Unwritten

There are days when the past catches up with me and knocks the wind straight out of my sails. It sneaks in quietly and perch heavily on my shoulders. Quite unexpectedly, I might add. One minute I am running with purpose towards the joy set before me. And the next, I am trying to bear up under a heaviness that is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t felt it before.

I was just cleaning the bathroom, while the kids were playing out and my husband was running some errands. I don’t know if it was the playlist that YouTube selected for me (as I didn’t really have the time or inclination to put one together), or just an outright onslaught from the enemy. Maybe it was the walk down memory lane, paved by songs I hadn’t heard in decades, that brought back the years that were stolen. Places I wish I could return to. Choices I could exchange for better ones. This time, with wisdom and foresight. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Before I knew it, I had drifted into an old mindset. And I found myself spiral down into long forgotten places of despair. Now that I’m on the other side of the journey, it was surprising how quickly I managed to unravel! But that is the beauty of being in a familiar place, you know how to work your way around it, and find the exit signs.

Where I once had no hope, I now know Hope, personally. And I have learned some incredible truths when I walked through that valley the first time, and the second, and the third. Every time, I manage to escape a little quicker. The truths I have learned in the valley have become beacons for me, when I find myself under a dark cloud.

These are the things that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

Another story is being written

I am part of a much bigger story. The time I have lost is but a drop in the bucket of eternity. The days that I’m mourning for, is nothing compared to the days ahead. There is a happily ever after that has been ordained for me, before I was created. A path designed, with me in mind, that leads to life. Abundant life.

“You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for mewere already recorded in your book.”
Psalm 139:16 TPT

Every day is the start of a new chapter

There are new mercies every morning. There is freshly baked grace to feast on. It doesn’t matter what happened in the preceding chapters, the story is being developed and soon the antagonist will get his dues. The beginning does not even need to make sense for the end to be great. And a great ending is guaranteed. So, I am free to focus on today’s chapter.

“You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me!
Since your love for me is constant and endless,
I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me.”
Psalm 138:8 TPT

There is a trusted Author at work

The pressure is off when I surrender my pen. When I allow the Author to choose the plot twists and develop my character. It is when I start to question his thinking, his creativity, his plans for the rest of the story, that things start to get a little messy. My story is best, when I surrender it to him, without trying to influence the outcome. He is in the business of best sellers, he can be trusted. Absolutely.

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

We are poetry in motion

The masterpiece that God is making from the bits and pieces of my life, present and past, does not have to be perfect or complete in order to be appreciated. I don’t have to be complete, before I can be enjoyed. God delights in me, as he working in me. He is perfecting me, as an expression of his heart. That is my purpose. We all share that purpose. The way he expresses his heart through me, will be different to the way he speaks through you. But we are all reflecting his glory, his character, his heart.

“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!”
Ephesians 2:10 TPT

As that Memory Lane Playlist reminded me of all that I had lost, there was a song that rose up like an anthem from heaven. Natasha Bedingfield reminded me, that my story is not over yet. It has only just begun:

“Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten”

Every time, the enemy tells us that our story has ended or the book is closed, we have a choice. We can choose to align our thoughts and words with him and shelve the dreams that God put inside of us. Or we can take back the pen, and hand it to the Author of our faith. We can align our thoughts and words with him and decree: The best is yet to come!

Today, I pray that we will have the wisdom to recognise the untapped potential of the Words that our Author speaks about us. The Words he writes upon our hearts, as we become living expressions of his love and power upon the Earth. May we discover the adventure of following him through the twists and turns of our never-read-before story. May we have the courage to align our thoughts with his, and speak the Words he writes.

May we discover the joy and the beauty in the pages that are yet to be written.

HeartPrint:

Today, I see the Father smile: “Child of Wonder. It is time for you to dream again. It is time to dream with me. I do not force you to walk in the story that I have dreamed for your life. I invite you to co-create with me. Happily ever after takes shape as we dream and build together. It’s time to let go of the yesterday’s chapters. I am writing a new story. Will you join me in the adventure of discovering who you truly are? There are many adventures awaiting your yes! Don’t be afraid. Your story originated with me, and I will faithfully perfect it. Because your story, is my story. And mine is yours. You are the living expression of my heart. Let’s get writing!” ❤

Abundantly

“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10 NKJV

Are you experiencing abundant life?

How would you define abundant life?

I guess, it all has to do with perspective. There are times when I have seen more joy in people who have little than those who have a lot of wealth and earthly possessions. Having “stuff” doesn’t necessarily equate with having “life.” To me, abundance sounds like noisy children and tyres on gravel when my husband comes in from work. It looks like laundry baskets and dishes piled higher than usual, because our friends dropped round for a meal.

