BE Miracle Makers!

IMG_7652Many years ago I travelled as a tourist to Northern India. It was my very first trip overseas and it was filled with a variety of sights, sounds, smells and flavours. While it was enjoyable, something was missing. Just a year or so later, my new husband and I travelled to the Pacific on our first ministry trip and we found that missing something – purpose!

Travel often sounds adventurous and luxurious. Travel on its own can be fun and offer a restful experience. But travel with a purpose – travel that is meaningful and incorporates a positive mission – well that kind of travel is in another category all together!

My latest ministry trip to Nepal, as an ambassador for CBM, was filled with purpose. It was also an eye-opening experience – quite literally! While I certainly experienced many unique sights, sounds, smells and flavours similar to my first trip in that region, I also got to meet beautiful people, created in the image of God, who now have their eyes opened to see!

I travelled to the other side of the world for a heartfelt reason – on behalf of our daughter, Bethany. Beth dreamed of travel – intentional travel with a purpose. She had heard about people in need and wanted to become a nurse and go and help wherever she could.

Beth did not get to fulfil her dream in the usual way. She went to her Heavenly Home just short of her 16th birthday in 2011, after a year-long, faith-filled battle with brain cancer. But, her dream to help the most marginalised and seemingly forgotten ‘poorest of the poor’ is still alive!

As a family, we thank God for the transforming work of CBM and the opportunity to partner with them in bringing miracles of sight and restoration to the world. We can relate to the struggles that come with loss of sight as this was Beth’s first symptom. Upon her diagnosis, God gave us a promise that her life would matter and that her dreams would not die, but be used in a greater way than we could envisage…


Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40:1-3 NIV

Spiritual eyes are being opened through Beth’s legacy of faith, hope and love. And through the amazing work of CBM and its partners, physical eyes are also being opened! All this is only possible when ordinary people like you and me get behind the extraordinary day we mark on the calendar as Miracles Day! Fellow Aussies, we have the opportunity to pave the way for the rest of the world to get on board.2ea3a280-381a-45fb-a630-90179d18e229

Please join in with Bethany’s legacy today and support her God-given vision to see eyes opened and lives transformed! The small sacrifice you will make to be part of Miracles Day is a decision you will never regret!

While it may be true that you will not get to travel overseas with a purpose and witness the transformation God offers through the work of CBM, there is a way you can come with us and see the redemption story God has given our family… ACCTV DOCUMENTARY ‘I SEE YOU’

Together. Restoring. Hope.

It is an absolute honour to partner with the Australian Christian Channel (ACCTV) and the enthusiastic community of people who make Miracles Day a reality.  This exciting new three-part documentary explores Bethany’s life and her legacy with CBM. It will be available to be streamed from Sunday 11 August. It will be broadcast on the channel at 6:30pm and 10pm on August 13, 14 & 15.

Our loving God affirms every person as worthwhile and says – ‘I SEE YOU!’

Every person with sight restored can now say to loved ones – ‘I SEE YOU!’

Every person now woven into this beautiful story can also say – ‘I SEE YOU!’

Miracles Day gives Australians the opportunity to give someone the Miracle gift of sight, with a 12-minute operation costing just $33.

CBM’s Miracles Day happens across Australia on August 15. To find out more or to donate, visit cbm.org.au/miraclesday

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BE Loyal Companions!

I have never written a tribute for an animal before. But our Chala was no ordinary pet… no run-of-the-mill dog. Chala was special and we have learned much from our Loyal Companion

IMG_0076During the time our Bethany was sick, we made application for a ‘Companion Dog’ – a highly trained animal who would be able to help Beth manage life as a hemiplegic. Beth looked forward to this possibility for a time, and so did the rest of the family.

But when it became clear that our girl was ‘Homeward Bound’, we regretfully withdrew our request. To our surprise, Chala, a Golden Retriever deemed ‘too friendly’ and ‘not road safe enough’ to continue with her formal training, was offered to our family in exchange for a transport donation. We are so thankful for the friends who raised the needed amount for Chala to become ours.

So, just as we were saying ‘goodbye for now’ to our Brown-Eyed-Beauty, God sent another brown-eyed blessing, wrapped in a cosy bundle of fur, to help with our healing.

Chala came bounding into our lives weeks before Beth left – quite literally! In her first minutes with us, we allowed Chala to jump up on Beth’s bed and although Beth was unable to respond, we like to think she was aware that a new member had been ushered into our family.

David’s brother and his family cared for Chala during those last weeks, while we nursed Beth. The day after Beth’s passing, we went off to church to worship God and grieve with all the loyal companions who had journeyed with us. We then went to pick up our new companion – and little did we know then what delight and comfort she would bring us over the next eight years.

Sadly, our Chala passed away over the weekend, just 24 hours after collapsing in our back yard. She had shown signs of slowing up and had recently gone off her food – both unusual traits for our fun-loving, constantly hungry girl. But we were still caught unawares that her time with us had come to an end. To simply say she will be missed is an understatement.

IMG_1048CHALA – WRECKED AFTER A LONG BEACH WALK!

We are so thankful to God, our True Loyal Companion, as again He cushioned the blow for us, setting in place some beautiful timing that meant we could all be together as a family to comfort each other as we dug Chala’s grave and laid her to rest in a special blanket. As we covered her over with both dirt and tears, we thanked Him again for bringing such a precious gift to lighten our load.

