New Year’s Rebellion

So we’re now five days into this brand spanking new year! 2023. Yes indeedy. I saw the new year in with two out of my three boys, my Spunky Hunk, truckloads of chips and dip and a movie. Ragey, I know. While our neighbours set off their fireworks with some pops, bangs and fizzes, my social media feed exploded with all sorts of New Year’s wishes, encouragements, wisdom and ideas.

What are your goals for the year?

How about a word for the year?

No, instead of a New Year’s resolution, try a few incremental changes instead.

Research shows that…….


Pass me the cheddar cheese and onion dip please. It’s delicious. Copperpot brand. Seriously, delicious.


I’m not normally such a negative Nelly, truly, but the more I became aware of the hum of the pressure around me, the more I’ve felt a stirring in my soul to resist. Resist the weight of demands – self-imposed and others imposed. And I get the feeling I’m not alone.

I wonder what this time of year would look like, if, instead of talking about the ‘new year, new me’ hype that can be doing the rounds, we actively sought out those who have only just survived the year that was. What if we showed up on their doorsteps with brownies and ice-cream and the words, ‘congratulations, you survived’. And if that was us, what if we allowed ourselves a big cry and didn’t insist on grinning and bearing things, just for a few days?

What if instead of writing our lists of ways to improve ourselves/ our families/ our homes/ our appearance/ our whatevers, we just remembered ALL that we already are, because of WHO our God already is?

I started feeling this way in the middle of all our lockdowns. Just like you and all you needed to be doing while stuck at home doing your bit for your team of however million, I started feeling this little niggle inside of me whenever I looked to someone or something to give me some kind of guidance or spiritual authority for what we were facing at the time. Here I was doing all I could to keep all the wheels spinning with my family and jobs and study and volunteering responsibilities – you know – ALL THE THINGS – but then the messages I kept hearing from the sources I was going to were all about what I could be doing more of. The things I needed to be doing and should have been doing more of to strengthen my faith, to promote healthy rhythms in my life, to do do do do do do do………..

When all I actually needed back then, and think I still really need right now…….

Is how to be…………..

And how do I get that message into me?

I need to remind myself of what God has already done for me. And is doing for me.

Who He already is.

His faithfulness.

His steadfastness.

His help in times of need.

His presence.

Shine a spotlight on that, and that in turn draws my heart closer to Him. Tell me your stories of God’s nearness and dearness. Speak to me in and through your pain, where you’re being sustained by only Him. And that in turn, makes me want to be better, embracing all that I am, because of what He has done, for this day in 2023 and for all the days.

My New Year’s resolution is simply just a bit of rebellion, really. I really don’t want to do more. But I’m really keen to learn how to be more. It’s more than mere semantics.


We need more ebenezers.

We need more ebenezers.

Eber what?


We need more ebenezers, but not those Scrooge ones.

Yep. We need more ebenezers from the old hymn kind; ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by thine help I come’. Them kinds. Just before you accuse me of English professorship for a cotton pickin minute.

Say what?

Only you turn mistakes into miracles.

Let me back track a moment. Follow my crazy train (of thought).

Only you make broken stories beautiful.

Yesterday it was my middle son’s birthday and as I was writing a little post for the socials (we have family members who need and appreciate the reminder, plus it’s a nice opportunity to really honour him) I was struck by how often we can look at the ‘shiny’ and be clueless and ignorant of all the hard work, grit and determination that has gone into polishing the shiny. So that shiny can even exist. Not through any fault of our own at times, but sometimes simply because we don’t know a person well enough, deep enough, or our shared history is limited or we’ve just never been exposed to any of the journey that a person took, to get them where they are now.

If you had known my boy at age 3,4, or 5 you would have known he had severe speech difficulties. SEVERE. I was his main interpreter up until he started school. And the speech wasn’t great for years after…. We spent countless hours in speech therapy, not to mention paid megabucks for this therapy in all the countries we lived in. Speaking of countries, this kid experienced homeschool with this ole teacher in three different countries, American public school where there were 50 kids in his first class (gasp!), private Christian schooling in Australia and then an integrated state school back in NZ. Talk about variety in curriculum. And blah blah blah…..I could go on and on about the resilience forming things that have shaped his life, but that’s not what is burning on my heart right now. Nope. It’s not about how awesome my kid is, it’s actually about how awesome my God is, and because of that, my kid’s awesomeness shines through.

If anything is possible to rise again.

You see under the shiny in my Luka, is the hard. Has been the hard.

Come and make these dead bones live.

Under the shiny in me, is the hard.

Cause only you make prophets out of prodigals.


And only you deserve the glory for it all.