I have so many blessings in my life. So many things to be thankful for. Yet, there are areas in my life where I struggle. Some things are hard, and I don’t really feel like I am accessing the grace that is available to me for those specific issues that I’m dealing with. Those are the reasons why I read John 10:10 and I wonder, where is my “abundantly” for this situation?

“Abundantly” is what Jesus came to give us. “Abundantly” is the reason that he chose to lay down his life for us. And because of that incredible gift, I do not want to ever take it for granted. I believe it is not just my gift, but my responsibility to access the abundant life that Jesus came to give me. Whatever that may look like. Whatever the situation, or issue, or circumstance, there is an “abundantly” that has been made available to us.

But how do we access this abundant life?

This promise of abundant life is found right in the middle of the passage where Jesus speaks to a crowd about sheep! (John 10). This lesson took place after he healed a man that was blind from birth. He challenged the Pharisees, saying that they pretend to see, but in actual fact, they are spiritually blind (John 9). I find it interesting that after Jesus addresses their sight, he challenges their hearing.

The key to accessing a life more abundantly is to become a sheep. One who can not only hear the voice of the Shepherd, but discern between his voice and the voice of the thief. Because there is a thief, an antagonist to our story, and he does not want us to step into our “Abundantly.” He comes only to kill, steal and destroy.

Often, I have looked at adverse circumstances as God’s unwillingness to intervene or provide what I needed. Recognising the antagonist in my story changed everything. Yet, I wasn’t sure how to get God to do what I needed Him to do! I was still stuck in my “less-than-abundantly.” As I studied John 10, I found the key that opened the door to abundant life: I learned that abundant life is connected to my ears!

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
 John 10:27 NLT

There is a progression here, that will unlock abundant life if we apply it to our lives.

Hear

Being able to hear the Shepherd’s voice is the most important privilege you have as a child of God. I used to believe that hearing God’s voice was only for a select few. For those who was holy enough, or did the minimum required hours of fasting and prayer. But hearing God’s voice is just as natural as hearing your friend over the phone!

(If this is something you want to explore, you might get some pointers from a previous blog, The Game Changer.)

Know

The reason why it is so important to hear God’s voice, is because that is how you get to know someone. The more I spend time with my family and friends, listening to them, having conversations, spending time together; the more I know them. The ones I know the best, are the ones I’ve spent most time with. How incredible that we can know the Creator of the Universe! The One who breathed life into ever living organism on this planet. The One dreamed about you even before you were born, and meticulously planned a path for your life. One that drips with abundance! (Psalm 65:11). But God doesn’t force us on this path, we have to choose it. And if we want to discover it, we have to know him, and allow him to show us. And he will.

Follow

When we know him, we will trust him. We only follow those we trust. Trusting someone means you believe that they are both able and willing to lead you to your best life. To your “abundantly.” I remember all those years, growing up in church, and doing all the Christian things, but having no real relationship with God. Following my own ideas and paths. Then, when things did not add up to the “abundantly” I read about in the Bible, I was confused. Did God not care about me? Did he not see my suffering?

The truth is, I was never really following. Even though I thought I was.

Today, I am thankful for the ability to hear his voice. I am able to discern between the voice of the Shepherd and the voice of the Thief. I know the Shepherd. I know his heart. I know he is not just able to lead me to the “abundantly” in every area of my life, but he is willing. Because he loves me.

And he loves you too! If there is any area of your life where you need to find your “abundantly,” just follow these three simple steps: Hear, Know, Follow. The Shepherd will lead you there. This is why he came. So you may have life, and have it more abundantly.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Shepherd say: “Little One, you do not have to fear any situation that looks like it might overpower you. I am here to lead you out of adversity and into victory. I am here to lead you out of lack, and into more than enough. I am here to lead you out of confusion and into clarity. I am here to lead you out of darkness and into light. Into wisdom. Into revelation. Into freedom. There is so much I want to show you as we walk together on the path that I have marked out for you. Will you trust me? I have come, so that you may have abundant life. That is my will for you. Let me lead you there. Because, I am a good Shepherd. And I love you.” ❤

Ham and Cheese

“Why don’t you stay?” he said. It was rather out of the blue and I was a little confused by what he meant. I looked at him and I could see that he was very nervous. We were on our way to the British embassy in Pretoria, to pick up my passport and visa. Only days away from my next adventure; a working holiday in London.

“Why don’t you stay, and marry me?” he said.

“I’m only 23!” In hindsight, that may not have been the best way to answer the question. Now, he was looking confused. And I had a sinking feeling that the next few hours would be awfully awkward.