When I think of Chala, it will always be with a smile. I will miss watching her play with our children and hearing the laughter only she could evoke. I will miss resting by the fire with her, gently stroking her soft coat on those cold nights. I will miss our walks. I will miss seeing her joy in greeting the men in the family – she always had a soft spot for the boys!

Chala was not only a gift to us, but to David’s parents next door. While Mum was still at home in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Chala put on some extra weight. We eventually discovered that Mum kept giving her treats and forgetting… then some more treats… with no complaints from Chala!

I think that Pa Wake will miss her more than the rest of us put together. He and Chala shared a special bond. She really was such a Loyal Companion to a family in grief on so many levels, truly blessing everyone who entered our home with her loving ways.

Chala in the Car Jan 2019No, dear Chala, you did not really ‘fail’ your training as a Companion Dog, as we sometimes joked. Instead, you beautifully fulfilled your calling in a manner that went way beyond any training could offer. You reflected aspects of Your Creator to us and were a gift from His heart to us all.

Chala was a master at totally accepting us and knowing how to just be with us in our sorrow. Not only did Chala just love being with us, she always wanted to touch us with her presence. She simply loved physical affection and was known as a ‘leaner’.

Oh, how I will miss you most of all at that special place called Seaspray… you and Beth both played there as you tasted a slice of Heaven. I will miss seeing you lean up against my man, your best buddy, as you fished together on many golden mornings. Thank you Loyal Companion!

IMG_5957.JPGChala always left bits of herself behind wherever she went. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I will also miss cleaning up Chala’s shed hair all over the house (maybe not so much over our clothes). That hairy mutt certainly worked her way into our hearts and she will leave a big empty space… one that lies tucked next to our Beth.

We are so grateful for our Chala. May we learn from her peaceful kindness and BE Loyal Companions to each other in our times of need – blessing each other with our total acceptance and presence. May we also lean in like she did, not afraid to bring touch and comfort when words just cannot be spoken.

Chala Christmas 2018And one more thing… may we also leave evidence of our lives behind us… in the knowledge that we are loved and have loved well.

In loving memory of ‘Our Chala’

12 August 2009 – 10 June 2019 

Loyal Companion

 

BE Givers!

 

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Edited REPOST from March 2017

Bethany was such a giver! We look back with pleasure and remember the times when, as a small girl, she literally emptied her little purse for those in need. We also recall, with lumps in our throats, the generous way she kept giving throughout her illness as a teenager. As she gave, Beth proved over and over the truth of the life-giving words of Jesus when He said…

“It is better to give than to receive.”

We are so pleased to report that through the generosity of family and friends, we were able to pass on $2,000 to Wise Choices for Life on Bethany’s behalf last year. What a birthday gift!

A HUGE thanks to those who responded so generously. 2019 marks the fourth year we have promoted this wonderful organisation, offering the opportunity to give a dollar for every birthday year in remembrance of our girl. Around 50 people donated last year – so you can calculate that some were more than generous by adding an extra zero to their gift! Who says that zero = nothing! What a difference this gift will make on the ground in Uganda to help train people to pass on the Good News through reproductive health education. 🙂

Click here for a short clip that will inspire you…  The Bethany Wake Scholarship

March 31 marks 24 years since we were blessed by the gift of Bethany Joy. Again we have an opportunity to BE Givers and donate $24. Many have already given and we hope to surpass last year’s gift to Wise Choices. Let’s keep Beth’s ‘Blue Box’ full to overflowing! 

BE Blessings Trust Account:      BSB 013 308       Account Number 381 757 698

**On May 9, CBM is relaunching The Bethany Wake Stop Fistula Appeal. This is an exciting new development and with your help, we will be supporting a brand new project in Nigeria.

**Bethany’s story will also feature in a documentary later in the year to promote CBM Miracles Day! Lyn has just returned from filming in Nepal at the Eye Hospital and in coming weeks the Australian Christian Channel TV crew will come to Melbourne to film the other parts of the doco. Stay tuned for even more opportunities to BE Blessings to many and BE Givers like Beth!

“The generous will themselves be blessed…’ ”Proverbs 22:9

With our sincere gratitude, Bethany’s family 🙂

BE Fed!

They say that we are what we eat! I am convinced this principle applies to our entire being. Our bodies, minds and spirits are all hungry for wholesome nourishment. But even as I know this, I am aware of my tendency to get lazy and I forget to intentionally feed my whole self with life-giving food.

In 2006, the late Eugene Peterson wrote Eat This Book – A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading.

This classic has been on my long list of Books I Want to Read for a while now. So with the passing of this godly biblical teacher a few months ago, I have begun to ‘Eat This Book’.

The title concept comes from the opening chapters of Ezekiel where the prophet is told by the Living God to open his mouth and eat the scroll… the book covered front and back with God’s words.

Ezekiel was to open up, taste them, take them in, BE Fed and transformed by them. Then, in turn, he was to go to God’s people and speak them out.

With this in mind, I share with you some of the books that have fed me in 2018. I love reading and appreciate that this is not everyone’s experience. But I hope that this ‘menu’ will entice you to resolve with me to feed on the good food of inspirational, godly literature throughout this New Year and the years to come.

(By the way, I would be delighted to add to that long reading list of mine as I hear back from you what books have fed your spirit in 2018.)

