Thank you, pen

Thank you, pen, for allowing me
To hide behind you thoughtfully
Where words can be written in due course
With the ability to stop and pause.
Where my opinions may be told
To wait, to sit back down and hold
Their brash and noisy tongues a while
Until determined if worthwhile.
Should I bring them out full force?
Or should I wait and ponder their source?
Does this opinion come from love?
From knowledge, truth… or a punching glove?
For sometimes if I don't allow
My thoughts to fully filter, how
They have a habit of coming out
Unannounced, and often without
A proper thought as to whether or not
They are really needed on the spot
Or if, perhaps, they should be trained
By self-control, to be restrained…
But written words can be rephrased
Added to, or just erased
Unlike words fresh off the tongue
Which can't return once they are flung.
So I admit, I much prefer
To let my reckless thoughts defer
To paper while I stop and think
Before putting them into ink.
For words have power of all kinds,
To build up, or destroy, our minds
To usher in sweet comfort and peace  
Or cause a frail hope to decease…
They can cause a fire to rage
Or put our future in a cage,
Or they can bring about great change
And cause a life to re-arrange.
And so, dear pen, I thank you much
For being a thought-buffer as such,
To filter out anger and pride
And let my careless words subside.
Proverbs 18:21
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
James 1:19-20
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Proverbs 15:23
“Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!”

Until I know more

“Mum, I dont know where this goes!”

My kids were cleaning up the living room, what a state it was in! My youngest was picking things up and trying to find a home for them.

“Why don’t you just put away the things that you already know where to put?” I said, “and leave the other things for me or your older siblings, they know where they go.”

Thinking that sounded like a reasonable idea, he decided to just find all the toy cars and put them in the car box. He knew where those were supposed to go.

There are quite a few things in the bible that are hard to understand. I don’t always know where they fit with everything else, or what they meant in the original language, or how to interpret them. But, if I’m honest, there is plenty in there that I do understand, and is pretty clear.

A friend of mine recently shared this quote: “When reading the Bible, it seems we find it easier to debate the things we don’t understand than to obey the things we do.” So true. 

Just like my youngest child putting the toys away, I’m trying to just obey what I already do know, and not get overwhelmed with (or distracted by) the things I don’t. Hopefully one day I’ll know more, and then I can obey that too.

Baking Bread

When I was living in my husband’s rural home in China, I was amazed at how much they could do in the kitchen with so few tools! Pretty much everything was done with either chopsticks, a wok, a knife, or a stirring utensil. Need to whisk eggs? Chopsticks. Need to peel potatoes? A knife…but wow, they got a lot done, and made some amazing food! In our Western kitchens, we have a gadget for everything! Apple corer, cheese slicer, whisk, cake mixer, electric beater, dishwasher, egg slicer, 100 different sized measuring cups and spoons… so convenient.

Sometimes I wonder if this has crept into our Western “Churchianity” (to quote Ben Taylor). We now have fancy sound sets, lighting, buildings, a course for everything (can’t be a proper Christian without the ____ Course!), and lots of teaching videos, spotify playlists, and media which, well… let’s be honest, some of us may have become a bit dependent on. I guess there’s nothing wrong with these in and of themselves, but have we forgotten the simple things of reading the Word, prayerful meditation, and simply obeying Jesus, no matter the cost? Without the fancy sound equipment, polished worship, big buildings, and church programs to tick the boxes and give us all the right feel-goods, do we still know how to hear from God, seek His will, and be obedient to what He tells us to do? 

I love this quote from Brother Yun, a man greatly used by God in times of revival and the persecuted underground Church in China:

“When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Just because you have a church building does not necessarily mean Jesus is with you. He is not welcome in many churches today […] God’s Word is missing. Sure there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God’s Word. Not only is knowledge of God’s Word missing, but obedience to that Word.

When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them. When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy His presence and blessings too long, and build an altar to your experiences.”

― Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man

This was the great commission Jesus sent us on: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Quite simple really. Not easy or convenient, but not complicated, and certainly not fancy. And He didn’t leave us on our own to do it, in our own way. He said He would be with us, and He is! 

The early Christians, empowered by the Spirit, saw amazing things happen. Each one of them took their place in the Church (not the building, the body of Christ), and learned to walk in obedience to Jesus, meeting together regularly, serving and learning from one another.  It was pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. Simple tools, simple “skills”. Similar things are happening in places all over the world, but not much of it seems to be happening in the West. As we examine these movements of the Spirit (in Iran, Africa, Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, and many, many more) we see that it’s much like what was happening in the times of the early Christians in the Book of Acts. The believers are passionate about Jesus, obedient to the Word, filled with the Spirit, fulfilling the great commission, and not distracted by fancy stuff!