The fact that my kid can work in a retail setting and have to talk to the public is testament to his journey of healing.

And nothing is too far from you to rise again.

The fact that my kid is an excellent student and will be in a position to go down nearly any career path he chooses, is testament to God’s faithfulness, in and through our international moves.

Come and make these dead bones live.

But you wouldn’t necessarily know these things if I didn’t see the need to stop for a moment and go ‘Woah, this is an ebenezer thing’.

Cause only you turn mistakes into miracles.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘Ebenezer’ reads as ‘a commemoration of divine assistance’. In Bible times Eben-Ezer was a place where Samuel placed some stones as a monument to remember the Lord’s presence and power, protecting them in battle.

I’m not really about to start setting up actual stone monuments around my house and garden. I think my landlord would have a problem with that, but I wonder if a modern-day equivalent could be something as simple as saying in some kind of a public way, that my boy has come such a long way, and we know that it’s been only through God’s power and provision. And maybe not shying away from telling more of our stories, when appropriate. That could be an ebenezer thing too.

My children have been and are at an outstanding school here in NZ. And for the last 8 years we’ve had financial help from amazing friends who have been strongly connected with the school, to get the boys there and keep them there, at this school while I was not working full time. There’s a big stone there.

The tears I’ve shed and the anguish wrenched in my heart over the official diagnosis for all three of my boys and their speech difficulties has been massive. But. How far they have come. More stones there.

The unexpected type one diabetes development in my husband right before we left the States where his insulin would have been a huge financial burden had we stayed there longer. There’s a mountain of stones right there.

I’ve been thinking about why it is I’ve felt the need to share this all, right now, after I’ve had zero words for the old blogeroo for months and months, years even. And I guess only God really knows the answer to that. But this I do know; the more you say yes to God and take a risk and do something that may not seem the easy thing or the most accepted by society…….the more you follow that simple God nudge and then see the goodness of God come through for you, time and time again, the more readily you will say ‘yes’ the next time. And the adventure is worth it. So very worth it.

When you remember the times of trial and the yuck and the lack and the mess, but then you see the yay, the better and the miraculous, then the more God is in the spotlight of your life and the more He gets the credit. I think that’s why we need these ebenezers.

We just seem to forget the good. It has been scientifically proven that our brains are actually wired to remember criticism and negativity, more than compliments and positivity. Those neural pathways for the blurgh are stronger. Plus we’re so leaky. We need the ebenezers to be placed around us, to remind us of His presence and goodness and faithfulness. To keep our focus clear and centred.

We need more ebenezers. I’ll show you mine, how about you show me yours?

(words in italics not my own, they are lyrics from ‘Graves’ by KB and Brandon Lake).


Once a year the school where I work at has the word ‘chaos’ bandied around, all over the show. We hear about chaos in the daily notices, in the passing chatter of the students and in small group discussions. Chaos is everywhere. For the middle and senior schools, ‘Khaos’ is an elaborate game of hunt ’em down tag. Students from across those year groups are matched with another student and once they are successfully tagged, their target is passed on and on and so forth. There’s supposed to be an elaborate prize for the overall winner, which comes from everyone’s participation fee – but rumour has it, that’s a myth…..You know how rumours go.

Chaos, chaos, chaos has stuck around all of our worlds a little longer this year. For some it’s never really gone away.

I don’t know about you, but my social media feed is full of posts with people really feeling the effects of how chaotic the world feels. Our hearts are wrenched with the recent and ongoing atrocities in Afghanistan. Our lives here in New Zealand are disrupted again by the nationwide level four lockdown we’ve been plunged into this week by the pandemic. A student I work very closely with, buried his Mum at the start of the week. Two dear friends have extremely ill parents in hospital at the moment. C, H. A. O. S. I won’t go on – but you’ll all be very aware of all the unease and darkness in your own spheres of influence.

A couple of weeks ago in one of my uni lectures the lecturer told us about an example of chaos in the bible, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

In Genesis One, also known as the ‘Creation Story’ we’re told that the heavens and the earth were created and that the earth was void and without form. The Hebrew word for this is Tohu Vavohu (also Tohu wa-bohu) Void and waste. Formless. A chaotic darkness, before light was created. People look at this term and say it’s more than just a voidness – there’s a confusion to the darkness. It’s an abyss of darkness, a primordial chaos.

But here’s the thing – the next thing that God created was indeed light. The vast emptiness was filled. Chaos was brought into a sense or semblance of order.

It could be easy for us all to feel like we’re all in the presence of Tohu Vavohu right now. There are a lot of very confused people right now. There’s a lot of heartache and darkness.