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Lynny’s 2018 Good Spiritual Food Menu:

The Message

How fitting to finally complete this translation of the Bible in the year of Eugene Peterson’s Homecoming. He has left behind a true legacy that helps bring the scriptures to life. This inspirational best seller of all time keeps getting better and better! (In 2019 I will continue feasting on The Passion Translation.)

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkinson

An easy read and excellent Bible study and teaching resource.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman

A lovely book written for young mothers. A great reminder for all of us to treasure Christ in the busyness of life.

If I Had Two Lives – The Extraordinary Life and Faith of Costas Macris

Missionary biography by Dan Vorm

Not just an interesting read, but I had the honor to meet the author and Costas’ son, Jonathan, who continues the ministry in Greece.

He Speaks in the Silence by Diane Comer

A courageous deaf woman candidly shares how she learned to hear the voice of God.

The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazerro

I studied this excellent resource with my mum and daughter over an eight-week period. This one is a real eye-opener and relationship builder.

Ministry that Transforms by Kathleen McAlpin

A Contemplative Process of Theological Reflection

Theological Reflection by Judith Thompson

A Model for Pastoral Practice

Both these texts were helpful in my theological studies as I was encouraged to intentionally take time to reflect on how my ministry practice aligns with God’s Word, my own call and the world around me.

Can You Drink The Cup? by Henri Nouwen

I am always challenged by Henri and this one was no exception as he made me drink deeply… “When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.”

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

This one tasted good! Henri offers another beautiful meal to the Body of Christ as he reflects on Christian leadership.

The Rome Gospel by Ben Chenoweth

This is the third book in Ben’s historical novel series. A great friend and talented author, Ben helps us get in touch with the original biblical audience.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

“Let go of who you think you are and embrace who you are supposed to be.”

I highly recommend this as great food for thought and full of practical ideas to implement for personal growth.

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

This was gifted to me to help prepare for our sabbatical leave. It contains a good message about noticing God wherever we are in the world. Unfortunately, it left me empty in its rare mention of Jesus as the only way to satisfy our hunger and thirst.

Back From the Brink of Hell – Hope after Black Saturday  By John & Jan Graham with Meredith Resce

These amazing Aussies are some of our closest friends and tell their incredible story in a way that inspires the church to step out and meet the everyday crises surrounding us.

The Grace Awakening by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts

Another gift for our sabbatical, this is an enjoyable feast that tells the story of a Welsh retreat and prayer house where God meets people in their need and blesses their socks off!

Abide by Warren Weisbe

A short but sweet summary of John 15. “Without Me, you can do nothing.”

The Broken Way by Ann Voscamp

Ann’s musings have been rich food for my soul and this book has deeply touched my heart. It has built some courage within me to embrace my brokenness and go on blessing others in theirs.

One Year of HOPE

Devotional by Nancy Guthrie

The One Year Heaven on Earth

Devotional by Chris Tiegreen

Both of these wonderful devotionals add greatly to the flavor of our family meals around the table. Yes, they are taking a bit longer than a year to get through… we are savoring them!

So, with all this ‘food’ going around, let’s say a New Year’s ‘grace’…

Father, thank you for ALL the meals you have provided and prepared for us. We open our mouths to receive all the good food you want us to eat and then speak out to feed others.

Lord, cleanse us from the toxins and the junk we have consumed.

May we BE Fed directly from Your hand so that we can live and grow to Your glory!

May every meal we devour, body, mind and soul, be life-honoring and life-giving.

May our New Year’s resolution include more wholesome, nutritious meals all around, more exercising of faith, hope & love and more of Jesus… yes, much more of Jesus our Daily Bread!

By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we all be blessed throughout this New Year, ever transforming into Your likeness until, at last, we feast around Your table forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Well, back to my reading… Happy New Year friends and Bon Appetit!

BE Adventurous Pilgrims

 

IMG_6975We have just experienced the privilege of taking an adventurous pilgrimage to the Holy Land…

  • After 30 years of dreaming together, this was a privilege made possible through the generosity of precious partners in ministry who share our passion for Christ and value sabbath rest.
  • After 30 years of walking together in marriage, this was an adventure that led us to our first glimpse of Jerusalem and onto the challenge of walking The Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum over four days.
  • After 30 years of loving and serving together, this was a pilgrimage that renewed our hope and led us to fresh places of discovery and rest.

Along our adventurous pilgrim pathway, the One we followed and travelled with taught us some pretty cool life lessons. I’d love to share just a few with you in the hope that wherever you find yourself along the holy trail of life, you will be filled with courage to keep walking, one brave step at a time, with your heart set on the exquisite promised land that lies ahead…

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm ‭84:5‬ ‭NIV‬

IMG_7022David James and Nicole Joy – my companions for the journey in front of the     Garden of Gethsemane

As the three of us walked and talked together on our adventure, we did a lot of huffing and puffing, laughing and crying, sprinting and staggering, thinking and praying – all while madly searching for the next orange and white marker showing us the way to go…

IMG_7064Some of the markers were hard to find… painted on rocks, trees, poles, fences and walls

Lesson #1 = The path ahead is not always clear!

