Reason to Trust #39 [Jane]

Jane AverillAge: A happy 56! // Favourite Food: Fruit! Fruit! Fruit! I often wonder what fruit tasted like in the Garden of Eden whilst secretly hoping that that there will be fruit in heaven that I haven’t yet tasted. // Dream Job: Pastoring a wonderful church family and an amazing team whom ( I feel) God hand picked especially for me! // Current Season: Enjoying God adventures with my hubby, loving my elderly parents, enjoying our adult daughters and connecting with all those God places in my path. // Met Jesus: Walked into a church at 27, and walked out the same day born again. // Favourite Verse: 1 Samuel 17:45-46 , as David runs to Goliath, he says, “ You come to me with a sword and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of the armies of heaven and Israel…….and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” // Instagram: @janeaverill

 I was 27 and living and teaching on the Gold Coast.  I had just completed running a marathon, I was enjoying teaching my Year 3 class, I had a boyfriend, a fabulous family that loved me and a wonderful social life. AND YET, I was lonely. Every minute of my day was accounted for and yet the pervading thought I had, was that something was missing in my life and I simply didn’t know what to do about it!

That same year, I was driving past my local shops and noticed the word JESUS on a banner . This piqued my interest and I decided to take a look. Upon entering the room , I  peered in and noticed  plastic chairs and a drum set in the corner and promptly thought, “ This cannot be a church. Where are the pews and the stained glass windows and what are drums doing here?”

As I was about to leave a woman met me and welcomed me and told me what time church was on a Sunday.  I later found out that this was the Pastor’s wife and that she had asked the church to come to a prayer meeting and pray that the young woman who had come to the door of the church would come to church on Sunday.

Oh, how glad and humbled I am that they did this, because without even really knowing why, I decided to go to church that Sunday. I found myself walking to the front of the church, and it was here that the Pastor’s wife met me and led me in a prayer, asking Jesus to be my Saviour. My spirit was born again and from that moment on, my life with Jesus as my Lord began.

Not long after this, a visiting preacher came and asked the single people to stand and I did. He prayed that I would be married in a year and that I was to to write 7 things in the front of my bible that I was looking for in a husband and I did!! I remember that I wrote tall, dark and handsome as one of my first points. Tall, because I am tall, and I wanted to be able to wear my stilettos alongside him. I am truly grateful to have met my taller than me husband! We met and married in 4 months and was within the year that the visiting preacher had prayed about.

And now 27 years later, he is still my most amazing tall, dark, handsome man! I don’t believe the way I met Murray is a formula for finding the ‘right man’ and I am not suggesting visiting preachers follow the example of making such pronouncements. However, I do know this was the gracious love of a Heavenly Father who looked upon me, His daughter and answered her prayer. I also know he loves you the same way.

You, precious reader, have every reason to trust that God is a good God who wants the very best for you. Even when I didn’t know God, He loved me so much that He had a Jesus sign right where He knew I would see it and a wonderful little church community that loved me unconditionally (even when I wore an  outrageously short mini skirt the first time I went to church).

I am forever grateful.

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Reason to Trust #38 [Ellouise]

Ellouise SouthamAge: 17 // Favourite Food: anything Mexican. // Dream Job: still working this one out…something to do with kids, hopefully my own! // Current Season: Just finished year 12 and serving passionately in Youth. // Met Jesus: Personally, I think I was 8. I don’t remember the date but I remember being in the ‘big church’ service and had to stand on the chair because the person doing the altar call couldn’t see my hand! // Favourite Verse: Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.” // Instagram: @ellouisejs

I have grown up in a Christian home, Christian school and Church all my life and if there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that you cannot live off other people’s revelations.

You need to make your own.

That means reading your bible yourself, praying in your own words, singing your own songs and going through your own tough times. Little did I realise that this would mean I literally had to go through my own tough times.

I was at the point in my life and my education where I needed to decide what I was going to do after college. Gap year, travel, move out of home, move states, move countries, what to study, where to study…there were an overwhelming amount of options. And I had no clues or burning desires to study anything in particular.

I then found this verse: “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” – Psalm 37:5. I thought, great! I did not exactly know the desires of my heart, but now I knew that God would give them to me if I just took delight in Him. So that’s what my next season consisted of: finding ways to take delight in the Lord.

At Hillsong’s Colour Conference last year, I felt moved to attend the info session about their Bible College in Sydney. Whist there, I felt so at home, so welcomed and excited about what I could study if I went there. It was there, in that conference room, that I felt like I finally knew the desires of my heart.

I was ecstatic to finally have found the purpose and path for my next season! It is a huge and scary move, meaning I’d have to uproot myself from all friends, family, my church and my home, but at this point, I trusted God.

But as you could imagine, my parents didn’t exactly share my enthusiasm for moving to Sydney. It was through a lot of prayer and discussion that they resigned their protests and accepted that this was where God had set my heart. I applied, which was great! I thought now that I knew what was happening with the next part of my future, I could relax and life could get easier from here on in…I was wrong.

Around that time, a plan to attend a conference in Los Angeles and holiday there had fallen through. I had been looking forward to this trip for years and it seemed to be almost ripped out from under me. It may seem insignificant to be so upset over missing out on a trip to America, but when you set your heart on something (something about God too) and it doesn’t come through, it’s devastating. Missing out on that had me down in the dumps. Shortly after, I was shut out of a relationship I wanted because I’d be moving; it was a consequence of my decision.

I was so frustrated with my situation and with God. My trust was starting to dissolve. He promised that if I took delight in Him, He would give me the desires of my heart. But not going to America and not having that relationship were definitely not the desires of my heart. I was mad. Really mad. Walking home one day, I yelled at God ‘Why didn’t I get what I wanted?!’ I felt God say back to me

‘No…you got what I wanted’.

Firstly I was so upset and I thought ‘no! That’s not what I want!’ But after a lot of thinking about it, what I want is ultimately what God wants. He is the desire of my heart. Since then it has been a struggle of my heart to continue trusting in Him for this next season. I have days where I really want to throw in the towel, reject my offer of place and stay at home where I know; stay where it’s comfortable. But ultimately, I know that this season of trust will lead to a better season. That despite the things I may have missed out on, I have confidence in trusting that God is leading me towards something greater.

I got told a little while ago that the season of trusting God never ends. That statement alone brought such joy to my heart knowing that forever more, no matter what, God will always be there. Always waiting for me to trust in Him.

 

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Reason to Trust #37 [Beth]

Beth GreenAge: 43.8 // Favourite Food: Fried Chicken // Dream Job: Lifeguard at a retirement community in Florida. // Current Season: Empty Nest Prevention. // Met Jesus: Before I can remember. // Favourite Verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord.” Psalm 19:14 // Instagram: @bethgreenwv

It was an interesting season to say the least…a span of time that I have referred to as the year from “you know where.”  All because of a great deal of change that shook some things up for me.
 
We pastor a church in a small city of 19 thousand people, give or take, in Martinsburg, WV.
 
Our staff is humble in size, yet quite creative and productive- always striving to do our best to lead a fairly large flock of people, although none of us have ever been on a church staff before.  During the season  I mentioned earlier, many of us were wearing a variety of hats to get everything accomplished. In spite of our inexperience, we also shared this incredible excitement to serve.  It was so new and exhilarating. Then, it all began…
 
A few years in to this blissful new endeavor, several significant staff members who had served us very closely had decided to move on to other seasons in their lives which would pluck them and their families out of our church.  (I use the word “pluck” to refer to the sudden discomfort this would bring.)  If you have spent any time in church leadership, I’m sure you understand.  Goodbyes can be uncomfortable.
 
Meanwhile, outside of my church bubble, there were some other layers of change happening, in no particular order.
One involving one of my dearest friends.  She and her husband, with God-ordained purpose, moved a thousand miles away where they would transplant their family into Canadian soil, carrying in their hearts a dream to pastor a church where their family roots were.  She was someone I leaned on in many ways.  But now my dear confidant was relocating far beyond my reach.
 
Speaking of being out of my reach, did I mention that at the same time, our eldest son was away at college on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia?  Just thought I’d mention that little detail.  Certainly, if you are a mother, you understand that having a child away at college, in another country at that, has potential to tenderize your heart. (I use the word tenderize as in… like one of those hammers you pound chicken with.)
 
Then, one brisk autumn morning, as I was approaching my 40th birthday, I heard these words from an emergency triage nurse who was treating me for a strange and sudden allergic reaction in our local emergency room- “by the way,” she said, “did you know that you were pregnant?”
 
Did you catch that part?
Yeah, it was just like that.
My life was seriously about to experience a new emergency.
 
You need to know that change and I…we don’t usually get along.  Up until this point in my life, I was the kind of person who preferred the predictable.  Change interfered with my plans and expectations.  Change messed with me.   Having another child?  Really?
 
Our other 2 children were grown – one in college and the other finishing up high school.  So, as far as parenting goes, we were SO close to reaching that place of rest where you sit back in your rocking chair, kick your feet up and look at scrapbooks while enjoying a comforting cup of tea and intelligent conversation with your ADULT family members.
 
But ALL OF THAT, including the “rest” part, (but excluding the rocking chair part) was about to c h a n g e.
 
Don’t get me wrong.  We were excited.  The next 33 weeks were filled with celebration, preparation and giggles from every well-meaning friend and family member, topped off with an occasional Abraham & Sarah joke.
 
Fast forward 8.5 months.
 
Our third and surprise child was born – a son. We celebrated him. We adored him.  We were so grateful for God’s purpose and plans for him, but this kid was larger than life, AND he was louder than loud!  He might have snuck quietly into my womb un-announced, (I’m not gonna lie.  That sounded weird), but holy moly, after he put his feet down in our home, it didn’t take us long to know, without a doubt, that this young man would make sure that he would get noticed everywhere he went every single day for the rest of his life.
 
Everything in my life at this point had drastically changed.  I was “starting over” in my 40’s.  The diapers, the night feedings, the sleep deprivation, the 24/7 call of new motherhood…I was mourning the loss of my freedom – to go to the mall, go on a date with my husband, or even take a shower whenever I wanted.  And all the moms out there just nodded your heads.
 
To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the shock.  My other children, then 16 and 18 had personalities which were nothing like this little guy!   In comparison, they were easy, quiet children, self-entertained and spent much of their time hibernating in their rooms.  But this child – He was so active.  He was strong-willed. He required constant attention.  He was very VOCAL; The say-goodbye-to-nice restaurants-for-YEARS kind of vocal.  Now, my once peaceful house was frequently filled with crying, screaming and tantrums!
 
But then, I would calm down and go back to taking care of my baby.
 
Any parent understands that nothing has the ability to suck selfishness to the surface like a brand new baby in your home.
 
One day, in the midst of all these whirling, swirling winds of unexpected change, I remember sitting alone in my office with worship music playing.  I was reflecting on the past year – in the wake of all that had moved on, and all that had moved in.  Then this powerful little song by New Life Worship started to play.
 
———–
One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the Rock that never fails, You never fail
 
One thing I know that I believe
Through every blessing I receive
You are the only One that stays, You always stay
 
Chorus
You never change
You’re still the same
You are the Everlasting God
You will remain after the day is gone and the things of earth have passed
Everlasting God
 
———–
Sitting there in my brokenness, crying grateful tears, I remembered that even when everything around me is changing, through both blessing and loss, goodbyes and hellos, my God remains the same.  I am loved by a God in Heaven who will never, EVER change.
 
Psalm 102:27
“But you are always the same;”
 
Looking back, God has taught me some things through it all:
 
– I have learned that when I think God is taking something from me, he is most likely planning to get something to me.
 
– I have learned to take a seat once in a while, empower others to rise up and take their place, and applaud them when they surpass me.
 
– Oh yeah, and that scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is actually entirely about being content in any circumstance; NOT about having ninja powers.
 
And finally, while change isn’t always fun, change is often God’s way of guiding us, blessing us or protecting us from something.  God uses change to usher us into new levels of growth.  He loves us, and He really does know what is best.
 
So my friend, whatever season of change that you may be facing, whether expected or unexpected, I pray that the God of yesterday, today and forever will steady you and hold you close.  I pray that His generous hand and faithful heart will teach you to trust Him in the midst of it all.  In all your goodbyes and hellos, may you find peace in the promise that He will always remain your everlasting One.
 
By the way, on the other side of that season, God has continued to bless our church with faithful people who fill our world with joy and laughter.  Our staff is as strong and productive as ever.  My son is home after finishing college, and I get to see my long-distance dear friend once every year.  The baby is now four years old, and he has become the life of our party.  He is still, however, very, very loud. If that were to ever change, I don’t believe I would mind.
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Reason to Trust #36 [Robyn]

Robyn HipkissAge: 74 // Favourite Food: Ice cream – all kinds // Dream Job: Humour therapist – I believe laughter is good medicine for both the soul and the body// Current Season: Retired – grandmother – and writer // Met Jesus: At 18 years of age in the Billy Graham Crusade in Adelaide in 1959 // Favourite Verse: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”// Blog: www.robynhipkiss.wordpress.com // Website: www.inspiringstories.net.au

I was born again in the Billy Graham Crusade in Adelaide in 1959, when I was 18 years of age.  Hungry to know more, I began attending a Pentecostal church at the invitation of a friend, where I was baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit.

My life was transformed by the touch of God. I had always felt there should be more to life than just living from day to day. Now I had found a purpose for living. I wanted to serve God with all my heart, and enrolled to attend Bible College four nights a week, for two years.

I was thrilled to be asked to take up an appointment as Secretary to Leo Harris, the pastor of the large city church I attended, a job I loved. Working every day in the church office for a wise and godly man and a dedicated team of pastors was, to me, the dream job.

I became involved in children’s ministry and had the great joy of seeing many children touched and changed by the power of God through weekly clubs, camps and school outreaches.

In my late twenties I met and married Terry Hipkiss. We both had a deep desire to serve God, which led us to move to Canberra in 1976, to assist in ministry in a church there. After a couple of years we began our own church, known as  Shekinah Christian Centre, under the covering of the Bethesda movement. It is now known as Ginninderra Christian Church.

Most of us have a romantic dream of marriage, but for me it didn’t work out quite like I thought it would!

Terry was a sensitive and caring man. He had a keen mind, and a great knowledge and understanding of the Bible, and in particular Bible history and prophecy, and how it related to the modern world. He loved to preach and teach the Word of God, and God honoured His Word with people finding faith in Christ and growing in their faith through Terry’s ministry and those who worked with him.

But very early in our married life it became obvious that he suffered with deep emotional and psychological problems. Although we loved each other dearly, he found it very hard to cope with my invasion of his personal space. His drive for perfection caused him to be constantly disappointed by the frailty of those around him, including himself, and particularly his wife! No matter how hard I tried – and believe me, I did try – I could never meet his impossible expectations.

He had been heavily involved in occultish practices before he became a Christian, and it seemed there were  issues which stemmed from that. These, along with other deep seated problems, were to trouble him throughout his life, resulting in depression, frustration and suicidal thoughts. He loved his family and being involved in our two daughter’s activities, but these emotional highs and lows meant that we never knew just what to expect from day to day. His zest for life and zany sense of humour were often overshadowed by the “black dog” of depression.

With the tension in the home and the strain of keeping up with the demands of the ministry, I often felt like my nerves were being stretched to breaking point.

When I had to undergo major surgery for bowel cancer in 1987, my doctor said that stress was a major factor in causing many cancers, and I should avoid it if I wanted to fully recover. He explained that the bowel is extremely sensitive to tension. This was a bit difficult in light of the challenges I faced at home. It is a testimony to God’s grace that 27 years later I am enjoying good health, for which I thank Him every day.

After more than 20 years in ministry, in 1988 Terry came to a crisis in his faith and turned away from God. He walked away from the church, saying “I am an absolute failure in every area of my life.” He lost sight of the good things God had done through his ministry and in his life, because of the turmoil within his heart, and the issues he could not deal with. He chose to walk away rather than confront those issues.

I had spent many years praying for God to bring Terry through to freedom. But now I came to a place where I knew I had to stop striving and worrying and place him by faith into God’s hands. It was a place of rest and peace. I felt God gave me a word that Terry would be away from his faith for a period of time, but that eventually he would come back into a relationship with his heavenly Father.

I had no idea how this would happen or how long it would take, but I had an assurance and peace about it.

In the meantime I continued to be involved in the church I was attending. I am so thankful for the prayerful support of friends during that time, both for Terry and for our family.

Terry went back to teaching at the Canberra Institute of Technology. He went through a very difficult time of personal stress when his integrity as a teacher was attacked by a student. This harassment went on continually for three years and took its toll on his health and his emotions.

Not long after this, in 1995, Terry became ill with prostate cancer, which gradually, over a two year period, spread to bone cancer throughout his body.

Early in 1998 he wrote the following:

“Late last year my family and I went beyond the possibility of facing cancer, to also facing death. This was not an easy thing  – especially in light of my rebellion against God. I experienced the pain of knowing that I would possibly have to leave my wife and my children and would not see my grandchildren grow up.