I love this passage from the bible, and the quote after it from Brother Yun:

1 Kings 19: 11-12: “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice…”

“So many Christians seem impossibly distracted from hearing God’s voice. Instead of listening to that still, small voice that brings true peace and joy, they blindly follow the voices of mainstream religion.”
― Brother Yun, Living Water

So interesting… how easily distracted we are by all the loud and fancy tools of “mainstream religion”, or what I now like to call, Churchianity (thanks Ben Taylor!). But in it all, a lot of us have forgotten the simple things that Jesus asked us to do. Not all, but a lot.

Going back to the kitchen analogy, if the great commission was something like being asked to simply bake bread to feed the hungry, and we’re always spending time in a fancy kitchen full of tools that can make cheesecakes, creme brulee, and black forest gateau, how easy it would be to get distracted from the simple task of baking bread.

How many fancy tools do we really need in the kitchen? The rural Chinese would probably answer that… “none”! Why? Because they have skills. How did they get the skills? Lots of practice. I’ve seen a Chinese lady cut potatoes into perfect, identical thin slices at 100 miles per hour with just a simple kitchen knife! Can we also let go of some of the fancy stuff and really learn how to pray, listen, disciple, and obey? I think we will find so much joy (and power!) in Him when we do.

Let’s get back to the simple skills and tools that Jesus has given us, and let him do the fancy work of changing lives… the most meaningful work of all.

Nothing too small for God

My 5-second memory had once again let me down… I had a mental list
of things I needed from the supermarket, and it only had 2 things on
it! I could remember one… but couldn’t remember the other one. Try
as I might, my mind went blank.

Then the thought came to me… “Why don’t I pray and ask Jesus to
remind me what it was? He knows!”.

So I did.

Immediately after praying, the words “floor cleaner” came to my mind.

Jesus, You are awesome…

To Mothers

To the mother who battles guilt every day, who wonders if you said enough, or said too much, or said it the right way…

To the mother who battles loneliness, wishing she was surrounded by a community of other mothers to share the load with, mothers that could walk in on the stress and mess and say “let me help”…

To the mother who is giving her kid the same thing for lunch again when everyone else’s lunchboxes look so Instagram-worthy…

To the mother who’s doing parenthood alone, and wonders why…

To the mother who feels misunderstood, wondering if she’s accepted, if she measures up, if other people think she talks too much, or says weird stuff, or shouts at her kids too much…

To the mother who fights doubt, wondering if her kids really know how much she loves them…

To the mother who fights fear, who watches the news stories and wonders if her kids will be ok…

To the mother who watches Bluey and tears up because, well, her house isn’t always that fun and creative…

To the mother who feels she’s always saying “no, we can’t afford that”…

To the mother who feels there’s never enough time…

To the mother battling tantrums, sleepless nights, work deadlines, dishes, mess, hormones, depression…

To the one who longs to be a mother, or lost a precious child…

To the mother who fears she’s never enough… never good enough, kind enough, patient enough, involved enough, determined enough, successful enough…

God sees you. He knows. He cares… He wants in.

Let Him in and watch what He does… it will be greater than you ever imagined.


I quite like aeroplane food… I know most people don't. It's not necessarily about the taste, but the fact that it is all so cutely packaged and neatly compartmentalised! There aren't usually many choices about what you can have, which also makes for an uncomplicated decision… chicken, or beef!

But as I think about that packaged food on that aeroplane, I also can't imagine it being further away from it's natural environment…

Isn't packaging so great?! It's so tidy, sterile, and you can make life so convenient with it! Something about it just screams “easy!”, especially when it's food. Little time, no mess, and certainly no growing or cultivating required! How appealing.

I wonder if we do the same thing with life sometimes… I wonder if we “package” things and give “easy answers” when, sometimes, there aren't any. Perhaps life is more like a messy garden, with dirt and weeds and worms… and real life happening. I also wonder if we “package” the Bible sometimes too… somehow things are much easier when we take a piece of scripture and package it, sterilising it from its intended context and making it seem so… convenient and easy. “Three easy steps to a great prayer life”, “just have enough faith and they will be healed”, “God will always protect you, so therefore nothing bad will happen to you”… but looking at the life of other faithful followers of Jesus, and Jesus's own life, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case. Things seem… messier. But real things are growing. 

In John's account of his time with Jesus, he recalled a time when Jesus told a large group of followers some things that were difficult to understand. He didn't even package what He had to say very nicely, or even explain what He meant. Most of them walked away from Him. To the rest of His disciples, He turned and asked “You don't want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67). Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]”.