IMG_7059We were given the book, we possessed a map and these were both helpful, but we would have been lost without the GPS that beeped at us every time we got a little off track. Likewise in life, we may be prepared and looking for guidance, but ultimately it is the Spirit of the Living God who directs our steps. He is the ultimate GPS… God’s Personal Spirit not only guides but also strengthens us for every step Homeward-bound!

IMG_7043Which way now???

The Jesus Trail was not exactly what we expected! Yes, parts of it were just as we pictured, but every corner held a unique surprise.

Lesson #2 = The journey is filled with the ordinary and the extraordinary! 

IMG_7068Along the trail we kept exclaiming just how ordinary things would have been for Jesus. He really did walk this earth in the fullness of a human being. The extraordinary fact that He would have walked thousands of miles over His life and ministry years did not escape our notice. We only walked 70 kilometres but were amazed at the various kinds of terrain we had to traverse.

  • We climbed up 416 cobbled steps leading out of Nazareth only to be met by a steep paved hill and a winding bitumen path.
  • The next marker led us through scrubby wilderness, prickly rabbit trails and surprised us with a pleasant stroll through a fresh pine forest.
  • We raced through the stench of rubbish dumps and rotting animals but meandered through the flower farms to smell the roses. Eucalyptus wafted over us several times, making us homesick for our Aussie bush.
  • We enjoyed the coolness of the fragrant orange and olive groves and craved shelter along the long rocky stretches out in the vulnerable open spaces.
  • We encountered many obstacles that we had to scurry up, over and through.
  • Our eyes were glued to the ground as we slugged through slippery mud on that rainy day. But as the sun came out again, we marvelled at the extraordinary panoramic views of Galilee that came upon us suddenly.IMG_7171
  • Oh how we welcomed the sight of a little town to refresh our water supply and it was a joy to smile and wave at inquisitive villagers after miles of lonely solitude.
  • Our parched throats and aching feet were delighted to be comforted with gifts of cool drinks and (rickety) chairs in the friendly oasis that was Cana.
  • We trudged on for hours along a relatively easy straight path, followed by the challenge of a steep mountain cliff climb and descent that has to be seen to be believed!

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I could go on and on… each day bought its joys and pain, its challenges and inspiration. The Divine walked hand in hand with human flesh, sacred and glorious along the way paved by the One who was fully divine and fully human.

What extraordinary ordinariness!

As we continued to walk on through the rain and hot sun, I had to resist the childlike temptation to whine, ‘Are we there yet?”

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Lesson # 3 = It really is about the destination! 

Yes, I do realise that it is also about ‘the journey’ and ‘the climb’ as wisdom sings out, but the truth is that if we are on the wrong path leading to the wrong place, those lessons we learn along the way will also be wrong!

Better by far to walk securely along the right path leading to the right destination. On this path of Truth we will gain life-giving insights and view our surroundings with the correct perspective as we go.

The True Jesus Trail is narrow and paved in the blood, sweat and tears of the Saviour we follow. But friends, this trail alone leads to eternal life and glory with the Father. We never walk alone and we have an inexpressibly beautiful destination ahead in Him!

IMG_7147Whoo Hoo! Capernaum!

To be honest, we didn’t do this holy pilgrimage thing perfectly. We didn’t do things in the right order, we blundered through some parts, we needed grace for each other’s mistakes and strength to take turns carrying each other’s burdens. We got lost several times and I got ‘hangry’, tired and disorientated. At times I complained about the heat, my sore feet and aching body.

Yet in spite of all that was against us, Someone far greater was and is for us!

We made it! We climbed that huge mountain. We did the distance! We did it together and gloriously laughed together when it was done!

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# One final lesson = We don’t have to go to the Holy Land to take an adventurous pilgrimage!

If the Holy Risen One is with us and in us forever, then our journey towards Him and our eternal Home with Him continues with our very next step! 

Let us together look out for the truthful markers as we notice the ordinary and expect the extraordinary all around us. Let us set our bodies, minds and hearts towards the ultimate goal and destination as we remember to help our sojourners along the various terrain and conditions we will encounter in this risky business of life.

May we all remember to BE Adventurous Pilgrims because in Christ,            THIS IS WHO WE ARE! 

From the Great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11

“Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that— heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them and has a City waiting for them.” ‭Hebrews 11:13-16 MSG‬IMG_7108PS: Don’t forget to rest along the way!

Just BE! A Tribute to Barbara Wake

Writing the ‘BE Blogs’ over the seven years since Bethany’s passing has come from a personal call and growing conviction that anything I DO must flow out of who I truly AM and created to BE.

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Throughout this time, I have been greatly challenged to the core of my BEing by my dear mother-in-law, Barbara Lilian Wake, who has just passed into her eternal Home with Jesus (and reunited with her darling Bethany).

I first met Barb at a church working bee… we were part of the ladies team building the mud-brick wall in the hall at Diamond Valley Baptist. I was impressed by her hard-working attitude and healthy eating habits. She was so friendly and made me, the newbie, feel very welcome on the team. Little did I know then what an integral part she would play in my life as my mother-in-law and friend for over 30 years!

This week, we had the honour to celebrate her life with family and friends. In my tribute, I shared about all the GIFTS Mum Wake has blessed me with over the years… GIFTS of grace, faithfulness and service that are too many to count!

If you are aware of the story of the ‘Proverbs 31 Woman’ then think of Barbara Wake as an exemplary modern day example! I am just one of her children who rise up and call her blessed!