“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked. And I was right, the rest of the journey there (and then back to Johannesburg) was rough. I had only been back in South Africa for about three months. He was an old friend, who I had known for years. We had spent quite a bit of time together whilst I was back in the country, and I enjoyed his company. In fact, I loved him so much, but not in a romantic way.

I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and run inside my parents’ house. Dust filled the air as he sped off to get away from me too. I felt absolutely awful. I spent the rest of the day crying in my bedroom.

My dad had arranged for me to meet up with some friends who were living in London at the time, but they were in South Africa on their honeymoon. They would help me with accommodation over in the UK, until I found my feet.

Puffy eyed and sniffing, objecting to go out and be seen by people, I reluctantly got into my dad’s car. All the way there, I cried and my poor dad had an earful: “Why is it that things never work out for me?” Sniff, sniff. “Every time I fall in love with someone, I get rejected.” Sniff, sniff. “And now I have to be the villain! Why can’t I just find someone I like, who likes me back?”

Honestly, this may sound like a small pity party or a little tantrum now, but at the time it was total, raw heartache. Up to that point (and a fair while after that) I had a thorough history with rejection that had put some deep roots down in my heart.

As we met our friends, they introduced us to another young man. Pleasant looking. Lovely personality. No sooner had I cried over one, and I was already tempted to give my heart away to another. My dad was just so relieved that I had stop my sobbing. As we drove back home he said: “I have the weirdest feeling that you have met your husband tonight.”

(Big dramatic silence!)

He was wrong. Although, not entirely. It turned out that these friends had already met my future husband in London. It would just be a matter of time before I bumped into him.

One Summer’s night, some time in 2001, as I was sat reading in the lounge of the house my friends lived in, on Woodville Road, London, a boy walked into the room. He noticed the book I was reading. We started talking. We learned that had so much in common. We instantly connected. The thing that connected us most was a shared love for the same man: Jesus. We talked for hours and hours. We became really good friends.

Five years, a lot of drama (too much to write in one blog) and a few more heartaches after that, we said our vows in the magistrates office in Preston. We have just celebrated fourteen years of marital bliss. We share a beautiful home, two awesome children and one smelly dog. We share a life.

I thank God for the heartaches. The ones that didn’t work out. Because there was one that was ordained. And it has been the greatest blessing of my entire life.

My husband.

“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”
Romans 8:28 TPT

A few days ago, my daughter said to me: “Mum, it’s like God made you at the same time as he made Dad. You are like ham and cheese. You just go together.” She is not wrong. As much as I don’t believe that you have to find the “right one” for a marriage to work, I know that God worked out this detail in my life. Because he loves me. Even more than my husband does!

Today, I pray that you will be able to rest in the knowledge that you are loved beyond human measure. There is no heartache that cannot be healed. There is no root of rejection that cannot be destroyed. There is Someone who loves you more than anyone could ever love a person. He loves you more than all the stars in the galaxy. He loves you more than ham and cheese!

Happy Valentines Day!

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father whisper: “Beloved Child, you are the apple of my eye. To me you are perfect. I see no flaw in you. I have loved you with and everlasting love and with kindness I draw you into my presence, so that I can be good to you. So that I can show you how much you are loved and how wonderful you are. If you will trust me, you will see how I weave every detail into the tapestry of your life. I don’t miss a thing. I work all things together for your good. Your good is my first priority. You are, and will always be, my Beloved.” ❤

What is it?

Hungry.

That is a feeling that I am very familiar with. There used to be days when the first thought that came into my head, would be: what will I be eating today? Will I stick to my diet? What can I have for breakfast, lunch and dinner? And everything in between?

Sometimes, I mistook boredom for hunger. Sometimes, I confused it with sadness, or loneliness. Sometimes, I chose bread, when I needed comfort. Sometimes, I still do. Not realising that my hunger pangs, are not coming from my stomach, but my heart.

Hungry Israelites

In Exodus 16 God’s people were feeling hungry. They remembered the wonderful food they had in Egypt and they wanted to go back. This is absolutely crazy! They have just seen God do the impossible (plagues and sea partitioning, just to mention a few), and now they’re worried about where their next meal was coming from!

It’s funny how being hungry influences your thought patterns? The food may have been nice, but the conditions were most certainly not! Just like the Israelites, I sometimes forget the days of bondage when my mind is consumed with thoughts of chocolate cake.

In his amazing grace, God provided miraculous sustenance for them. And fed them manna; and it tasted like honey cakes! Every day there was enough for everyone, for 40 years!