I had a strong conviction that I wanted to go to Adelaide to see my relatives at Christmas time, even though by then I was experiencing very severe pain. One night between Christmas and New Year I was in agony and had to be admitted to hospital to get some relief. During the early morning hours in the hospital I woke up and heard myself saying: “I don’t understand but I believe.” I was quite startled by this, and immediately checked to see if anyone else was in the room. Within seconds I heard a response. It wasn’t my voice, and there was no nurse in the room, but I heard these beautiful words: “Welcome home, son.” All I can say is that it was just as if an overwhelming blanket hit me right in the solar plexus. It just floored me that God was welcoming me home. I thank God for such a wonderful, deep and glorious re-introduction to His grace.”

Terry underwent radiotherapy for the tumours pressing on his spine. Although initially he got some relief, the tumours then affected his back and did not respond to the radiotherapy. This resulted in paralysis from his waist down, causing him to be a paraplegic. During his time in hospital, and then the hospice, he drew great comfort from listening to scripture tapes and gospel music, and the words of one particular song … “He looked beyond my faults and saw my need,” blessed and encouraged him.

He shared his faith with all who came to visit him. He said, “ I know God is able to heal me and raise me up. But if it is my time to  go and be with Him, then I am ready to go.”

In June 1998, Terry went to be with the Lord. His funeral was a celebration of his life, and in particular those last six months when he was able to restore fellowship and share his renewed faith with so many people.

Over the years I have heard many similar stories of God’s grace which have inspired and uplifted me.

I decided I wanted to share these stories with others, so I began writing and recording inspirational life stories. In 2006 I published my first book, Australian Women of Grace, telling the stories of five Christian women. In that book, I shared my story and included Terry’s testimony. Since then I have published two more books … Australian Women of Courage and Inspiring Stories of Life and Faith. I just love sharing these inspirational stories of the grace and goodness of God, and have received letters from many who have been encouraged and blessed by reading them.

If you are praying for a loved one, I would encourage you not to  give up! God is faithful to His promises, and if we trust in Him He will answer our prayers. Maybe not in the way we are expecting, or in the time frame we would like. But on the journey He teaches us many things. I like the expression “leaning into God.”

If we lean into Him He will strengthen us for the journey.

He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

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Reason to Trust #35 [Valery]

Val MurphyAge: A secret! But a clue – born in the 50’s! // Favourite Food: Veggies // Dream Job: What I’m currently doing! // Current Season: Empty nesting but finding my wings! // Met Jesus: 35 years ago! // Favourite Verse: Romans 12:2 // Instagram: @valerymurphy // Blog: www.valerymurphy.com

Life.

As the years went by I had achieved so much.

But I didn’t really feel that I had done anything, at all.

Now, with three children all under the age of 12, I was perhaps starting to come up for air… Maybe now was my time.

We were on the Gold Coast, experiencing the joys and excitement of every theme park, never satisfied with the adrenalin rush that came with each day.   As you do when you have an excitable husband and three young, adventurous kids.

To bring a little ‘light and shade’ to the days of food, fun and festivities, I’d made a statement which now, at five minutes to midnight, I was beginning to regret.

“Let’s go see the movie Titanic at the launch tonight!” 

Perhaps, as a Mum, and an exhausted one at that, I may or may not have been a little too enthused by the ads I’d seen for this blockbuster.  But now, realism was beginning to hit me, and, like a punch-drunk boxer who didn’t know when to quit, I was starting to waver and swing at the shadows. Zombie like, with the effect of too few hours of rest and sleep finally catching up, I pulled myself together and gave myself a good talking to.  I was doing this for the kids – yep, all going to ‘make memories’… I’d be glad I did this. One day.
As we waited in the seemingly endless queue for tickets, for which we’d driven over the border into New South Wales from the state of Queensland, we finally reached the box office and claimed our seats at the local cinema.  People around us thronged and chatted in groups as they waited for the inestimable privilege of securing their seat to the Premiere of premieres!  The first screening nationwide of this long awaited portrayal of the famous ship and its passengers’ story promised to be amazing.  Leo and Kate! What a combination!

Stuffing way too many Maltesers into my mouth, and washing them down with a strong cup of tea, I settled into my seat.  Way too comfy.  But I was ready.

We were not five minutes into the movie when it hit me, like the proverbial sledge hammer.  I found myself glued to my seat, eyes riveted on the big screen.

It was the scene where Kate and her mother are confronted with the massive vessel upon which they were to spend the next month or months travelling across the Atlantic Ocean to the US of A.  Oh my goodness.

And suddenly there was I.  Rounding the corner at Southampton, England with my parents.  I looked up, squinting in the early morning sunshine, trying to take in the site of a massive ocean liner at the docks.  Incredible in her expansiveness, this ship of my dreams loomed before us.  Oriana, then, was to be my home for the next month as I journeyed along with Mum, Dad and my brother James, to the land of Australia. Ten years old and embarking upon the high seas for the adventure of a life time. Our emigration journey to our new country.

Sound like a romantic dream? Walter Mitty I was not.  But suddenly it was tangible, palpable, my imagination fired by a movie. I was catapulted by this ‘Titanic’ scene into my own new world.  I was now captivated by the romance of the ship, and was reminded in no uncertain way of the beautiful journey that I remembered from when I was so young.  It had been a journey that was to capture my imagination, to physically change my life, and to emotionally charge me with the memories, to change the lives of others. The dream to write.  And to reach many with my own story.

The minute the movie finished, I knew God had spoken to me.  Oh…not in that ‘audible’ voice of Hollywood itself, but gently, slowly and sensitively, as the Holy Spirit does a lot.

And just what had He said?

The subject had been brewing, looming, like that enormous structure that floats, effortlessly yet incredibly on the water. I’d been quite happy keeping it at bay, ignoring the ‘prompts’ that God would put into my mind.  Until that day.

Now…it was becoming a shout, a loud and piercing suggestion from the heart of He who knows me better than anyone.  The suggestion that I could ignore it was untenable, as would be the action to do so.

No….I had to do it.  I had to trust Him, and His suggestion.

For the next six years I struggled with my lower than you would perceive self-esteem.  I’d heard from the heart of God about a new purpose, a new dream.  But it meant I had to trust and to understand that when there is a new spark in your imagination it’s meant to be pursued. And trust all of a sudden becomes real, and a challenge.  It ambushes you every day.  It is waiting to confront you at every new change of direction.

Because it’s not natural.  Trusting what God whispers to us when He asks us to ‘walk on the water’ is not at all natural to us.  Nor should it be, because it’s something that He has to teach us.  Willing or not!

For the next six years I wrote.  And I wrote.  And I screwed up the paper that my ‘book’ was printed on.  And I wrote some more.  Surely this dream was an invention of an over active mind at midnight…not the real thing! Intent upon the prompting that had been inspired by a scene from a movie.  I gave up time and time again.  But I was encouraged by my brother to continue.  So much did he also believe that I had heard from God that he began to edit the fledgling chapters of my little book.  Haltingly, sparingly he began to critique and to praise, to coach and to correct.  As a Master of Education in English Lit, he was an amazing help.  You might say a God-send.

Often we don’t think that we have heard right.  It’s not Biblical to gather your inspiration and your direction from something so ‘worldly’, right?  But then again, God often ‘speaks’ to us through our everyday lives.  He brings us to a point of putting our dream into practice, bringing what we long to do, inside, to our everyday reality.  And He will bring alongside us those who will help and guide, because He cares that we learn to trust HIM.

Because if faith is the currency of the Kingdom, then trust is the leap that allows it.  If we don’t learn to trust Him, we won’t see our faith become reality.

After six years I finally self-published my book.  It was a collection of my stories around my relationship with my Dad.  And about my Heavenly Dad. Me and Him and learning to trust.  “Dancing With My Daddy” was picked up by a USA publisher a year later and is now available world wide in two languages.  I get testimonies from readers of how their lives have been impacted and changed, and their hearts have been touched.  It never, ever fails to warm and encourage me. And my trust grows, because learning to trust your dream brings with it a learning to trust in other ways.

Because I bothered to trust that prompting one late night in a cinema with my family, I realized a dream.  That my story could help others, just by not keeping it to myself.  Because I loved Jesus enough to let go of my own insecurities, he taught me to write and to understand what trusting Him really meant.

Your dream is not impossible.  But you will learn trust along the way, not always easy.  Hang in…

And Bon Voyage!

 

 

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Reason to Trust #34 [Holly]

Holly HawkeAge: 30 // Favourite Food: Thai beef salad // Dream Job: Criminal Profiling // Current Season: Mum and wifey! // Met Jesus: I was about 8 when I put up my hand in church and accepted Jesus! // Favourite Verse: Proverbs 31 // Instagram: @hollyjeanhawke
I was trying to help my 2 year zip up her back pack the other day and she looked up at me and said;

“No mummy, let go, I want to do it myself”

That’s when I realised she was more like me than I had first thought… Good Lord I’ve created a strong independent child!

When I was a teenager I stumbled across the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Looking back now I think I took it out of context and thought it meant that “I” could do all things… So I set about doing all things! By myself… I didn’t need any help… I basically said to God “I’ve got this, you just sit back and relax”.

I always prided myself in the fact that I was fiercely independent, it was such an achievement for me, I was (and still am) a ‘can do’ person. I have always felt like I could do anything, I’ve fixed cars, landscaped gardens, finished a Uni degree, done home renovations, baked, sewed, looked after babies, I’m a police officer…. I mean seriously is there anything I couldn’t do?

Then in 2006 I met Dave! The love of my life!

I recognised that I was very independent and that I was going to have to be intentional about letting him be the head of the household. Let me tell you that was not as easy to do as it was to write just then. We got married in 2008 and I battled with myself for about 2 years before I gave in and let Dave lead. Not being the kind of person that does things half heartedly, I did a complete 180 and became very dependant on Dave. The pressure on him was immense. I had put all my trust and hopes for the future on his shoulders.

The pressure that put on Dave and also on our marriage was not healthy, and also not sustainable. Something had to give.

In 2011 I was pregnant with our first little girl, Ashley. I busily prepared our home for her arrival. I did the same thing I always do and threw myself 100% into the task at hand, the next big job… Motherhood. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Now for the fiercely independent this seemed crazy. Of course I could do this by myself. I didn’t need help. How could I ask for help? What would people think?

In 2012 Dave applied for his dream job, and he got it! I was excited for him and saddened for myself because it was something I knew he had wanted for a while, but it would mean he would be travelling a lot and I would be at home… by myself… with babies… Not the most inviting concept. I knew I was going to have to ask people for help and I was absolutely not keen on the idea!

In 2013 I was pregnant with our second little girl, Ella. Part way through the year, cracks began to show in our marriage. Dave liked spending more and more time away from home because it meant he had a bit of freedom. There was always a work trip or an old friend to catch up with. I started to resent him a little more with each event he attended or trip he went on. Until one weekend in August I just shut down emotionally towards him. I thought, if I put up walls, if I look after myself, if I don’t rely on anyone else, then I can’t keep getting hurt and let down.

Trust me, it made complete sense at the time….

Ella was born in November 2013. For 5 weeks Dave didn’t work or go out. He was stuck at home with me, an almost 2 year old and an infant! That was like the perfect storm brewing… Lack of sleep, 4 months of unresolved emotions built up, resentment…. Bitterness… You can imagine the quality conversation!!

On Christmas Day 2013, Dave got on a plane and he was gone. Deployed for a few weeks. I was just getting more and more angry by the day. This season of motherhood was not what I had pictured. AT ALL. I kept thinking to myself ‘how did things get so bad?’ I was miserable and worn out and tired. So tired.

In march 2014 I attended Colour Conference. I sat in the meetings which would have usually moved me to tears because of the presence of God, except I felt nothing. I felt numb. It was a huge reality check for me. Where was God? I had forgotten Him in the business of life. I was so busy doing everything myself that when I had said to Him “you just sit back and relax, I’ve got this” I must have gotten distracted and just taken off without Him. I was still attending church and going through the motions, but there was just emptiness inside.

Dave and I kept trying to book in for marriage counselling, but every time we had an appointment we had to cancel because of Daves work commitments. I didn’t know what to do or how to move forward. I felt like my marriage was over, I was losing sight of how I could salvage it. I cried a lot.

The truth was starring me in the face. I couldn’t save it, God was going to have to.

I picked up my brand new bible, which was a gift at Colour Conference and I started to read it. Slowly day by day I read more and more. God began to soften my heart. When I put my trust in him He started to make my burdens light. He started to show me all the great things about Dave, I finally saw him for who God made him to be, rather than what I was trying to force him to be. He caused me to fall in love with him all over again.

As I started to respect Dave, as a husband and father, and as I chose to respect his job rather than resenting it, he just came alive. He was excited to see me, excited to see the girls and spend time with us as a family.

I’m still in the same season, all things motherhood, nothing has changed. In fact as I write this Dave is in the Ukraine, with no return date yet. I’m at home by myself with Ashley and Ella. But instead of feeling tormented, I’m fine. Actually I’m better than fine. I’m flourishing!

My relationship with my Heavenly Father is growing more every day, I cherish the time I get to sit and read my bible and learn more about God. As I’ve put my trust in Him and truly let Him be the centre of my world He has worked all the things that were my weaknesses into my strengths!

I’m still tired…. But I am SO satisfied and content! I’ve come to realise that God made me a capable woman, He made me a ‘can do’ person for such a time as this. As I depend on God and continue to put my trust in Him, I can’t help but see all the ways He has blessed me and our little family!

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Reason to Trust #33 [Amber]

Amber MillerAge: 27 // Favourite Food: Ice Cream (not the dainty girly serving size, but a massive, overflowing bowl) // Dream Job: I’ll let you know when I find it. // Current Season: Selling my home, quitting my job as a teacher, and going back to school…in another country. // Met Jesus: at age 7 in the front row of my then church. // Favourite Verse: Isaiah 54:10 – “For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, 
My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart. The God who has compassion on you says so.” // Website: www.lifeinhigheels.com // Instagram: @aemiller16

Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

We all know this verse. It is one of those verses you scribble on your notebook or you edit it into a beautiful picture of you lying on the beach while your tan body is glistening in the sun and your perfectly manicured toes are in the sand.

This verse is beautiful in theory, but allow me to tell you about how good I’m not at being still! Those who know me well, know I am incapable of being still-EVER.

If I am sitting: I am shaking my foot, leg or whole body (yeah, the person that shakes the whole row at church….that’s me!). If I am standing: I am rocking, twisting, or shaking my legs. I can’t even be still in bed! I am always twitching and rubbing my feet. And then there is my mind….I can analyze something 206 ways in approximately 2.2 seconds and I can twist and turn something that is no big deal into a massive problem.

So, whenever I see this verse or hear God whisper it to me, my first thought is usually  “No, God you have the wrong girl, remember it is impossible for me to be still…EVER! This verse is for someone else.” Well, God never seems to change his mind, but He has quite frequently changed my heart.

Lately, I have found myself in “still” boot camp.

Four weeks ago I left my quiet, comfortable life in West Virginia, USA to travel to Australia to attend Hillsong International Leadership College. With this decision came many big, and a bit scary, life changes. I had to resign from my position as a kindergarten teacher, sell my first home, find a temporary home for my only child (a 2 year old Shih Tzu), and prepare to say goodbye to my closest friends and family.

Along this journey I have asked God countless times: “What are you doing? Why are you taking me on this path? I have a good life. I am a good teacher. How am I going to afford this? Can I even do this?”

Though the questions seem to vary, His answer always seems to be the same – be still, and know that I am God.

It’s not easy for me to give up control and not have a plan B (you know, in case God’s plan A doesn’t come through). Since I have been here I have been reminded time and time again that with God there are no needs for plan B’s because God has a strategic and deliberate plan A for each of our lives.

A couple of days before I left my home I sat in my bedroom journalling and the thought hit me, that in that moment I was in a home filled with family that loved me and knew me well, but in just a few short days I was going to be in a house full of strangers.

I was so scared. What if I don’t find friends? What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t handle college again? I took all these questions and concerns to God and just pleaded my case. Once again He asked me to just be still.

Now four weeks in I live with incredible housemates. I have a room in the house all to myself with a massive closet (this just proves how well God knows my heart).

I am not just making friends, but making friends with people from around the world. And already in just my second Sunday at Hillsong church I stood there among thousands of other people with tears in my eyes for almost the entire service. I was overwhelmed with a peace. I felt like I was home. I was still in His presence and KNEW He was going to be God every step of the way along this journey.

I still didn’t have all the answers to all my questions about this adventure, but despite the questions I know I am exactly where I am suppose to be in this season. Home.

 

 

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Reason to Trust #32 [Sarah]

Sarah SpenceAge:  30 // Favourite Food: Fish n Chips on the beach – when you are a long way away this tastes likes home – just rather difficult to find in Belgium (both the fish n chips and the beach!) // Dream Job:  Actually I’m just realising i am dong it now, raising my little family. // Current Season:  Living in Belgium with a ridiculously good looking man and our little dude Forest. // Met Jesus:  When I was three at Sunday School. // Favourite Verse:  Prov 3:5 – “Trust in The Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” // Instagram: @sarah_spence125

Three and a half years ago my husband and I were driving home after work and started talking about the next season and the possibility of taking a job over seas… which if you knew me at the time was a taboo subject, as I never wanted to travel, I loved New Zealand and knew it was home. However, this conversation was different, for some reason I had an unexplainable peace when we discussed and dreamed about the options that lay ahead of us.  Little did I know, that conversation would be the catalyst for me truly trusting the Lord with all my heart.

