I Want Bikkies

She said it loud enough for me to hear, this little treasure of 2 and a bit, tousled hair and perfect little face.

I sat near her and as the meeting went on she had a moment,
one of those moments where all of a sudden you know exactly what you want.
and she said it out,

I want bikkies

weaving

And it echoed through me like a shimmer of joy – this uncensored, un-demanding, un-manipulative, statement.

This simple connection between what she wanted right in this moment – and saying it aloud without the need to demand or pretend it was something else.

And it whispered in my heart how I don’t say what I want.

Sometimes I imply, or suggest, or even demand.
Or I close my mouth tight and squash it down because I feel embarrassed by my desire, I feel like no-one else is saying or wanting it so why should I.

and let’s be honest – sometimes it is bikkies I want.

but other times it’s more

it’s
I want you to wait for me to finish speaking and hear my heart as well as my words
I want to be honest without being fearful or harsh
I want to be given an opportunity
I want you to take a chance on me

it’s
I want to please Jesus, even if embarrasses you
I want to live careless, instead of trying not to be too much
I want to be funny and serious, irreverent and awestruck all at the same time

I want to be Miriam 
and not the Miriam you’d like me to be.

It’s strange how I’ve become less skilful at saying what I want. Being able to state what I want or need with authenticity, and honesty, without fear and without manipulation, has gotten lost.

If I even own and understand what I want, I dither on the edges – trying to work out how to say it, if I should say it, what angle to come from. Like it’s more important how you hear it. I’ve complicated myself, I’ve censored myself, I’ve feared your reaction, and in reality I’ve tried to control you.

So today I heard truth from the sweet little mouth that sat next to me. Who realised what she wanted and stated it. I wonder if we could all do with a little more of this honesty, this simplicity, this authentic ability to state what we want come what may.

Because saying what I want, or need, doesn’t guarantee I’ll get it. But it does keep me free and honest.
beach1
I think sometimes we hide behind words to protect ourselves from the disappointment of not getting what we really do want. Sometimes we get so good at feeding ourselves a story we start to believe it

like all the excuses we make aloud to stop ourselves from connecting with what our heart really wants, because it’s easier to act like we don’t really care than embrace the difficultly of longings unfulfilled

like the woman who says I want to be relevant to everyone, and not offend anyone so I need to temper my faith, when all she’s ever wanted is to recklessly pursue the One whose captivated her heart…

and I realise this thing…. that I’ve been so busy wanting it all, and wanting none of it that I have missed the glimpses of this thing I really want.

I want Him.

I undoes me when Jesus says to the disciples, ‘do you guys want to leave too?’
and Peter replies, ‘where else can we go? You alone have the words of life.’

and that is my thing… where else can my heart go?
because I want to be in His house
with his beautiful, messed-up, infuriating, slightly weird people

and I’m tired of pretending, and trying to convince myself that’s not for me
and I don’t know how it will look for a girl like me who loves The Church so hard;

because it beats in me for all of it
the high, the low, the community church with one musician in a musty hall, the slick huge congregation…. like it’s all a family to me. A family that confuses me and messes me up and makes me cry with anger when it starts shooting arrows at itself, and makes me cry with joy when it responds in love.

This is what I want – here in this sacred moment
I want to serve The Church, and a local church too to be certain, but The Church universal, with all my heart

to whisper to her when she is worn down and weary – nothing can snatch you out of his hand
to proclaim loud to her – your God reigns
to challenge her – this is how the world will know you are His, by your love for each other
to call with her – rend the heavens and come down
to see the creative unleashed – to give a platform for us to all share our gifting
to pray for her – may the people praise you, Oh God may all the people praise you
to stand unified – loving each other, other denominations, despite our differences
to teach her well – with integrity and sound theology
to prophesy faithfully – because God is speaking
to see her experience – Holy Spirit at work
to stand with her – and see the miracles we have heard of renewed in our day

to be clothed with strength and dignity together, 
to laugh with joy together, 
to work it out messy, humble, imperfectly 
together

and how does that happen?
and how do I get there?

I don’t know. That’s God’s job.

What I do know is I want bikkies.

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I want to serve, strengthen, encourage, bring joy, spend my life on The Church. Because I love it.

and today that is enough. To be able to say what I want and leave the rest.

