Your Choice…

New Year.

New Beginning.

Fresh Start.

Anything can happen.

Even if nothing looks like its going to be different from last year, YOU can choose to make it different. To make it better.

YOU can choose to have a better attitude.

YOU can choose to speak better words.

YOU can choose to become the person that you want to be.

Obviously with the New Year having just begun, lots of people have been making resolutions for the year. Some of you may laugh at the concept, others may take it really seriously. I for one NORMALLY thing resolutions are dumb. But this year there is a freshness in the air. The whole idea of it being a new year and a fresh start gets me really excited. So this year I love the idea.

I have written down many goals I want to achieve this year. But my one overall goal and theme for my year is ‘I want to become someone I am proud of’. I want to get to this time next year and look back on my year and be proud of the person that I have been and the way that I have lived.

I look back over 2016 and I can’t say that about myself. I’m not proud of the person I became or the way that I lived.

Don’t get me wrong, of course there was great times throughout the year. But for a lot of the year I made some pretty bad choices.

I can sit here and play the victim card and say that Anxiety caused me to become that person. Yes anxiety did kick my butt last year, it robbed me of a lot of life. BUT I made my own choices last year. Choices that did not help me, in fact they did the polar opposite.

I made choices that led to me losing friends.

I made choices to be a grumpy colleague/employee with a bad attitude.

I made choices to gossip and smack talk people who in actual fact mean a whole lot to me.

I made choices to be lazy and sit on butt and eat crap food which led to me becoming pretty unhealthy and back to hating what I see in the mirror.

I could go on and on with the bad choices I made, but thats not what this is about.

It’s a new year! Time for a fresh start! Anything can happen.

Doesn’t that excite you? This year ahead is full of endless choices and opportunities that could change your life for the better…or not.

What are YOU going to choose?

I for one choose to become someone that I am proud of. I know I won’t always get it right…but ill give it my best shot.

I have a whole list of practical things that I can do and choices that I can make to be someone that I am proud of. Instead of trying to be them all at once I am starting with 2 things…and then i’ll go from there. Wanna hear them? You have to because this is my blog.

Numero Uno: I want to be someone of my word. Let my yes be yes and my no be no. If I say I’m coming, i’ll be there. I won’t wait for a better offer. I don’t care what the world says about us Millennials…I choose to be different. I will be a person of my word.

Numero Dos (why am I counting in spanish??): I want to be intentional with people. With my friends, with my family, with people that I meet. I want to be a giver, not a taker. I want to be generous with my time and my words. My phone is not more important then you. I want to show love and kindness….I mean….its what my name means so I should probably live up to it.

So theres my starting points …and then we will go from there. Laugh at me all you like with my new years resolution….but I’m in…all the way.

What kind of person do you want to be this year? Or even beyond this year? You don’t become a different person overnight, it takes time and choices.

Position yourself now to become the person you want to be in the future.

If you want to be a Doctor, you position yourself at high school by taking the right subjects to get you into uni, and then by studying for many years at uni before actually becoming a Doctor..and then keep studying to become a better Doctor. It takes time and hard work.

In the same way, the KIND of person you want to be takes positioning yourself now and putting in hard work and effort.

Life throws us curveballs all the time. Some of those curveballs are really really hard. But the kind of person you are, your character, is what either stands up and gets you through….or makes you crumple.

Take up your position, stand firm……and the Lord will be with YOU. – 2 Chronicles 20:17

 

Be anxious for nothing…

Be anxious for nothing….

Nothing? Really?

But I seem to be anxious about EVERYTHING. Anxious about the future, about money, about my job, about my health, about being in an airplane, about being in this massive city, about friendships, about being so far from my family, about making bad choices, about the ferry to Manly sinking while Im on it, about Australia being on high terror alert, about disappointing God because I haven’t spent time with him and when I do its only to ask for something, about not being married yet or even remotely close to it, about being too far away from a toilet if I feel sick, about the busses brakes not working while going down a hill and plummeting into the ocean, about what people are saying about me…..ridiculous or legit reasons…anxiety has robbed a lot of my year.

Anxiety :
Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.
A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.

Don’t get me wrong, my year has definitely had a lot of great things happen. As you can read in previous posts God has been doing a great work in me. And he continues to do so. My life isn’t horrible. But anxiety has been a massive part of this year. I have been physically sick a lot of this year which I have been trying to deal with medically but I know that it is worsened by anxiety. Worry. Fear.

‘An anxious heart weighs a man down…‘ (Proverbs 12:25)

Some people say to me – just stop worrying about things. That, my friends, is a very true but rather unhelpful comment. Of course I should stop worrying! Oh how I wish I lived a worry free life. Why is it that my brain just cannot calm itself down and chill out….instead it goes a million miles an hour coming up with many different disastrous outcomes of any situation.

