lean into and on that Presence and that Name (His character, everything He is and says and has done before), with our fists no longer clenched for a fight, and our hands open in a posture of surrender (of our agenda) and an expectation of His purposes and power, then we will see change.  

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.   Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”  2 Chron 20:17

As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”     After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendour of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:   

“Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”  2 Chron 20:20,21

In the midst of the battle, can we praise Him for the splendour of His holiness?   Can we understand how much higher and wiser and more powerful He is than us or the problem?  Can we lean on that and into that, instead of our own wisdom and strength?   If we want Him to win, we have to.   

Have I got this sorted?  Absolutely not!  So many years of carrying too much responsibility has left its mark.  But He is my Redeemer and a great one at that.  Nothing is too difficult for Him, not even me.   

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.  Jer 32:17 


I often put this song on, to remind myself to surrender.   


… So when I fight, I'll fight on my knees

With my hands lifted high

Oh God, the battle belongs to You

And every fear I lay at Your feet

I'll sing through the night

Oh God, the battle belongs to You


Friday, 23 September 2022

RAINBOWS REPRESENT HOPE

I'm writing for Five Minute Friday and today's prompt word is REPRESENT

Rainbows represent hope in our family.   God has given us rainbows when we've desperately needed a reminder that He is indeed still God, still working in unseen ways, still waiting to show up in power, still able to show up in power.    For me, a rainbow doesn't just represent hope but power - God's power to change a situation, to change me.  

We've seen rainbows on many significant days and at turning points in our lives, sometimes when we didn't know that it was a turning point.

And isn't that the way?  Sometimes, we just don't know until we look back how much He was working, what He was up to.  But in the meantime, the rainbow represents His overarching power and purposes, way beyond our understanding or vision.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isa 55:8-9

Today, I was in town and it was raining, yet again.  We've had so much rain lately.    There were heavy showers and then light rain and then the sun would come out.   

I spent most of today, all week actually, wrestling with something, struggling to believe that God is able to do what I need Him to do in this particular situation, even though it was His idea in the first place.  Isn't that the way?  He leads us down a certain path for His name's sake, and we doubt that He can lead us well.   Perhaps we think He'll abandon us on the way.  

I wonder if Noah doubted God while he was building the ark, or during the storm, or in the long wait before the boat landed, or in the waiting to see if they would ever be able to live on land again. It must have been very unsettling and disorienting for Noah and his family.     I mean the flood was God's idea, the boat was His idea, He provided everything needed, including wisdom, and watched over them the whole time.    He had gone before and behind Noah, and at the end of it all, He gave them a rainbow, to represent His promise for a new future, His faithfulness, His ability to bring that future to pass.   But I wonder if Noah doubted in the middle of it all.   

That was me today.   Following His lead, but seriously doubting that He would meet me there or more doubting His ability to do what He wants to do for me, in me.   He's so patient with my doubting heart, because He knows why it doubts, when and how those doubts were first established, and how hard it is to surrender to believe Him and surrender.   I was wrestling with Him, with myself, with my doubts.    I had the worship music on but still that heaviness wasn't shifting. 

I was nearly finished in town, and turned onto a busy road, and there ahead of me was a massive double rainbow with dark clouds to the side.   















Once again, the Father gave me a beautiful picture to represent hope and HIS power, well beyond my ability and my doubts.   And through the rain and through the tears, He finally got through to me.    Even in the pain and my own incapacity to trust Him well, He gives me a sign of HIS faithfulness, HIS ability, HIS power.   

Of course, you could say it was just coincidence or a natural phenomena.  Like the double rainbows over Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace after Queen Elizabeth II died.   

But I believe God is in charge of rainbows.  And for me, rainbows represent hope and power.   When life and storms are just too big for us, like Noah's storm, God is bigger and is beyond our inability and limitations and doubt and fears.   

I couldn't get a picture of the rainbow, though I tried.  It was just too big.    I drove to one of the high spots in the city, and still couldn't get a good shot.   My sister-in-law got a better shot from her place to the west of the city.   (Thanks so much, Dee)















But it's not about being able to see the rainbow in its entirety.  That doesn't change the size of it - just reminds me of my limited view.   It's about understanding Who put it there, in the midst of the storm.    I could see the rainbow in my rear-view mirror, as I was driving to a higher point.   I wonder how often we're consumed by the storm in front of us and can't see His overarching presence in our lives?   Until we look back.   

Oh to see it and believe it in the middle, in the midst of the storm, to lean into His previous faithfulness and to remember what the rainbow represents, even before we can see the evidence.   

And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.

Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?

You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah  

Ps 77:10-15


I love the words from Mack Brock in this song, I Will Look Up


I will look up

For there is none above You

I will bow down

To tell You that I need You

Jesus, Lord of all

I will look back

And see that You are faithful

I look ahead

Believing You are able

Jesus, Lord of all

Jesus, Lord of all, oh

You're the Lord, You're the Lord of all


Friday, 16 September 2022

I DON'T ALWAYS NEED TO KNOW

I'm writing for Five Minute Friday.  Today's prompt is SPONTANEOUS

Definition of spontaneous:  performed or occurring as a result of a sudden impulse or inclination, without premeditation or external stimulus; having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner; occurring without apparent external cause.

I don't like spontaneous things happening to me.  I like warning of what's coming.  Sometimes, when something happens spontaneously, it is fun and exciting.  Other times, it's scary and confronting.    Either way, I like to know what's going to happen.   

Many of the things I say to my kids are spontaneous to them but not to me. And I do that because they would get very unsettled if I told them any earlier.  I've learnt the hard way not to tell very young children too soon about upcoming holidays or birthdays or other events.   But at other times, I've needed to prepare them mentally for something so we don't have meltdowns .  

As my girls get older, they're more able to handle spontaneous happenings and so it gets easier.  I guess it's about their level of maturity, their ability to mentally process things quickly, and their security in relationship.  

How do I respond to God's spontaneous prompts or revelations in my life?   

Like a good parent, God knows what I can handle and when and how to prepare me for something that is spontaneous to me.  This week I had an interaction with someone that triggered a spontaneous,  strong reaction in me.  It kinda knocked me sideways for a couple of days.  I sure didn't see it coming.    But the Lord knew and He had already made time and space for me to process what needed to be processed.    

I don't like that kind of spontaneous.  It's confronting, inconvenient and unsettling.  But I'm learning that I can trust Him to not always give me a heads up, because there are some things I would never voluntarily agree to if He did.   There are some things that need to be dealt with spontaneously rather than being worried about for days or weeks ahead of time.  

And I'm learning that He is always present in the spontaneous happenings and always good, even when it's painful and unsettling.  And He brings something good out of it if I'll allow Him to do what He wants to do in it.

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Heb 12:11

So can I have the right attitude when something spontaneous happens in my life, that I don't like?  Can I decide that I don't always need to know what's going to happen?   Can He rely on me to respond with trust when He doesn't warn me about what's coming?   Can I just lean into His goodness and grace when I'm disoriented by something that has caught me completely off guard, even something in my own heart?

I hope so.   


















Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; 

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.  Ps 131:2


I love this song, Give Me Faith, sung by Chris Brown 


I need You to soften my heart

And break me apart

I need You to open my eyes

To see that You're shaping my life

All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what You say

That You're good and Your love is great

I'm broken inside, I give You my life