Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Living the Satisfied Life

Good morning!

My quiet time this morning really needed this espresso!

{Do you like how I just casually threw in "my quiet time" like it happens every morning??  Don't be fooled...I rarely get quiet time outside of my car}

My quiet time has consisted of a bible reading plan and finishing off with a book called "Women Living Well" by Courtney Joseph.  

I've found this combination of being in the Word and then reading a book from a woman of a similar age and stage who is walking the walk {with grace & candour} has been very beneficial.  I feel my soul being soothed and released.  Nurtured and understood.  Encouraged and inspired.  I've provided the link for it above if you're interested in purchasing it. Run, don't walk people:)

One of the helpful hints I've taken away and implemented from this book regards planning my quiet time.  To this end, I have an A4 spiral book with 5 tabs and each one is labelled thus:

* Thoughts/Applications
* Key Verses
* Quotes/ideas from books I'm reading
* Prayers/Confessions
* Goals

The concept is very similar to the REAP journals which you might have used or seen.  However, with this format I can customise my own journal to be in line with whatever books of the bible I want to focus on.  At the moment I'm focusing on Proverbs.  Containing 31 verses it will take me a month and I'm hoping it will set me in a daily discipline.  I've read Proverbs 31 extensively {almost obsessively} but I'm just loving reading the preceding verses utilising the journal.  

Here's what I like about this format:

* It's simple.
* I keep my bible & journal together with a pen tucked inside and it fits inside the door of my car:)
* If I've only got 5 minutes, I might just focus on "thoughts" & "prayers"
* My prayer journal and bible reading plan is all in one place. Yay!
* It's simple.

The second major "light bulb" moment I've had with this book comes from this excerpt below.
I found it particularly helpful in terms of getting a right perspective on why attending bible study, reading the bible and being in fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters is so important:

Living the Satisfied Life
My babies loved their pacifiers.  The word pacify means "to stop agitation, to soothe, appease or subdue."  What would happen if I gave my babies a pacifier and never gave them a bottle?  They could not survive.  They'd be pacified, but their stomachs would not be satisfied.  The bottle of milk is what truly satisfies them.  Satisfied is "being completely happy and at peace, all requirements are met."
What do you use to pacify yourself?  For some it's pleasure or fun - you seek an adrenaline rush.  Others are consumed with their current romantic relationships or seeking another one.  Some seek beauty, to be in style, to have power, or to be in control of everything in their lives.  Still others seek money and possessions; you dream of a nicer car or a bigger house and believe that if you had those things, then you'd be happy.
....The end result of seeking money, pleasure, beauty, or any of the others is the same:  painful unfulfillment.
John 6:35 says, "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'"
Is your soul thirsty?  Walk with the King. 
- Courtney Joseph.  Women Living Well

This year I want to live a satisfied life, not a pacified one.
I've got a feeling it's a question which will be useful to ask myself at the beginning and end of each day

Can't wait to catch up with you all next Tuesday!

God bless,
Meredy xo

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 - Let's do this!

This is the view I've been soaking in while enjoying my coffee lately.

“The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.”
--Isak Dinesen

....and we know who provided all of those salt water options don't we??
The sea has definitely cleansed my weary end of year soul.
Nothing like swimming with my waterbabies in God's beautiful playground to be reminded of His generosity and goodness.

I hope this finds you well rested and ready to grab this year by the horns and give it a good shake.

Here's what the coming term will look like:

Can't wait to get deep into the Word with you in 2014.

God bless,
Meredy xo

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the cure for Christmas fatigue

Sit down awhile friend.
Pull up a chair, make yourself a cuppa.
Put away your to-do list for five minutes.
Breathe deeply.
And again.
Roll your shoulders.
Breathe again.

I just wanted to say......

and to remind you to.....

The hard work has been done.
It's the waiting, living, surviving, loving work that we need to carry out.
It's all icing on a cake which is already quite beautiful and abundant all by itself.
No Christmas decoration, festive table or abundance of presents will ever even slightly compare with the greatest gift of all and the promise of our eternal future.
If we keep our eyes on our Eternal Hope, the imperfections and shortcomings of our earthly life fade into the background.