When I went through some hard times that I didn't understand, I was looking for answers too… but there didn't seem to be any. God seemed to have gone quiet. I was angry, and was tempted to walk away. Nothing made sense. Life seemed to have fallen apart, and I wanted to blame God. But as time went by, He showed me that I don't always need to know why, I just needed to know who He is, how much He loves me, and that He is all I need. That's what Peter knew, because He'd been with the One who gave true life, and there was no turning back after that.

More and more, I love these parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven:

Matthew 13:44-46  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Everything… it was worth giving up everything. That hidden treasure, that pearl of great value, that Kingdom, was worth giving up everything else. That's what Peter knew too. And in the end, all of those who had been with Jesus knew it too. He's all we need.

Although it's still a journey I'm on, I think I trust Him more now that I know life is more like a (very!) messy garden, and I won't always know what's going on. But in the “garden” with Him, there is true life…

Ecclesiastes 3:11  “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

This is one of my favourite songs, that encapsulates this so perfectly:

The One Thing

“Cold showers”, my husband said. “I saw this video, and apparently it’s really good for you! I’m going to start doing it twice a day”.

Sure enough, he did, convinced it was the new thing that would help solve some of his energy and sleep problems. I wasn’t so convinced! Instead, after watching a different video, I was convinced that I needed to start balancing my hormones by watching what I eat. Thyroid problems made me tired and so, being interested in natural medicine and old remedies, I started watching videos about what you should (and shouldn’t!) include in your diet, and when. Apparently carbs were the enemy, and so were a lot of other things I’d been eating! I bought a few of the recommended things like apple cider vinegar, and tried to cut out carbs. I felt excited and motivated! This was going to fix everything!

Then I decided that I also needed to read up on financial management, as I was starting a new job and also wanted to be better at teaching our kids about what to do with their pocket money. The guy in the book recommended sitting with your spouse together and discussing your finances over a meal of garlic bread and wine… “Oh no! Carbs! Doesn’t he know that eating both of those in the evening will cause inflammation, weight gain, and can lead to all sorts of health problems?” my brain blared… “how can I balance both finances and health when the finance guy is telling me to do what the doctor told me not to!”

…Ridiculous, right? But seriously… which came first? My brain seemed to be swirling in an anxious flurry. Suddenly, the carbs didn’t seem to matter… because now the priority was to get my kids’ financial management under control!

How many times have you watched a video and then said to yourself, “if only I could just start doing this one thing, I bet that would change everything”…

Anxiety over how to prioritise things in our life only seems to be worse in this digital age. Scrolling through digital media, we are constantly being told what is “the most important thing that you need to be doing right now”. Whether it’s changing your parenting, your health, your finances, the environment, your brain chemistry, growing your own food, community involvement, or your kids’ future in this crazy world… everything seems to have a Ted talk trying to tell us that “if you do nothing else, do this right…” How do we choose? What comes first? What IS the most important thing we need to do, when there seem to be so many choices and so little time and energy to pursue them all?

Luke 10:38-42: “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was also anxious about priorities. At that moment, she believed it was meeting others’ needs… making sure everyone was fed, the meal was cleaned up, everyone was comfortable and had what they needed, especially this important and beloved teacher! And how dare her sister not also think that was the priority! Mary was just… sitting there, at Jesus’s feet?

But Jesus told her what the “one thing” was, the one thing that she needed in that moment, in that space… the one thing that took priority over serving, meeting needs, and having everything in order, the thing her sister had found.

It was Him.

Is parenting important? Yes. Is health important? Yes. Is serving others important? Yes. Is work important? Yes. Is being prepared for a food shortage important? I would say, yes.

But what always takes priority? Him. Sitting at His feet, listening to Him, spending time with Him. And then, in His wonderful way of being a loving Father that knows our needs, He makes all the other things fall into place as well.

Matthew 6:31-33 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the gentiles run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”


The fog had set in overnight, and by 11am it was still hanging around. We were driving in the car on our way somewhere, and were all a bit frustrated at not having had more than 150 metres of visibility for the entire morning. Suddenly our five-year-old daughter asked, “Mummy, why is the sun covered in fog?”. I replied, “Well, the sun is actually not affected by the fog at all. We can’t see the sun because the fog is around us!”

James 1:13 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed.”

Have you ever had a fog surrounding your heart or mind? You can’t see clearly, can’t make good judgments, can’t get a perspective, because there’s a heavy fog clouding it. It can take many forms… but it always comes with quiet whispers in our mind that try to make us lose our way. Unfortunately, we can’t blame God or anyone else really, for the problem is in our own hearts. 