Praying for the One I Wish I Was

Somewhere along the way from childhood to adult it comes, this realisation that every one of you doesn’t get to grow up and marry a prince, or win x-factor, get the olympic gold, or win next top model… or whatever childish dream was ‘the’ thing we all wanted to be.

… and so when it dropped like a pebble into a pond that we all couldn’t be ‘that thing’ we all wanted the ripples didn’t just lead me to grow up and put off childish dreams

because dreams, hopes, visions – those things are the stuff of humankind from ghetto to castle – we all dream, desire, hope

… the ripples whispered it across my subconscious and suddenly the others became ‘competition‘ and there was only one pie and we were all wanting a slice, the biggest slice. And there were only so many slices.

Suddenly a person succeeding at what I want desperately with my own heart isn’t a cheerful reminder that it can happen… that person becomes a sign that I’ve missed my slice, that they got there first

and that wicked whisper points out their shortcomings
and it points out my shortcomings

and it tells me that they aren’t my sister or brother, they are my competition

since when did a person become our competition?

and when the whispers of judgement are finished
and the whispers of condemnation are finished

I’m left with a stomach full of dissatisfaction and hopelessness

So I am changing the channel.
I’m hearing the words of Jesus that says, It is to my father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples

Because we serve a God who wants us all to be fruitful, to be bearers of his glory, to use our gifts at the extreme ends of our ability – extended by His anointing.

So this is how it works – everyone I look at who seems to be doing what I wish I was I’m praying for them. I’m not entertaining a searchlight of judgement on them. I’m praying all God’s best for them, for them to be more successful, for them to be more influential, for them to get more opportunities, commissions, invitations, for them to reach further, shoot higher, be blessed.

And when I start to worry that I’ve missed out on a serve of that pie I so desperately wanted I’m pulling up my seat at the table and I’m realising I was never competing with anyone. I look down and see the pie in front of me it’s all for me.

Because dear one, you have been served up your own pie.
This journey, there is room for you, there is room for me and we aren’t competing for a serving of the same pie.

Let’s all of us stop thinking of others as our competition and start championing the cause of everyone.

I’m singing loud these words over you today dear heart:

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary

    and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices

    and accept your burnt offerings.

May he give you the desire of your heart

    and make all your plans succeed.

 May we shout for joy over your victory  

and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.
Psalm 20v 1-5

Today I’m praying for champions, for the ones who appear not to need any help because they already have it all. I’m praying for every one of them like my dreams depend on it.

I’m praying success, peace, provision, influence, joy, opportunity, invitation.

I’m finding my peace in seeking God and trusting that other people doing well is absolutely as it should be.

Because even Moses needed people to hold up his arms and maybe your faithful blessing of another person might be an arm-supporting breakthrough in the battle for many.

Maybe letting go of covetousness is a commandment for our freedom. Maybe we are lessened by jealousy and comparison in a way that limits us.

God let me be one who truly champions the giants. Give me the heart of Jonathan to stand alongside David and pray his success even though that feels like my diminishing. Strengthen the heart that feels scared of missing out. Let me love with an expansive heart that sees no-one as competition. 

On Spending It All

 

Maybe I’m a natural spend-thrift, or maybe I’m a borderline hoarder. Maybe it’s cultural, maybe it’s part of the brokenness of the human condition.

Whatever it is, I hold on.

I always have some extra stored away. I don’t want to open the pantry and see only what is needed for the week, I don’t want to open my sewing cupboard and see only the fabric for my current project, I want to always keep some kind of safety net.

Maybe it’s wisdom to have some extra food in the pantry – like when you are hit with earthquakes, and power outages, and water you can’t drink.

But a life of holding on, keeping extra, making sure I have enough for myself isn’t a good metaphor for this life I’m called to live. The true calling of the Christian life must surely be to spend it all. 

 

To recklessly use every skill, gifting, resource at our disposal to God’s glory, for his people and that all may know and come and be welcomed.

The calling is to spend every cent and arrive giddy with the rush of squeezing value into every single part of it. Like the reverse of a ten-minute grocery grab – flying through life on a crazy dash spilling out Grace, and Love, and Hope and Joy wherever we go.

Knocking over the carefully piled stands of indifference, crashing headlong into image, and toppling self-centred, selfishness.