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Be anxious for nothing…

I hope you all know that this blog is not about me teaching you anything or preaching my sermon…its simply me sharing part of my journey with you … most of which is God reminding me of His goodness and me in the end going ‘DUUUUH, why didn’t I look to you in the first place.’

As you read up the top…some of my anxieties are somewhat ridiculous and irrational…some are reasonably legit although out of my control and some are things that I could change or control but haven’t and have just let them sit there and simmer. But whatever the case…I have been filled with anxiety.

I got to a point where I woke up one morning having an anxiety attack. I could hardly breathe, I felt like passing out, I felt sick, I was sweating, I was crying and I had absolutely no idea why this was happening or what was going on. I knew that I had to pull myself together because I had two kids to look after that morning and their parents had already gone to work…but that made me panic even more. I called up my dad (praise the Lord for awesome dads), and he prayed for me and then reminded me of the promises of God and gave me this scripture to read  and told me that whenever I came to a promise of God that I was to read it aloud and declare it.

At first I just started reading it out as fast as I could because I was still panicking, but soon I started to calm down and as I read the scripture I started declaring it. Anxiety started to fade and a boldness started to appear. I had to fix my eyes on Jesus a remember once again that He was in control and loved me and He chose me and has not forgotten me…

‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?.’ (Matthew 6:25-27)

Now I am pretty passionate about speaking words of life (right anyone who heard me preach while I was youth pastoring??)…and yet I am the WORST at practicing what I preach when it comes to speaking over myself. I could easily pray for peace or freedom from anxiety over others but didn’t really think I could get it for myself.

Like Pastor Steven Furtick said in a great message of his ‘You will never have peace until you learn how to speak peace to the waves within. Learn how to calm the waves within and you can ride the waves without.’

Most of the time the issue is not in the actual physical situation going on at all, its all about whats going on inside, how many conclusions you have jumped to, how far you have let your mind wander.

Joyce Meyer says, ‘Worry is down payment on a problem you may never have.’

I am learning how to speak the promises of God over my life and within those promises are all the answers to my worries and concerns.

I am a work in progress, but as I have been speaking out the promises of God I have found myself a lot less anxious and worried and my health has improved quite a lot.

‘If God is FOR us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.’ (Romans 8:31-32)

‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast ALL your ANXIETY on Him because he cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:6-7)

‘And my God will meet ALL your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.‘ (Philippians 4:19)

‘So we can say with CONFIDENCE, “The Lord is my helper; I will NOT be afraid.”‘ (Hebrews 13:6)

How God must look at me and laugh…’Oh Charissa….take a chill pill and focus on me.’

‘Be anxious for NOTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your MINDs in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:6-7)

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Hope.

‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ – Psalm 73:26

Every person has a story to tell and no story is any less of story then someone else’s. Some may be less extreme than others, but no less important.

I am very blessed with the family I have, a family who love Jesus and love each other. I have a mum and dad who have been incredible role models and lived a life of faith and putting their trust in Jesus.

But growing up a church kid with great parents by no means equals an easy life with no issues. And while my issues may seem so insignificant next to those of others, they still affected me and my identity.

All the way through my primary school years and teenage years like many others I struggled with rejection. Kids can be cruel. Starting a new school – one minute I had friends and the next someone turned them all away from me. Close friends that would all of a sudden just not be my friend anymore. A couple of relationship bust ups. A friendship betrayal. Ra ra ra ra. Im sure we have all been through these.

If you ask my parents….many tears were shed over friendships. Many lies were believed..’I’m not good enough’ ‘something is wrong with me’ ‘don’t get your hopes up, eventually this person will reject you too.’

But in all of those times I had one constant that I held on to. I held onto Jesus. I had been told my whole life that ‘HE would never leave me or forsake me’. He was my hope. He anchored me.

After school was done and I entered the working world I still struggled with feeling very lonely. I knew a lot of people but I just craved good close friendships with people around my own age. I was in no hurry to get married, but I went to A LOT of weddings of my family and friends and I couldn’t help but wonder when it was going to be my turn…if ever.

But still I had a hope in Jesus. I held onto him. He gave me courage, strength, grace, perseverance (and a whole lot more) to just keep going. I knew I was called by God, I had a purpose and so I kept going.

I got to the end of last year and I was exhausted. I had just completed four years of leading the youth ministry in a church. I had loved working with young people and had a passion to see them fall in love with Jesus and reach their potential. But at the end of that fourth year I was exhausted. I had lost my passion. I had lost my spark.

I moved to Sydney in search of some direction. I felt like it was the right move. And if you look at my last blog…God did some work in me.

For whatever reason..the months that followed have probably been the hardest months of my life. I completely lost any passion I had. I felt purposeless. I felt lost. I felt alone. And the one thing that destroyed me the most is that I FELT like the One who I had always held on to had rejected me too. I lost hope.