Yes, I gained many GIFTS from and through Mum.

I am particularly grateful for the GIFT of childlike faith in Jesus Christ she constantly displayed in such an uncomplicated way to the world. A GIFT she passed onto her dear son, my beloved man.

But I am coming to understand that the greatest GIFT she has given me is something I am still grappling with as I journey the joys and sorrows of life.

The greatest GIFT she has bestowed is nothing that she has said or done. For the past decade, no words of profound wisdom or inspirational action have come forth from her. Yet, what she has offered us has been so powerfully displayed in a simple state of BEing that is transforming my life.

As Mum lay in a nursing home for the past six years, suffering from dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, she has been unable to SAY anything. She has been unable to DO anything for herself, for others, or for her Lord.

Bit by bit, piece by agonising piece, blow by devastating blow, every possession was stripped away from this kind woman without guile. Every skill she had carefully honed over many years was savagely ripped asunder. As far as we know, her thoughts were empty for years as her memory unravelled and disappeared. Sadly, Mum lost all knowledge of her loved ones and every single ability to DO anything totally diminished over a torturously long passage.

As I sat with Mum earlier this year, attempting to help her eat yet another ‘blended mushy meal’ it struck me that Mum just IS… and that’s all. The call to ‘Just BE’ had reduced down to the very basics.

Mum could breathe and her heart was still ticking… one step closer to eternity with every beat. There was still an occasional glimpse of her gorgeous smile, but her big brown eyes were blank and no longer held their usual spark.

We have always loved Mum for all she did for us. But now the countless days of her service on earth are over… she made that clear when seven years ago she handed me the tea towel and walked out of the kitchen for good!

As I sat there that bleak day, I wondered if Mum knew that she is still greatly loved, infinitely valuable and eternally significant to us, not for what she could DO but for who she IS.

At that point in time, Mum’s body was withered and she had absolutely nothing to offer us practically any more. Was it just the memory of all her kindness and sacrificial service over the years that kept feeding our love? That may still be part of it, but the essence of our continuing love seems to be this:

We love Mum simply because of who she is.

She is a daughter. She is our mum. She is our children’s nanna. She is an aunty, a sister, a friend and a beloved wife and although she was and now is totally incapable of doing anything on earth for us any more, her identity remains and can never be shaken!

Barbara Lilian Wake is loved!

The circle of life keeps bringing us back to dependency… we are ushered into this world as helpless newborns and many of us will return to that state in one way or another as we are birthed into eternity.

We are born a child and we die ‘a child’ – no matter how long or significant the dash is in the middle!

So the greatest lesson I am still learning from my dear mum is this…

Even if I never said or did a good thing again, I am valuable and infinitely loved by the mere fact that I am God’s child. This is an unchangeable constant.

Like Mum Wake, I am loved by God the Father, reconciled and adopted into His family simply by putting my faith in His Son Jesus. I am now indwelt by His Holy Spirit who is transforming me into all I am meant to BE. He is the One who gives me the life and courage to DO all I am meant to DO.

Like Mum, my value is NOT found in what I DO for Him or others, but all bound up in my true identity. I am His daughter, His BEloved daughter and all I DO that has worth will flow from this incredible fact.

So the question I have to keep asking myself is, “I am content with nothing more and nothing less than this?” My desperate plea is to know this love in the centre of my soul. Then, from this place alone, love God, His people and myself back with the same love. This is what is it all about friends!

 Mum Wake and Bethany continue to speak to us – grant us ears to hear Lord.

Dearest Mum, we are forever grateful for you! You have showered us and our children with priceless GIFTS that have shaped who we are.

We are even more grateful for your endurance through such a horrific, costly trial. You have actively and passively taught us the most valuable lessons we need for eternity… to ‘Just BE’… this is the greatest GIFT you offer us all!

To break it down a bit more, here are the main GIFTS of grace you have modelled so well for us throughout your seasons of tremendous ability and heartbreaking inability…

We are the BEloved of Jesus
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavour to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.”
Colossians 3:12-14

We BElong to Jesus
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are dearly loved by God and we know that he has chosen you to be his very own.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4

We are called to BE one with Jesus!
“Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honour, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!”
Colossians 3:1-4

We are to BEcome like Jesus
“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Precious Mum, while we are grieved over you, we are also relieved for you. None of us can understand the cup of suffering you were asked to drink… but drink it you did… gulping all the dregs to the bitter end. As you drank, you still smiled and entrusted your life to the only One who can redeem your path of suffering into a threshold of eternal joy!

‘Just BE’ Mum… ‘Just BE’!

BE in His presence forever and enjoy your inheritance as His child to the full! We can hardly wait to hear your infectious laugh ring through the halls of Heaven. Thank you for gifting us with this deeply transformative, incredibly precious life lesson. May we live in the truth of just being who we truly are throughout all of our tomorrows until we meet again 🙂

BE Ready to Die… and Live Forever!

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One day we will each be swept away into the sleep of death.We glide along through the tides of time—
so quickly gone, like a dream that fades at dawn.
Like glistening grass that springs up one day and is dry and withered the next, ready to be cut down! Psalm 90: 5-6 TPT

In the space of six days, three precious people in our friendship circle have been swept away into death, all leaving behind haemorrhaging hearts. All three are tragic and two of them were very unexpected.

I am surrounded by raw grief.