What helps is to look at the creation story and to note – God was still there in the darkness. God was there and God was very near.

God is still here, in our darkness. God is here and He is near.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 119:151

You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.

Psalm 145:18

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

Isaiah 50:8

He who vindicates Me is near;
Who will contend with Me?

When Tohu vavohu was mentioned in the creation story, God was not finished yet. The chaos was a part of the whole time-frame of creation, but it wasn’t the end point.

We need to remember that God’s not finished with our present.

My lecturer explained that this chaotic darkness, this tohu vavohu never really goes away completely. At times it becomes more apparent, it is ‘triggered’ in a sense. And that’s when it’s our job to point the way to Jesus – point the way to hope. To remember that the one who holds the whole world is holding you.

And sometimes that remembering of God’s awesomeness and all powerfulness is easier than at other times, but there are always glimmers of light and love and hope.

Just yesterday I was able to message a chaplain friend of mine who works in a local hospital, and he was able to visit my friend’s Mum. My friend not able to visit under lockdown conditions, but he was. He was able to offer peace and comfort, to both the patient and my friend.



The checking in, from a friend. The posts on social media of practical ways in which we can help the Afghanistan situation. The beauty of nature all around us; the very welcome signs of spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. The whispers of peace when we read God’s word.

Cling to those things of goodness and of delight in your life, when the chaos tries to overwhelm.

Cry out to God when the chaos hurts your heart and your mind and your soul.

And know, that even in the swirl of mess, He is still there. The light will break through.

Photo used with permission – See Through Windows Ltd

Being Known.

Sometimes cries for help are left unanswered.

Sometimes well-meaning bystanders, are simply that; bystanders.

Sometimes hard days turn into hard weeks which turn into hard months.

Sometimes you can work your fingers, your mind and your heart to the very bone, to last neural pathway and to the last muscle, and still have nothing to show for it.

And yet.

The bright new day does follow the darkness of night.

Help is found in the new and sometimes surprising places.

Rewards, they do come, just not in the form that others would see and readily acknowledge.

It takes patience and perseverance to see the beauty in the ashes, much of the time.

When the world is all topsy turvey with pandemics and economic and political unrest, when citizens rage and damage and peace can feel like a far off and costly commodity, the only thing that brings lasting comfort and a nearness that really adheres is remembering the truths found in Him.

Lord you know everything there is to know about me.

You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.

You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!

You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.

Psalm 139

When we want to run and hide and take shelter – there’s really no need. The God whose hands crafted humanity from the dust, and that are the hands that grasp Mary’s finger as she looks on her infant God with awe (nod to Fr Kenneth Tanner for that), are the same hands that belong to him who KNOWS everything there is to know about you. And me.

He perceives every wretched movement of our hearts and souls – there’s nothing we can think that will shock him or surprise Him.

He knows us. In and out. Upside down, inside out and back to front. In the same way that we can watch a newborn’s face for hours, as we yearn to know them, to decipher their utterings, their grunts, their miniscule movements, He watches us and has watched us. He knows. Us.

We build up walls around our heart. With trusted ones we pull down those walls, brick by brick, just enough to see through the peepholes and explore some sense of safety. Yet, God, His x-ray vision powers through. He knows every nook and every cranny of our very core.

We plan and we set goals, we diarize and we pop things in our calendars. Our days and weeks are scheduled to the last minute. Whatever we can control and define and prioritize and make happen, we will. But there are no surprises to God. He knows the steps that make up our journeys.

Just think on this for a moment – He’s gone into our future to prepare the way. Read it again. Doesn’t that just ooze peace to you? When anxious thoughts take over your mind, and elephants sit on our chests, let’s read those words again. In kindness He follows behind us, to spare us from the harm of our past.


Yes, indeed, sometimes our cries for help are unanswered by others in our worlds.

Sometimes well-meaning bystanders are simply that; bystanders.

Sometimes hard days turn into hard weeks which turn into hard months.

Sometimes you can work your fingers, your mind and your heart to the very bone, to the last neural pathway and to the last muscle, and still have nothing to show for it.

But. Through it all wherever we go, His hand will guide us.

His strength will empower us.

It’s impossible to disappear from Him.

Photo by Evie Shaffer on

In Him we are fully known.

Altars and The ‘Peak End’ Rule.

Welcome to 2021!!

We are so fortunate here in New Zealand to be able to gather in groups, to have been able to celebrate both Christmas and New Years in big ways and small ways, publicly and privately. We can move around our country, visit different parts and there is no community spread of a certain virus at the moment. We don’t take it for granted, and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers do go out to those of you whose lives are still very much restricted because of the pandemic.