So, keep calm.
Love came down.
Jesus, with us.

Here's some links to encourage you in the next couple of weeks:

A devotion on Christmas and how every Christmas miracle begins with a change of direction - just like Mary turning towards Bethlehem. 

At the same blog...."When Christmas Stretches You".  I've shared this before, but it's worth revisiting.

Another website worth visiting for encouragement is "The Art of Simple".  Tsh Oxenrider has a whole Christmas series this month that I'm sure you'll find encouraging.  Go visit.  You'll be blessed:)

Love Meredy xo

Monday, November 18, 2013

let every heart {and home} prepare Him room

There are so many blog posts about how to keep Christ in Christmas that it can seem a little overwhelming.
I thought I'd just post a few things here that are simple, make beautiful memories and really allow the true meaning of the season to sink into the busy heads and hearts of our families.
These ideas are, if you will, "space-makers" to truly prepare Him room.

Christmas can and should involve all the senses!  Sound, sight, taste, touch, smell.  Using all our sense gives the season a heightened importance and creates an atmosphere of anticipation in the house.  After all, that is what Advent means - "coming" from the Latin word adventus.  We are celebrating not only Jesus "coming" as a baby into our world, but also preparing our hearts for the day when he is "coming" back.
Let our hearts and homes prepare Him room!

1.  The Language of the

As soon as the supermarkets start playing Christmas carols - so do we.
Not the excruciating supermarket kind, but the beautiful Amy Grant, Hillsong, Michael W. Smith variety.  Bringing back the classic Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra is pretty fab too.
The kids know that as soon as those carols start playing, change is afoot!
I love that!  There is a paradigm shift in our house.  We are in a season of preparation, anticipation and joy. {also a season of end of year concerts which heralds the upbeat carols are really, really helpful}

2.  Fill the home with light and fragrance

 If you don't normally have a lit candle at the dinner table, or in the home generally, light a candle each day of Advent.  It will prompt questions from the kids.  
Why do we have that candle on?  
Can I light the candle tonight?  
It builds anticipation, promotes questions, gives you a chance to relate stories of Jesus being the "Light of the World" etc.  It also shows guests in your home that this is a special time of year. Something is different. As a bonus, your home gets to smell like Christmas! Glasshouse have a lovely range which can be found in most homewares stores.

3.  Undertake a personal Advent devotional.

I usually choose a different one each year.  This year I'm doing this:

When you purchase the book you also get to download free printable ornaments for a Jesse Tree or your Christmas tree which is a bonus! 

I also really like the sound of "The Women of Christmas" devotional, but I'd already bought The Greatest Gift.  I think I'll do it next year:

4.  Do an Advent devotional with the kids.

If you have kids and you haven't got the Jesus Storybook Bible - run, don't walk girlfriends.  The "tag" line of this bible is that "every story whispers His name".  Although it is labelled a children's bible, I have found it to be profoundly moving for me also.  Every chapter from Genesis through to Revelation does indeed whisper Jesus' name.  It makes such great sense of the bible for kids, the way God fulfils His promises always.  It just so happens that if you read the first 25 chapters {they're only a few pages long} you will have a magnificently encapsulated Advent story.

 5.   Christmas Craft for the Kids

Jesus,  King of Kings, The Vine, The Word, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Messiah, Saviour, Alpha and Omega, Light of the World, Redeemer, Bright and Morning Star, I AM, The Good Shepard, Bread of Life, Living Water, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Rock of Ages, Jehovah, Truth and the Life, The Great Physician, The Lord of Glory, Wonderful, Counsellor

6.  Print out some cool faith-based Christmas posters to put up around the house:

You can find all of these on my Pinterest account here

7.  Invite friends and/or neighbours to a Carols by Candlelight event

Such an easy, gentle way to start a conversation with friends who might not be aware of the real Advent story.  Break bread together, sing some songs, get to know each other better in a relaxed setting.  It also allows you to easily invite them to attend church with you on Christmas morning {or whenever you're attending}.  So many people would love to celebrate Christmas at a church, but just haven't been invited.  If you're a bit shy, this is a great way to start a conversation.

