Day 1 – Akaroa

Sue’s Views
Here’s a taste of day one of our trip down south. From Christchurch airport we drove to Akaroa via Lyttleton. There was a picture around every bend! What an idyllic little town Akaroa is. Standing on our balcony overlooking the harbour ….. I felt so thankful. Beautiful weather ….. beautiful scenery ….. with beautiful people. Even if this is the only fine day we have ….. my tank is full!

Holiday Time!

Sue’s Views
Our first ‘overseas’ trip for 3 years! At least we are crossing the Channel! I’m guessing we are over the Marlborough Sounds and heading to Christchurch. Lovely day for flying ….. at least up here! Not sure what awaits us but we’ve come prepared for anything. So looking forward to seeing more of our beautiful country. Will keep you ‘posted’!

Seeds of Greatness

Sue’s Views
Our hibiscus never ceases to produce beautiful flowers. No matter what season ….. they are either budding or in full bloom! You might say ….. ‘That’s what hibiscus trees do!’ Well, do you know that you too were created to be productive? When God designed you ….. He put in all the ingredients and potential for you to become that unique ….. one off ….. incredible person He planned you to be. Like the hibiscus ….. He gave you roots that would hold you securely and give you sustenance. He gave you a place to grow and develop ….. with the nutrients you would need. He provided the sun and rain to give you a balanced environment because we need the bad times as well as the good times to become stronger. There’s no need to struggle and strive ….. just yield to what is already in you!
“You are designed for accomplishment ….. engineered for success ….. and endowed with seeds of greatness.” Zig Ziglar

Despising the Shame!

Sue’s Views
One of the enemy’s favourite weapons is shame. One of my worst childhood memories is when my sewing teacher held my ‘handiwork’ up in front of the class and said ‘Look at what Susan’s done’! I was the only one who completely messed up ….. and everyone laughed! Moments like that tend to stick in your memory. We’ve all had embarrassing experiences. Those times when you wish the ground would open up and swallow you. One of the amazing exchanges that took place on the Cross is that Jesus bore our shame and exchanged it for His glory. He was stripped of all His clothing and hung on the cross naked for three hours while passers by mocked and humiliated Him. He understands our shame! He experienced it! Those painful memories no longer need to haunt us. We are in good company! The great news is that Jesus overcame shame when He rose again. The devil wants you to crawl under the carpet ….. but Jesus offers you a place with Him on His throne! 
‘And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ Hebrews 12: 1-3

Signs

Sue’s Views
Have you ever asked God for a sign? Maybe you come up with a plan but want His approval. Or you have a choice to make and want His guidance. There’s nothing wrong with that ….. as long as we heed the sign He gives us! The problem is when we have already decided what we want God to say! I remember as a young Christian disagreeing with my husband about a decision we had to make. I desperately asked God for a scripture and opened my Bible to Ephesians 5:22 22 ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.’ I decided that was a dumb way to get advice so I called a friend who gave me the same scripture! After three attempts ….. and receiving the same verse …..I decided to heed the advice and it turned out to be the right thing to do. He really does know what’s best for us!

Walk and Claim

Sue’s Views
Abraham was a man whom God chose to start a family that would become God’s chosen family which we know as Israel. God chose him because he was a man of great faith ….. but great faith is greatly tested! Before he even had a son ….. God promised him many descendants ….. but there were many obstacles in the way. At one point on his journey ….. God told him to walk on the land God would give him. 
‘Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.’ Genesis 13:17
Later ….. God told Joshua ….. one of Abraham’s descendants  ….. to do the same. 
‘I will give you every place where you set your foot’ Joshua 1:3
These men obeyed God and claimed the territory that He had promised to them and their descendants.
What territory do you need to claim? What has the devil stolen from you? A child who has lost their way? The health of yourself or a loved one? Your marriage? Your financial well being? Your home? Whatever it is ….. you need to start walking! Not necessarily physically ….. but spiritually and mentally. See yourself tramping on the enemy and claiming back what is rightfully yours! 
Dear Lord, Thank You for your promises to me and my family. Right now ….. in the Name of Jesus ….. I take authority over all the works of the enemy. I claim back all that he has stolen from us. Give us wisdom for the future. Amen

No More Goodbyes

Sue’s Views
Life is full of ‘Hello’s and Goodbyes’! Catching up with family and friends you haven’t seen for ages is a sweet delight but ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’. One of the greatest things about belonging to God’s family is that this life is not the end. Whether we are parted by distance ….. or by death ….. we will one day meet again. And then there will be no more parting! It’s hard to imagine what eternity will be like but the Bible tells us we will be in God’s presence ….. and there will be no more tearful goodbyes!
  “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Through The Storm

Sue’s Views
The Bible is not a book of fairy tales. It’s a book of true stories about real people who experienced everyday life. It’s about sibling rivalry ….. rebellious kids ….. unfair employers ….. poverty ….. incest ….. adultery.  You name it ….. it’s in there! Somehow ….. many have the idea that God is some kind of magician with a magic wand who is there to make all the bad stuff go away …..and give us what we want. The Bible is full of miracles ….. some of which are instant such as the healing of the blind, deaf and lame. But many miracles are only realised in hindsight. Once we are on the other side of the Red Sea ….. after we step out of the fiery furnace ….. once we reach the other side of the lake during a storm. The actual journey is not that much fun! God doesn’t promise to take us out of the situation ….. but He does promise to walk through it with us. Note in the following scripture He says ‘when’ not ‘if’. Your fiery trial which seems so unbearable right now ….. will one day be your personal testimony to a miracle working God!
“When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:2

Favourite Things

Sue’s Views
In the movie The Sound of Music ….. Maria gets the children to think about their favourite things during a thunder storm. They went from being terrified ….. to laughing and dancing around the room. Sometimes ….. a shift of focus can mean a shift of mood. When our children are little ….. it’s easy to distract them from mischief or danger by giving them something else to look at. As adults ….. we have to be more intentional about it ….. but it still works. When we focus on feelings like sadness ….. anxiety ….. anger ….. low self esteem etc ….. those emotions only deepen. But listening to a favourite song ….. going for a walk ….. doing something creative ….. or blessing someone can create a new pathway in your brain. What are some of your favourite things? Some of mine are walking in nature ….. doing a jigsaw puzzle ….. contacting a friend ….. having a cup of tea! Simple things ….. but things that give me joy!
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.” Philippians 4:8

Dealing With Pressure

Sue’s Views
How are you holding up? This tree looks fine from the side where most people walk by. It seems stable and strong. But from the other side …..  we can see it is crumbling under the pressure. Many of us are like that tree. We show a side to others that appears we have it all together ….. while we are actually not doing so well. The challenges of the last few years have affected us all. Some have gone through a storm that was sudden and fierce. But for most ….. it has been a slow process of erosion. One thing after another with little time to process in between. We keep going because we have to …..but the weight we are carrying makes us tired. If you relate ….. know that you are not alone. Sharing your burdens with a friend or someone you can trust is a big part of your recovery. But talking to Jesus is the best medicine. He understands more than anyone. He doesn’t promise to take the trials away ….. but to help us overcome them.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33