Last year those of us in Auckland had two periods of very strict lockdown conditions. Time to stay at home (with outings only for provisions or exercise), time for online learning and time to work solely from home. During both these times I remember very clearly this great hunger in my heart that grew and grew; I didn’t want to hear about all the things I could do to help myself, the stubborn and pigheaded me didn’t want to even consider one more thing to add to my list of ‘should be doings’ the endless lists of demands on my attention and time, instead, I yearned to be told of stories of God’s faithfulness, of His provision, of His marvelous and miraculous deeds both in the present and in the past. I had this intense need for all the things that feed my mind and soul to be highlighting this – I found over time that I had to go digging for this more than the reminders just presented themselves to me. The fact that I had this keen need or desire has bugged me for a while. Why was that so important to me then, and why is it still so important to me now?

And. By joves. I think I’ve cracked it.

We celebrated the coming of the New Year with a bunch of friends, a delicious lamb on a spit (sorry vegetarians, but it was yum) and some great conversation. One of the conversations that stood out for me was a couple who shared with us of God’s provision and kindness when their business was facing a rough time and big changes in circumstance because of covid. But. God provided. Where there was no way, God made a way. While there had still been worry and stress – there was an underlying peace because this couple trusted God. And God came through. Not just in a way that could look like a fortunate series of coincidences, but in ‘detailed, only He could orchestrate’ ways.

Listening to their story encouraged my faith. Listening to their story reminded me of God’s goodness. Listening to their story reminded me of my own covid-sucks-but-God-is-still-in-control stories.

And reminded me, yes, we need to share our stories.

Over and over and over again, we need to aim the spotlight at God’s provisions. We need to shout from the rooftops of His goodness.

The scriptures; writings about God, have over four hundred references to altars in them. Altars in this sense were physical structures upon which sacrifices were made. Altars were also built to commemorate encounters with the Lord – a way to memorialize the work that God has done in them. Altars helped future generations to remember the Lord.

This aiming the spotlight at examples of God’s provisions, this shouting from the rooftops of His goodness that I’ve got this bee in my bonnet about, that I really want to open my instagram feed to see and be reminded of, from all the sources I respect and allow to feed into my life – this, I think, is the modern day way of making our altars. Life has changed so much since the scriptures were written – the altars of yesterday are our stories of today. Along with the beautiful altars we see in our churches of today, I believe that altars are also the things that we share in public and in private. The news that we broadcast. The songs that we sing. The photos that we share. The narratives that we highlight. These are our altars.

The altars that were important back in biblical times, just like the stories of God being the hero, the one who makes a way where there is no other way, these things are just as important in these times, especially when the things we used to take for granted can no longer be taken for granted. Last year for our church we had just as many services held via an online format, as we were able to hold in person. Coming into 2020 we never ever thought that would be a thing. But a thing it was.

I’ve taken this altar/story sharing business stuff a step further, because I was keen to find out….why do we need reminders? Why can’t we just remember the good for ourselves? Well. It turns out our brains just aren’t wired that way.

The brain gives us two ways to evaluate experiences like suffering – there is how we apprehend such experiences in the moment and how we look at them afterward. And these two ways are deeply contradictory. Nobel Prize-winning researcher Daniel Kahneman has termed something called the ‘Peak-End Rule’.

In short, we have two selves – one that endures every moment equally and a remembering self who gives almost all the weight of judgement to two single points in time – the worst moment and the last moment. Whatever happens in the last moment of an experience, seems to stick in our memories.

This phenomenon applies just the same way to how people rate pleasureable experiences. The ending can ruin the whole experience, even if the experiencing self had hours of pleasure, even if the remembering self sees no pleasure at all.

So if the experiencing self and the remembering self can come to radically different opinions about the same experience, then the question is which one do we listen to? That’s why we need the reminders……we need to share the stories of God at work in our lives. We need to urge each other on to take risks, to paths of obedience, knowing that God is for us and not against us. Yes, God was with us in the worst moment of an experience, and in the last moment, but He was also with us for the all the time in between, all the time we won’t remember in the future. This is where my faith is built and challenged and strengthened.

Last year, because of covid I began to feel very uncomfortable in one of my jobs. I felt redundant, not necessary, surplus to requirement and began to wonder where my skills and passions really lay……it was a hard time, it was an unhappy time, but in that time, because of the very things that caused me to feel all sorts of yuck, those same circumstances were causing someone else to become freed up – to seek employment in the very things that I was feeling someone else could do better. Don’t you think that’s a God thing? While I was unhappy and asking some huge questions about the direction of my life and career for the next little while, someone else was made available to step in where I wanted to step out.