8.  Make your Christmas cards and gift tags faith-based rather than Santa based.

You don't have to necessarily send a hard-core Scripture epistle to your friends who don't share your faith, this can sometimes defeat the purpose.  Harsh, but true.  Far better to send a beautiful card with a gentle, yet consistent message about what you'll be celebrating this season and what you wish for theirs.

9. Give God a special gift that's just between you and Him.

Maybe your gift this Christmas is to forgive someone - even when they don't want it.  Perhaps you could set aside time each day - a sacrifice of time per se - that is devoted purely to Him.  It could be visiting someone who is lonely and needs to be loved on.  Perhaps it could be praying a really scary prayer that you're not sure you're brave enough to do.  Step out in faith and do it anyway!  This is not something that you necessarily need to tell anyone else about.  It can just be a little gift giving between you and your Abba Father.


Fix your eyes on Jesus.  

When the in-laws criticise the Christmas Day arrangements - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When there's not enough money for the one toy your child really, really wants - fix your eyes on Jesus
When your house just won't stay tidy for longer than five minutes - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When it feels like the joy of the season is just not present - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When you are bone weary from end of year engagements - fix your eyes on Jesus.

My children joke that in their Biblical Studies exams as long as they answer "Jesus" they really should get 100%.  Their reasoning is that we always say the answer to any question is "Jesus".  As a side story,  Jack answered  "Cheeseballs" once and that didn't work out very well for him.

So fix your eyes on Jesus,  not cheeseballs.

And finally, as a lovely minister I know says:

"Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who may Christmas against us."  

Meredy xo

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

thinking and choosing....and turning on the bat signal

So this week we're looking at thoughts, words, actions.

How cool is that image?!  Laughed my head off when I found that today.
Sometimes keeping our thoughts, words and actions in accordance with Christ's authority over our lives can seem an impossible challenge.
Particularly when the kids are being difficult, your husband is frantically busy at work, you're sleep deprived, the kitchen is in chaos and the laundry pile has grown to Everest-like proportions.
The enemy would just love to sneak his way into your thoughts given that little scenario.  How easy it would be!

The quote above has been attributed to everyone from Buddha to Ghandi to Vince Lombardi.
Whomever said that particular quote, Jesus said it first and best here:

Proverbs 4: 20-27
My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

As a devotional exercise, I took this passage and wrote it out in my own words, making it particular to me.
This is sometimes a helpful prayer exercise also.
Here's what came out:

Meredith, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to MY words, not the words of the secular world.
Do not let the laundry pile block out the view of my kingdom,
keep my words within your heart;
for they are life when you find them
and will give energy and health to your entire body!
Above all else, guard your heart Meredith,
for everything you do flows from it.
Be very, very careful!
How you deal with your children, your husband, your mother, your friends will depend on this.
Do not give voice to negative thoughts and feelings,
do not share words with those around you which are not uplifting, helpful or gracious.
Meredith! Look straight ahead for crying out loud!
Fix your gaze directly before you!
"The cross is before you,
The world is behind you"* not the other way around.
Be careful where you spend your time and with whom you spend it.
Be reliable and trustworthy in all your dealings.
Your word is your bond.  
Your character should reflect me.
Do not let the celebrity-driven, material world distract you.
It will send you on the wrong path, chasing the wrong goals and squander the purpose I have for you.
Do not compare yourself to others.
Fix your EYES, EARS and HEART on me alone.

* paraphrased from the song "Christ is Enough" by Hillsong.

Before we moved, I had this sign hung up in my kitchen as I reminder to each of us:

Perhaps this could also be applied this way:
not only before you speak, but also before you 
think or act:  is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind???

The final filter through which we discern this of course, is the Bible.  
What does the bible tell me about whether what I'm thinking, saying and actioning is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary or Kind?

Finally, I love these C.S. Lewis quotes which bring enormous comfort.

Finally, in a lovely coincidence, I'd like to share a blog post from last week from one of my favourite bloggers.  It speaks with such realness and practicality about what we've been discussing.  Don't miss it! 