Recently I’ve had a fog set in… it came suddenly, quietly and unexpectedly, as fogs often do. It was called “stuff”. Now, I’m not a light-packer (despite my mother’s best attempts to teach me how to pack-light on our holidays!), but in general I don’t buy a lot of things. But recently, I’ve had this increasing desire towards materialism and, well, just buying things! Nothing too crazy expensive, just a new magazine from the supermarket here, another shirt from the thrift store there, more toys for the kids, another cute mug for the kitchen… and then I realised that slowly I was getting in a habit of thinking about wanting more, bigger, better… in my mind was the quiet but persistent whispering thought, “if you had more, you would be happier”. Then, like a fresh breeze, this verse helped to blow the fog away:

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our preoccupation with accumulating things in this world can cloud our perspective on what really matters, and what we really need. Jesus didn’t tell us to ignore our physical needs on this earth (Matthew 6:30-32), but comforted us that our Heavenly Father would provide all our needs as we continued to focus on and depend on Him: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”, Jesus said (Matt. 6:33). When we leave this world, we can take nothing with us except what we have done with our time and resources on this earth (2 Cor. 5:10). It’s a challenge to keep this fog from setting in in our consumerist, materialistic world, but He is faithful to bring His truths to our mind when we need them to blow the fog away!

Is there anything clouding your mind today?

Beyond Understanding

As I began to walk through life,
I saw beauty
There was peace,
There was quiet
I was happy

And then I walked a little further
Someone told me about War
There was danger
But not here
I was safe

I then I grew, and walked some more
I heard that there was darkness
Terrible things were done
But not here
I was secure

My road began to climb
It wound up a steep hill
There was work
I was tired
But I was excited

I reached a mountain-top!
The God of the Universe had found me!
He was loving
I was His child
I was joyful

Then I came to the valley
This valley I had to walk through
I saw suffering
I felt pain
I was hurt

Then there was a darkness
A dark place I hadn’t known before
A place of deep loss and pain
That I’d only heard about
I was angry

Where was that loving God?
How could He allow such pain and suffering in the world?
I had questions
I felt alone
I felt lost

But then I felt His loving arms
His soft, gentle voice that spoke to me
“My child, one day you will know all things,
But right now,
Just trust me.”

And then a new question formed in my mind
How could a perfect God
Have sent His perfect Son
To die for… me?
I was in awe

So when I don’t understand,
I look up to Him, I feel His loving arms
I remember that there are things beyond myself
And He gives me Peace
Beyond understanding…

Always at Work

“Look Mummy! It's the man from the ice cream shop!” shouted one of our kids.

Sure enough, there was the owner of the local ice cream shop, going for a walk with some friends! He came up and said hello with a big smile. Our kids were so excited! They were surprised to see him outside of the space they normally confined him to… his workplace! Now when we go in to the ice cream shop, he gives them a big smile and there's a deeper relationship. He seems more like a real person to them.
I wonder if we sometimes do that with God… confine Him to His “workplace”: church on a Sunday morning! We expect to meet with Him there, and it's a place where He often does wonderful things! But what about at home on Sunday afternoon? What about on Monday morning… or Saturday night?
Jesus spent a lot of time walking around and interacting with people. He often met them on a dusty road, in the marketplace, in their homes, in their ordinary places of work… like a fishing boat on the shore. He didn't just sit in the synagogue and wait for people to come and find Him (although He did spend time teaching in the synagogue). He ate with them, walked with them, prayed with them, journeyed with them. Imagine getting to walk beside Him every day! But in His human body, He was limited to being in one place at one time… now that we have the Holy Spirit, He is literally with us everywhere, 24/7! 
He wants to be invited into every part of your life, and to hear from you at all times of the day, and in all circumstances. When we start to invite Him to work in the seemingly ordinary and often mundane areas of our life, we will be surprised how much it deepens our connection with Him! He becomes so much more real to us when we see that He is always ready to step in, that He knows all the details of our lives, and He has the power to work in all things, not just when there's nice music and a good atmosphere on a Sunday morning! 
Psalm 139:1-10

1O LORD, You have searched me

and known me.

2You know when I sit and when I rise;

You understand my thoughts from afar.

3You search out my path and my lying down;

You are aware of all my ways.

4Even before a word is on my tongue,

You know all about it, O LORD.

5You hem me in behind and before;

You have laid Your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

7Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?

Where can I flee from Your presence?

8If I ascend to the heavens, You are there;

if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.

9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle by the farthest sea,

10even there Your hand will guide me;

Your right hand will hold me fast.