Shortly after this my husband received a job offer and we moved to Belgium.

A move that meant I was uprooted from all I had known – friends, family, church, culture, language…  all of which a lot of my trust and identity was found in.

I remember waking up the first morning in Belgium, my husband catching a taxi to work and me thinking, “Righto – what now…”

To be perfectly honest the first few months were hard work: No job, no friends, no church, no house and stuck in the middle of a country where I didn’t understand anything – but amidst the loneliness I knew I wasn’t alone.

In looking back over the last three years I haven’t had any sign in the sky or writing on the wall moment, but we have just walked through the doors that have open ahead of us trusting that the right ones open and the wrong ones close. 

Sometimes it is not until you look back that you can see the fingerprint of God on what you thought was just you living life.  The God orchestrated moments. The things you just take for granted. Let me share a couple of those moments…

I went out looking for places to live, which i must say was a scary experience!   The first real estate agent I turn up to, puts me in his car and we go driving around looking at places. I was on high alert as he swerved in and out of roads whilst yelling down his phone and throwing his arms in frustration.  Me sitting in the passenger seat, freaking thinking I don’t know this man, I don’t know what he is saying and I don’t know where I am. Needless to say I was happy to make it out alive.  

Next day I choose a different agency and we begin the search again, we get to the end of the day and nothing has jumped out at me but I am fed up and ready to just settle for anything.  She then casually mentions a place she thinks is up for rent which sounds like something I would like. Long story short, it was perfect, and to top it off, English speaking landlords (miracle in itself) who have become a family away from home, and now great baby-sitters. 🙂

It may seem like a small thing to some but for me finding this apartment was a little, “See – Trust Me darling girl,” moment.

The first 10 months I was jobless.  Going to endless interviews where the first question is, “What languages do you speak?” made my English only speaking CV seem inadequate.  However, amongst other little jobs, I got involved in volunteer work in Belgium while I waited for a successful interview.  

One day while setting up Christmas decorations in an elderly home I got talking to one of the other volunteers.  We got chatting away and the subject of jobs came up. I mentioned my dream job would be in Events Management but I was at the stage where I would happily sit in an office and do the filing!  As it turned out, his wife worked in events and was part of the hiring team.

One month later, I am sitting at a desk in an International (English speaking) Events Management company, which happened to be on the same street we live on.  I would have been satisfied with a job at Starbucks (I actually did apply for one) but instead I had a job in the industry I loved with people, who will now be life long friends.

From housing, to jobs, language, friends and more recently our baby boy,  I am learning to see God in the everyday, to hear him in the mundane and trust Him to navigate me through life.

x

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Reason to Trust #31 [Helen]

Helen BurnsAge: 58 // Favourite Food: My three weaknesses are cheese, chocolate and coffee. // Dream Job: The one I have… pastoring alongside my husband at Relate Church for the past 28 years  and traveling this beautiful globe teaching on Marriage, Family & relationships in many global churches. // Current Season: A season of exciting transitions – empowering new generations coming through and embracing new opportunities for the future. The best is yet to come – always! // Met Jesus: I always knew Jesus and loved him but made a solid commitment to His Lordship in my life when I was 22. // Favourite Verse: Proverbs 4:23 ‘ Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.’ // Website: www.relatechurch.ca // Instagram: @helenburns

I am forever grateful to God for the stunning promise He tucked into my heart in the midst of one of the scariest seasons of my life. It felt like a bomb went off and exploded into the very center of my seemingly idyllic family and everything that had felt safe and secure in my world was rocked to the core. I was praying desperate prayers and grasping for daylight in that night season and that is the place where God met me.

It happened early one morning as tears were streaming from my eyes and I was praying for my youngest grandson, who was 2 years old at the time, when his father left. My heart was broken as I thought of the challenges he could be facing in his future.

I had been reading from Exodus 2 about the miraculous story of Moses as a baby, and his brave mother Jochebed, who defied the Pharoah’s ordinance in order to save her baby boy from destruction. Instead of allowing him to be killed, she created a waterproof ‘ark’ for him and bravely placed him among the bulrushes in the Nile River. Though he would often be in harms way, Jochebed anchored her hope in God, trusting Him with her son’s life. Though everything didn’t go according to her plan, God made a way to safely and securely bring him into his destiny and life’s purpose.  I’m sure Jochebed could never have dreamed that her son would one day become one of God’s greatest leaders who was chosen to rescue the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt!

In those moments with God that day, He whispered hope into my heart as He spoke tender words of peace to me. He said, “Don’t be afraid  – I am holding your family and everything that is so very precious to you.  Anchor your heart to mine and know that I am holding you too.’

About four years have passed since that storm hit and though we still face intense turbulence at times, we have experienced an abiding peace that passes human knowledge and understanding because we have fastened our trust, our faith, our anchor to Jesus.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

‘We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God…’ (Hebrews 6: 18-20 Message)

The dictionary defines an anchor as ‘a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; a mainstay’. An anchor is only useful when the ship is out upon the open waters, which are often tempestuous and dangerous, not when it is moored to a safe and sterile dock.

 Though storms will rage all around us, we don’t have to allow them to rage within us. We can’t stop them from coming, but we can decide how we choose to respond to them. By allowing God to be our anchor we can experience STABILITY, STRENGTH, PEACE and CALM in the craziest storms of life.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

I truly have a great confidence in God and so many reasons to trust.

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Reason to Trust #30 [Christina]

Christina MunnsFavourite Food: Mexican. // Dream Job: Too many to decide! All creative & epic. // Current Season: Wife to a Creative (enough said!) Mama, Dreamer, humbled by the mercy & grace of Jesus more & more each day. // Met Jesus: At a very young age, but made many refreshers in various seasons! // Favourite Verse: Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who has believed that The Lord would fulfill His promises to her. // Website: www.thelukasband.com // Instagram: @christinamunns

‘Congratulations Mr Munns, you’ve WON!!!’

We have been joking about how we should buy lottery tickets for the amount of things we’ve experienced over the past few months defined by statistics such as ‘one in 5,000 chance’ or… ‘A very small percentage of people may find…’

So playfully one night I entered my husband into a competition on TV… and wouldn’t you know it, we won the consolation prize!

It wasn’t the $250,000 main prize, but the consolation prize is something to be excited about! Instantly a feed of grand ideas ran through my mind. How exciting, how much could it be?! $15k? $10k? With a young family, new business & many dreams (& uncertainties) of the future, maybe this was God’s way of turning things around for a refreshing change!

You can imagine my excitement as I opened the letterbox to see an envelope containing a cheque. I opened it up and finished the sentence.‘Congratulations Mr Munns, you’ve WON!!! Please find your cheque for $25 & be sure to keep tuning in for more chances to win!

Twenty. Five. Dollars.

T w e n t y  f i v e  d o l l a r s.

Is this a joke?

My heart sunk. Needless to say I was slightly underwhelmed.

Actually, I was mad.

It wasn’t about the money. It was the fact that I was receiving another blow to my heart on the most intense ride of hope and disappointment it had been on for the last 9 months. It represented something that I was trying to resolve with God, and I wasn’t quite there yet.

I’ll explain.

One in 5,000 babies are born with a condition called Hirschprungs disease. It’s even less likely to be a girl who has it (one in 20,000) and in which case, it’s a lot more severe. Surgery can be successful to remove the affected part of the bowel missing essential nerves, but a very small percentage of babies will still have complications after.

Our baby girl was born 9mths ago after a perfect pregnancy. She fell chronically ill & they finally discovered she had long segment HD. Longer than they’d ever seen without removing it completely. They surgically removed almost half of her bowel & it was successful, although there have been some complications (so that’s a jackpot for us!)

The months following have been a blur of confusion & uncertainty of her specific case, ambulances, emergency departments & long hospital stays. The list is endless of procedures we’ve had to learn to keep her alive, sleepless nights of comforting her through intense pain & days on end of throwing up.

The kicker for me was this… From the minute I knew I was pregnant I fervently prayed for this little person. I spoke the Word, I believed God for the wildest things, even a pain-free birth! Crazy hey! But I have friends who have & I decided that I could too because I would have a God-glorifying birth. I imagined sharing my testimony to other girls to ‘just declare the Word & you TOO can have a pain-free, God-glorifying birth!’

The birth hurt.

I prayed through the surgery. There were complications.

I prayed in the turbulent months to come.

And God’s answer in the highs & the lows… ‘Trust Me. I’m with you’.

…The T word.

So I’ll admit I’m still learning to nail this one.

I love Jesus with all my heart & I truly believe that I trust Him. I trust our Heavenly Father. But it’s amazing how much I still find myself walking around with anxiety & fear & questioning everything. Why, God? Why does this have to be such a struggle? And where are You? Didn’t you hear me talk about God-glorifying? And what if… what about…? and so on.

It’s also amazing how God finds ways of answering those questions I don’t even realise I’m asking.

Recently while feeling especially exhausted in this season, my husband and I went away for our anniversary. Away to a little country town in the middle of nowhere. Running ridiculously late we checked into our hotel, the receptionist helped me set up a cot for Olivia & we talked about nothing in particular. I said goodnight & that was that. However I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a reason I was meeting this woman.

A while later Luke had to organise details at the front desk. He hurried back with a message from the woman to come see her and talk!

Turns out her daughter had the exact same condition as Olivia, and not just long segment, but her whole large intestine removed. There were complications but they were eventually solved, & today she is gorgeous and 21, married and living in New York with no trace of the struggles from her first few years of life.

So… I sat with her. I asked her to share her story. I asked her so many questions that surgeons didn’t have time for. She enlarged her world to include us on this journey so at any time I can draw from her 21 years of experience with this rare condition. She cried for me, she totally understood.

Most importantly, she told me answers to questions I was too scared to ask & hadn’t spoken out loud yet, not even to God. I didn’t even have to ask specifics, she just shared about so many things that were silently weighing heavy on my heart. I knew this was God’s way of providing answers for my questions that in reality only time could have told. Finally some hope was breathed upon the places where our future felt so insecure.

It was like our magnificent God who is not bound by our time, stretched open my vision & showed me glimpses of what’s to come. He showed me our God-glorifying story. The story in a world with an enemy who invades, steals, kills & destroys, that God’s hand is not short & is on every detail; that what the enemy means for evil He will turn it for our good. The surgeons might be unsure sometimes, but God is not. He is awake to our hearts’ cry, & He is forging a way forward as we trust in Him.

In the faith gap, He can also hook up a meeting for me in the middle of nowhere to speak into my completely random one-in-20,000 case to give my heart peace. He’s not off on a coffee break. He cares about these things.

Although there’s still a journey ahead, & some days feel nearly impossible to get through, we have seen the faithfulness of God at every turn as His story of hope & healing through Olivia unfolds, which is glorious, whole & complete, in Jesus’ name.

What Olivia lacks in some nerve cells in her bowel, she sure makes up for in personality. It’s like God has given her a double portion of joy. She has the happiest spirit I’ve ever encountered. Her laugh is wild and contagious & most people wouldn’t have a clue as to what she’s gone through. This girl is the most God-glorifying creation I could have imagined.

On the journey there’s much to be thankful for, and evidence of God’s daily provision. We are positioned amongst such loving & generous family & church family, our Specialists are near, and we’re surrounded by the most authentic friendships that we’ve ever known who constantly remind us we’re not alone. God is faithful.

As for that $25 cheque, it didn’t take long for some perspective to set in. After all, in primary school that would’ve bought 2,500 of my favourite carob buds! Or more importantly, to remember that $25 can feed a family elsewhere for a month… So we have set ourselves a challenge to make it the best $25 we’ve ever spent. Not sure exactly how yet, but open to ideas!

xx

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Reason to Trust #29 [Dee]

Dee KleynAge: 73 // Favourite Food: Real curry yum! Pancakes mmmm! Wait there’s more…………. // Dream Job:  Prima Ballerina, it’s now up to my granddaughters, either Lacey or Madeleine. // Current Season: Now where did I put my keys? Glasses? Park the car? And just loving God.  // Met Jesus:  At 30, through my Mum. // Favourite Verse: Numbers 23:19 – God Is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent, has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and shall he not make it good.

In the beginning of February 1972 (I know, it seems like centuries ago ) we arrived in Australia to begin a new life me, husband and two of the cutest little blond boys you have ever seen, one was nearly 3yrs the other 4yrs. I met my husband while we were both visiting South Africa, we married and settled there but when we had children we realized it wasn’t the best place to raise them, so decided Australia would be a great place to start a new life.

Little did we realize what “a new life” would mean for us?

Within three weeks of arriving as heathens, both of us met Jesus in a small Pentecostal church my Mother was attending.

Wow! What a way to start in a new country, born again Christians, surely life will be absolutely great from now on. We had Jesus and trust that our marriage would be restored, it hadn’t been in a good shape for quite a while, but with this new hope I really wanted to have a baby and fell pregnant quite quickly. However I miscarried at 11 weeks which was a time of great sadness but was helped through it my new church friends.

But the months went by and nothing happened and we prayed and prayed and the months went by.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way WE plan and we now faced a time of learning what overcoming  and walking in faith and trust meant. I mentioned how my marriage wasn’t so great BC (before Christ), it was in such a state that when I discovered I was pregnant again shortly after my second child I was in despair. I was only just coping with life as it was, how was I going to manage with another person to love and care for?  I didn’t want this baby and made a decision to terminate the pregnancy, let’s call it by its proper ugly name- abortion – and that’s what I did and was seriously ill because of it.

Now AD, (after Christ) as I was hoping to become pregnant again I was struggling with guilt and that maybe God was punishing me, but there was a chorus we used to sing that kept coming into my mind “Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua1: 9 so I would sing it over and over , I would also declare “Greater is He in me than he that is in the world ” 1 john 4:4 and so, I got through the condemnation knowing  I was loved and forgiven.

As the months became a year, 2 years, I kept praying and praying and praying and then one day no different to any other day a prayer no different to the other prayers I just KNEW that my prayer was answered I had the desire of my heart, that I didn’t have to ask again but to TRUST.

And so the years went by and I trusted God after all I knew He didn’t lie ……”has He said and shall He not do it?”  And then after 5 years of waiting I found I was going to have a baby at last, the joy, the elation to this fantastic news.

Of course in those ancient days there was no ultra sound technology if we wanted to find out the sex of the baby, but we knew it was a girl and that God would bless us abundantly with all our desire, and our desire was, we wanted a girl and Jessica was born in October 1977.

This was fairly early in my journey with Jesus. Through it I learned how much God cared for me, that despite my past mistakes, He loved me unconditionally, that I could trust God no matter what other challenges I may encounter. Through the years I have faced small, big and very big challenges and God has remained faithful and trustworthy every time.

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Reason to Trust #28 [Candy]

Candy BrownAge: 29 // Favourite Food: Good Mexican // Dream Job: Professional Shopper? Ha // Current Season: Stay at home Mum. // Met Jesus: At age 3. // Favourite Verse: Psalm 27. // Instagram: @candygirlb

I’m a structured, organised, control freak type. I love plans and goals. Every January growing up I was taught to sit down and write goals for the year ahead. I’ve always known exactly where I was heading, the steps needed to get there and which one was next. Life was not without challenges but generally speaking things just worked and flowed.

They say you never know what a day will bring and seven years ago the world as I knew it changed completely in virtually one day through circumstances beyond my control (but that’s a story for another day).

Every aspect of my life was affected. I found myself suddenly no longer able to travel on the path I was on. In the midst of this I also became a Mum. Anyone who has had kids knows you can plan all you like but sometimes the plan goes out the window. My husband changed careers and his work schedule is very spontaneous and unplanned and often involves travel (and that’s an understatement). So here I was everything different, at home with little kids and a hubby that is often away and absolutely no plan at all.

I still had goals but I was really struggling feeling like I was cooped up at home going nowhere and certainly not making my mark on the world. Truthfully it’s something that I still struggle with and have to keep in check.

I’d love to say that I heard an audible voice or some super spiritual moment that was my turning point but it wasn’t like that, for me God spoke through Oprah.

Yep you read that right, Oprah.

I was home alone one night, put the kids into bed and sat down to watch Oprah’s final show that I had taped and not had a chance to watch. I knew I would be inspired watching it but it was so much more than that.

I had spent four years in complete confusion. Not knowing what I was meant to be doing, what my purpose or calling was. Complaining and whinging at my husband and being grouchy at my kids while I looked elsewhere for the big, amazing thing it was that I’m called to. It wasn’t until I watched Oprah’s show that I realized, like a slap in the head, that the big thing I am called to is right in front of me.

All the stuff I was doing before my ‘storm’ was over, gone, the season was finished. The ‘big’ ‘important’ thing now IS supporting my husband in his career and all he feels called to AND most of all raising the three amazing children God has given me! They are in this next season my calling. Raising them to be the best they can, to know love and security. It had been in front of me all along but until that night I didn’t SEE it. I almost instantaneously no longer felt sidelined and like my life was on hold.

Sometimes I can’t see past the day in front of me but I have learnt and am continuing to learn (because I am really good at forgetting) to just trust and rest that He’s got it sorted. I don’t have to run around like a crazy woman trying to ‘make’ it all happen because I might ‘miss out’.

 I have to rest and trust.

He knows the dreams I have and his plan and timing is perfect.