  Here's the link, {click}


The full study can be found on pg 112 here.  I hope you read it thoroughly, complete the bible readings and as always, feel free to email me if you want to chat some more.

Yours in Christ,
Meredith xo

Monday, October 28, 2013

let's get back into it!

Huge apologies everyone for neglecting the updates here for the last few weeks.  I am SO sorry!  It's been a wee bit crazy around here lately and I'm ashamed to say, blogging this study missed out.  Not good.  I will make sure I don't let that happen again.

 Hopefully, you were able to access the study and work through it independently in the meantime.

Now where were we....

From Independence to Surrender:

As a believer, Scripture tells us we are under Christ's authority, "God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things" (Ephesians 1:22)

We've talked in previous studies about what we were like before our "makeovers".  Stubborn, rebellious, independent.  Um.....don't know about you, but I'm STILL stubborn, rebellious and independent.  The difference is that as a Christ follower I need to acknowledge that I am required to submit to a higher authority than my own.  Why would I do that?? {This is what baffles a lot of non-Christians}.

Have a think about that for a moment.

What are some of the words or feelings that pop into your head when you ask that question?

In today's increasingly secular society - how do we communicate submission to a Sovereign God?

Key Scripture:

Colossians 1:15-17

The Supremacy of the Son of God
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Isaiah 64:8

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Romans 9:20-33

The Message (MSG)
20-21Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right?


I find the "Potter & the Clay" metaphor incredibly helpful. Sometimes I feel that perhaps God has given me a wonky handle or a lopsided tilt - has he taken his eyes off what he was doing?  Maybe he was a bit tired when he was forming me - perhaps he'd just formed a whole batch of supermodels and Nobel Laureates and he was depleted?  The truth is, the deeper I delve into Scripture the more comforted I am and secure about my perceived "shortcomings".  I can acknowledge that whilst far from perfect in the worlds eyes, in His eyes I am exactly what is needed at this time for a specific purpose.  If I just keep walking in faith, relying on His grace and not getting bogged down in what the world thinks I should be resentful about, I will find peace and purpose.

As usual, Tim Keller says it perfectly:

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” 

Here's some other thoughts....just sort of stream of consciousness stuff which I thought would be helpful to journal.

Next up.....

or how to bring our mind, will and emotions under Christ's loving guidance.

Monday, September 16, 2013

how on earth??

The study begins this week on page 97

I like this coffee image.
It's so appropriate for this week's study.
The main ingredient {scripture} is so strong you could almost stand your spoon up in it.
However, with the heart-shaped, sweet encouragement {God's grace} it becomes not bitter, but flavoursome and rich.

Key Concept

How on earth can we possibly fill God's command for our life?  
It seems too big and I am too small!{When I say small, for me at least I mean, petty, selfish, easily distracted...}

This plaque sat on JFK's desk during his Presidency.  It's from a region in Brittany, France and it's called the  Breton Fisherman's prayer and was subsequently presented to all new commanders of US submarines.   It's succinct, yet powerful isn't it?

I think I originally picked it up from my Dad who was a yachtie and it's always stuck with me.
It paints a great visual.
The image that comes to mind is of me in a tiny boat on a vast sea......Hey - where'd everyone go??

You know what?  That boat looked felt sturdy and comfortable when it was moored in the calm waters of the inland sea and my biggest dilemma was whether to have a flat white or a latte when the coffee boat did its rounds.  I felt competent and masterful and in charge.
{I'm picturing lazy weekends on Pittwater with my Dad as I type!}

At some point in our Christian journey, however, we are going to leave the safe harbour whether it be voluntarily or not and we'd better remember what we're here for and how we are to stay on course.  Through our own strength and knowledge?   Or perhaps there's a GPS that we've always had available to us and it's about time we learned how to use it.

Key Scriptures

Ezekiel 36:25-27

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Philippians 2:13

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

There is so much wonderful content {again!}.  I'd particularly encourage you to spend time on page 101 on the reflections put forward. Including this clanger:

Do you trust that God will transform you? Why or why not? 

Have fun!

Meredy xo