That’s our God.

I’d love to hear your stories of God’s perfect timing, His protection, His goodness in the last little while for you. As we celebrate the beginnings on a new year we know that the global pandemic is not just going to go away overnight, yet, we can celebrate in the knowledge that we are not alone. We have a God who cares for us, who is in the very details of each and every one of our lives. Please feel free to log in and leave a comment to spur others on, or add a comment in my facebook post. Let’s help our brains to remember long term – He cares, He is with us in the ending and the beginnings and all the in betweens.

El Roi. Roy, Who?

I don’t usually think deep and meaningfuls while driving. Usually I’m very much concentrating on the road, navigating traffic, anticipating whatever’s coming up next. You know. Driving. One day this week while I was just driving along, focused on the journey, these words plopped into my head; ‘You know I am El Roi, I see it all’.

‘You know I am El Roi, I see it all’.

All right….that certainly didn’t come from me. Like I said, when I’m driving I’m concentrating on the task at hand. Sometimes I’m praying but I am not, as a habit, thinking about names of God in Hebrew. Nope. I may have my mind wandering along the lines of ‘what on earth am I going to cook for dinner tonight’, along with the thought ‘move into the next lane soon’, and ‘easy mate, not quite so close’…..simple thoughts. Mostly decent thoughts. Sometimes a little tiny bit road ragey, but not often. Nothing usually of the Greek or Hebraic or theological vein, that’s for sure.

Which leads me to know that declaration, that whisper into the depths of my being had to come from God.

And you know what? Of course it did. It had to. Duh me.

You see I’d just had a conversation with someone and while there was absolutely nothing ill-intentioned in the words I’d heard in that chat, I’d still come away from that meeting feeling inadequate. Deficient. Very much misunderstood and alone, in a world of my own.

And, I know enough about the word of God, and the heart and nature of God to know, that’s actually not what He thinks of anyone. And just like He does – He reminded me. He sees me. He knows me. So I felt prompted to write for the first time in aaaaages, just because I wonder if there’s anyone out there that needs reminding of these same truths.

The world feels tired.

The world is still in a position of so much uncertainty, so much pain, so much unease.

We have been working hard, so very hard.

We’ve been juggling the demands of stress and unanswerable questions, wearing different hats, learning new skills, adapting and ‘pivoting’.

It’s very easy to look for outward results as proof of the hard work we’ve been doing, as evidence of whatever input has been allocated to something isn’t it? No matter what sphere of work you are in, we look at the numbers – we look at net worth, we look at asset values, at page views, at viewing minutes and hours, at the balance reconciled, at pass marks and achievement outcomes met and checkboxes ticked. We look for evidence of effort for worth and validation.

But sometimes there is no evidence.

Sometimes there are hours spent, seen and unseen, where the works are simply hidden from people.

Sometimes there are relationships invested in, that don’t come with a receipt or a checkbox ticked.

Sometimes there are no bank accounts blossoming as a result of some very hard work having happened.

But God sees.

He sees every tear shed over big and little frustrations. He sees and hears every heartfelt prayer for wisdom and direction. He sees the sacrifices made for His namesake. He sees the many parts that come together in the name of seeking Him and bringing others closer to Him.

He is not distant, He is very present.

When we feel invisible or forgotten. El Roi. He sees us.

And not only does He see us, He values us. And urges us on.

because God is not unjust or unfair. He won’t overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. (Hebrews 6:10 The Voice Translation).

I hope for your sake, that with whatever you’re putting your time, your effort, your attention to and what you place priority on, is valued and acknowledged and recognized by the people who matter to you, but take heart dear one if that’s not the case. Because Roy sees it all. Remind yourself that Roy sees it. The most important Roy of all – El Roi.

A note to my church family,

Dear church family,

It’s Monday right now.  Monday.  As the person who gets to be your administrator, normally on a Monday and Tuesday I have a list of jobs to do – post Sunday service.  Now – well – I have still have a list of jobs to do, but that list looks drastically different to what it was before lockdown.

Monday.  It’s Monday.  And I have to say I miss you all.  Hear that? Read that?  I miss you all.

I really do.

I miss the babies at the back of church, squealing in delight.  I miss the people connecting over coffee and hugs.  I miss the chance to worship collectively.  I miss seeing the camaraderie, the shenanigans and the seriousness.

And I’m wondering if maybe you are missing that too?