The news reports tell me that in the same time frame, hundreds of unique souls have been killed in a terrorist attack and many more in floods and fires that have ravaged the globe, wrenching apart thousands more from their loved ones.

I am overwhelmed by a grieving world.

I grew up hearing the saying, “There are two things that are inevitable – death and taxes.” From my observation, we in the Western world do everything we can to avoid and ignore both!

Try as we may, death smacks us (and everyone one we love) in the face sooner or later. It is the ultimate equalizer… the one thing we cannot control and are powerless to escape.

Thousand of years ago, Moses had this to say about life, death and sorrow…

You’ve limited our lifespan to a mere seventy years,
 yet some you give grace to live still longer.
But even the best of years are marred by tears and toils,
and in the end with nothing more than a gravestone in a graveyard! We’re gone so quickly, so swiftly; we pass away and simply disappear. Psalm 90:10

Life is sacred and short! Death is going to visit us all so what can we do to prepare for the inevitable without becoming morbid? How can we live each day as if it were our last? What would change for you if you did embrace the inevitable truth?

There is only ONE who claims to have totally obliterated the curse of death. ONE who stands alone in declaring that those who stand with Him will NEVER DIE! His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. His claims are unique and without comparison in this broken, suffering world. There is only ONE who has died and risen again to the place of honour at the right hand of God. He offers us all LIFE after death – forever in relationship with Him – I dare you to convince me of a better offer!

CHRIST ALONE!

He is the only ONE who makes all these audacious claims…

“I AM the Way! I AM the Truth! I AM the Life!” (John 14:6)

“I AM the Resurrection and the Life!” (John 11:25)

He goes on, (just before raising Lazarus from the dead to prove His point!)…

“Those who believe in me will live, though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

And much, much more scattered through the book of Revelation…

“Don’t be afraid!

“I AM the Beginning and the End – the First and the Last!”

“I AM the Living One. I was dead but look – I AM alive forever!”

“I AM the One who holds the keys of death and hell!”

I AM the One who makes all things new!

We can’t deny death or lighten its horrific toll. Death seems to have had its way this week, but because of the One and Only Jesus Christ, tomorrow is a very different story!

Friends, in a world that is turning to all manner of ideas and religions to try to find some relief to the agony of death, I am taking hold of this anchor of hope while being held by Jesus, the Great I AM.

Christian hope is not wishful thinking, ‘airy fairy’ nonsense! It is based on the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God – His unique and unprecedented claims and promises! Let us never forget that all of this backed up with an empty grave and countless witnesses to the fact!

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In Christ, death is not something to be ignored and feared, but to be prepared for and accepted. Ignoring death is to our great detriment – communally and individually.

Henri Nouwen, late priest and author, submits that our dying well can be the greatest gift believers in Christ can offer to the world. Death tears us apart but also brings us together.

“The great gift in our dying is the gift of unity with all people. However different we are, we are all born powerless, and the little differences we live in dwindle in the light of this enormous truth.” (Our Greatest Gift p. 42)

He then expounds of the unique gift Christians have to offer a dying world…
“…when we face death with hope, we can live life with generosity.” (p. 46)

I may be surrounded by death and grief right now, totally overwhelmed by all the suffering in this broken world but more than that…

I am encircled by the love of Christ.

Those of us who believe this have SUCH an incredible gift to offer to the world!

Believe. Receive. BE Ready to Die – and Live Forever!

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept your correction. Psalm 90:12

A Prayer for the Grieving:

Not only can believers in Jesus die well, but we can also grieve well. We grieve when we love well, and we grieve well when we have hope. Moses ends his beautiful psalm with a prayer of hope and blessing that offers us a way to pray for our bereaved friends and for the grieving world this week…

Let the sunrise of your love end our dark night. Break through our clouded dawn again! Only you can satisfy our hearts, filling us with songs of joy to the end of our days.
We’ve been overwhelmed with grief;
come now and overwhelm us with gladness.
Replace our years of trouble with decades of delight.
Let us see your miracles again, and let the rising generation see the glorious wonders you’re famous for.
O Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us and give us favour.
Come work with us, and then our works will endure,
and give us success in all we do. Psalm 90:14-17

A Song to Strengthen:

 In Christ Alone was piped by Bethany’s friend, Stuart, as we entered the church for her Thanksgiving Service. Here is a version by Laura Daigle 

BE Swept Off Your Feet!

 

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Recently, my precious middle daughter and I had a good discussion about how easy it is to take the cross of Jesus for granted. We both grew up in situations where the Good News of Jesus was, and continues to be, spoken of often. Yet we admitted that we don’t always feel loved by God and often neglect to love Him in return.

A few days later we picked up our conversation, together with my dear Mum. We asked, “Why is it so easy to forget Jesus, our First Love’?” “How do we nurture this love in our hearts so that we do not cease to be amazed and enamoured with Christ our Bridegroom?”

Don’t you love it when the hero of the movie comes riding in and sweeps his future bride off her feet? Jesus swept me off my feet when I was a child and I have never quite recovered! Yet if you are anything like me, we have the tendency to get back on our own two feet again, get too independent and too accustomed to the face of our beloved.

They say that “actions speak louder than words”, but words are also an essential ingredient as we attempt to communicate love. I delight in reading words of love from my husband, family and friends… and then re-reading them over and over again to remind myself how dearly I am loved. It can be easy to forget that fact when life gets tough.