So for now I am doing what is in my hand to do – support my hubby and raise and love my babies. AND I have made a promise to take opportunities, like this one when they come my way.

I am definitely no expert on trust, infact I feel like the least qualified person to be talking about it BUT I am learning, as we all are to let go of the reins because lets face it, we’re not actually in control anyway…..are we? Haha.

Prov 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

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Reason to Trust #27 [Patsy]

Patsy Kittrell.jpgAge: 24 // Favourite Food: Steak // Dream Job: Yet to be decided // Current Season: Newlywed, youth pastoring alongside my husband, recent college graduate, beginning first “big girl” job… // Met Jesus: at 17 years old, on a Sunday morning in church // Favourite Verse: Isaiah 43:18-19- “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” // Instagram: @patsykittrell

As a senior in high school, anticipating graduating and beginning college, I was sure that I would attend out of state. I had never even considered any local college in my search over the past year. I applied to six schools, all out of state, and when I gained admittance into my first pick, I was so elated I cried as I broke into celebratory laughter and exclamation with my mom. The school was a large research university and provided a highly regarded program for the area of study that I was interested.

As my senior year progressed, I finally ended an on-again-off-again 2.5 year relationship with a boy I had dated through much of my high school career. At this point in time, I re-committed my relationship with Jesus and was fully committed to not only recognizing Jesus as my Savior, but also, allowing Him to be Lord over my life, and in every area of it.

As summer progressed and the time neared for me to make my big move, I began seeing the reality of the choice to attend college out of state in a new light. After a little research, I realized the local church I would want to join would be about a forty-five minute drive from my University. While this was not the major issue, other factors weighed in on my mind. Not only had I only recently re-committed my relationship with Jesus, but I felt a stirring and calling to remain planted in my local church at home, and to not uproot myself from the valuable relationships and accountability I had established.

After making lists to measure pros and cons, talking to my parents and my church leaders, praying to God, and after countless tears and passionate conversations with my parents, I realized that only I could make the decision of whether to go or to stay.

I remember when I timorously told my dad that I had had a change of heart and would be staying home, he sternly looked at me and said, “Patsy, I will never think that you’ve made the right decision about this. You are throwing away an opportunity.” –The truth is, my decision made no sense in the natural. I was out on a limb, trusting God with what would come of this decision I believed He was leading me in.

About six years later, I can now see more reasons than what I was even aware of at the time, for what I believe, drove the decision I carefully made as an 18 year old that would change how the course of my life and the lives around me would be chartered.

While my undergraduate college career was no walk in the park, I truly believe that I learned more at a community college, as well as the Christian university from which I graduated, and perhaps more so from the obstacles I’ve had to overcome along the way, than I would have otherwise. Not only have I just graduated a few weekends ago from Regent University, which has been such a phenomenal fit for myself, but also, it is through the University as well as a church connection that I have been able to land a perfectly suited job in the school’s Marketing Department. I am excitedly beginning in just a few weeks.

Moreover, I believe my staying at home to pursue my education, has impacted my parents’ marriage in a way that perhaps I will not fully recognize the benefit of until I get to Heaven. My individual relationships with my parents have never been stronger, and more importantly, their individual relationships with Jesus have evolved and grown. I am also coming up on nearly a year of marriage to my best friend, who is one of our church’s youth pastors on staff.

I get the feeling that I am entering upon a new season in which God will call me to trust Him in new ways that are unfamiliar to me. I am so grateful that God calls us to trust Him from what may seem as minor details, to bigger, weightier decisions. I am more in love with my God now than ever, and I reckon that is in part, because I have learned to trust Him and have experienced the beginning of His faithfulness outworked in my life and others’.

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Reason to Trust #26 [Sam]

Sam MacPhersonAge: 42 // Favourite Food: complete organic whole-foods nut!  Will probably die with a chunk of haloumi in my hand 😉 // Dream Job: Personal shopper – if shopping was an Olympic sport, I’d win gold for Australia // Current Season: Senior pastoring Calvary Christian Church with husband James; parenting twin 9-yr old boys Joe and Ben; living in Townsville but also pastoring campuses in Cairns and the Sunshine Coast, so LOTS of travel! // Met Jesus: 20 years ago, as a very accomplished sinner, working as a cop on the Gold Coast // Favourite Verse: Psalm 139 always undoes me – He had a plan, even when I was dancing on bar tables! // Instagram: @sam_mac

 You don’t normal envisage an exciting new season in God beginning with a snotty session of foetal rocking on the couch, but there I was.  What catastrophe had put me there?  A list of expectations, both real and imagined, that scrolled through my head as we prepared to take on senior pastorship of Calvary Christian Church in Townsville.  Not, as some may suspect, the lack of a department store within a 4 hour drive (…although that was pretty horrendous too!)

 What I was experiencing was a crisis of confidence, and in the most epic of fashions.  It was actually pretty embarrassing.  Have you ever had one of those moments?  When the ‘rational you’, tucked up in a corner of your brain, is looking down on ‘psychotic you’ with horror?  I knew was being completely irrational, but that didn’t make the fear I was choking on feel any less real.

 ‘They’ll expect me to be perfect/inspirational/smart/eloquent/gifted/intuitive/parent-of-the-year’, I sobbed to my husband.

‘Hon, all I want you to do is run a weekly ladies coffee meeting,’ he soothed as he edged slowly towards the nearest exit.

‘But I’ll SUCK at that’, I wailed. ‘I don’t even LIKE women’s meetings!’  OK, that part was true.

‘Babe, don’t you think that God has planned this season out for both of us?’ he rationalised.  But I couldn’t see it.  My focus was solely on my own inadequacies and insecurity.

 The weekend before we flew into Townsville, we were in New Zealand where James was speaking at a conference.  The other keynote speaker was a man I’d not met before.  Nor did Martin have any idea of what was going on in my world.   Towards the end of conference, he grabbed me between sessions and said, ’Sam, I don’t know if this means anything to you, but God told me to pass you this message.  He wants you to know that who you are is what they need.’  And with that he wandered off.

 I plonked down on the couch in the green room like I’d been slapped.  I hadn’t brought my fears to God.  I hadn’t prayed.  I hadn’t trusted.  I had thrown a tantrum and dwelled on ‘worst case scenarios’.   I’d acted like I was dong this new season alone.  I’d ignored all the training and life experiences that He had woven through my life to perfect me for this very moment.  I felt ashamed.

 But in that moment, the Holy Spirit welled up in me like a warm hug.  God was my greatest supporter and I was smack in the middle of His will.  These new challenges were not hurdles but God’s vote of confidence in me.

 Was I able to feel that way consistently from that point forward?  Ha, nope!  But I made a decision that day.  If God Himself told me ‘who you are is what they need’, then my job was to believe it.  God was releasing me to be my ‘best self’, nothing more and nothing less.  Some days are easier than others, but I never stray from the mantra God gave me that day.  It’s now my life message, and I’m grateful for the experience that provided it.

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Reason to Trust #25 [Christina]

Christina DellarAge: 25 // Favourite Food: Anything that comes from the ocean and Mexican. // Dream Job: What I am working towards now… full time makeup artist and online magazine. // Current Season: The season where you can almost feel your faith muscles grow! // Met Jesus: When I was 5. // Instagram: @christinadellar // Website: www.frecklesandblush.com & www.frecklemag.com

My story with Jesus is exactly that… a story. It has bad chapters, funny bits and pages I regret. But no matter what chapter I am at, I am consistently amazed by who my Lord is. I mean my jaw drops when I learn yet another new side of him that I had never known before.

For so long in my life, Jesus was a man with a beard in a robe. He was nice. He was a goodie too shoes. I was a mess and He was perfect. I don’t know where these weird images of Jesus came from (I blame my children’s bible) but I could never shake the image of Him just being all… soft. God was the man in the sky, who was the boss. He was also a little… soft.

One of the big life changing moments for me was when I was going through a particularly hard time. My trust had been broken; I was feeling lacking in every way as a woman. I was sad… a deep, in my gut type of sad. I did what was instinct and reached for my bible and turned to Psalm.

I was drawn to Psalm 18 and it shocked me to my core.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.

I started to read and my eyes were drawn to one word. Angry. Wait God was angry? But why? Then I read on.

Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Ok He is ticked.

I mean have you ever heard of such anger? He is hiding under darkness… I didn’t even know God could do that. There is fire coming out of his mouth… that’s fierce anger. So I keep reading. He keeps being really, really angry for a while and then I read what my soul had been longing for.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

In a moment when I was feeling very unloved I met my Lord for the first time. I knew Him but I didn’t know what He was like. He was my hero. He was my Saviour. He was tough!!! He wasn’t weak, timid or just up in the clouds. He loved me and had rage towards anyone who tried to hurt me… and why?? Simply because He delighted in me.

I have never known anything so beautiful.

So here I am years later and I know my Lord. I have grown so much since understanding that He is strong and powerful. My husband and I are making big changes in our lives to follow what we hear God telling us. Changes that involve me packing my home, and leaving comfort.

Changes where I can feel my faith growing. Faith through tears and pain. Faith where God says one thing and my bank account another. A kind of faith where I am not scared to go on an adventure with God because… drum roll please….He delights in me!

So don’t even try to touch me or you will have my Lord to deal with… and He can get angry!

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Reason to Trust #24 [Sandy]

Sandy HopkinsAge: 40+ // Favorite Food: Dutch salted licorice // Dream Job: not sure, but definitely something that involves expanding God’s Kingdom. // Current Season: Being a mum & working part-time. // Met Jesus: At the age of 22yrs whilst traveling the world. // Favorite Verse: I have lots, but Jer 29:11 always speaks to me in whatever season of life I’m in…“For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” // Instagram: @shoppysandy

I made the decision to ask Jesus into my life at the age of 22yrs & stepped into the grace & abundance of ‘the God life’ without a clue of how big & faithful this amazing God is.

The dream I had for my life could be described as the ‘Suburban Fairytale’. All I wanted was to fall in love, get married, buy a house & have babies.

The suburban fairytale started falling into place, all except for the last part – children. Things didn’t turn out quite the way I expected or wanted! To date I have had 14 pregnancies, 13 miscarriages & I have 2 children.

After 2 consecutive miscarriages I became pregnant with my first son, who is now 22yrs old. I was over-joyed & thought that any health issues I had were now behind me. Another 2 miscarriages soon followed after his birth & I sought out a specialist, who after several tests informed my husband & I that the cause of our miscarriages was a chromosome translocation. After more specialists & more tests I was told by a Genetic Counsellor that I had a 1 in 10 chance of miscarrying again. How wrong he was (& oh how I would love to pull that specialists bottom lip over his head)!

For 15yrs I lived my life desperately trying to get pregnant, & once I was pregnant, constantly concerned about losing the baby. Seeing pregnant women was particularly difficult for me, but I decided that the alternative – becoming hurt & bitter – was worse.

In a nutshell, the biggest lesson I learned over the last 15yrs is this…

Ps 126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy…”

It’s a scripture that I was always tempted to rip out of my Bible – I never understood what it meant.

One simple word changed the way I read this scripture forever – to me this scripture is something I now live by. It doesn’t say “those who sow tears”. It says “those who sow in tears”. For me this means continuing to do good, continuing to serve others, continuing to give of myself despite how I feel. It means sowing during the storm seasons of life, sowing when you’re going through a hard time & concerning yourself with others. It means giving of yourself so that your whole world is not consumed by your own grief, pain & loss.

Practically, it also meant for me to rejoice when someone had just announced they were pregnant. To be genuinely happy for them & I chose intentionally to give a gift to friends who had just given birth. It also meant me praying for others to conceive & believing God for breakthrough or healing for them. I chose not to become the woman who couldn’t give a cuddle to someone else’s baby.

It wasn’t the only thing I did during that 15yr season – I also continually poured out my heart to God. I let God in on how I was feeling – I didn’t hold back any thing. I think that’s a big part of why I feel healed & whole today.

If you’re still wondering about my Math from the beginning of my story – I now have 2 sons. My youngest son is 7yrs old & came to us via another miracle, we adopted him! I honestly think I am the most blessed mum on the planet & I’m so glad that God’s plan for my life is bigger than anything I could have ever dreamed!

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Reason to Trust #23 [Helena]

Helena NortheyAge: 38 // Favourite Food: Have to say chocolate with coffee……. the best combination! //Dream Job: Doing it – I love being a PE/Health teacher. I feel privileged to input into such an important area of kids lives. For them to get a love of exercise, and see how it can help them through all areas of everyday life. And to know that it is not about whether you are good at it or not, its about finding something you enjoy, and improving yourself, having all the rewards that come with exercise like feeling positive about life and yourself, and having a healthier body and mind. Health in the same way relates to all areas of life, like resilience, building a positive self esteem, bullying, drugs, alcohol education, understanding our bodies, making decisions, sexual health, mental illness, healthy lifestyles…….. and then relating it to God and His purposes in our lives – LOVE IT! // Current Season: Living my dream life, excited about the year ahead and then getting injured, surgery, almost died and stuck in bed for months in a lot of pain! // Met Jesus: At Sunday school when I was five. // Favourite Verse: Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 – A Time For Everything

I was so excited for the year ahead. My injury happened on my 1st week back at work for the year. We had just started playing a PE game, I was in and started chasing one of my year 10 male students, sprinting at my max and leaning in for the tag, I felt a rubber band snapping sensation around my hip area. I finally found out I had a hamstring avulsion – where you rip your hamstring tendons off your pelvis. So three and a half weeks later – I have surgery where they anchor my tendons back onto my pelvis with pins.

After the surgery in North Sydney, I was in a huge amount of pain so the decision was made to hook me up to a self administering morphine pump. I pressed it whenever I was allowed to as the pain was excruciating. The next day they said I could travel back to Canberra, they discharged me and gave me a morphine injection to my stomach to help with the trip back.

My husband and I were waiting for the wheelchair and it was taking so long. About 45mins after the morphine injection, while waiting for that wheelchair, I started to feel sick and passed out. My husband called my nurse, who checked my vitals and rang the code blue alarm.

Six ICU doctors ran in (my hubby said it was like an ER episode) and they began working on me. I had respiratory depression – which ultimately stops your heart. They injected me with three large vials of Narcan, which reverses the effects of an overdose.

While this was all happening, I was unconscious, but could hear sounds. All of a sudden all the sound ceased, I felt peaceful and I saw bright colours of yellow, orange and red. And in my mind I thought, “I am dead, I am dead.” Then all of a sudden my eyes opened and I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt. The Narcan had reversed every bit of painkiller that I had in me and I was screaming. It took 20 minutes before they could calm me down. It was a very frightening experience!

What is amazing is that wheelchair didn’t come! It was God, if I had been in the car on the way to Canberra I would have died. God is ALL knowing. In life don’t get frustrated in the delays and the waiting – God is in control!

One thing out of that near death experience that I realised is that we are all a breath away from being called home.

We need to cherish everyday that we have, make the most of every moment and enjoy life in the everyday experiences. When we are called home, it is nothing to be afraid of, as Christians we will be taken into our loving Saviour’s arms.

So now as I write this, I am nine weeks post operative and still, every day, I need to give it all to God.

I am thanking God for my husband, my kids, my mum, dad and all my wonderful friends. God’s grace has been abundant. This injury takes 6-12 months to recover. I ended up with a superbug in my wound, (which has gone now) and I am still on a lot of pain medication. I have started Hydrotherapy, three times a week and was very excited to be doing something – however I am in more pain afterwards, but am believing for that light at the end of the tunnel.

I have really felt God near me through this all and I know from past experience that God turns the bad into good. He gives beauty for ashes. I believe there are many lessons to be taught in our tough times. We need to remember that God is good and keep holding, gripping onto God and know that He will bring you through!

God has brought me through bad times. He has a good plan for my life and is always faithful. Through the bad times, it feels as though we are the only ones struggling through trials. Life is going to have its ups and downs, everyone has struggles and WOW life is about bringing glory to Him, trusting God, just getting back up, dusting yourself off, and keep putting one foot in front of the other and pressing on through all seasons!

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Reason to Trust #22 [Bek]

Bek CunninghamAge:  The BIG 3-0!! // Favourite Food:  I love anything cooked from scratch…but have a massive weakness to anything labelled Cadbury! // Dream Job:  Mum first of all & encourager for others to see  all God has purposed for them.// Current Season:Full to the brim & loving it! Mum to 2 beautiful girls, Wife to an incredible guy (Grant), Church Life and Young Families Pastor and Casual Registered Nurse.// Met Jesus: At the age of 5 in Sunday school I raised my hand and walked to the front to accept Jesus as my Saviour.// Favourite Verse:  Ps 40:5  –“O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”// Instagram: @bek_cunningham

Have you ever experienced a moment in life when suddenly all of the oxygen in the room has been removed? Like, the weight of the world really is on your shoulders? Perhaps even the walls around you seem to be closing in closer and closer? For me, one particular day comes to mind. A day that could have possibly marked my little girl’s last moments!

Generally speaking I would say I’m quite a low key person and it takes a lot to get my feathers ruffled. However, on this day…. nothing seemed further from the truth. It changed me…. and it changed me forever! Often when a traumatic experience occurs, it can in fact alter your entire perception on life! Priorities can be restored and your focus can be realigned and back to where it should be, with God right in the centre!

