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A Word in Season

#1 The Mandatory ‘Why’ Post

Half the battle is getting started, amirite. This blogging world is hectic with a capital heck, but hey here I am!

Welcome, Haere mai, Bula vinaka.

It’s really just a struggle to find the balance when you speak fluent sarcasm and are attempting to write a somewhat serious blog… I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here guys. I touched on the ‘why’ behind the blog in my About section, but this is the extended version for you real committed readers – respect.

So rewind to my birthday in August last year, I was given this journal you see featured in the above photo. I decided to use it to scribble down typography pieces of what I felt God was teaching me at that time… It’s funny how you become more aware of the frequency of something occurring when you are intentional about it. For those of you who don’t know, God is quite the talkative one! More often than not, this voice of His is smothered in a whirlwind of salt-sprinkling memes and which VSCO filters to choose.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the greatest with reading my Bible on the daily, but what I have come to learn is that does not disqualify you from hearing from God; however it is simply the most obvious way of doing so. I have found that every time I open my Bible, I kid you not, I read verses that Speak directly into my current season. Not long ago, a friend of mine actually showed me her art collection and one particular gem got me good – ‘Don’t say God has been silent when your Bible has been closed.’ I mean, if that doesn’t challenge you, I don’t know what will.

So now with this whole journaling journey (wow, that was a new level of embarrassing to even type…) I was convinced by another friend to start this blog and share both what God has spoken, and is currently speaking to me. Still unsure of whether that will be the only content I’ll post on here – considering the occasional break dance tutorial – or how often I’ll post, but we’ll see!

In the meantime, my challenge to you is this: simply ask God to Speak if you genuinely want to hear from Him. He doesn’t only speak to ‘Christians’. Don’t overcomplicate the process – God wants to talk to you more than you could possibly want Him to, I just choose to let Him.

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You are called.

“Do what you love and love what you do.”

“If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.”

“Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

We’ve all heard these before – but how often are we still left questioning what God actually calls us to do… What do I have to offer? Is this the right career path? Am I serving in the right ministry, perhaps? Been there, questioned that. It wasn’t until I heard a message from Pastor Robert Madu (11/10 would recommend) a few years ago, that a lot of these questions were clarified for me personally. At the heart of his message was the fact that our calling goes hand in hand with our gifting.

What is your gifting, you say? Why, I’m so glad you asked. My good old pal Robert just so happened to outline 4 questions that are so simple, yet incredibly profound in identifying what your gifts could be. Whether it be ability-based, people-based or knowledge-based, I encourage you now – don’t just read over these questions; take a moment and pause. Answer them for yourself and allow God to be at work in you as you do so.

How can I identify my gift?
1) What do you enjoy doing & how can this be used in the Kingdom?

Your gift will complement your passions. You cannot have a God-given gift that you hate having, nor will you have a passion that this gift won’t make way for. If you enjoy doing something or are good at that very thing, don’t take it for granted. God wired you with a calling in mind and He wants you to enjoy the journey, not just endure it.

2) What would you do for free?

This one’s a good challenge. Essentially, if it were truly your gift, no amount of money could either stop you or convince you to pursue it. For example, if you work in the medical profession, building or engineering fields, you are ultimately driven by a need to improve the quality of life for others. If you’re a counsellor, social worker, pastor or teacher, chances are that you are not motivated by your payslip (can I get an amen), but more so the passion that you have to fulfil a need where there is lack in peoples lives. The moment we realise that we are motivated by much more than fleeting money, we also begin to realise that there is a difference between a career and a calling.

3) What do other people notice in you?

Do life in community – I cannot stress how important this is in recognising your gifting! How will people call out the God-gifts in you if you don’t allow them to see you in action? If you haven’t already, try joining a life group, serve team or simply get some quality people around you as your support crew. These are the people that will be both your biggest encouragers and your most loving critics. Listen to those you trust, because often we fail to see in ourselves what others notice in us.

4) What is something that comes easily to you but may be difficult to others?