God’s Word is like a love letter to us and so, with my ‘first love’ for Christ a bit on the stale side, I decided to re-read His words of love to me, especially those He expressed from His cross of sacrifice, suffering and shame.

The Seven Sayings of the Cross

There are seven sayings of Christ from His cross and each one reveals unique and stunning vistas of the heart of our Messiah. I hope that you can BE Swept Off Your Feet, either for the first time or yet again, as you allow these powerful words to enter your heart, mind and soul…

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)

This is grace! This is compassion! This is the courage to rise above injustice and bless those who curse! This is strength! This is protective covering! This is impossible… yet possible with the Father!

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

This is truth! HE IS TRUTH! This is Kingship! This is hope for beyond the grave! This is merciful! This is utterly amazing!

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

This is total surrender to the Father! This is complete release of everything! This is faith! This is ultimate, confident trust!

“Dear woman, here is your son…  Here is your mother.” (John 19:26)

This is commitment to family! This is provision for the grief-stricken! This is the faithfulness of a Son!

“I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

This is Scripture fulfilled! This is human fragility crying out! This is desperate human agony!

“It is finished!” (John 19:30)

This is completion! This is our confidence! This is a cry to the universe that salvation is accomplished once and for all!

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34)

This is the most complex one to understand!

Friends, if you already feel swept off your feet by Jesus, please feel free to finish reading here. I am pleased you have had a fresh revelation of His love. But if you want to take a few minutes to ponder with me some thoughts I offer on this more difficult saying, please read on. I think it will be worthwhile…

I have been meditating on and studying these words of Jesus for years, trying to get to the heart of what He was trying to communicate here. I am still a bit perplexed and find that I have both new questions and new insights each time I sit with them!

Basically, we don’t fully know what Jesus meant when He said these words with His dying breath. It is clear that Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22:1, but there are two main interpretations that respected scholars, teachers and preachers hold to…

The first is to take these words at face value and believe Jesus was actually abandoned by His Father on the cross. This view teaches that it was at this moment the sins of the world were laid on Jesus and that these words are a desperate cry reflecting not just His physical sufferings, but also the suffering of separation from His Father. If you hold to this view as many believers do…

This is the ultimate agony! This is total identification with human failing and suffering. This is the sacrifice of love we cannot comprehend!

The other view, that many other believers adhere to, is that the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit cannot be separated and that when Jesus uttered these words in His passion, He was worshipping God and declaring that He is Messiah!

Jesus, as a Jewish boy, would have learned this song, and all the Torah and other Psalms, by rote. I am told that the practice was to use the first line of the psalm as the title of the song to be recited/sung. So perhaps Jesus was in essence ‘singing’ this messianic song of worship as the Saviour of the world! If this is true, then He was making the most astonishing declaration in history…

I AM Messiah – the Suffering Servant! This is worship in the midst of extreme suffering! This is strength in weakness! This is fulfilment of prophecy! This is what all of fallen creation has been waiting for! This is the ultimate war cry and declaration of His (and our) imminent and eternal deliverance!

I encourage you to have a look at the magnificent Psalm 22 when you next read the crucifixion accounts. This ‘Messianic Psalm’ was written by King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit some 1,000 years prior to the crucifixion of Christ. It adds some depth and incredible insights to His passion. I think if you take the time to meditate on it, you too will BE Swept Off Your Feet and carried forever in His loving embrace!

A note to clarify…

Just because there are some differing opinions on this topic, we should not be scared away from meditating on both views and seeking God for further revelations. Believe me, He wants to lead us into all truth and in the journey of discovery, we will come to know and adore Him more. This saying of Christ is only recorded in Matthew and Mark and the only saying they both mention. As I read both accounts, I am soberly reminded that some of the witnesses to the crucifixion were very confused when they heard Jesus utter these words – so it is no wonder there is still some confusion over this saying today.

All these sacred sayings, and both these views of the more difficult one, bring in beautiful aspects of Messiah we can learn from and marvel in. His divine humanity is revealed to us, yet still remains a mystery! How can we possibly fathom it all? It will take an eternity to unravel the intricate wonders of the cross!

A Prayer…

“My Jesus, please restore my child-like wonder and help me to never take You, my First Love, for granted ever again!

A Song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_-0Xtt1slU

Don’t Let Me Lose My Wonder by Kristen Getty

PHOTO: Our son, James, sweeping his beautiful bride, Melissa, off her feet!

BE-LOVED!

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Shouts and whispers of LOVE have been swirling around from every direction recently… perhaps your ears have pricked up and heard them too?

 “ Love wins!” “It’s all about love!” “Love is all that matters!”

”Love conquers all!”

At the same time, my husband and I have begun to celebrate as our 30th wedding anniversary approaches. So I guess thoughts about LOVE are on my mind more than usual right now 🙂

Messages of LOVE, or the lack of it, are everywhere and sometimes it is hard to discern and define true LOVE when everyone seems to have a differing opinion.

As a human being, I have a deep desire to receive and give LOVE. As a follower of Jesus, I have been commanded to LOVE…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest command. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

Great idea! Trouble is, I can’t live up to these commands on my own. When I try to, I make a mess of it.

What happens when we try to love God, others and ourselves with love we conjure up ourselves?