Today we have 613 people ranging in age from 2 months to 92 years of age, who would call Coast Vineyard Church their home.  Somehow God has granted me with the gift of knowing each of those 613 names and I can match those names to faces. There must be a limit to what my brain and memory can handle, but I thankfully haven’t reached it yet.  You are really not just a name on a list.  We may never have met, or I may have only said ‘hi’ in passing, but, really I’m just itching to become your new second best friend.  You are not just a face in crowd.  You have gifts and qualities that only you have, you bring to this world certain traits, that we would miss if you weren’t around.  I have things to learn from you – from your life experience, from your faith journey, from who you are.

I realise that at this incredibly tough time, it would be really easy to shut down a little, and to stop reaching outwards and upwards.  There are lots of voices calling for your attention, lots of videos to watch, articles to read, so many possible demands of you and on you. So many things that its actually overwhelming. One of the dangers that could go hand in hand with that, could be in starting to feel like you’re part of the unseen.  The invisible.  The forgotten.  You’re home, you’re maybe alone, and you’re wondering who really cares?  This feeling may grow the longer we go with not being able to meet in person.


On this very Mondayish Monday, I know without a doubt, that ‘we’ – as in we – Coast Vineyard Church – cares. We miss you and we love you.  And if you’re yet to call Coast Vineyard Church as your home, I can’t wait to meet you and get to know you.  You’re framily.  Friends who become family.

You know while it’s a pretty easy thing to shut down, to feel like you’re ‘surplus to requirement’, to feel insignificant, even at the very best of times – trust me, I know those feelings all too well, at some point, it makes the world of difference when you choose to listen to God’s voice on the matter.  What does He say about you?  Who does He say you are?

What helps me is when I read what the Psalmist, David, says of God – when we feel lost, ignored, forgotten about…..God is there.  God is present.  We are so very intimately known and loved.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!

You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.

With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
 If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

  If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.

There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!

(Psalm 139: 1 – 14).

You are missed and you are loved.  You are known by the One who matters most, and you matter to a certain bunch of ragtag misfits, a bunch of ragamuffins who call Coast Vineyard Church, home.  Be well dear friends. x



When the ‘little’ is actually the everything

My lightbox today spells out ‘What a time to be alive’.  And ain’t it?  Ain’t it just?

I’ve had words swirling in the my head for the last couple of weeks – an agitated swirling though with it’s rhythm unsettled and not helped by the bombardment of other people’s words and voices and thoughts.  So, please, don’t read this if it’s just going to be another voice.  You don’t need that.  I don’t need that.  Turn off your device and watch an episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ instead, that’ll be better for your soul.

But, stick with me, if you do want to hear what this ‘ole heart and soul and mind is making out of what is now our new reality.

We were living in America in 2011 when the Christchurch Earthquake struck.  The big one.   The one that killed 185 people and changed the face of that city forever in an instant.  I’d just come out of the supermarket from an early morning shop (the boys started school before eight when we lived there – helloooooo productive mornings) when I got a call.  For the following hours and days we were glued to our computer, to the news coming out of NZ,  Waiting to hear if family and friends were ok.  Family members were ok – homes were damaged but hearts were not.  Friends, not so much.  Michael used to work at CTV, a television station, and that building suffered horrific damage and massive loss of life.  Loss of friends and colleagues.  We felt so incredibly helpless.  Here we were  – on the other side of the world and completely unable to do anything practical to help.  All we could do was pray and reach out via the internet.  Reach out to friends who were also hurting and family members who had lost their beloveds.

We know what it feels to feel helpless.

Which is what it feels like right now.  In the middle of a pandemic, when we’re actually ordered to stay home, to self-isolate, to only have one person of the family go out for essential supplies, and to have a high risk person at home, making you extra aware of the dangers out there.



There’s so much we can’t do.  People are suffering out there, experiencing physical pain, financial loss, huge stress and massive amounts of anxiety. The thing I know most about pain and suffering is that it is lessened a little or a lot, by the presence of others.  By people stepping into that pain to be with you.  But we can’t do that right now, not physically, can we?

But.  As I keep reminding myself, we can focus on loving the ones right in front of us.  This isn’t the time for big heroics at all – it’s actually the time for those quiet, brave and bold moves, that no-one draws attention to, or throws a spotlight on, because the reality of those things, is that they are things we can all do. We can all do, each and every day.

We can love our families.

We can love our neighbours.

We can check in online or via the phone to our friends, near and far.

We can keep in touch with our work colleagues.

We can have Friday drinkies together  – thanks to the technology.

We can respond to that random Whats App message from a family member about a topic that normally does not interest us one iota.

We can call those who are self-isolating by themselves to say hi, and even plan our walks to go past their houses on purpose if we can, to say a big fat hello over the fence.  From a distance. Thank goodness that here in NZ we can still go for walks.