My experience began about 8 months after my eldest daughter, Rylee was born. Little did I know, that we were about to enter a season where she would be unwell for an extended period of time. As a result, we spent the next 9 months in and out of hospital where she was treated with oxygen therapy, other medications and nasogastric feeds. It was an intense time and quite honestly we were utterly exhausted. Life doesn’t stop either when challenges come and I’m not too sure we really were able to keep up with it all.

During one of Rylee’s hospital admissions we were faced with an emergency. I was holding my very fragile looking baby at the time when the pediatrician entered the room. Quite sternly she urged me to put my baby back to bed right away! She had noticed that her breathing had become quite laboured in such a short space of time. Within seconds I heard her calling out the door for more staff. In a stressed tone, the Dr continued calling out into the corridor for help. There was a whole lot of medical jargon being called out and because of my nursing background, I understood the seriousness of each word! She was yelling things like, “Book an ICU bed, this kid’s crashing….. Someone get the crash trolley NOW…. Can we get a portable x-ray here STAT, she’s too unwell for us to move her!”

I was pushed to the back corner of the room and left to watch the staff take over. I was starting to become short of breath, as I realised I was unable to control what was going on in front of me. We soon learned that both of Rylee’s lungs had collapsed and her oxygen levels were quickly declining. At this point she was looking quite lifeless. I was freaking out…. pulse racing…. adrenaline pumping all the while still very assertively claiming healing upon her life in my own little corner of the room. I looked over to see them prepping for a chest drain insertion to re-inflate her lungs, which can be an invasive procedure especially because of her age.

It was then that the most amazing thing happened! She literally sat up in her bed, colour returned to her face and her oxygen levels began to climb more and more with every new breath. The staff all looked at each other in bewilderment, as moments earlier they had been preparing her for transfer to the ICU. There was a sense of relief that literally washed over the entire room! PRAISE GOD!!

Later that night, I found myself in quite the state of reflection about everything that had happened earlier that day! I opened my Bible to Ps 18 which confirmed to me about the reasons I trust. It says, “The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.”

My heart was filled with such gratitude and thankfulness for God’s supernatural intervention. I honestly don’t know how others deal with similar situations without God in their lives! My trust in Him over the last few years particularly, has continued to be put to the test and all I can say, is that having God on our team has certainly been a game changer! He has held the trump card in every situation that has come up, even when I don’t understand at first. Eventually when I catch up, I am reminded that He is always by my side and cheering me on to see the miracle to fruition.

To this day we are still journeying to see little Rylee’s health completely restored some 5 years later. But I can confidently know that He is with me always helping me through whatever challenge I am currently walking through.

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Reason to Trust #21 [Nadia]

Nadia ClarkAge: 33 // Favourite Food: My Mum’s Roast. // Dream Job: Doing what I’m doing. // Current Season: Besotted Mum to Zion (almost 5 yrs) & Hope (2 yrs). Stoked to be married to Craig for 11 years. Privilege of being a Pastor in LIFE Melbourne. // Met Jesus: When I was 5, in the car with my family. // Favourite Verse: 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” // Instagram: @nadiajclark

My husband Craig is very spontaneous and loves organising surprises. And while its lots of fun I can sometimes struggle receiving the surprises. I like to know what’s going to happen and to be in the know with all the details.

For example for my birthday just been, Craig let me know that he was organising something for me that evening. Throughout the whole day I couldn’t help but drop subtle little hints like “Babe if it’s going to be going out for dinner can you please make sure so and so is invited.” And “I would just LOVE a massage tonight- that would make my birthday.” (Ok maybe the hints weren’t that subtle) Anyway the evening came and was everything that I wanted it to be, and we finished the night and I remember thinking, “Man I wish I had been cooler about the whole thing.” But I couldn’t help myself!

There is something in me that likes to be in the know.

A year ago we were happily living in New Zealand, enjoying life, and building God’s church. We were involved at many levels of our church LIFE which included leading a campus for Ps Paul and Maree de Jong, leading Young Adults and heading Get Smart (a national youth conference in NZ). To be honest, we didn’t expect things to change anytime soon. Things were growing and expanding. We were stepping out in faith and seeing God do amazing things.

So when God started to speak to us in May last year about moving to Australia to look after LIFE in Melbourne, we did not see it coming!! It was left field, but we couldn’t get away from God’s voice (let’s be honest sometimes we want to run!). So in December last year we stepped out in obedience and left what we knew in NZ to start a new adventure.

While it was an exciting new adventure I was struggling.

See I wanted to know how it was going to end. I wanted to know that this would be the best decision for our kids?I wanted to know what church was going to look like? I wanted to know that it would be worth leaving our family for? I WANTED TO BE IN THE KNOW!!! But I remember God speaking to me so clearly and saying- “I’m asking you to step out when you can’t see what’s around the corner. I’m asking you to step out into the unknown.” At the end of the day that is what faith looks like- it’s stepping out and walking into the unknown. Like Hebrews 11:8 says-

“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going.”

So why step out into the unknown when it means leaving so many of our comforts and securities? When it means leaving what God has entrusted to us for the past 10 years in ministry. When it means leaving family and friends… The questions I’ve asked myself so many times!!! What I’ve discovered is that although the path is unknown our God is known. And because our God is known, we can trust in His character and that where He is taking us is for the best.

Like God showed me in Isaiah 42:16

“But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them— sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”

We can step out into the unknown, because HE is right there with us and will never fail us!! Through the unknown HE IS KNOWN.

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Reason to Trust #20 [Thelma]

ThelmaAge: 65 // Favourite Food: Chinese Stir Fry. // Dream Job: Retired, grandma and volunteer at church. // Current Season: Retired, grandma and volunteer at church. // Met Jesus: At 9 years old at home. // Favourite Verse: Galations 1:15.  ‘But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His son in me.’ 

I was 6 years old drawing on a blackboard on the kitchen floor. It had rained for weeks. Suddenly the lights went out. My 4 year old brother ran to Mum sitting at the kitchen table. I didn’t. I wasn’t scared of the dark. I was a big girl. Immediately there was the loudest sound I’d ever heard. I leapt straight into Mum’s arms, feet never touching the floor.

My father struggled to open the back door and was hit with something sharp. Mum and Dad left our little house and walked in the pouring rain through the flooded streets to my grand parent’s house. Dad carried me and Mum carried my brother. I was wearing a little red jumper but I was not afraid. Dad was carrying me, so all was well.

Our house in Yandina, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland had been destroyed by a mini cyclone on Sunday afternoon.

Only later did I realize what courage and faith my parents had to leave their fibro house being destroyed by flying corrugated iron from other houses and walk through flooded streets in pouring rain where power poles had snapped and power lines lurked unseen beneath the water.

A few days later, Mum said we needed to ask God to help Dad find the house insurance papers. He had searched unsuccessfully in the sodden debris in the ruins of our house, damaged beyond repair.

We knelt beside Grandma’s big four-poster bed. My head didn’t reach to the top of the crisp, white, damask bedspread. As Mum prayed, a picture came into my mind of Dad’s suit hanging in the wardrobe. The insurance papers were in the suit coat pocket. I knew without a shadow of a doubt they were there. I told Mum. She said, ‘No darling, they would not be there. Daddy hasn’t worn that suit since we were married.’ I was afraid Mum would not listen to me and I just knew they were there.

Mum was a great woman of faith and knew her Bible well. Perhaps she remembered the story in the Bible when God called and spoke to a little boy Samuel. I don’t know, but eventually she looked in the pocket of the suit and there they were.

That day, in His wonderful love, mercy and grace, the God who created the heavens and the earth and sent His son Jesus to die on a cross for my sin and that of all people and rise again from the dead to give everlasting life to all who believe, chose to reveal himself to me, a 6 year old child.  

Today, at 65 years of age, such kindness fills my heart with thankfulness to the point of tears.  He alone knew the path my life would take and how much I would need that steadfast assurance. This was my first personal experience of a God in whom I could have complete trust.

One of my favourite Bible verses which sums up God’s goodness to me, is that written by the Apostle Paul in Galations 1:15.  ‘But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His son in me.’ 

It is ongoing and the story is still being written.

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Reason to Trust #19 [Annie]

Annie WilsonAge: 49 // Favourite Food: Kiwi onion dip and chips // Dream Job: Mission Field/Preaching… or on some days running a gallery with great coffee! // Current Season: Involuntary single…and in a process of recalibration…I work with people who need complex care as a result of spinal injury or brain trauma. // Met Jesus: When I was 5. I remember drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross with me at his feet. I have always been deeply connected to Jesus but don’t remember a ‘moment.’ // Favourite Verse:  Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things that you do not know. // Instagram: @anneewilson // Book: Hope Regardless

I’ve been alive a long time and have known Jesus since I can remember. I walk daily trusting Him.

My favourite scripture starts with the words “Call to me” which in itself beckons me to trust that He is there waiting if I lean in to Him.

There have been so many times in my life where I have had to trust. During the last few years it has been a daily decision to trust Him.

You see, I woke one morning two and a half years ago and found my husband had died during the night. I prayed for Craig to be healed and for him to live – he didn’t – I was too late.

Were my earnest prayers begging God to heal not ‘good’ enough? My reoccurring question has been – where was my God who ‘watches over His children while they sleep?’ Was it not His will for Craig to live?

Can I still trust in a good God, a God who can heal, a God who is for me not against me?

Some days I can emphatically answer ‘yes’ to this question. When everything in me resonates that I can trust Him. Then there are the other days when my trauma overrides my sensibilities, I struggle to find a peace and have to surrender to the mystery of my God.

Looking back, since Craig ‘disappeared’ from my life I have had to make many decisions. One of the biggest was to make a career change. After working at a church for seven years in a creative role I had clarity that I was to ‘step away’.

That was where the clarity ended!

Having no clear thoughts on what was next, I resigned. I began relaxing into His embrace knowing that there would be something for me at the right time. So now, as a sole parent and provider I was having a sabbatical. In the mix of this I had decided to purchase a house and the mortgage started on my final leaving date from work – no pressure!

Not knowing what field of work I wanted to head in to or what I was qualified to do now, I spent the time giving my new home a creative overhaul. After about six weeks I thought I should probably put a CV together. So I got that happening in between coffees with friends and painting walls.

Then God moved His hand. I got a call from one of my minders to introduce me to a recruitment officer. I went for a catch-up and they offered me a job that day, couriered me a contract the day after and I began work as a serious injury/complex care consultant the day after that. Easy – new career.

I love my job, my nursing background has come to the fore, the capacity and comfortability (probably not even a word but you get the idea) to be with recently injured people and their families in the midst of their trauma and life changes is a gift. Although it’s hard to be constantly reminded of the fragile life we are leading and living breath to breath I feel so honoured that in a complete circle God trusts me with people He loves. It confirms in me that there is more to me, than me!

God, through people, has shown me over and over again since that fear-filled day and the many that have followed that He loves, that He is gracious, that He cares, that He provides, that He is close and that I can keep my hand in His and trust Him to lead me through the valley to an open field… to something new.

It’s a decision to trust Him. The rewards, well they are peace and comfort, they are hope and they are the ability to keep living and to keep giving to others.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things that you do not know’… Amen

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Reason to Trust #18 [Deb]

Deb HiltonAge: 57 // Favourite Food: If it’s from Italy, I will eat it! And Lamb, I love lamb! // Dream Job: Been living it for the past 16 years – Serving God in Vietnam // Current Season: Living in my heartland, Vietnam with the greatest team on earth to serve & be a blessing to the wonderful Vietnamese people every day. Happy! // Met Jesus: Known Him all my life, however I accepted Him as Saviour when I was 15, but not as Lord until just after I got married at 19. // Favourite Verse: I have so many but the one I live by & that has proven true to my journey in life is James 2:22 – “You see that his faith & his actions were working together, & his faith was made complete by what he did. In other words, you have to put legs on your faith!” // Instagram: @deborahahilton

For me, trust is something I always thought I had until it was put to the test after God moved our family from the comfortable, affluent, ministry filled, family & friendship rich lifestyle we enjoyed in Newcastle to the island state of Tasmania to serve in a church plant.

Moving there was not the issue, as God had done a number on us three years before when he asked us, after building our dream home, if we would be willing to give it up if He asked us to.

I was excited to be following this call of God, & even though I was leaving everything behind, I was sure, God would take good care of our family in this new venture.

We bought a business there to support us while doing ministry & began serving in the church. Life was wonderful.

Three months in, we held our first family camp. Our guest speaker finished his first message & called people out for prayer. He then called my husband & I out & said, I have a word for you guys! “God has called you to this place, but don’t look to the left or the right but straight ahead at what God has called you to do. (I thought, sure, that is why we are here, but thanks God for the confirmation). Then he said words you don’t want to hear in a prophecy, “but, there are going to be tough times ahead”.

My first thought was, “Really God!! What do you mean, tough times ahead??”  However, after processing this ‘wonderful’ word, I just reasoned that it was simply due to being in a different state, missing family & having to forge a new ministry.

Life went on fine after that for a couple of months until that ‘tough times ahead’ came tumbling in on us very quickly. The business we had bought was not what was presented to us on paper & it began to rob from us all that we had. Not only this, but our kids began to grieve for what was. We began to struggle just trying to juggle church life, family life, homesickness as well as propping up a failing business. As newbies to the state, we felt there was no-one we could share with because, hey! we were suppose to the pillars of the church, the ones who had answers, not needed them!

For the next 6 months or so, we cried out to God for answers. I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night feeling desperately alone in this unknown land with ocean between the unfamiliar and our hometown. What’s going on! Why God when we followed your call, is this happening? I tried everything, claimed every scripture & pleaded for an answer, but none would come.

A year past & still nothing had changed until we came to the point of falling on our knees before God saying: “God, we don’t know what is happening, we don’t understand the why of it all, but what we do know is this; you are good, you are faithful and you want good things for us, so whatever you are wanting to do in us, just do it.”

That day of surrender changed everything. Circumstances didn’t change initially but WE changed. For me, I began to dig into God in faith and trust like never before, abandoning myself completely to Him for everything and from that day to this, I can say with confidence, God has proved Himself faithful in every situation. From miraculous provisions, to incredible opportunities.

Without this bible school of life experience we walked through over six years, I would not be the person I am today, I would not have the faith & trust I have today for the big things God asks me to do, to believe for, & for what He wants me to step into as the future unravels.

From me to you, I want to say, with one hundred percent conviction, you can trust God in your journey.

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Reason to Trust #17 [Hannah]

Hannah BrownAge: 33 // Favourite Food: Toss-up between homemade spaghetti bolognese and peanut butter and honey sandwiches. // Dream Job: UN humanitarian aid worker… failing that, an artsy fartsy designer with a lucrative Etsy business // Current Season: Happily married, first baby on the way, saving for a house, working full-time, having far too much fun, and lots of naps… I think that’s called a season of plenty?? // Met Jesus: At Sunday school when I was five—but I didn’t give my life to Him until 18 years later (good thing He’s patient) // Favourite Verse: Isaiah 54 – the whole chapter. // Instagram: @hansy_b

I’ve known God pretty much all my life. I remember being in Sunday school as a little girl singing ‘Father Abraham’ and playing with felt board cut outs of Noah leading camels onto the ark. I would sit with my mum on a long wooden pew in that little country Anglican church, sing from a dusty old hymn book, and stuff my face with the Arnott’s Family Assortment that was inevitably served after every service.

In primary school, my Christian friend invited me along to Girls Brigade (this was before puberty hit and I didn’t really mind being dressed in quasi-military attire).  It was fun, despite the daggy drills we did, the bible verses we were supposed to learn, and the songs (oh lordy, the songs!).

I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t talk to God. Admittedly, the conversations I had with Him were embarrassingly narcissistic—there wasn’t a whole lot of biblical basis to my prayers (read: none), but I somehow knew from a very early age that He existed, He was omnipresent, and He wanted to talk to me.

When I was 16, my brother, who had recently become a Christian, invited me along to a little AOG church in Wagga to watch him play guitar. I sat on the front row as the worship music played and tried the hold back the tears—I was so moved by the beautiful atmosphere in that church. I know now that the Holy Spirit was ministering to my parched, lost little soul, but all I knew then was that I felt better for sitting in that service (albeit a bit embarrassed for having sobbed my guts out in front of complete strangers).

There were many more little encounters with God like that over the years, but through them all, I don’t ever really remember making a determined commitment to give my life to Jesus. I knew that’s what I had to do to become a Christian, but I guess I felt like I didn’t have what it took to live, what appeared to me, to be a pretty straight up and down lifestyle. I know now that salvation has nothing to do with my ‘good deeds’, but my little belief system was a bit skew-whiff when I was growing up.

It wasn’t until the bottom fell out of my life that I really made the commitment to follow Jesus—and it didn’t happen the way you’d expect. I was 23 and living in Newcastle with my boyfriend, who worked out of town during the week. I had no friends and I was desperately lonely. I developed a pretty severe case of depression and anxiety during that time. I’d go for days without speaking to a single soul, and I constantly lived under this thick cloud that seemed to sap every ounce of happiness and energy in me. I’d cry for hours and hours and there were times when I thought it’d be easier to just end it all. The depression ended up putting such a strain on my relationship with my boyfriend that we eventually broke up.