As I read about how the Israelites feasted on the faithfulness of God, here are some of the truths I uncovered:

There was more than enough to meet their needs every day.

Their bread did not appear all baked and prepared on their plates in the morning. They had to go and collect the manna from outside, before the sun melted it away. They had measure it out, making sure they had just enough for their needs and discard the rest.

Everything we need to feed our hungry hearts are found in Jesus. He is both the Word of God and the Bread of Life. There is enough to fill the empty spaces; a specific word for a specific space. But we have to go to him and collect it. Prepare it. Receive it. Every morning.

We receive our sustenance from reading his Word AND from hearing him speak. And we can trust him to give us what we need, just enough for what we need, each day.

You can’t live of yesterday’s bread.

The leftover manna had to be discarded because it would go off. If they kept it overnight, it would smell horrible and be covered in maggots the next day.

How often do we try and make it through a whole week on a little manna from Sunday’s church service? We have to receive our bread daily. Our hearts will be less hungry if we have our fill on a daily basis.

“What is it” that you need?

Did you know that the word “manna” means “what is it?” Manna was a substance never seen before. How often do we eat the bread of fear, or worry, or uncertainty. When we are stood before an obstacle, and our heads are filled with “What?” “How?” “Why?” “When?” “Who?”

Manna is what you need most, when you don’t know what you need. The Word is full of substance that you have never seen before. Answers that you would never have considered, unless you had your daily meal.

Hungry Jeremiah

Under a lot of pressure, with destruction on Israel’s doorstep, Jeremiah said:

“Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord.”
Jeremiah 15:16 TLB

In the very next passage that follows, he questions God’s consistency, saying that his help is as uncertain as a mountain brook; one day there is a flood, and the next day it is as dry as a bone! (Jeremiah 15:16-18 TLB)

God was not impressed by Jeremiah’s attitude. He promised to restore Jeremiah if he would repent, and what else? Speak words that are worthy, not worthless. (Jeremiah 15:19 NIV)

What do we speak when we are faced with circumstances that are beyond our control? If only Jeremiah stopped at verse 16. God honours his Word. He has to! It is impossible for him not to. (See Jeremiah 1:12, Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18, Isaiah 55:11).

Hungry Jesus

After Jesus was baptised, the Holy Spirit lead him into the desert, where he fasted for 40 days. I can hardly make it from breakfast to lunch, can you imagine the hunger that Jesus must have felt? I wonder if he was worried about where he would find his next meal? It’s only natural to worry, isn’t it?

I think that is exactly what his enemy was coming to cash in on. A natural function. His hunger. “Why don’t you turn that rock into bread, Jesus? Yummy honey cakes! Come on, you deserve it, after 40 days of fasting.” But Jesus answered with worthy words:

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 NIV

What is it that you need?

Today, I pray that we will be able to recognise the hungry pangs of our hearts, and feed it with the Bread of Life. May we be filled with the sustenance of Truth, so that when worry, fear or uncertainty comes we can respond with worthy words. We can say: “It is written…”

Bon Appetit!

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father say: “Child of Breakthrough, come on in. It’s time to eat! Wash your hands from the fear, worry and uncertainty and sit down at the table I have prepared for you. Feast on my Faithfulness. What is it you need today? The pantry is stocked with promises for every need you have. I have set the table, and I delight in your company. I love to see you relish my Word. All my promises to you are yes and amen. It’s time to tuck in. And Enjoy!” ❤

Seeker

There it was! They couldn’t believe their eyes. They had been seeking this star, for nearly four centuries. Generation to generation, the message had been passed on. A King was born. A birth that a very renowned prophet and chief prefect over all the magi in Babylon, foretold so very long ago.
(Daniel 9:25)

This was not just a King. This was Daniel’s King. Daniel, who was able to explain and interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and saved the lives of all the magi who were unable to help their king. This was a God who cared enough to save them. (Daniel 2:24)

This was Daniel’s King. The God who shut the mouth of lions, to protect the one who loved and served him. The God who vindicated Daniel, and allowed his enemies to be devoured. This was a God who did impossible things. (Daniel 6:4-9)

This was Daniel’s King. The God who came down and personally wrote a warning on king Belshazzar’s wall. A warning of coming destruction, giving him time to repent and change his ways. This was a God of mercy. A God of second chances. (Daniel 5)

This was Daniel’s king. But also the King of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. This was a God who was with them in the fire. A fire that was hot enough to devour their enemies. A God that had his arm around them, in the midst of their trial. A God who is near. (Daniel 3:16-28)

There was no other god, like Daniel’s god. Daniel and his friends knew this. They would not bow their knee to any idol, whether made of gold or flesh. They did not fit into the mold. They were different. People noticed. They didn’t just notice them. They noticed their God.