Around us people are handed terminal diagnosis every day. It feels unjust, it cripples and whispers fear into our hearts, into my heart at what sentence might be handed down at any moment.

But we are all terminal. 

Each of us has an unknown appointment with the end of our time in this present condition, this time of walking in this body in its un-resurrected state.

It seems to me when people are given a stark timeline it shifts how they see time, it transforms the way they spend time and it gives their lives new clarity. No longer prepared to do status quo life becomes something to treasure and to spend.

One of my most favourite stories in the bible is as David comes into the city with the ark and he strips down to his undies and dances with all his might. This leads to some marital discord but David replies –“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.”

I love that image of David who didn’t hold back and limit himself to ‘appropriate kingly worship’. Because the truth is when we censor the way we worship, live for God, share our lives… we aren’t worshipping God we are worshipping people – because we have changed our posture to suit what won’t offend them.

How often do I, do we, change the way we worship because of the way we think others (in the church) expect us to behave. Do we censor ourselves under misguided fears and pride or do we do our worship with all we have?

Right now I am challenged. Challenged to spend it all with reckless abandon for the great audience of One to whom my whole life is a gift, for whom my talents are all available and from whose lips I long to hear ‘well done good and faithful.

God would you teach me, would you teach us all how to spend our lives, how to leave it all on the track having expended everything you gave us. Forgive me for the selfishness that limits my generosity. Turn my heart to wanting to give it all to you, and for you, and let me know how to worship like David. Thank you Jesus that you are my great example of living in the joy of giving it all.  

Let us all arrive at our face to face meeting with empty pockets and full, full hearts.  May we all be able to say – as Paul said – 

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,and the time for my departure is near.

I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the race, 

I have kept the faith.

 

 
 

Finished, Not Finished

This is one of those ‘Sunday words’ that whispers in my ear and makes me scribble incoherent words, on the back of a receipt or something I can find in my bag, halfway through a song.

This thing about being ‘finished’. I feel like some of us feel like we’ve left our run too late, we’re too exhausted, we’re so far from ever getting there that we’re never going to make it.

It’s like time has left us behind and we in our heart it echoes loud, ‘I’m finished’ or maybe it utters some other iteration ‘I’m disqualified’, ‘I’ve been passed over’, ‘There is no room for someone like me.’

If only we’d committed to our passion earlier.

If only we’d been wiser.

If only we’d held on longer.

… and the future smears out like a smudge across a future with no guarantees. Our heart breaks a little. We sigh. This finished doesn’t feel like the finish of an athlete gasping across the line. It’s an empty, shallow finish. A finish without hope.

I look at myself and I think – I’m too old to make a run of a whole new thing and do it well. I think to myself how can you still be unsure about what direction to head in? There are women doing it better already and they’re 10 years younger. I look at myself and I think no matter how much I believe in equality, in validity, in the promotion of God – I’m playing a game on a field where there’s still some weary distance between a woman with a mouth full of words and the men all doing it.

Sometimes I cry for the lack of women (or men) Pauls for the women Timothys….

I look to the one who levelled the playing field. I hear – It’s finished and it’s not finished and it won’t be until I say it is.

Because it was finished on a hill named after a skull years ago. That finish did it all. That finish tore a heavy, heavy curtain that separated us from the Presence. That finish levelled the playing field forever. That finish said – it.is.done. No more doing to get you in, no more qualifying, no more games. You are in because the dividing line is forever erased. Every person on the wrong side of age, gender, race, intelligence, hierarchy, ability… suddenly found that the door that shut them out no longer existed.

and…. it isn’t finished.

There is the tension and the joy. Because Jesus finished it once, for all, and God promises that when he begins a good work in us he will be faithful to bring it to completion.

It isn’t finished until God is finished.

I’m not finished until God is finished writing the story.

I’ll know when He has finished the story because at that moment I will behold Him face to face. At that moment I will be completely transformed.

Until then….

I am not finished.

There is race in me still.

There is Hope for me still.

There is inheritance for me here.

I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living Psalm 27

Do you need to know once and for all that it is finished? Do you need to rest in that dear one? Do you need to hear the Hope that says – I’ve finished it for you?

or do you need a promise that it isn’t finished? You are not finished. There is more.

There is more for you.

There is more from you.