I found myself in a city of half a million people without a single friend in the world. So the day after my boyfriend moved out, I took my bleary, tear-stained self off to church. I had experienced church enough to know that the people there were supposed to be nice, and therefore they kinda had to be my friend. At that point, I didn’t really have a thought about becoming a full-on lets-all-hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya Jesus lover, I just knew I needed to be around people who would be kind to me.

I arrived home after the service that Sunday morning, sat on the end of my bed and said to God, ‘alright, if I’m going to do this church thing, then I might as well become a Christian’. So I prayed the sinner’s prayer (because that’s what I’d been taught to do), and that was that.

God took a hold of me that day. I’d only prayed that prayer as an afterthought—as a means of fitting in with my newly found church friends—but He took it as an invitation to come into my life, to rid it of every dark and broken place, and give me peace and security that I’d never known before.

And He did a deep work. Nothing in those early years of being a Christian seemed to come easily, I had to fight tooth and nail for my salvation. I had to declare God’s word until I was blue in the face, I fasted and prayed, I made a fool of myself in worship, and many many more times, cried my eyes out on the front row of church.

The turning point with the depression came a few years in. I’d had some small victories with it, but it was slow going. I’d bought Lisa Bevere’s book, Out of Control and Loving It, which is all about letting go of fear and control and completely trusting God with your life (seriously, the book was written just for me). But for weeks, I couldn’t get past the first page.

The book opens with a scripture from Isaiah (another one of my favourites):

“Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendour, Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” (Isaiah 52:1-2)

I realised God was telling me that I was weak, bound up and dominated by fear. He was saying that my inheritance in Him was right in front of me, but I had to lay a hold of it. I was, however, slightly incensed at His suggestion that I was the one responsible for setting myself free. Wasn’t that His job? Hadn’t I been sitting here all this time waiting for Him to zap me or something? Didn’t He think that if I knew how to ‘free myself from the chains on my neck’ that I would have done it by now? I stewed on that for several weeks until He whispered to me one morning, ‘the only thing that keeps you bound is the lies that you believe’.

That was it. Jesus said that I would know the truth and the truth would set me free (John 8:32). So it made complete sense that lies were the thing that kept me bound.  In fact, that’s the only thing that keeps Christians from being the most flippin’ dynamic world changers that ever existed.

It wasn’t easy undoing all of the lies I’d always believed about myself and God. It was terrifying to even attempt to believe that God had adopted me into His family and that I was now forever His—even more terrifying to trust that He’d never reject me and that He was enthralled by my beauty (I confess, I still scoff at that one a little bit, but I’m a work in progress). Believing God’s word over the warped beliefs that were so entrenched in my mind was like throwing myself off a cliff and expecting Him to catch me. But slowly, slowly, as I began to trust that God means what He says, His words changed me. The more I trusted His word, the less of a hold the depression had on me.

The start of my journey with Jesus was ten years ago, and I have to say that, now, I’ve never felt more alive. I remember when I realised after YEARS of fighting depression that it wasn’t there anymore; God had radically healed me, and I know it’s never ever coming back. When God sets you free, you really are free indeed. My only regret now is that I didn’t give my life to Jesus when the invitations presented themselves over the years; I could have avoided so much additional pain. But God has this amazing way of restoring the years that have been robbed from us.

So why do I trust God? He’s never left my side. Through my entire life He’s waited for me, sought me out, hedged me in, and pursued me to the ends of the earth. He’s comforted me in my darkest moments when I thought I’d rather die than live, He’s lifted my head when I didn’t have the strength, He’s spoken courage into me every time I cried out that I couldn’t go on anymore, He’s bottled every tear, He’s ever so gently led me towards freedom, and He’s given me a life more beautiful than I could ever imagine. He’s spontaneously appeared to me in the form of friends, mentors, leaders, and, in the most precious moments, as Himself. God has been my most faithful friend, my greatest lover, my dad, and the anchor of my life. I never ever wanted to become a daggy, hand-clapping, beige‑wearing, religious nut bag—which I guess is why it took me so long to make the decision to follow Him—but I never expected that by becoming a Christian I’d find myself in the middle of the greatest love story ever.

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Reason to Trust #16 [Caroline]

Caroline WoodAge: 40 // Favourite Food: A yummy healthy salad. // Dream Job: I’m already in my dream job… it’s to see my kids love God, to see them serve in His house, to change a generation that will see all future generations in our family loving and serving our God. // Current Season: A season of calling in Harvest. // Met Jesus: 1993 in a prison cell (I’ll save this for another blog) // Favourite Verse:  Romans 5:20 – “Where sin abounds the grace of God abounds all the more.”

Every day I’m reminded of how amazing God is, that He is present in all of the little things. You just can’t orchestrate some of the things that happen, it simply has our creator’s finger prints all over them!  We can try and control/plan out how our day, is to unfold, but the bible clearly says in Proverbs 16:9 – “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

God is in the business of positioning us in the right place at the right time. My hubby & I are pastors in our church and every week we run a night where anyone new to church can come along visit and be connected with other people in our church. This particular week, was a challenging week. I was new in the job, I had done a lot of phone calling and quite honestly I didn’t know if anyone was going to turn up that night!

I was frustrated; I was questioning God in my role. So the night begins and two couples walk in, almost one after the other. In walks a lady from another country and her partner, she was a new Christian who had just given her life to God the week prior.  Then a couple from our church walk in & the two couples look at each other – the international visitor puts her hand over her mouth in shock, the husband of the couple from our church grabs her hands, speaks to her in her native language and she starts to cry.

It unfolds that this man several years ago, while living in overseas, had given this lady a bible.  Here she is several years later, having just given her life to God in our country, meeting the man who gave her a bible in her homeland! Out of all of the people, out of all the churches, out of all the hundreds of groups meeting in our church, He puts these two people together! 

So I was reminded again that in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. God loved this lady so much that He wanted to show her, that her decision wasn’t a mistake. He wanted to show her that He is a God who loves, who knows exactly what we need at exactly the right moment.  And if that wasn’t enough, He then choses to minister to me!

At the same time He was able to show me through this moment, that nothing is a mistake, nothing is wasted. He is in control of everything.  He is in all of the little things.

So I am reminded to start each day by holding out my hand and saying “Here I am God, lead me, guide and use me!” 

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Reason to Trust #15 [Erica]

Erica SullivanAge: 33 // Favourite Food: Anything my Husband makes. // Dream Job: Teaching. // Current Season: Stay at-home-mom, loving my 3 and 5 year old, dreaming with my hubby, living in the greatest city–Austin, Texas. // Met Jesus: At 23 years old, in a church in West Virginia. // Favourite Verse: Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” // Instagram: @ericasullivantx

There are some really simple things I love about my parent’s house.  I know each time my family visits, there will be sweet bologna in the refrigerator, which is awesome because I never keep it in the fridge at my house.  I know my Mom will have a pair of slippers ready for me to wear because “the old floors get cold”, whether they’re hers, or a brand new pair she just thought I might need.

I also love how she will have every picture framed of my children I’ve sent since the last time we visited.  While all of mine are stored on digital media, she’s proudly showing off her beautiful grandkids and can’t help but display her love for her family. 

There’s no doubt when we arrive my Dad will be ready to serve us.  From having a fresh hankie in his back pocket to wipe runny noses, to running to the basement to get toys or any other thing we could possibly need, he barely sits, and when he does he falls asleep sitting up, because he works too hard and gives so much.

There’s truly no place like home.  I miss home.  Quite frankly, sometimes I get irritated with God for moving my family 1,500 miles away from home.

I’m thankful God always reminds me he’s in control, when my emotions question his plans.  While recently reading John 15:4 my heart was comforted by the simplicity of the invitation he offers us…

“Live in me. Make YOUR HOME in me just as I do in you.”

Wow, Jesus is alive in me!  He’s at HOME in me.  This beautiful thought gives me strength, and helps me fix my attention on Him rather than my worries and concerns about motherhood, ministry, or missing the ones I love most. 

My Mom knows I need slippers.  God knows the specific people I need to encourage me.  He knows I miss my family.   He knows how to supply my every need.  He even knows what I need before I even ask.  He reassures me of where my “home” is…it’s in Him.  My desire is to trust his will, and believe he will put the love he has for my family and me on display! 

Again, there’s no place like home, John 15:7-8 says,

“But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.”

I want to truly LIVE in him.  Every time I pray, open his Word, or worship him I want to sense the precious feeling of being “at home” with him…comfortable, relaxed, knowing I’m being taken care of and my God is ready to listen and act.

My prayer for me, for you, for the ones you love the most is for us to REALLY live—despite our confusion, feelings of defeat, broken hearts or lack of trust, my desire is for us to remember he lives in us and we live in Him…Welcome Home, there’s no place like it.

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Reason to Trust #14 [Jane]

Jane TullisAge: 52 // Favourite Food: Chocolate (cliché I know, but true) and steak, the rarer the better and I’d be happy to just take a slice off as the cow trots past. // Dream Job: Being an actress – I could easily pull of being the Vicar of Dibley’s Aussie twin. // Current Season: Hmmm…I already have my mid-life-crisis-convertible-beetle, so can’t pretend I’m still in that period then. Currently working full time, staring retirement down the barrel and finding it’s not staring back yet. // Met Jesus: 13 years old, at a Beach Mission event. // Favourite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”.

Almost 25 years ago our daughter was born, and nearly two years later our son was to be born, a lovely pigeon pair to complete our family. At four month’s pregnant with our son, I started developing severe pain in my right leg and, after a three-hour car drive to visit family for Christmas, I found myself in hospital with a massive blood clot extending all the way down my right leg.

Unfortunately, as a consequence of the drug regime I had to take, our son died before he could ever be born at five and a half months.  My husband and I were then strongly advised against ever having more children.  I know as I write this that so many people have suffered hardships in life, many more difficult than mine, and we had already been blessed with our beautiful daughter.  But the things that come our way affect us all differently, and no one person can claim to understand fully the pain of another. 

I found the experience of losing Samuel profoundly difficult, and yet I can look back on it and say that only my trust in God got me through that period.  But I want to try and convey that it was not an active “I trust you God” statement at the time that I am referring to.  In fact at the time I had very little clear thought process and days seemed to pass in a blur.  My husband and I cried, we organised the funeral from my hospital bed, and we just put one foot in front of the other day after day…and yet… at the end of my week in hospital after having delivered our son, I had a nurse approach me and say “I have never seen anyone handle the situation as you have just done, tell me your secret”.

Now please understand, I had no secret, I was a mess; but as I pondered her words, I was convinced what she saw in me was my trust in God at work for my good.  I do not mean my trust in God in that specific moment, because I was unable to articulate it at the time, but the trust I professed in Him fifteen years earlier as a teenager on the day I became a Christian.

And this is one of God’s key characteristics that blows my mind: He is faithful ALWAYS! His love for us and action in our lives does not wax and wane with our moods or the circumstances we face.  I declared “I trust you with my life, God” when I was thirteen, and God said done and double done…for life.  He stepped up when we lost Samuel, because He always steps up for his children who profess to trust in Him.  I believe the nurse didn’t see me as the messy human being I was at that time, but rather she saw the God I trust in who never left me alone for one second.  I believe she felt him each time she entered my room because it says in Psalm 139:5 that He “hems us in, before and behind”, not at our request in desperate times, but as a matter of course in our every day.

To trust in God is a SUPERnatural thing; it stamps you, and it holds you in good stead no matter what comes your way…because He is faithful even when our wheels fall off from time to time.  So whatever you are facing, don’t despair and say “If only I could trust God more”.  He’s held on to your trust from the first time you professed it, He has declared it to be enough, and He is there with you in your every moment.  Even if you can’t see it, others will despite what you’re going through and it will blow their mind.  So relax, He’s got you covered!

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Reason to Trust #13 [Bex]

Bex BroadbentAge: 31 // Favourite Food: Just food… But a good steak will make me smile! // Dream Job: I’m sure I’ll have a super cool job one day, but I feel like I’m living the dream right now! // Current Season: Mum to two busy boys. // Met Jesus: When I was 18 in my first year at University. // Favourite Verse: Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I am a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak.  I love knowing what’s coming up so I can respond appropriately, manage my emotions, and set out a plan. I have two beautiful little boys who quite like being spontaneous and doing ‘crazy’ (normal) things.  This quest for perfection is now impossible. I’ve adapted. ..eherm… I’m adapting.

I am married to a lovely,  generous,  kind man who is an incredible father and husband. He is fit, chilled out and leads a healthy life.  Two years ago at 35 weeks pregnant with our second son I was woken at 4am (rude) by my husband complaining of indigestion.  I pointed him in the direction of my trusty indigestion pills (thanks pregnancy). We both quickly realised it wasn’t indigestion and I turned the light on.  My husband was grey, cold, sweating, complaining of chest pain and a tingling left arm. When my normally laid back husband asked me to call an ambulance I knew it was serious.

In hospital,  initial tests were inconclusive and he was admitted to the chest pain unit. I went home to rest and put some things together for his hospital stay. I lay down for 5 minutes feeling a bit numb,  a few minutes later I received a text from my husband with the words “they reckon I’ve had a heart attack”. I felt like a heavy blanket had been thrown over me and was suffocating me.  I screamed,  cried,  yelled,  I curled into a ball confused,  angry and scared.  With literally nowhere else to turn I reached for my bible.

God,  I don’t understand, I’m terrified and I’m angry that this had happened. I don’t know what to do. Help me. I need you to tell me it’s going to be okay. I felt very clearly to open my bible to Proverbs 3.

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your HEART,
2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your HEART.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your HEART and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.

It’s a well known Proverb,  but in that moment the Bible came alive.

God was with me and knew my situation.  He encouraged me with the knowledge that my husband was going to be okay, to trust in Him and not to be fearful.

This personal moment with God pulled me through the darkest time in my life,  my marriage and ironically my relationship with God.

Comprehensive testing showed my husband was in perfect working order and there was no obvious reason this happened. He is on medication for the rest of his life to minimise his risk and as a family we have adopted a healthier lifestyle.

Like any traumatic life event things still pop up from time to time. My fear of losing my husband at any moment is still at times very real, even though I know the risk of him having another heart attack is now lower than an average person. But we talk, we pray,  I remember God meeting me in that moment and we find plenty of things to laugh about.

Our family have to trust God everyday that no matter what comes our way,  we’ll be okay. I trust God because I chose everyday to believe he has a GOOD plan for my life and knows me intimately.  It’s a wonderful,  freeing way to live.

Five weeks after this ‘event’ we were able to celebrate the arrival of our second son. A beautiful gift after a difficult time. We felt shaken into reality,  to appreciate every moment,  keep things simple and above all else to focus on the most important things in life.

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Reason to Trust #12 [Anne]

Anne IulianoAge: 54 // Favourite Food: anything chocolate. // Dream Job:  Grandmother J// Current Season:    Pastor/Chaplain/ always up for new challenges. // Met Jesus: At 6 years old in a conference. // Favourite Verse: Luke 1:37 – “For with God, nothing shall be impossible”

One of my life principles: “Keep money out of your heart…..and God will keep it in your pocket.” I absolutely KNOW that God supplies all our financial needs, exceedingly abundantly, over and above.  But learning this has been an incredible journey.

Aged 21 and starting in ministry with my new husband of 4 weeks, we had no money except for what was given us at our wedding. We immediately had to begin a journey of trusting God for everything. I know what it’s like to shop with a knot in my stomach trying to ensure I was not one cent over at the cash register, because there was no more than the petty amount of cash in my purse. But that’s when the miracles began… miracle, after miracle of provision.

When the first baby arrived, I was given absolutely everything I needed, including a heritage cot complete with heirloom linen, etc – abundantly beyond, more than enough to give away to other new mums.

Tests of faith came regularly, God never failed.

Then approaching one Christmas, with two little boys, we realized we had absolutely NO money for gifts. We could have hidden it from our boys as they were really too young to expect anything. But what about Christmas day with the extended family? Rocking up with no gifts would be disastrous.

We simply prayed and asked God to provide.

Three weeks before Christmas – an envelope arrived.

No note, no sender details. But with an anonymous bank cheque for $1,000! We both wept at the provision yet again of our wonderful God.

Since these early years we have never made decisions based on financial benefits. Purely on what we believe God is asking of us.

We love to be generous, and have found that we cannot out give God. Sometimes it is ridiculous! We will give money away and within a day or two, receive double, triple or more back. When we have needs, or sometimes simply a desire, our Father goes ahead and provides.

When John first proposed, he said he might not be able to give me a two storey house with a couple of cars in the garage, but promised me his love and faithfulness. Well, we’ve got the house, the cars, and many other blessings, plus love and faithfulness to each other. And we continue to enjoy the love and faithfulness of our ‘exceedingly abundant’ God.

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Reason to Trust #11 [Monya]

Monya van WykAge: 34 // Favourite Food: Grilled Lemon + Garlic Prawn and Tiramisu // Dream Job: To walk in my destiny // Current Season: Married, a Mum of 2, (9 week old girl and 2.5 yr old boy) and owner of a business called Heavenly Sent // Met Jesus:At 18 years old when revival hit our church – Open Doors. // Favourite Verse: Timothy 1:7 – ”For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” // Website: www.heavenlysent.co.nz

I was 24 years of age. I didn’t think I would ever marry and DID NOT WANT any children!

I had been in pre-mature relationships since I was 12 and every time after 2 years the relationship would break up for some reason. Be it cheating, discomfort, rejection – I have encountered it all. From then on I expected the same every time a new relationship started.