‘Take from a man his wealth, and you hinder him. Take from him his purpose, and you slow him down. But take from a man his hope, and you can stop him.‘ – C. Neil Strait

I think because it was habit, I still went to church on sundays and the messages were always nice but thats all it was (to me). I went to a connect group because I thought I should and it was nice but I was mainly there for the company.

Inside I was done. My head would tell me one thing simply because thats what I had been taught all my life, but my heart didn’t agree. Everything I had preached to young people over the years just seemed cold and lifeless.

The feeling of being without hope is absolutely horrible. Life becomes pointless. And because my head was going over all the things I had been taught growing up…I felt guilty because my heart wasn’t believing them. Guilt and hopelessness. Not a good mix.

One day I was sitting in church and someone was doing an offering message and I wasn’t really listening and I was going to be all to happy to let the offering bucket pass me by. But I just felt this little nudge inside me to put a certain amount in. At first I had a little argue with myself and then I thought ‘wait a second, I haven’t felt this kind of nudge in a long time, if this is God then I’m gunna do it.’ So I put in the amount that I felt to put in. And that was that. No more nudge, no follow up…But I got home that night and for some reason checked my bank account and lo and behold 10 times the amount that I had put into the offering had been put into my account. Coincidence or not, something happened. A spark of hope. My God was still real. He hadn’t left me. Hope.

As I look back over my time here in Sydney NOW I can see that God WAS with me and doing things in my life. I had been blind to it. God had placed some INCREDIBLE people in my life. Friends that were my age who would go out of there way to see me and make sure I was doing ok. An Aunty and Uncle that cared about me and would encourage me and have me over for dinner when I just needed some love. A close friend who was walking a very similar journey to me and understood everything I was going through. How could I have been so blind to what God had put around me.

I almost struck out. God has a calling on my life and I almost gave it up!

This spark of hope started to bring back some passion, some excitement for life, some purpose. I could hear Him talking to me again. I felt like I could breathe again.

I still have no clue what God is up to in my life or where he is going to take me. But I know that this ‘waiting time’  is not wasted time. In this time of so many uncertainties God is still using me and speaking to me and getting me ready for what is coming. Hope.

In a world that seems so lost and full of hopelessness; War stricken countries, children getting beheaded, humans getting trafficked, murders, kidnappings – horrific events.  The ONE thing it needs is HOPE. The only thing worth holding onto is HOPE.

JESUS.

‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.’ Ps 62:5

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Extraordinary

“You will never become extraordinary unless you are willing to do what the ordinary person is not willing to do.” – Lucinda Dooley

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For those of you that know me, I recently packed up my life in New Zealand and moved to Sydney, Australia. I was not seeking riches or fame or using it to escape anything back home. I simply felt called. I felt called to take a step into the great unknown. Theres a romantic, exciting, adventurous fragrance when God speaks to you, when you feel called. But walking out the call can feel a whole lot different.

Over the past month I have felt excitement, joy, peace, fear, sadness, anger, intimidation. I’ve felt loved and accepted and I’ve felt scared and alone. I’ve felt under qualified, out-of-my-depth and very very unimportant. One thing I have definitely not felt is ‘extraordinary’.

As I left New Zealand, I thought that getting on the plane and arriving here was my big “Step of Faith” and from then it was going to be smooth sailing (or flying) – I’d get a great job, I’d fit in straight away and everything would be peaches and roses. This was not the case. Four weeks on I still didn’t have a job, I was running out of money, I had applied for at LEAST a hundred jobs and been rejected over and over.

To many people what I am doing is not a big deal, plenty of people move countries and find it difficult at the beginning. Its no war or famine or violence or injustice crisis that I am in. But it is my walk.

I was stressed. I wasn’t sleeping well. I cried often. I was angry. I hid in my room so my cousins couldn’t see these emotions. I wanted to give up and get back on a plane and come home. I had let go of the promise of God that He would take care of all my needs. I had forgotten about his peace that led me here in the first place.

And then I stopped. I looked through my journal with notes from every sermon since I got here, I looked at the book my dad had given me, I looked at the card my nana had sent me, I remembered the theme of the night at connect group and they ALL were saying the same thing or wove together beautifully.

‘Just keep going’. 

This is where the real step of faith happens. It may not be a big physical step like getting on a plane but it is the step where you make a choice in the midst of pain or frustration or fear or depression to simply keep going and keep trusting Jesus.

When He calls and you go, despite what is happening around you or where He’s taking you (it may not be where you thought you were going).

When you trust him with your whole heart and keep your eyes fixed on Him.

When you re-align yourself with Him and re-learn what it means to dream in Him.