“…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32 NKJV

And now their God came to earth, as King. Messiah. The one who would lead the Jews into victory. The magi remembered. They were seeking to find him.

Where would they look to find such a King? Surely, he would be born in a kingdom? But king Herod, was surprised. Also, a little alarmed! He wanted to know more, so he asked the people who should have known. (Matthew 2)

I wonder, was it strange to them, that the King’s chosen people wasn’t expecting his arrival? That they were not looking for the signs of his coming? Were they too busy to prepare for their King? Surely a king, like Daniel’s King, should be receiving a special welcome. That is what they were there for. That was the reason behind the seeking. To bring gifts. To worship this great King.

Are you a Seeker?

Daniel was a seeker. He was disciplined in his seeking. He cultivated a lifestyle of seeking God, and as a result God did miraculous signs and wonders for him and through him. So much so, that he left a legacy that stretched over four centuries, leading wise men to find him when no one else was seeking. Even now, in this day and age, Daniel is inspiring wise men (and women) to seek the King.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

What are you seeking?

For many years I was seeking answers and solutions to fix what was wrong on the outside. I needed a pill, a therapy, a new diet, a quick fix. I was constantly seeking, but my seeking lead only further into bondage. After so many years of trying and failing, I started to see that what I needed wasn’t going to be found in a book, a package or a formula. The only answer to my problem was found in a Person. I needed to find a King.

A King who cared enough to save me.
(John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17)

A King who does impossible things.
(Luke 1:37, Matthew 19:26)

A King of mercy, who gives second chances.
(Micah 7:18, Ephesians 2:4-5, Hebrews 4:16)

A King who puts his arm around me, when I go through the fire.
(Isaiah 43:2)

A King who is near.
(Psalm 145:18, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)

It was time to change focus. This was a King worth finding. And just like the magi saw the star, I saw the hope of my calling. The King was saying, here I am. Look for me. Follow the Light of my Word. Follow my promises. You will find me, when you search for me.

With all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13)

I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, so please don’t take this little piece of information as absolute gospel, but I have read in some commentaries that the gifts brought to Jesus by the magi, was from Daniel’s estate. How awesome if that is true?

Daniel was given many treasures as he seved different kings during their reign in Babylon. He had so much favour on his life and was a very rich man. Honoured, because of his God. How amazing that he could honour Jesus with his treasures. Gifts suited for a King.

Like Daniel, I am determined to seek him. I want to be a wise (wo)man. God designed us to be seekers. He placed us in this time, within a specific place, so that we can find him.

If you are feeling lost today, please can I encourage you? Don’t give up, he is closer than you know. And he is worth finding!

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
Acts 17:26‭-‬27 AMP

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father saying: “Beautiful Child. Have you lost your focus? Take your eyes off the problem for a moment, and look at me. I am not far away. I am right here. With my arm around you. As you walk through the fire you will not be burnt. I will never leave you or forsake you. Seek my face, and you fill find my helping hand also. I am right here, to guide you. To show you new paths to take and ways you haven’t even considered yet. I have more than you need. Just seek me first, and I will lead you to every answer you need. Because, my beloved child, I love you. And I always reward those who seek me. Always.” ❤

Sound

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

Few people can sleep through a storm like Jesus did. Here in Britain we’re only just waving goodbye to Storm Ciara, to welcome Storm Dennis. It has been very noisy outside. Sleeping soundly when the winds are rattling on your roof, doors and windows, is a challenge for most people. But not me. I like my sleep too much and I have been so tired recently, that I have hardly noticed the noise outside.I am given the full report by my kids in the morning, though.

The crazy weather outside reminds me of a time, almost two decades ago, when I worked as an English Teacher in Taipei. One afternoon, students and staff were all dismissed, which was highly unusual. We were told to go home and prepare for the storm that was about to pass over the little, sweet-potato shaped island of Taiwan. I thought nothing much of it. In fact, happy with an afternoon off, I planned a little trip to the gym for a quick workout at a lovely, hot shower, before heading home for the evening.

As I walked towards the gym, the wind turned my umbrella inside out, and I noticed that there seemed to be a lengthy queue at the bus stop. People seemed quite eager to get home. The trainers at the gym were a little confused as to why I was going inside and not going out of the gym; the direction that most customers were heading. They told me that they were closing in an hour tops, so I would have to be as quick as possible. Well, that wasn’t going to give me enough time for my shower, so I decided to get on the bus and go home.