Maybe we need to start placing a bigger value on what can be perceived as smaller gestures of love, because something tells me that they are really the bigger gestures, the ones that really count.  The ones that mean so much to people.

Mother Teresa is attributed for saying ‘What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.’.  She also said I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?‘.  Boom.  I don’t yet know all my neighbours.  Hopefully I will before this lockdown ceases.  

So often so many of us spend so much time worrying and fretting over what we see as our ‘mission’,  How can we make a difference in this here world?  How to be our best version of us?

I think the answer to that has never been clearer.

One of my favourite instagrammers posted this during the week:


If watering the plants right in front of us seem like not enough, then maybe we need to change our views on what’s really important right now.  We need to flip our ideas of heroics.  Just like what’s happening in the case of essential workers – we are now so very reliant and appreciative of those whose jobs weren’t necessarily deemed as important as others before this pandemic struck.  And.  May these perspectives stay our new normal.

We may feel helpless – but we’re not.  We can offer help to those around us.  It just looks a little different to normal.

We may feel inadequate – but we’re not.  Those kids of yours may well be climbing the walls – but you are the very best parents for them now.  And you always have been.  That friend of yours may be really struggling – but you may be the only person who asks her how she really really really is.  That boss of yours may be feeling like they are carrying the weight on everyone’s expectations on their shoulders – you could well be the only person to thank them for the effort they are putting into keeping your job going.

The little may seem little, but it’s actually everything.





The Constancy

We recently spent some time with an adorable little muchkin, Micah.  At nearly two years of age, Micah charmed his three big boy cousins and had his Uncle Mike and Aunty Fee completely besotted.  We may or may not still be speaking Micahisms to this day.  We may or may not have bought him his favourite food just so we could hear him say the words ‘ro ro rolls’ (sausage rolls) more than a couple of times.  He provided expert quality control in the food department of our camping group by sampling each and everyone’s breakfast.  You just couldn’t say no to those big earnest eyes and charming smile.

Gosh the kid is cuuuuute.  And clever.  So very clever.  And did I mention how cute he is?  My youngest is now nine, so it was super fun to just be around such a great little one, to see him climb onto my giant man child’s lap and to see the world with his eyes for a few moments – with such awe and wonder.

Normally one associates toddlers with certain behaviours.

Frustrations when they can’t say what they long to say can lead to little or big meltdowns.  Paddies.  Agitations.  Not our Micah though.  Not that I’m biased or anything.  😉  Actually though, to be as truthful and as honest as Brene Brown would encourage us all to be…….just lately I reckon I’ve been behaving more like a troubled toddler than our darling Micah ever is.  Or was with us, anyways……

You see I’ve been impatient.  And demanding.  And frustrated.  And worried.

If I could have stamped my feet and slammed a few doors, then just maybe I would have.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve been desperate.  ‘Desperate’ is a strong word.  I try to avoid Drama Queen status.  But, heck, maybe I have been.  Desperate that is.  Desperate to see God move in a certain way.  Longing for Him to act in a certain situation.  Craving to feel, to hear, to know something specific.

Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation before.  Maybe not.  Maybe I’m the only adult around who wants to stick out her bottom lip and sulk when I don’t see and hear God move in the big and mighty ways that I crave.  But maybe, I’m also pretty real and not too proud to share just how roller coaster ride-ish, this journey of faith can be.

In the midst of my very humanness and arms crossing and fed up-ness earlier this week I was mid-conversation with someone, when I was struck with this thought – obviously not from my own thoughts as I was too busy ‘woe is me-ing’,

He’s in the shout, and in the whisper.

He’s in the chaos and in the calm. 

He’s in the big and bold, the loud and the vibrant, and He’s also in the small and the meek, the quiet and the subdued.  

You see we’re often so busy looking for answers, for provision, for the WOW factor, for answers to our prayers and our hearts desires in the immediate and the instant.  And while this can and does happen, I’ve found that that’s not the norm.  No.  Nope.  Nah uh.  More often than not, while we’re looking for writing in the sky, God’s actually whispering in the quiet.  He’s sending encouragement through the smile of a knowing friend, the natural beauty all around us, the brilliance of a purple/pink and red painted night sky.  He’s sending us messages of reassurance, of His great love for us, of His great care for us in the pages of the bible.  He’s in the conversations we have with others who love Him, those that remind us of His presence with us.

We have this gift – this constancy of hope, always.  Our hope doesn’t change no matter how we feel, or how loud our stamps are, or how low our lips may droop, because our hope is in Him.  God.  Our Father.  He’s there. He’s near.  He’s constant.

We change.