Confession session in full swing: I can’t swim to save my life. I’m terrified of anything with sharp claws, more than 4 legs or wings (yes, butterflies are included. No judgement). I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I think I’ve just about come to terms with the fact that I’m not called to be an athlete, vet or musician, but that’s simply because I am well aware of my gifts. I find it easy to speak in front of an audience, I love seeing kids learn and I have a knack for doing things creatively, so that’s why I pursued a teaching career. However, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, for sure. Ask yourself – what comes easily to you? There will be an ease and a grace to your gifting.

There is a significant importance in identifying your gifts, because the enemy knows what God has put in you. It no longer becomes an issue of pride or self-confidence, but one of a God-assurance, as we are then one step closer to partnering with Him in this unique calling He has for our lives. Find what it is you are passionate about, remind yourself of that daily, and invite God to go before you into your sphere of work and life.

We each are called differently, but share the same purpose; to know God and to make Him known. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Just like He asked Moses with the wooden staff in the book of Exodus, He asks you the same today – “What is in your hand?”

Robert Madu used a powerful analogy for understanding our calling, and that is this – If you take a hammer and nails and place it in the hands of someone who is called to be a qualified builder, what will you get? An exceptionally built house. If you took that hammer and those nails and placed them in my hands, however, you’ll be lucky if you get a somewhat average birdhouse. But take that same hammer and those nails and place them in the hands of Jesus, who was called to die once and for all to cover our sin, what do you get? Salvation for mankind.

So, what is in your hand? What are you gifted at? If you’re up to it, I challenge you to give that up to God, entrust Him with it, and see where He takes you– you are called, so do this with bold assurance.

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”
– Proverbs 16:3.

Psalm 50:23

“A sacrifice of thanksgiving is what honours Me…” – Psalm 50:23
Now I don’t know about you, but the first time I read this verse I thought I understood every word (…take note: the keyword there was thought).

‘Got it God, sweet, next verse’ I naively thought as I went to turn the page of my Bible. But alas, not this time… I felt like God wanted me to go back and re-read this verse until I understood what He was trying to say. ‘Sacrifice’, ‘thanksgiving’ and ‘honour’ are words we hear in church circles so frequently that we sometimes lose sight of the significance they carry in the Bible – guilty. So I re-read…

A sacrifice of thanksgiving is what honours Me.
A sacrifice of thanksgiving is what honours Me.
A sacrifice of thanksgiving is what honours Me.

It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that I realised the words ‘sacrifice’ and ‘thanksgiving’ are quite contrary in nature. Sacrifices are thought of as negative, where we have to give up something that would pain us to let go of. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is thought of as positive – the act of being grateful. I know, wow Captain Obvious, you’re a genius! But bear with me… so if a sacrifice alludes to the pain of letting go, and thanksgiving to the simple act of saying thank you, why would we ever come across a situation where we would have to painfully thank God?

Lightbulb.

It was then that I felt God simply say ‘When does thanking Me become a sacrifice?’ In other words, when would it hurt us to have to say thank you to God? Captain Obvious checking back in – thanksgiving becomes a sacrifice when it is the last thing we want to do; when we feel like we have nothing to be thankful for.

Often, when the tides of life rise around us and we feel that we’re sinking, our human instinct tells us to blame God.
Are you kidding me?
Why would you do this to me, God?
(Or my personal favourite)
Do YOU even know what I’m going through right now?!

Isn’t it funny how quickly we can lose sight of the sovereignty of God when we take our eyes off Him and place them on our circumstances instead?

This was a real heart-hitter for me, because at this particular time a good few years ago I had somehigh sea circumstances and to be quite honest, the last thing I wanted to do was stop and thank God for that. But this was when the second part of the verse came to life for me – it’s all about honour. Saying thank you becomes a sacrifice when it requires us to rise above these tides and actively FIND the things in our lives to be grateful for. The ability to shift your mindset from negative to positive, from loss to gain, is what truly brings honour to God. How? Because you are choosing to take your eyes off circumstances and place them back on to a sovereign God who is already present in your tomorrow. By doing this, you honour the fact that He is, and always has been, in control.