I steadily paced myself up the five flights of stairs, to the little box of a flat I was living in. Built on top of an apartment block (with no lift), this little box was the temporary home for me and my friend Lisa. I met her on the flight to Kaohsiung (where we were both supposed to teach, originally. I would love to tell you the story, but it’s a long one!)

Flopping myself down in my corner of the flat, I reached for that book I had been hoping to finish. Now, I finally had the time! I didn’t even get to finish the next page, when Lisa came bursting through the door. Pale as a sheet and eyes bigger than saucers, she exclaimed, “Mel! We have to fill the tub with water! We need to get to the shop! We need food! Water! We need batteries. Get the duct tape! Wait! Do we even have tape? We have to tape the windows shut!” Her panic jolted me out of my ignorance. What on Earth was happening?

Lisa switched on her portable radio on, pointing to it as to say, “wake up, Mel!” As the announcer informed us that a typhoon was approaching, we hastily pulled out our Lonely Planet travel guides. We looked up “typhoon”. We were not familiar with this kind of weather disasters having grown up in South Africa, so we were a little unsure about what was coming. “Oh,” said Lisa, calming down a little. “Typhoons are quite a common occurrence in the far east, and it says here that there is no need to panic. Unless it is a super typhoon.” No sooner did she say that, when the announcer said: “…and we’re expecting the eye of super typhoon Bilis, to pass over Taipei at around 3am tomorrow morning.”

Lisa and I looked at each other in pure shock. We grabbed our wallets and rushed down the stairs to the corner shop. We bought water. We bought enough food to feed a small army. We bought batteries. And duct tape. We ran back home, and to this day, I can’t tell you how we manage to get all those groceries up five flights of stairs. In record breaking time, I might add.

We were in for a long night. There wasn’t much else we could do, but wait out the storm. And hope for the best. I grabbed my portable CD player (yes young ones, there once was such things), and settled on my bed with my earphones in my ears. I didn’t need to hear what was going on outside, it wouldn’t be helpful.

As I listened to my favourite tunes, I fell asleep. I might have woken up at 3am. I vaguely remember the sensation of swaying like a tree in the wind, while lying in my bed. Strange, I can confirm. This was followed by a little tremor too, just for a sprinkling of dramatic effect. Apart from that, I slept soundly. I knew I could get the full report from Lisa in the morning.

All around us were signs of the storm’s terrible destructive power, as we emerged from our cocoon-box the next morning. The door to the roof terrace had been completely ripped from its hinges. Neon signs lay scattered on the ground. Trees were uprooted. Thinking about that now, I shiver when I remember that flimsy little apartment on the roof. How it stayed in tact through that storm, is a mystery to me. Great advert for duct tape, though! But I have to laugh when I think of how unaware I was of the actual danger I was in. I did not have a spirit of fear, at all. I had a sound mind. Ha!

Sound is an interesting word.

Sound is a noun.

As a noun, it is defined as “vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.” There were many vibrations that found my ear that day. From the panic in Lisa’s voice, to the announcer of bad news, to the sound of the storm outside. The sound of the storm was alarming.

The storms we face in life, will also try to speak to us. It will try and get our attention. When encountering a life-storm, I wish that I could enjoy the same ignorant bliss that I did when I was living in my little box in Taiwan. The good news is, we can choose which vibrations we are going to entertain. Just like I chose music over the chaos outside, there are times when I have to shut off the noise from the storm and listen to the sound of hope, faith and love.

When my problem is banging on the door of my mind, I choose to worship. There are times when I have to shut off the voice of reason, so I can hear the voice of the Father.

Sound is a verb.

Google tells me that sound can convey a specified impression when heard, therefore it is also a verb. The impression that the storm outside left on my heart, was very different to the impression left by the music in my ears. And it makes me realise that the condition of my heart is affected by what I am paying attention to. What I am listening to, is continuously being stored up in my heart. What is stored up in my heart, is going to spill out of my mouth.

The sound that spills out of my mouth is a powerful force. It is even more powerful than a super typhoon! It can be equally destructive. Or it can create something beautiful. The sound that I am releasing, from my mouth, will break down or build up! I am created in the image of One who speaks and it is done. What is the sound that is coming from my mouth, when the storm is raging outside?

There are times when the facts of a situation can be sobering. All around us there are noisy broadcasts of concern, worry and alarm. But when the world is releasing the sound of fear, where are the children of God? Do we join the choir and sound off in panic? Or do we stay grounded in peace, releasing the sound of Faith?

Sound is an adjective.

To be sound, is to be “in good condition; not damaged, injured or diseased.” And look at some other synonyms for being sound: Undisturbed. Unbroken. Uninterrupted. Untroubled. Can we weather a storm without it affecting us? I believe there is a way. And it is not about ignoring the storm, like I did in my ignorance. But it is about being prepared. Being proactive.