But He doesn’t.

We move nearer and further from.

But He doesn’t.

This constancy of hope can give us the greatest of comforts, the biggest of encouragements and the resilience to carry on, through whatever we’re facing.

We waiver.

But He doesn’t.

He’s there.  He’s in the song of the birds, the glory of the stars, the giggle of a child and the care and concern of a friend. He’s always speaking to us – He just rarely shouts. Even when, especially when, we’re being particularly juvenile and demanding – He isn’t.

Just as well we can all have hope. And just as well I have an awesome role model in Micah.


40 things to share………..or not.

I turned the big 4 0 two years ago.  Yep.  I’m getting up there, I tell ya.  At the time of my 40th I had this great idea of writing a blog post covering 40 random things I’d learnt about life.  I was going to make it a little bit quirky, a little bit serious and a little bit….whatever……..I’d figured that by the time you’re forty there are a few things you know.  Most of them learnt the hard way, of course.  But learnt none the less.

I got as far as planning out a few of my forty points……..

  •  Always wear socks on a long haul flight.  No-one wants to wear shoes on an overnight flight, but bare feet………in a bathroom on a plane…..after hour four…….that’s a big no no.  Trust me.  I learnt that one the hard way.
  • Baby wipes aren’t just for babies.  Stash some in your glovebox, in your bathroom for wiping down the basin when you have unexpected visitors arrive on your doorstep and you just know that boys 2 and 3 tend to treat toothpaste as finger paint from time to time…….and just basically don’t leave home without them.
  • Do the ‘change the time on the clock trick’ while your kids are too young to notice and but old enough to know what the clock should look like when it’s bedtime.  Fast forward your day by an hour. Trust me.  That’s a sneaky hour that’s well worth it on the days you need to do it.
  • Gee.  Such a shame.  The ice-cream van is playing music to let us all know he’s out of ice-cream.  Soz everyone.

So I worked away on some of these points.  Did the start of a draft blog…then life kinda just got in the way.  And those old thoughts of ‘who am I to give any half-decent advice?’.  ‘Why should what I think and say matter to anyone else’, made me stop in my tracks.

So I let the draft lie there…..and well…….as it tends to do……life carried on.

But just recently I’ve been thinking about this again.  And I’m glad I didn’t persevere with my original blog post.  Not because those types of blog posts aren’t interesting – they are.  I’ve read some really clever, fun and informative ones along the same lines.  I’m also always keen to learn from others.

But the main reason I’m glad I didn’t continue with that post is – I’ve recently had it hammered into me that it can be a dangerous and possibly at times, arrogant thing, to think we know what’s best for others.

People who are helpers by nature – Hello Enneagram 2 – y’all reading? – I’m especially talking to you because, I KNOW………we CAN’T HELP OURSELVES……WE LIVE TO HELP!!  We hear of problems/ issues and we yearn to be able to help.  Not just ‘put a band-aid on it’ help, but also fix the root problem help……we want to find solutions, and we want to find causes.

And sometimes we’re absolutely right.  Spot on.  Nailed it.

Sometimes it just makes complete sense that this problem or issue is happening because of x, y ,z.


Even more than that.  More useful, more compassionate, more practical than me talking about whatever it is that I think you may need to hear…….(ummmm, hello, arrogant, much?)

More than that……

Better than that……..

I realized just recently that the most helpful thing I could ever say to anyone, in any situation is – ‘help me to understand’.

Help me to see things as the way you see them.

In the middle of any situation that is good or bad or sad or makes you mad, or worry or scared or doubt yourself, or frustrates you or anything…… the midst of the swirl of anything that is going on, I have this crazy thought that most people just want to know two very important things;

1.  That they can be understood.  That their feelings are not too unbearable for anyone to sit with, to hear, to hold. That they are not unique in their reactions.

2.  And they are not alone.  Whatever they are facing….they are not facing it by themselves, because challenges in life tend to isolate us.  Whatever advice I may or may not have for someone is useless unless they know that I’m there for them.  That I care.  That I will  enter into their hard and desperate space, so that they know how much I care, before they know how much (or as little!!) that I know.

I promise to not ever presume to know how you’re feeling.  Or to know the challenges you face.  Or to bombard your inbox with 40 things that might make you smile a little, or learn a little new thing or give you the answer to a very random question in some random pub quiz, way off in the distant future, but I’m determined to do something more useful for you.  To ask you – ‘what’s going on with you?’  ‘Help me to understand.’

When we can sit down with others, and open our hearts and ears to whatever is on their minds – that’s a priceless gift.  Way more valuable that forty random things that I think may or may not be of any use to you.

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