What am I grateful for?

Thank you Lord

For the cool spring evening air
And the velvet scented rose petals
For the colour of a momentary rainbow
And beauty that cuts me to the heart and overflows onto my cheeks

Thank you Lord

For chocolate sweet and silky melting on my tongue
And the light in a loved one’s eyes when they see me
For stories that touch me, teach me and change me
And the possibility of dreams fulfilled

Thank you Lord

For the sound of melody and harmony
And the gift of silence and stillness
For people who give the gift of themselves
And for shared laughter and tears

Thank you Lord

For the warmth of a hug that needs no explanation
And a smile that brings sunshine
For the joy of your presence
And the understanding that I am your beloved

Thank you Lord

For every thing
Small and large
That waits for me to notice

Thank you Lord

Waterfall near Franz Josef Glacier, NZ

Book Review: Lioness Arising

The lioness is a powerful image; a metaphor used to good effect in Lisa Bevere’s latest book Lioness Arising, the first from my Shelf of the Unread. Lioness Arising is a non-fiction book on Christian living; specifically, it is a call for Christian women to wake up and rise in strength together to change our world.

Lisa combines scripture with an exploration of the characteristics of lionesses to reveal strength and courage in women. A lioness is strong, powerful, fierce, fearless and strategic as well as beautiful, graceful, gentle, tender and nurturing. In her own words, Lisa has “come to see the lioness as a picture of how every daughter of the Most High can embrace her strength, develop courage, and effect change in her world.”

It is worth noting that although Lisa shares some of her own experiences in making a difference in her spheres of influence (from bringing hope to trafficked sex workers in Mumbai to bringing change in her son’s required reading at school), this book is not a road map or a blue print. It is an invitation, a wake-up call, to rise up, see what God is doing, and bring all that he has created in us, and gifted to us, to join him.

So what were my impressions? I’ll say right up front that I really liked this book, and having now read it twice in one month, my copy is full of pencilled underlining (my apologies to the purists) and post-it notes wherever an insight, a story or a point particularly caught my attention. Many times it felt like Lisa was having a conversation with me personally, knowing my story, my journey. This book spoke to me, reminded me of who I am in Christ, encouraged me to strengthen my relationships with other Christian women, and to keep following the path God is laying out before me. It challenged me, as did Half the Sky (which is also quoted in this book), not to be a bystander. I recommend Lioness Arising as a book worth reading, for women and men.

I think it’s worth finishing off with the book’s dedication:

To all my lioness sisters who feel something wild, fierce, and beautiful stirring within them.

You are stunning.
You were born for this moment.
Don’t be afraid of your strength, questions or insights.
Awaken, rise up, and dare to realize all you were created to be.

How’s Your Attitude?

“If you don’t like something change it;
if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
~ Mary Engelbreit

Happiness is an attitude.
We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.
The amount of work is the same.
~Francesca Reigler

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are,
raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.
~Norman Vincent Peale

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently,
but life itself would come to be different.
~Katherine Mansfield

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you
as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you
as by the way your mind looks at what happens.
~John Homer Miller

The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude
in any given set of circumstances.
~Victor E. Frankl

The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday
regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.
~Charles Swindoll

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
~Winston Churchill

Image courtesy: Enhanced Rainbow by Barb Ver Sluis

Valuing a Fallow Season

In March this year, I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend with some good friends. We were staying in a house near the beach, and we’d spent Saturday walking along the beach, visiting a weekend market, lunching from the fabulous bakery, relaxing on the sand chatting and reading, wandering through secondhand bookstores. Late in the afternoon we were chilling out on the lounge. The shadows were lengthening, birds were singing outside, and Sting was crooning in the background. It was blissfully relaxing.

Only 24 hours earlier I was rushing around the house trying to make sure everything was organised for the weekend away.  Why does everything seem to take so much longer when you’re in a hurry?  Life was really busy.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to change gears and relax into the moment, but I was amazed at how much difference it made to take myself out of my normal environment and activities, even for a day or two.  I also realised how rarely I actually do that. I’d like to say that I learned the lesson and started to be more intentional about taking time out to relax, be refreshed, and enjoy some simple pleasures with friends. But … I didn’t. Life continued to be busy, and often stressful, and like someone caught in a swift flowing river I was being carried downstream.

In July I blogged about the change of seasons in life. What I didn’t realise at the time was the type of season I was heading into. To continue the river analogy, by August, I’d hit the rocks. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was feeling bruised and battered.  The re-occurrence of a previous back problem also meant that I was spending a lot of time lying down, resting my back and trying to manage the pain.  I’d been there before and I had no desire for a tedious return visit.  I wanted to get on with other things in my life, so I found it hard to embrace the opportunity to rest. Recovery can be a frustratingly slow process.

But what I’m just coming to appreciate is that I haven’t missed the change of season, I just didn’t recognise it at first. In an agricultural context, farmland that has been ploughed and left unseeded for at least one season is described as ‘fallow’. A fallow season allows the land to rest and restore its productivity.

For me this is like a fallow season. Aha – a light bulb moment!

I’m definitely feeling a little ‘ploughed’ at present, but I’m also learning to be grateful for this season of rest. So it’s not exactly a 5-star resort holiday, but it’s the rest I need if I’m going to be productive in the next season. And I’m looking forward to that.

Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net