*When we try to love God with our own love, we end up living in one of two extreme places… the land of ‘legalistic religion’ or the realm of ‘anything goes’.

*When we attempt to love others with our own love, we tend to either idolize them or neglect (or even abuse) them in the end.

*When we seek to love ourselves with our own love, we become either self-inflated and obsessed or self-abated and dejected.

So in the process of learning about LOVE, I have discovered that I cannot LOVE properly on my own without first receiving LOVE. Here is another way to put it…

In order to have the capacity to LOVE, we must first BE-LOVED!

John, the BE-LOVED disciple, says it this way in his letter to the early followers of Jesus… We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

We have been given an impossible command to LOVE by God. Yet He, Himself, has supplied us with the power to fulfil His command to LOVE. Paul says in Romans 5: 5 that God has poured His love into the hearts of every believer In Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Friends, please read that again and let it sink in!

Sentimental love is spreading like wildfire in our world. It sounds good. It feels good. But sadly, most of us have discovered it only lasts for a while. In the end, sentimental love can leave us emptier than before we devoured it – and with a bitter taste in our mouths and spirits.

The authentic LOVE that we are actually craving for and need more than life itself is the sacrificial, sacred, selfless LOVE of God as given to us in Jesus Christ! Not a feeling based, temporary LOVE, but a factually based eternal LOVE that is constantly acting graciously toward freedom!

REAL LOVE is not sentimental selfishness – it is sacrificial selflessness!

John the Beloved also says in 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

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This first LOVE is what I am going to build my life on from now on. All other loves are secondary. I am going to keep going to the cross of Christ and keep opening up my heart to receive His first, agape, unconditional, selfless LOVE and then keep my heart soft and open so that this LOVE can flow back to HIm and others. I will also be able to LOVE myself with His LOVE!

So what can we do to further grasp the wonder that we are the BE-LOVED of God?  

Pray: “God, You are LOVE! Help me to receive the LOVE You offer in Jesus, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”

Believe and Receive: Jesus is the BE-LOVED Son of God. John, His BE-LOVED disciple tells us that we are God’s children too! (1 John 3:1)

TO BE-LOVED BY GOD IS OUR SECURITY AND OUR IDENTITY!

Fill: your life with Scripture and meditate on God’s word of truth to you!         (The Gospel and letters of John the BE-LOVED are a great place to start!)

Soak: Make sure you take plenty of time to saturate your life with God’s LOVE in this busy world. That means taking time to stop!

Listen: We learn from others who have gone before us. Do you have someone in your life that is secure in the love of God? Perhaps you could ask them to mentor you! If not, ask God for this blessing and keep your ears open to hear and discern good voices that will build His love in your life.

One mentor that I look forward to meeting one day is Henri Nouwen. My pastor gave me his book, Life of the Beloved, sometime after Bethany went Home. It was a soul-searching time where the enemy of my soul would have me believe that God’s love is fickle and conditional. Life of the Beloved comes highly recommended and has been a significant source of healing and direction in my life. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom to tease you into wanting more…

 “ Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make.”

“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.”

Resolve: Like Jesus, like John, like Henri and the Psalmists of old, let us resolve to build our life on the never-ending LOVE of God. It is too hard to do on our own but thankfully we are not alone!

“And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16

A modern Psalm to encourage you…

“I WILL BUILD MY LIFE UPON YOUR LOVE IT IS A FIRM FOUNDATION AND I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN YOU ALONE AND I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!”

Build My Life by Housefires https://youtu.be/4W-St_nxyFc

BE Blessed by the Greatest Encouragement Ever! Part 2

Recently, we looked at Romans 8 as one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of Scripture. Countless people through the ages have found great encouragement in seasons of suffering through this portion of Paul’s ancient letter. As I reveal in this second part of my conversation with God, while meditating on Romans 8, I too have received some wonderful courage to go on and it is my hope that you will also. Please feel free to open your Bible to this precious passage and join me…images-1

Lord, I am beginning to understand more and more that I have to wait.. but the weight in the wait is so heavy! All I can do is pray – but I don’t know how to pray and I don’t always have the strength and even the desire to…

My Spirit helps you in your weakness and intercedes for you, according to My will, with groans that words alone cannot express.

Ahh… thank You Papa… I need You! Much of life is difficult and sad and does not make sense to me, but I choose to trust You…

In ALL things I am working for the good of those who love Me and are called according to My purpose – that is you, My daughter!

I am overwhelmed Lord… please keep speaking…

I know you. You are destined to become like My Son Jesus. I have called you. I have made you right with Me through His sacrifice and you share in His glory…

What can I say? This is all too wonderful for me to comprehend!

I am for you. I am not against you. I did not spare even My Son for you –             I long to graciously give you all things!

WOW! How can I ever express my gratitude? Your Son traded places with me, taking on my short-comings, suffering and shame. Now no charges can be brought against me! Your Son is interceding on my behalf before Your throne…   I am undone…

NOTHING can separate you from My love daughter – do you hear Me? NOTHING!

I know this Lord but I can feel separated from Your love when I face trouble, hardship, persecution, lack of provision, shame and dangers of all kinds. At times I do wonder where You are and if You still care…

As you prevail through all this brokenness, you can be more than victorious through the power of My love. NOTHING in all of creation can separate you from My love dear one. The revelation of My love is in the cross and resurrection of My Son – believe and live My child!