I was brought up in a Christian home, Christian values etc. I had a dad in my life, but he was absent in his own presence. I was longing for acceptance and someone to love me. Since the age of 12, I committed to relationships way beyond my emotional and physical maturity – which tore not only my self-esteem but also my spirit.

I was physically, emotionally and spiritually abused, broken and torn apart. A skeleton with no flesh. I vowed never to marry or have children, as I never wanted them to go through the same.

A prophetic word was given to me by a friend when I was 18, and may I add I thought this was from the devil – I was furious!

He said “God is going to turn your mourning into dancing, but first he is going to burn down the old flesh. I see someone setting you alight and oh dear I can smell the flesh…it’s burning… I can see the rotten meat falling off and only a skeleton is left over. God is going to remould you and shape you but… everything has to die first.”

Now that was overwhelming.

Fast forward after more relationships, and I am now 24. People found out that once they quit playing with me, the box I came in was beautifully wrapped, but empty!

I got involved with drugs whilst working in church. I thought I lived the perfect life and God could still use me, even though I was living this double life. But NO – God had other plans.

I was in a relationship with someone who I thought was finally the perfect guy. A match made in heaven. Two years later… we broke up. I had to part with drugs and finally face reality.

Fear started to fill my soul – I was suspicious, hallucinating, hurting, trusted no one, afraid of everything and locked myself in the house and all the curtains had to be shut.

I had nothing left and NOTHING to lose. I had to admit that even though I was not a prostitute in public – I committed the same sin, even if I was in long term relationships. It’s NO different.

I had to turn to GOD.

I decided to fast for three days… which then turned into twelve days in which my flesh burned and my heart was lavished and chased by GOD. He wooed me and I “married” my beloved in my room and I was overcome and very much in love!

Hosea 2:14 says,“I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her the Valley of Achor as a door of hope, she shall sing there. And it shall be, in that day, says the Lord, that you will call Me “My Husband” and no longer call Me “My Master”.

For the very first time since I can remember I had not been involved in any relationship for a full year. God redeemed me again, and again and again, like Hagar.

And then finally I met a friend, who courted me – not take me to bed first. Who got to know who I was and loved me for that. And I knew, this is what God wanted for me.

God had to be very clear with His confirmation, as I would not settle for less than what I experienced with him. I was working one day, doing a stock take, when I found a bible and I opened it. God gave me this:

Isaiah 54: “For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman. For you will forget the shame of your youth, For your Maker is Your Husband. But with great mercies I will gather you… with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you!”

God promised me that He will lay my stones with colourful gems and my foundations with sapphires.

“All your children shall be taught by the LORD”.

Today I have been married with the love of my life and we have two children! My mum still can’t believe that she has two grandchildren.

When God starts a good work it’s only done when he says it is. I’m still being transformed every day!

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Reason to Trust #10 [Kate]

Kate FraserAge: 21 // Favourite Food: My dad’s lasagne (Oops, mum made sure I told you it’s actually her recipe) // Dream Job: Writing kid’s books or flying planes or being a professional seafood eater, I’m making that a thing. // Current Season: a ‘poor’ uni student, studying Speech Pathology, working casually to fund her next holiday. The best season so far! // Met Jesus: Grade 1 I think it was, I am pretty sure I could even dig out the certificate I received from my Christian school. // Favourite Verse: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” // Instagram: @katielouf

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6.

Can I be honest with you?

Trusting in God can be terribly hard. It feels a million times harder when you try and trust in God when He doesn’t appear to be answering your prayer.

My prayer was a simple prayer; I’ve prayed it for as long as I can remember. It goes just like this, “ Jesus, please heal my mum.”

I’ve had a beautiful life, been in relationship with a loving God, and surrounded by an incredible family and wonderful friends. But in June, 2012, I realised that my life was characterised by fear, and a lot of it.

Let’s just say that June was my twelfth favourite month that year.

My beautiful mum suffers from depression, an awful disease that she has battled with since before my siblings and I were born.

I don’t want to go any further without saying how incredibly strong my mum is. To simply see the way she lives her life is in itself the perfect reason to trust God. (I secretly think Deuteronomy 31:6 was actually written about her).

In June 2012 however, I was home alone. Both my siblings had moved away, my dad was overseas for work and my beautiful mum was in hospital going through another ‘bad patch’ of depression. In the midst of the busiest time of university that semester, I was hit with fear, a fear I had been living out of for many years.

Fear for my mum and fear for myself. I felt the responsibility of carrying her burden for her. I felt useless that I couldn’t make her better, or take away her pain. I was terrified – depression had come through her family – and I had no doubt I was going to get it too. Above all, I was frustrated. I feel incredibly selfish for saying this, but I was frustrated that even though I was the child in the situation, I had to carry the all-too-big burden of my parent.

I felt frustrated that God would allow my family to go through this and allow my mum to feel that pain. She didn’t deserve it.

There comes a point where no matter how hard you try to carry or fix things yourself, it simply does not work. I was clearly at this point. I needed to put my trust in God.

God hasn’t called us to live in a place of fear. He wants to pull us out of it. He wants us to call upon him. I am not saying in that moment I immediately put my trust in God. I wish I had, because man, oh man, that would’ve been a lot easier. But I made a start. I began with recognizing that I needed to start trusting in God, which slowly lead to trusting in God.

Today, I CHOOSE to put my trust in God. It is a choice. It’s a choice that we need to constantly make for ourselves.

My mum still suffers from depression. I wish I had a cure for it, an answer for why people get sick. But I really don’t know. She doesn’t know either. But she chooses to trust in God too.

What I do know is that when I chose to put my trust in God, something in me shifted. My physical situation may not have changed, but I felt changed.

Before I used to live in a place of fear, my future was determined by life’s very unpredictable circumstances, as I now choose to humble myself before God and relinquish all control to him, I can rebuke fear and live out of his joy and peace regardless of the situation I may face.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” // Rom 15:13

Trusting in God may not result in the change you want to see, or the prayer you want answered.

With trust comes overwhelming love.

With trust comes the deepest peace.

With trust comes the hope of a joy-filled and certain future. 

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Reason to Trust #9 [Ness]

Ness AbernethyAge:43 // Favourite Food: Thai Food. // Dream Job: Already doing it! // Current Season: Full time mum. Working part time as a vocal coach and a freelance singer. // Met Jesus: At 14 at a Y-One Rally (Christian performing tour team) // Favourite Verse:Psalm 27:4: “One thing I ask, the one thing I seek. Is that I will dwell in the house of the Lord all my days.” // Instagram: @nessabernethy // Website: www.nessabernethy.com

I got saved. I started serving God at church. I was using my passion to build His house and his Kingdom. I got married in 1996 and my husband and I were in ministry together, on the worship team… perfect…right?!

Well after being married for 4 years, I found out that my husband had been having an affair, and my world fell apart.

We owned a business, and we had been able to purchase this because my mum had remortgaged her house for us. I mean “what could go wrong?!” If the business didn’t prosper, we would just go and get other jobs and pay back the loan. No-one had thought that our marriage would fail.

Still in 2000, I found myself broken, alone, fearful for my future, ashamed and in disbelief. I could not believe this had happened to me? I had done it all right! However my husband had made a decision and his decision caused my world to crumble.

I remember crying out to God, wondering how I would cope. I remember facing thoughts of suicide. The pain and sense of rejection was overwhelming.

But God heard me. He inclined His ear.

I clearly remember crying… no wait, HOWLING in my bed in the early hours of the morning. I literally felt like I was sinking into my bed as I was flooded with hopelessness and anxiety.

I did the classic “GOD… You need to speak to me. You need to let me know I’m going to be okay.” I opened my bible and began to read the first thing my eyes fell on. And without a word of a lie the first thing I read was NESS. Crazy I know – but the word righteousness hadn’t fitted on the page, so it had been split off. So here is how it looked and this is what it said:

ISAIAH 62 v 2 – 4.  8 – 9.  11 – 12                                                                       2 The nations shall see your righteous- ness. Kings shall be blinded by your glory; and God will confer on you a new name.  He will hold you aloft in his hands for all to see – a splendid crown for the Kind of kings.  Never again shall you be called “The God-forsaken Land” or the “Land that God forgot.”  Your new name will be “The Land of Gods Delight” and “The Bride,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his own.

8  The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem with all his integrity:  “I will never again give you to your enemies; never again shall foreign soldiers come and take away your grain and wine.  You raised it; you shall keep it, praising God. 

11  See, the Lord has sent his messengers to every land and said, “Tell my people, I, the Lord your God, am coming to save you and will bring your many gifts.  and they shall be called “The Holy People” and “The Lord’s Redeemed,” and “The Land of Desire” and “The City God Has Blessed”

WOW. God had me. God understood, and God, in His love, was going to restore me. His word cast a vision for my life… and without one, as the Word says, we perish.  This showed me, and told me God was more than able and more than willing to carry me through this hard season. That He would restore and rebuild me. Sounds like the bionic woman – ha!

That I did not need to be afraid or anxious, that I was not alone, and that He was my hope. I just needed to trust Him to do what He promised. To continue to lift my eyes, lift my voice, hold Jesus’ hand … and walk with Him.

I can honestly say that without God, I know I would be in a different place in my life. Love is risk, trusting is risk… but if you never love or trust, you will never fully live.

For me this says it all – as sung in the bridge of the song, “I breathe you in God” by Brian and Katie Torwalt:

“When I don’t understand, I will choose you. When I don’t understand, I will choose you God. When I don’t understand, I will choose to love you God.”

We will never understand some things. Bad stuff happens to good people. But when we fully trust God he really is able to work ALL things together for good for those that love Him.

I am now happily married to an amazing man called Bruce. We have been married for 6yrs. We have 2 beautiful children, Levi (4) and Grace (2 and a half).

God really is the restorer.

He is faithful to fulfil the dreams of our hearts.

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Reason to Trust #8 [Lucy]

Lucy KondaAge: 29 // Favourite Food: Dhal and Tiramisu. // Dream Job: Anything that enables me to work with people, the community and to encourage and equip individuals in their God given purpose.// Current Season: Crazy in love with my Savior, hubby and kids. Love my family and friends, love my church and looking forward to being a stay at home Mumma for the next year. // Met Jesus: At the age of 5 my neighbour’s granddaughter led me to the Lord. // Favourite Verse: Proverbs 31:25 – “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” // Instagram: @lucy_konda

As a child I always had a desire to marry a handsome husband who loves his family, be a Mum and have two boys. I now feel so blessed by God and am extremely grateful as this is exactly what has happened in my life and a whole lot more.  I am married to an amazing husband (Taiyo) who not only loves our family but loves God and is passionate about building the local Church. I have a healthy cheeky two year old boy (Samuel) and in two weeks I will be giving birth to our second son.
Even though it sounds like a picture perfect scenario, there has been many occasions since the birth of my first son that I have had to trust in God and his miraculous provision to work through situations. A situation that comes to mind in this season as I approach the arrival of our second son – is the birth of my first son, Sammy.

It was the 18th of May 2012, at 2.20pm I started to go into labor and my husband quickly drove me to hospital. As I arrived, the midwives assured me that everything was fine and as I continued to labor I would get to meet my son within 4 hours. Ten hours later I was still in labor and absolutely exhausted. The beautiful midwife that was caring for me suggested that I consider having an epidural. My response was, “No way – I’m going to deliver my baby naturally as planned.”

Another 4 hours passed and the midwife said to me again, “Lucy you really need to consider pain relief as you can’t do this by yourself anymore, you are exhausted.” The midwife then said, “I am a Christian and I would love to pray with you and ask God for guidance and direction.” She did not know we were Christians at the time, but had the boldness to confess this at a crucial time. Even though I was determined to have a natural birth I agreed to pray about pain relief. As the midwife took my hand and prayed with me I received a peace from God that I cannot explain and I decided to go ahead with the epidural.

Within 5 minutes the anesthetist came in, inserted the epidural and I was able to rest for about 10 minutes. Then all of a sudden machines around me started beeping, nurses started rushing around and doctors were being called in to see me. I didn’t understand what was going on, they were unable to tell me. Then I heard a doctor say to my husband, “Your son is extremely distressed, his heart beat has gone down 16 beats a minute, we only have 5 minutes to deliver him. We are taking your wife to theater now!”

From that moment on everything was a whirl wind, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever meet my baby alive as his arm was tangled around his throat inside my womb. For a second, fear started to grasp me, then all of a sudden as I prayed God’s peace overcame me and I knew that this situation was in His hands.

As I arrived in the theater, over ten medical staff were rushing around in a panic trying to work out how to deliver my little boy. One of the staff members were trying to keep Taiyo out of the theatre in case things didn’t work out, to save him from distress. They said “Mr Konda we cannot promise that your son will live, we need you to wait in the other room”. Taiyo then responded “You will not be able to stop me from supporting my wife and being there for her, let me in”. Taiyo walked in, sat down and held my hand. They brought in the Head Doctor and he quickly told me the plan. He said “Mrs Konda, you are going to have to work with us, you will need to push as hard as you can when we say”. They brought out medical instruments to assist in the birthing process. It was the fight of my life, not only for myself but more importantly for the life of a precious little baby.

As I pushed with everything I had, only 2 minutes later Sammy came into the world and was totally healthy. As he was passed to me, a joy and a type of love that I had never experienced entered my heart. Whilst Taiyo and I were quietly celebrating and spending time getting to know our new born son, the surgeon said to Taiyo, “Today you had someone looking after your family, it was a miracle that your son survived. If your wife didn’t have an epidural we would not have had the anesthetic line prepared to of been able to take her to the theater straight away.” Coincidence? I think not!  

God answered our prayer in such a powerful way, sent the right people to work with us and gave us the wisdom we needed. My husband continued to reassure me throughout the whole process that everything was going to be alright and he stood by my side the entire time.
I will always be forever thankful to the midwife who was bold enough to step out and pray with me about receiving an epidural, as it was that prayer that allowed me to lay down my plan and give permission for God to move in a way different to what I thought was best. 

Every morning when I wake up to my son’s smile I am reminded of Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In all seasons of life we need to trust God, not to be anxious and know that he has every detail covered as his ways are higher than our ways. As I am two weeks away from giving birth to our second son, I have every reason to be anxious and fearful due to my first experience of labor. However throughout this pregnancy God has put Philippians 4:6 on my heart – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  

I now know I can enter the next season in trust, knowing that God has heard my prayers and he has every detail covered. God is so good!!!

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Reason to Trust #7 [Bek]

Bek WindsorAge: 30 // Favourite Food: I love food in general but meat, the delicious red, thick and oh so juicy kind, would be up the very top. // Dream Job: I’m living it – serving God fulltime overseas. // Current Season: Disgustingly happily married young momma serving God overseas raising a spunky 22 month old with baby number two due in less than a month. // Met Jesus: Christmas Eve on my parent’s bed when I was four (decided what I wanted to do with my life at three though – go figure) // Favourite Verse: Colossians 1:17 – “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”// Instagram: @bekwindsor

I made a decision to give Jesus, the All in All, my life when I was four and I was taught early on all about trust and the importance of trusting in a trustworthy God. When I was young that was super easy. I just don’t know what happened along the way as I ‘grew up’ though. Maybe it’s because of my natural bent for control, independence and general self-reliance (to name a few choice traits that are a work in progress) that haven’t helped me on this journey for complete trust in my Heavenly Father.

God however doesn’t discount us because of our failings and frailties, thank heaven, and He has kept giving me opportunities to place my trust in Him unequivocally. And to resist the urge of ‘helping Him’ along the way.

One of these many opportunities has been learning to trust in Him as the ultimate Provider. I felt a call to serve God overseas when I was a little girl and finally my dream came true when I was 23 and I moved to Vietnam. When I left Australia headed for my new life in Vietnam, I thought the only way I was ever leaving (other than trips to visit family and supporters) was in a pine box.

But God threw me a curve ball, at least in my mind it was because I had a plan and I thought God was behind it and ‘on board’ (ahhhh yes, so arrogant and self-assured). He sent a wonderful guy my way visiting Vietnam on a short term missions trip who was a pastor serving in his local church in a completely different state than I had grown up in. After getting to know each other for a little over a year, it was pretty clear to both of us that this was a God ordained relationship and He had put us together for a reason.

Ahhhh – it sounds so lovely and simple. It got a bit sticky when it came to the practical little details like hmmm… we were living in separate countries – hardly the most ideal start for an upcoming marriage one would observe. It became clear that if we wanted to go to the next level, one of us was going to have to move. At the time I was finishing up my then apprenticeship in missions and if I wanted to continue pursuing this dream, I would need to undertake some Bible College studies and get my credentials etc. So logically, it made sense that I be the one to move. That and the fact God was all over it making sure everything fell into place ready for my arrival.

It sounded simple enough and like a well-laid plan. Yeah no. From the moment I made the decision to move back to Australia, it felt like my world was collapsing around me and I have never felt more lonely or sad in my life.

When I moved, it felt like I was dying to a life-long dream and was being banished to some type of desert or wasteland. It was in this wasteland or desert place, that I was stretched and challenged more than I ever thought possible and I learnt all over again, like a young child, to put my unwavering trust in the One who called me back to Australia and to just learn all that He wanted to teach me in that season.