Knowing that you are living in a world that is broken, home to a thief whose only job is to kill, steal and destroy, isn’t it wise to be prepared? Finding and storing up the resources you need before the storm hits, takes away a lot of the panic and fear before it comes. In fact, the best sleep I have had, have been in safe and secure in my parent’s house. Being lulled to sleep by listening to the incredibly powerful sound of a South African thunder storm. Resting in the knowledge that I am in a safe place. Where I have everything I need.

Storms will come. Sometimes, like Dennis and Ciara, they come on the heels of the other. Especially when you are called to do something great for the Kingdom. And you are! So don’t be surprised when the wind starts to rattle your windows!

Synonyms include: “Well founded. Well grounded.”

Often, when I have felt fearful, I would blurt out 2 Timothy 1:7 in a panic, hoping for the fear to go away. But I believe there is another way of living out this scripture. A scripture that Paul wrote to Timothy as he was about to hand over his ministry to him. Because of the calling on his life, Paul found himself in prison. He was in the middle of a storm.

Now, it was Timothy’s season to take up the call. Timothy would have to continue in the legendary footsteps of Paul, and stand up to misinformed “voices of reason.” Timothy would need to be prepared for the storm. And Paul gave him a key to weather the storm:

“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:13 NKJV

Hold fast the pattern of sound words.

What are the pattern of words that you are holding onto? Are you well founded, and well grounded in sound words? This, dear friend is the key to sleeping through the storm. Don’t be caught out like Lisa and me. Be prepared. You have more than duct tape at your disposal. You have the sound Word of Life. Ground yourself in it. You will be tankful when you’re safe and secure as the eye of the storm simply passes over you.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father say: “My Child of Destiny! As you close yourself off in me, there is no storm that can touch you. I am your hiding place. Your refuge. Your place of safety. Let my Truth be louder than your storm. Let my Word fill your heart, as you shut out the noise and as my sound Word rise from within you, release the power of Truth. Truth that speaks louder than facts. Truth that creates order out of chaos. Truth that brings life out of darkness. You carry that power inside of you. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Release my Truth. Release the sound of Faith. There is no storm that can outlast you! For I am in you. And I am with you. Always.”

Lisa (bottom) in front of our little roof-box and me (top) on the other side of the roof terrace. Some time in August 2000. We survived super typhoon Bilis.
The door leading onto the roof terrace, after Bilis came knocking.


Effortless Freedom

At first, she resolved to fight against Gothel with all her might. She would never give up her right for freedom. She wouldn’t rest until she walked out of her prison. But then, she saw her hero climb through the window of the tower. Unaware, Eugene fell for Gothel’s trap and ended up with a dagger in his side.

Rapunzel bargained. She would stay in her tower, if only she could use her gift to heal her beloved. “Please, let me heal him,” she begged. She offered to stay with her captor, in exchange for his life. A life of bondage, for one opportunity to use her gift. For Gothel, this was a gift worth considering. She agreed.

As Rapunzel started wrapping her hair over Eugene’s wound, he begged her not to give up her life for his. “Rapunzel, no! I can’t let you do this,” he cried. “And I can’t let you die,” she replied. “But if you do this,” Eugene said as she tried to comfort him, “then you will die.” Before she could start singing her healing song, Eugene used his last bit of energy, to pick up a piece of broken mirror, and cut off her hair. With his final breath, he released her from her agreement with Gothel.

Gothel’s was drained of her power in an instant; and in the shock of seeing her ticket to eternal youth disappear, she tripped, fell out of the tower and ended up in a puff of dust on the ground. Rapunzel was free, but she had lost something much more valuable than her hair. She lost Eugene.

In a desperate attempt to save his life, she put his hand on her new, short crop and sang her healing song. Realising that she had no external power to draw on, she held him close, as a tear rolled from her cheek unto his. Suddenly her healing power started working again. But this time, it wasn’t radiating from her head, but from her heart.

Up until this point, I had not really drawn any connections between the role of Eugene in Rapunzel’s story and the role of Jesus in mine. But you see, recently I have been relying very much on my head to work my way out of bondage, rather than allowing freedom to flow from my heart. I am still learning, but here are some things that I have been uncovering with the help of the Spirit:

Stop hustling for the freedom that is already yours.

There are times when I make myself tired, trying to work out my own issues. I stop relying on Grace to do its work in me. I stop using my faith and I start to lean on my very limited understanding. Yes, we do have to resist the enemy. We do have to be stubborn and refuse to believe his lies, but we do not have to negotiate for our freedom. We already are free. It is our birth right.