Be once again my Hope. Restore my story. Remind me that this book is not yet closed. Speak to my heart and tell me that the story began because Jesus you uttered ‘it is finished.’ Remind that this story you are writing with me will not be abandoned because you are not an author who gives up on a manuscript no matter how complicated it becomes, or how dreary the protagonist feels.

It is not over.
You are not finished.
x

Fresh Bread Always Wins

When you talk to people about food even the most hardened carb-o-phobe will talk wistfully of the smell of fresh bread.

Fresh bread is so inviting, for its simplicity it feels gourmet. It nourishes us, forms the basis of the diet of so many, it evokes memories of favourite spreads and special moments. It speaks to so many of our senses.

It’s night and I’m feeling flat and I’m realising, once again, that it’s been a while since I’ve experienced the spiritual taste of fresh-today bread. I’ve been going too long on yesterday, last week, a month ago….

I’ve missed the warning given to the Israelites about the manna from heaven.
Exodus 16 – excerpts – italics and underlining added

Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord.
15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”For they did not know what it was. “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. 
17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it.

So much in that story speaks to me. Each one gathering what they need. God’s glory revealed morning by morning until it becomes a regular expectation.

Lack of trust in the constant provision – that one stings. I do that. I start to waver in my trust that He will provide every day. He will satisfy every.single.day.

Maybe you’re like me. You know what it’s like to have lived with the joy, the sustenance of daily bread but along the way you’ve stopped looking daily. You’ve stuck with scraps and tried to stock-up on ‘Sundays special sale prices’… thinking it’ll get you through the week.

Suddenly fresh bread today seems like a job you have to do and you think bread making is hard work, time consuming and it’s just too much to fit in to your day and you shove in a little stale bread from some other time, or you go with out.

We go without

I go without

As someone who has made a lot of bread by hand I remember that bread making takes time but not in the way I imagine from a distance. Up close there’s some ingredients in the bowl, then some kneading – maybe ten minutes – and then the bread does all the rest.

And I remember that spiritual bread is like that too.

Set aside time, gather ingredients, ten minutes of digging in and then over the day that investment rises, rests, rises and produces something that nourishes me in a way that stale, leftovers never can.

Fresh bread satisfies.

Fresh bread provides me with something to share.

Give us today our daily bread.

How can it be that I am so slow to learn? That I can have all the joy of daily bread and next week be trying to stuff my pockets on Sunday to get me through the week.

Daily bread – the body broken for me. Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life.’

Open my eyes to see I am living on scraps of stale bread when I dwell in a kingdom where fresh bread is available freely every day. Give me grace not to forget how your bread is my true satisfaction and you are available. Make me only satisfied by meeting you daily.
 
John 6v48 +51
I am the bread of life.  51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
 
Matthew 4v4
But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
 
 

Being Women

We sat and watched a nature documentary the other day

pictures of elephants trekking miles across arid deserts, parched and desperate for water.

At the head of the herd a woman,

the matriarch,

the oldest woman in the group and the voice over says,

each matriarch encourages her herd onwards – the lives of the calves depend on her

It seems to me that has women we all have calves who depend on us.

Our lives are full of people, people that need Hope

small people and big people

we are all of us a matriarch to someone.

the lives of the calves depend on her

she is not the water,
she is not the food,
she is not the answer,

but it is to her to encourage the herd onwards.

Sometimes we watch with helpless hands as the calves around us flail and faint – parched and hungry and we look around for the person with the answer. We look for sustenance.

We are not the answer but we can lead by example.
We can encourage the herd onward.
We have calves who depend on us.

The matriarch knows how to find the source of water. She is not the source but she knows from experience the direction in which to go.

She knows there is Hope to be found.

There are living waters.

Be brave matriarchs – even in a drought of your own, when you are famished and longing for water you can still journey on and bring others with you. You know where there is water, and your tenacity and faith, your encouragement and hope might just be the answer to a calf who is struggling.

Matriarchs are made to lead.

God would you give us Hope. Would you teach us what it is to mother, to encourage, to urge and to lead. Would you make us the kind of matriarchs our world needs. 

All the Words

When you are faced with an opportunity, a second chance, a moment to take a risk what track are your listening to?

What message gets to you before you put up your hand, turn the door handle, take the leap?

If we stepped back from those messages for a bit and listened to them what might we discover about ourselves?