It’s like He knew me. Imagine that. He knew my tendency towards self-reliance and my love of ‘plans’ and just knew that I was getting too comfortable. He knew I needed to be stretched and have my life shaken up a little bit, or a lot it felt at the time, to teach me to rely on Him and have that infant-like dependence on Him in my most vulnerable moments.

That special season lasted over two years. When I was just about to hit breaking point, God suddenly (He is the God of the ‘suddenly’ isn’t He) resurrected my dream of serving Him overseas fulltime with my husband and within a matter of months, we were moving to Vietnam together. But that’s a whole other story. 

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Reason to Trust #6 [Chermayne]

Chermayne GibsonAge: 21 // Favourite Food: Currently sweet chilli philly. // Dream Job: Acting. // Current Season: Single, recent university graduate, part-time relief teaching for a season and taking a bit of ‘me time’. // Met Jesus: When I was 7 years old in my lounge; I literally paused mid-run and invited Him into my heart. Then resumed running. // Favourite Verse: Psalm 73:25 “What else do I have in heaven but You? Since I have You, what else could I want on Earth?”// Instagram: @chermaynegibson 

Christianese (n.): ‘A communicable language within the Christian sub-culture.’

I’m not going to lie; I was tempted to claim that rather savvy definition as my own, but I’ll give credit where credit is due – thanks Google.

Having grown up in a Christian family, I’ve found that you tend to become numb to the terms that surround you in church circles. Recently, this for me was the word trust.

I have just completed my teaching degree in 2013 and made the decision that I would not go in to full time classroom teaching this year. I felt I needed a season of rest and refreshment, a ‘me-time’ season, before doing so. But I also needed to pray about it, just incase it was simply me making emotional decisions. Typical.

So I prayed… No answer.

Kept on praying… No big booming voice.

Continued to pray… No prophetic word from a stranger.

Meanwhile, I ignored God’s whisper in verses such as –

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverbs 16:9 – “You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.”

Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

My fluent Christianese would kick in, thinking that these verses sounded ordinary; dare I say cliché. I had obviously never had to apply this kind of trust before; trust with my uncertain future plans. Around me, friends from university were sending out applications and getting called in for interviews. The stress of competing for jobs seemed so overwhelming I didn’t even want to give it thought. If only I had a dollar for every time I was asked “So what are your plans for next year, if not full time?” And don’t even get me started on my parents.

Closer to the end of the year, my mentor, Hayley, asked me what I felt God saying. Honestly, I just felt an inexplicable sense of peace about this resting season I was coming in to; but of course I didn’t realise that peace is one of the greatest indicators God will use to direct your path. Ideally, I would have loved to teach but did not want to go in to a full-time career straight away. Was I being unreasonable? Possibly. But I felt God say “Leave it to Me…if you trust Me.”

Around Christmas time, I was out shopping with my mum, as you do, when I happened to bump in to a teacher from my church that I had done part of my work experience with during my first year of study. My church runs a multi-campus school from kindergarten age to college, and this teacher had just moved in to a new full-time position there. We caught up on the past 3 years in all of 3 minutes, and of course she asked the million-dollar question – “So what are your plans for next year, if not full time?” Long story short, she made me email her my CV so that she could hand it in for her old part-time relief position with a good word. A month later, I received a phone call from the school office and signed my contract that same day. How’s that for divine appointment. #Christianese

Looking back now, I’d have to be blind not to see God’s fingerprints all over my life. A good friend of mine sent me this quote – ‘God is so secure in His sovereignty that He is not afraid to appear un-sovereign.

The Christianese-to-English translation: God is so in control that He is not threatened by us thinking He isn’t in control.

The Christianese-to-Chermayne translation: God knew what He had planned for my future and He is secure enough to allow me to doubt; secure enough with me simply having to trust.

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Reason to Trust #5 [Roxane]

Roxane McArdleAge:  50…just! // Favourite Food: My mum’s cooking! // Dream Job: Paid to stay home so I can visit friends and volunteer in hospitals. // Current Season: In transition – season of trust! // Met Jesus:  7th May 1974, Ridgehaven AOG, Adelaide (powerful night!) // Favourite Verse:  Most of the Psalms and Proverbs but if I can only pick one, for this season right now is: Psalm 37:25 – “ Once I was young, and now I am old Yet I have NEVER seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” // Instagram: @mcardlerox // Website: www.heartfeltmusic.co

When I was asked to be a contributor, I was firstly surprised, followed by “aww..that’s so sweet of her to ask me”, to ‘Hey God are you in this?” and now I’m excited! Interestingly enough is always the ‘timing’. I was recently saying to a GF (that’s Girlfriend, not Gluten Free by the way!), that being at home again (story to come), I’ve emailed a couple of journalists in response to their articles and my GF said that I should maybe think about doing a blog and I said I wouldn’t know how to start…. coincidence???.. I think not! 

Our family has lived a life of trust. You don’t get to 50 without a few well-worn roads of curve balls and challenges thrown at you where you are forced to throw yourself before the Lord and say “OK God, just trusting you with this one!”

My gifting and passion is worship and worship leading. I just love getting on my keyboard and closing my eyes and just worshipping Him. I’ve been doing that since I was about 15 so, there’s a lot of songs, choruses and hymns stored in there to draw from!  Have you noticed how ‘easy’ it is to sing, “Give thanks with a grateful heart”, “I surrender all”, “Lord use me, send me”, “Christ is enough for me” and the list goes on… You know them, you’ve sung them…and we mean it too hey?

In December 2013, school was winding up and I was called in to a meeting with the Principal and the Business Manager. This wasn’t unusual as we met regularly throughout the year to see how Tuckshop (or Canteen if you’re from down south!) was faring. I knew we had to make some changes in the New Year and so I had my ideas ready to share in that meeting.

By the time I left, my role that I operated in for 10 years was made redundant.

An offer to stay on with the company that the College outsourced to, with the same hours and position but no longer as a staff member of a school I loved being a part of, was put before me, but funnily enough I felt that was just not an option.

I felt peaceful that He would provide. The redundancy was like the Lord saying to me that my time was finished. My girls were no longer at the school and I was happy to continue there, except that during my youngest daughters last year, I had felt a shift happening in my spirit that there was a change coming. I stayed an extra year because nothing looked like it was changing and had a fantastic year not knowing that by the end of it, I would be sitting here… applying for job after job!

It’s now been almost 4 months and as I look at our funds depleting, rather quickly I might add, I have to keep reminding myself of not only that scripture in Psalms but of the many financial miracles that have occurred in our lives – where God miraculously provided at the 11th hour. He seems to like that doesn’t’ He?

I got up one morning 4 weeks ago, looked at my bank balance and literally whispered to the Lord “OK Lord, there’s enough left of my redundancy for another 2 weeks rent. I’m choosing to trust You.”

I went to the computer to apply for more jobs and half an hour later my husband calls out and asks me what all this money is in my account? When I looked at the balance there was a back payment of over $5,000 put in there from Centrelink for Family Tax Payment! I haven’t had anything from them for years! Coincidence again… I think not!

With my husband, who’s a Tradie, not having had much work either, he was asked two weeks ago “at the last minute” to do a job driving a bus for a Scripture Union Camp for a week – he had JUST got his licence. Another coincidence? Mmm…

So, yes girls, God can be trusted. This is only one of myriads of miracles where God has stepped in and provided at the right time.  I’m still not working and my husband still hasn’t got anything fulltime, but the Lord can be trusted, and in the midst of a slight panic – I feel at peace.

“Abraham believed God and God counted him as righteous because of his faith”. Romans 4:3 (NLT)

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Reason to Trust #4 [Francine]

Francine HuntAge: 52 // Favourite Food: Thai, liquorice // Dream Job: anything thing to do with having coffee and talking to people. Pretty much what I am doing now. // Current Season: Full on. Running a church, state leadership (Queensland Christian Women), being a mum and grandma. // Met Jesus: 1979 // Favourite Verse: Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” // Related: Mother of Aleesha // Web: www.qcw.com.au // Instagram: @francine_hunt 

Earlier this year my husband and I took 4 weeks holiday. We have never in our thirty one years of married life taken that much time away in one go. That holiday included a 12 day trip to Bali. We ate, slept, read and just lounged around on deck chairs at the beach most of the time. The biggest decision we had to make was where we would be eating dinner that night! On our return to the real world, and back in church that Sunday,  I was still in holiday mode without a care in the world.

On that first Sunday back  I received a message  from a lady requesting that I do the funeral of her sister, a young woman who died from cancer just the night before.

For some, that is no big deal, for me I felt sick in the stomach.

Firstly because I have never done a funeral before – “I can’t do it!”, and secondly I couldn’t pass it on to any of our staff, as this lady and I had been on the journey together.

John (my husband) said to me, “You cant say no.”

I was completely overwhelmed because there was no way of getting out of this. Panic set into the serene demeanour I had only moments earlier.

The next morning I was out walking and talking to God about my ‘problem,’ and  He said, “I have blessed your life so that you can be a blessing to others.”

This made me think about everything God has given me and how my life can be used to bless others for His glory. The fear of standing at the graveside and having the ‘right things’ to say with a group of grieving relatives now became a privilege. Not only was it a privilege but it pushed me to grow in another area of my ministry.

Jesus gave His life for me, He has freed me from sin and death.

All the years of church life and what I have learned from His word and doing life with so many people, I need to share. What I take for granted is not the ‘norm’ for so many. I live a blessed life.

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Reason to Trust #3 [Laynie]

Laynie SajiAge: 19 // Favourite Food: Moroccan Chickpea Salad // Dream Job: I’ll get back to you on that one… // Current Season: Dating my best friend, trying to get better at cooking… // Met Jesus: Personally at the age of 16 // Favourite Verse: Luke 12:28 – “If God gives such attention to the wild flowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?” Instagram: @lalalaynie

I went to Summercamp at the beginning of January 2013 completely filled with doubt and unsureness in myself and my abilities. I was trying to decide whether I should go to university that year or perhaps take a gap year or to even move away. I had been carrying this concern for months so it’s safe to say that by the time I got to camp, I was a wreck. While everyone around me told me ”it will all work out,” I needed God, I needed my father.

As each session went by at camp and people around me had revelations and amazing ‘God moments,’ I was still unsure and became increasingly worried. I felt God say ‘trust me, Laynie’ but I was afraid of what the future held. The guest speaker told us to remain expectant.

On the encounter night the speaker went around the room and the presence of the Spirit was tangible. I was highly doubtful he would have a word for me so I waited right at the back until the speaker had seen everyone. When he came up to me and laid his hand on me I was immediately overwhelmed with Gods touch. The only words the speaker said to me were “Jesus wants you to stop worrying.”

That night I checked my emails and I had received my university acceptance. I was speechless. I will remember this night for the rest of my life.

I left camp with “trust me” inked on my heart and constantly on my mind.

Since then I have come to realize that God cares about me personally. I am not just part of the 7 billion people who live in this world. I am specifically loved, specifically chosen and specifically gifted.

If God gives such attention to wild flowers most of which are never seen, I can only imagine the attention he constantly gives me and I will thank Him everyday for the rest of my life for this.

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Reason to Trust #2 [Aleesha]

Aleesha PriceAge: 26 // Favourite Food: Gingernut Biscuits // Dream Job: Right now? Being a mum.  // Current Season: wife, mum, student, blogger. // Met Jesus: At Sunday School when I was four, my Uncle was the ‘guest speaker’ and my friend and I thought it would be fun if we both went down the front. // Favourite Verse: Jeremiah 5:22 –  I, the LORD, am the one who defines the ocean’s sandy shoreline, an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the bounds I set. // Related: Daughter of Francine // Blog: www.meandtheyoung.wordpress.com // Instagram: @aleeshaprice

When I was a kid I walked on my tippy toes. Not like in a cute way, as in I walked with a limp like a baby horse. It wasn’t cool, it didn’t make me any friends and it earned me the most terrible nicknames, a huge complex, and a target on my back to any potential primary school bullies. 

I couldn’t run, and when I did I essentially galloped, most times resulting in a dislocated knee-cap and ten minutes on the ground reeling in pain, at least weekly. I had my first knee reconstruction when I was four which didn’t work but left me with a scar the width of my entire knee that they re-opened and had another whack at when I was nine years old. I undid all of the work of the second surgery by sneaking out on Sunday School camp and slipping on a big puddle of water. 

I was finally old enough to graduate primary school and the incessant nastiness that it provided to make my way in to high school. Our family went on a road-trip from Brisbane to Melbourne the year between year seven and year eight and we stayed in caravan parks along the way. I remember one night sobbing myself to sleep in fear that the next five years of high-school I would have the same labels like peg-leg and limpy that I’d worn for the last seven. 

There’s not a lot of aninimity in a caravan and my whole family knew my fear. Mum talked me through it and I faced year eight with a unperpetuated nervousness thanks to the best friends in the world. 

As a pastor’s kid every guest preacher would have a go at praying for my healing. By age fifteen I had started to give up hope of ever being one of those people with a testimony that they play on high-light reels of healing crusades and found out I needed another knee reconstruction anyway. 

A well meaning lady at church camp came up to me the week before my surgery and told me some bizarre story about how she nearly died on the operating table when she had to have her hip replaced, and no matter what would happen to me the Lord would be there.  Brilliant. The Lord had clearly had no time for my petty knee problems for the last fifteen years, so he was going to let me come close to death before he pulled one out of the bag? It was hard not to become cynical at this point. 

I had the surgery and it worked. I wore screws in my leg for the following twelve months and  now have probably about eighty percent functionality. It’s not 100% and I don’t know why, but God does. My scars are huge but for some reason I trusted God’s judgement. He had the omnipotent power to heal me, to create me whole in my mother’s womb but He didn’t. I don’t understand why, but maybe it has opened doors without me knowing. I suppose that has taught me trust God and his judgement even if I can’t understand why things are happening. 

Fast forward ten years and I was walking down the aisle to my best buddy and dream guy. I remember him saying when we were dating that in his job we would have to move a lot. I suppose I hadn’t really expected as much as we have, and in the last four years we’ve lived in three different countries, five different cities, I had a baby while we were overseas (for four months) and moved with a six week old. I always have prayed before we have left and carry Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” with me. 

He has never forsaken me. Even in the times when I’ve felt confused He’s been there and reminded me of his great love through planting the right people around me at the right times. Maybe the lesson in coping with my leg was resilience, maybe it was to trust despite circumstances I can’t understand. Whatever it was I believe that his overarching purpose  has been to teach me to trust him, no matter what. 

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Reason to Trust #1 [Deborah]

DeborahAge: 28 // Favourite Food: My home made 12 hour lamb. // Dream Job: Event Manager, Singer, Wife, Mum, Traveller, Prime Minister, Professional Pinterester, Philanthropist… Yet to be decided. // Current Season: Single in a world full of “married with kids”, working fulltime, great friends, I love my sleep. // Met Jesus: At 5 years old, around our kitchen table. // Favourite Verse: Psalm 27:8 – My heart has heard You say “Come and talk with me” and my heart responds “Lord I am coming.” // Blog: www.reasonstotrust.com // Instagram: @deborahmichellestanton

I was 18 years old, sitting in my bed, crying my eyes out.

I had grown up as a pastor’s kid in Australia, loving God, loving church, loving life. I had been 17, finishing high school and had comfortably planned my next few years when I felt God speak to me about moving to overseas, instead of moving cities to do bible college.

Which was fine. I could do that. I trusted God. I sung songs about trusting God. My favourite verse was “Trust in The Lord with all of your heart…” My calling was beginning. I totally had this nailed.

Fast forward a year and there I sat, overseas, in my bed crying. I was alone. So alone. In a country I had been in for 6 days, in my new room, in my new house, with people I had just met properly in person for the first time that day. I had enough money in my account to call a taxi to the airport and book a flight back home that night. This did not feel like what I thought it was going to feel like. I was terrified. I was overwhelmed. I was freaking out.

So I did what every 18 year old, who had just moved countries to step into the call of God, did – I called my parents.

They had people over for dinner, so were taking turns making jokes, reassuring me and trying to distract me from my overwhelming sense of “what have I done?”

The phone call came to an end, I was still crying. I could hear the people I now lived with in the kitchen and I had NO IDEA what they were talking about, cause I didn’t know them. Just that they were a nice Christian family, who had a room for a girl, who had just joined the church.

And so came the crunch time. I grabbed my Message bible which was next to my bed and in a moment of “God I need you to speak to me now, or I am not going to be able to keep breathing,” I did the faithful “Flick and Pick.” (Open bible at random and hope where your eyes land on the page, is the verse for you.)

And here’s what I opened to:

Psalm 45:11

NOW LISTEN DAUGHTER, DON’T MISS A WORD

FORGET YOUR COUNTRY, PUT YOUR HOME BEHIND YOU

BE HERE – THE KING IS WILD FOR YOU

SINCE HE’S YOUR LORD, ADORE HIM.

So I threw my bible against the wall. Jokes

In my absolute panic, fear and loneliness, God spoke.

He addressed me as daughter.

He spoke directly to my circumstances.

And He turned my eyes back onto Him.

My situation did not change. It still took a long time, and many more tears to connect with people and really feel at home in my new surroundings. But in that moment, He calmed my fears and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that GOD KNEW and that GOD WAS WITH ME, and that HE WAS WORTH TRUSTING.

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