I heard Nancy Alcorn speak at a women’s conference and she said something that changed my perspective dramatically: “We are not fighting for freedom, we are fighting from it.” The enemy’s power is only in making us believe that he has the power to keep us bound. Often time he uses our very gift and talents against us.

Your gifting cannot set you free.

As long as Rapunzel’s hair was in working condition, Gothel had the strength to overpower her. It is often in our trying to serve God, that we empower the enemy. I had to learn that my gift, my sacrifices, my good works, none of these things could add to what Jesus made available for me.

My freedom was not found in what I could do for him, but what he had done for me. Just like Rapunzel had do drag those meters of heavy hair everywhere, I have felt the heaviness of my need to perform for my freedom. Maybe of I prayed long enough, hard enough, said the magic words? But there is no magic required, only the revelation of what is already yours!

Don’t settle for a life of bondage in exchange for using your gift.

I tried for many years to untangle myself from my bondage to eating and weight issues. I couldn’t do it. I still can’t. And then I settled for a life of bondage, because I believe it wasn’t part of the plan. I believed that the struggle would never be over. And that made me feel bad. It made me feel “less than.” So the enemy had another snare set up for me: one where my gift became the trap.

Using my gift, to give me identity and a sense of purpose appeared to be a good thing, but I was still trapped in my prison. It may have looked like I was doing great on the outside, but I was still struggling to get free. If I wasn’t used or recognised for my gift, I crumbled. Alone. In my tower.

“Just let me do one more thing for God!” It may sound very righteous, but if we’re trying to earn something we already have, we’re only empowering the enemy by coming into agreement with his lies.

Jesus gave up his life for you, so you can have and enjoy your freedom.

By the blood of Jesus, we have been set free from every agreement we have ever made with the enemy. He no longer has any power over us.

Children of the King do not have to strive for their birth rights. But how often do we live that way? Struggling to get free. Using our gifts to try to please God. Or to make us feel better about ourselves. Jesus came to set us free from all that junk. All of it. The need to hustle. The need to please. The need to perform.

He gave up his life, so we can enjoy our freedom. He didn’t just set us free from the tower, but he set us free from ourselves!

The truth is there will be times when you feel tangled up in old thinking or behavioural patterns. Breaking free from pleasing and performing, has been a huge process for me. But I simply need to remember to go to Jesus for a haircut. I simply need to ask him to release me again. And then I need to get out of that tower and enjoy my freedom. My extremely, costly freedom.

Let go of what you know and embrace Who you know.

Most of my life I have strived for freedom based on what I know. My heart constantly playing catch-up with my head. But is not knowledge that set me free, it was an encounter with my Beloved, who burst into my tower and showed me how much he loved me. The more I have come to know him, the easier it has become to walk in freedom. Freedom that comes from the heart, and not the head.

Freedom becomes effortless when we disengage from what we know, and embrace who we are. Then we are truly empowered to use our gift not to earn freedom but to simply carry it, in our hearts. Ready to impart to others who so desperately need it.

Today, I find myself back in the tower, asking Jesus to set me free from striving. I have become tangled up in works and performance again. But it is going to be just fine, because I know the Truth. Today, as I quieted my heart to hear from him, he reminded me of this scripture:

“For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.” says John 8:32 in The Passion Translation. And there, I found this little footnote:

  1. John 8:32 The truth Jesus gives us releases us from the bondage of our past, the bondage of our sins, and the bondage of religion. Jesus is speaking these words to those who were not fully free from man’s traditions. Truth must be embraced and worked out through the divine process of spiritual maturity. The Greek word for “truth” is reality. To embrace the reality of Christ brings more freedom into your life. See the book of Galatians for a clear explanation of the freedom Jesus refers to here.

Today, I pray that we will remember that we do not have to fight for freedom, because it is our birth right. May we realise that our enemy is nothing more than a puff of dust. The only power he has is what we give him, by believing his lies. Lies that tell us that we have to earn our freedom. That we have to work hard for what is already ours.

May we remember to embrace Truth today, and allow him to set us free from our efforts. Letting go of what we know, and living from who we are. Completely, perfectly loved.

(You can watch the clip from Tangled here.)

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father calling: “Beloved Child, there is nothing you can add to the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness that I have given you, through my Son. You are perfect and complete in him. You are free. I am fully pleased with you, and have marked out a path for you to walk in your destiny and purpose. You do not have to figure it out. You simply have to put one foot in front of the other, and follow. I will never leave you to work it out, or carry the weight of your destiny on your own. I am here to guide you, empower you, and most of all: love you.” ❤