I think maybe we are making pathways through the garden of our lives with our self-words – pathways that begin to define us, roads we walked so long that we forget these are actually roads we have created, these roads are not necessarily truth but we have so long applied them that we are no longer able to hear the truth.

As a man thinks in his heart so is he.

It might not be truth but your buy-in makes it so. Your self-perception might just be robbing you from your commissioned heir-ship.

As a teacher I hear children and adults voicing these self-words so often – oh I could never do maths at school, I’m no good at running, I’m not artistic…. why? Because those subjects were more difficult? Because those things didn’t come naturally? Because we truly believe if it isn’t easy on the first go it’s obviously us being stupid? Really….?

I catch myself with it too – I long to be artistic and yet I say so often ‘I’m not very good at art’. Yes it is true that I struggle to get the page to look like the image in my head but that same me spends hours telling children (mine and others) slowly but surely wins the race, effort and perseverance will get you there.

Maybe I need to stop saying I can’t and wishing I could, and just pick up a pencil and actually do it. Maybe I need to apply my heart and my time and my effort and I will learn and maybe I will surprise myself by discovering that I can.

I believe in the power of learning – because I don’t understand something in the bible now doesn’t mean I will never understand it, it doesn’t make me stupid….

What words are you saying about yourself that start with
I will never…
I can’t…
X is never going to happen for me…

One of my favourite verses goes like this
The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat it’s fruit

What fruit are you filling up your life with?

How are you limiting the limitless ability of God by your own confessions about yourself?

Being real is okay. Struggling with stuff is okay. Disappointment and confusion are okay too.

But when you cut a track through the garden of your life that says I can never and I will never it’s important to realise that that track is made by you alone. All around us we see examples of people who have been given every reason to say I can’t, but they have, because they chose not to walk that well-worn track.

They got out with their bush-wacker and made a new path – was it tough? Of course it was. Did they want to give up? I’m sure they did.

We are boats meant for more than bobbing about in a shallow tub scared that we will tip over in the open sea. Maybe we will tip and maybe we will learn to right ourselves.

Maybe you are a yacht built for speed, giving delight and joy to others.
Maybe you are cruise liner who will show others new countries.
Maybe you are a tugboat who will guide great ones.
Maybe you are a container ship with wealth and riches to transport to distant shores.

But if you tell yourself for long enough that you are a plastic toy and you can’t do those other things…. then you will limit yourself.

Maybe today is a day to take stock – to check what you think in your heart about yourself, to do an audit on the words you are feeding yourself …

and to start to believe that there are things beyond what you could hope for, imagine, or think stored up for you by the One who has brought you out into a spacious place, who rescued you because he delights in you, who is entirely limitless.

Let’s start eating some good words.
Let’s stop saying never and can’t.

Let’s live as artists. Let’s be limitless.

the gift of the creative

This morning I have played your songs loud

songs written from your heart to The One

a gift of your talents

your song, not for me, has made a way, for me….

you have opened up the way and I am reminded of the words that say

the gift opens the way for the giver and ushers her into the presence of the great

but your gift also makes a way for me

your act of worship becomes a gift to me and I get a new encounter, I get fresh wings for my feet

your song gives me a gift to give of my own, and I dance for The One

and this is the great and wonderful blessing of the creative in action – your art, your story, your song, your dance….

your giving back makes a way for others to come in, to experience Presence, to experience Truth, to See the nail scarred hands

what is your gift?

don’t be stingy with your talents – holding back isn’t humility it’s pride or self-preservation or listening to a voice that seeks to get you to hide your light – whatever it is, it isn’t generosity or abundant living or freedom

David was a musician but he didn’t let that stop him dancing – oh no, he danced for his true King, with all of his might

and maybe there might be a battle that needs to be waged on your behalf and the gift of the creatives in worship might just win the battle for you

maybe your creative act of worship is winning a battle for someone who needs it today

don’t despise the smallest of gifts of the creative

maybe you are making a way for another as you go ahead

tell your story, paint your painting, sing your song, dance your dance

I need your help to go to a new place today

I need new eyes to see God

I need a new rhythm to dance to

I need new words to give back when my own falter

and isn’t Easter a picture of a gift given with total selfless abundance and aren’t we invited into this kind of generosity too?

I need your gift 
your gift for The One
blesses us all
x