Every valley teaches us a life lesson that enables us to appreciate the mountain tops all the more. Are you currently in a mountain top season? Take a moment to reflect on and thank God for the trials that you overcame along the way, which ultimately shaped your character. Are you in a valley season? Take a moment to reflect on and thank God all the more; for His faithfulness in the past, for the battles He entrusts you with to conquer, and for the lessons you are currently learning that you wouldn’t have elsewhere.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Because it is this sacrifice of thanksgiving that truly brings Him honour, and in the Bible He promises to honour those who honour Him.

Trust

This was the very first piece that I wrote for a friends blog called ‘Reasons to Trust‘ back in 2014. It’s quite funny to look back at this now, after finishing my teaching registration, because God’s fingerprints are so evident all throughout this season of uncertainty.

I never actually wanted to work at a Christian school, but after being here for 3 years I cannot picture a better foundation for my career. The thought of teaching intermediates terrified me at university, but now these crazy pre-teens are not only my favourite typography artists but also my daily dose of sarcastic banter. I had so many ideas of what was “best for me” but reading over this post time and time again is such a good reminder of the fact that God knows me so much better than I think I know myself. He’s great like that. Enjoy x

 

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Christianese (n.): ‘A communicable language within the Christian sub-culture.’

I’m not going to lie; I was tempted to claim that rather savvy definition as my own, but I’ll give credit where credit is due – thanks Google.

Having grown up in a Christian family, I’ve found that you tend to become numb to the terms that surround you in church circles. Recently, this for me was the word trust.

I have just completed my teaching degree in 2013 and made the decision that I would not go in to full time classroom teaching this year. I felt I needed a season of rest and refreshment, a ‘me-time’ season, before doing so. But I also needed to pray about it, just incase it was simply me making emotional decisions. Typical.

So I prayed… No answer.

Kept on praying… No big booming voice.

Continued to pray… No prophetic word from a stranger.

Meanwhile, I ignored God’s whisper in verses such as –

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverbs 16:9 – “You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.”

Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

My fluent Christianese would kick in, thinking that these verses sounded ordinary; dare I say cliché. I had obviously never had to apply this kind of trust before; trust with my uncertain future plans. Around me, friends from university were sending out applications and getting called in for interviews. The stress of competing for jobs seemed so overwhelming I didn’t even want to give it thought. If only I had a dollar for every time I was asked “So what are your plans for next year, if not full time?” And don’t even get me started on my parents.

Closer to the end of the year, my mentor, Hayley, asked me what I felt God saying. Honestly, I just felt an inexplicable sense of peace about this resting season I was coming in to; but of course I didn’t realise that peace is one of the greatest indicators God will use to direct your path. Ideally, I would have loved to teach but did not want to go in to a full-time career straight away. Was I being unreasonable? Possibly. But I felt God say “Leave it to Me…if you trust Me.”

Around Christmas time, I was out shopping with my mum, as you do, when I happened to bump in to a teacher from my church that I had done part of my work experience with during my first year of study. My church runs a multi-campus school from kindergarten age to college, and this teacher had just moved in to a new full-time position there. We caught up on the past 3 years in all of 3 minutes, and of course she asked the million-dollar question – “So what are your plans for next year, if not full time?” Long story short, she made me email her my CV so that she could hand it in for her old part-time relief position with a good word. A month later, I received a phone call from the school office and signed my contract that same day. How’s that for divine appointment. #Christianese

Looking back now, I’d have to be blind not to see God’s fingerprints all over my life. A good friend of mine sent me this quote – ‘God is so secure in His sovereignty that He is not afraid to appear un-sovereign.’

The Christianese-to-English translation: God is so in control that He is not threatened by us thinking He isn’t in control.

The Christianese-to-Chermayne translation: God knew what He had planned for my future and He is secure enough to allow me to doubt; secure enough with me simply having to trust.

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