When you realise that ordinary people are only ordinary because they haven’t quite realised they are actually extraordinary yet.

THAT is when you begin to live an extraordinary life. The life you were born to live. And when you live an extraordinary life you radiate Jesus to others – He is the Hero, the Saviour, the One who deserves ALL the glory.

I don’t have it all together (obviously). I certainly don’t have all the answers. I have no IDEA what the rest of this year is going to look like. I may not even be making sense. But what I do know is that I just simply need to keep going. Keep leaning into Jesus and He will lead the way.

Guess what. When I stopped stressing and started trusting….I got a job. Duh!

‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’ 1 Corinthians 2:9

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Overwhelmed

Sitting in the midst of 25,000+ people at Hillsong Conference, I am totally overwhelmed. Overwhelmed not by the fact that there is over 25,000 people there, or the fact that there are many phenomenal world renown preachers and teachers sitting a few metres away from me, or the fact that the worship band is incredible. But overwhelmed by Jesus. 

For so long I have been living life longing for the future, longing for what I don’t have but think I should have, always wanting to be at the next step of life because thats when Il feel content and really live it up. 

I haven’t really wanted to live in the now, because the now if full of regrets, shames, insecurities and unanswered questions. But if I am in the next step I would have sorted all of this stuff out by then….

But as I sit here I am completely overwhelmed as my precious Jesus takes hold of my regrets and shames and insecurities and unanswered questions that burden me and takes them to the cross. I am overwhelmed as he takes my life full of screw ups and ruins and puts his glorious stamp on it. Jesus didn’t owe me anything, He didn’t deserve to be crucified, those were my sins he got put to death for, He was the one who did nothing wrong. And yet He did it, He paid the price so I could be free. AND he doesn’t hold it against me. He doesn’t look at me with resentment for what He had to go through. He looks at me with eyes so full of love and longing for relationship with me. All of the things that I have held onto for so long that I thought were important look very insignificant next to Jesus. All of the things I have been longing for are worth nothing without Jesus.

My precious Jesus is more than enough.

Such a seemingly simple revelation – yet a revelation that transforms peoples lives. So many people don’t know. So many people need to hear this truth about Jesus. Jesus didn’t just die for this fancy preachers and teachers and pastors, he didn’t just die for the nice church congregations. He did it for every single one of us. Those that don’t know him at all, those that say his name in vain every 5 minutes, those that have turned their back on him, those that have messed up big time, those that are broken hearted. He died for every single one of them. Even those that will never call upon his name…he still loves them and died for them. 

‘Now my debt is paid, it is paid in full. By the precious blood that my Jesus spilled. Now the curse of sin has no hold on me. Who the Son sets free Oh is free indeed.’  – Man of Sorrows (Hillsong Live)

‘SEE THE STONE IS ROLLED AWAY, BEHOLD THE EMPTY TOMB. HALLELUJAH GOD BE PRAISED, HE’S RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.’ 

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Jesus. He is worthy of it all.

I have been reading the book of John for the last week or two and keep coming back to the story of Mary washing the feet of Jesus. There is something in this story that triggers this deep heart desire in me to intimately know Jesus.

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Mary seemed to know something that everyone else did not, something worth so much more than everything she had, something worth more than her reputation or popularity. Mary knew the incredible worth of Jesus. To her, Jesus was worthy of it all, and so much more. How is it that Jesus’ very own disciples, the people who were with him all the time, the people who Jesus shared incredible wisdom and kingdom secrets with, how was it that they did not understand this act of honour. And yet for Mary there wasn’t even a slight hesitation.

Could I sit at the feet of Jesus and pour out $30-$40,000 worth of perfume, possibly everything I had? Or is that just too much? Could I wash his feet with my hair? Or is that just too weird? Could I sit at the feet of Jesus when I was suppose to be serving him dinner with the other women? Or is it too scary to go against the norm or the ‘should be’s’?

After being a christian for about 20 years and knowing ABOUT Jesus, I feel like I am only now starting to get a glimpse and slight understanding of who he really is and what he did for me. And that glimpse is making me fall head over heels in love with him. That glimpse is starting to overwhelm my heart and want more of him. I want to sit be able to sit at the feet of Jesus and give everything I have. I want to carry the fragrance of Jesus, just like Mary would have after washing his feet with her hair. I want to know Jesus and despite what others think and say, be able to honour him with all I have.

Because He is worthy of it all. 

I pray that you (if you haven’t already) would get a glimpse of the incredible worth of Jesus. I pray that he would overwhelm your heart. I pray that others around you would breath in the fragrance of Jesus that you are carrying with you. And I pray that His name would be praised and be lifted up to its rightful place. 

He is worthy of it all.

Proud to be a Kiwi

As I was sitting in the prayer room earlier this week, just soaking in the presence of God and listening to the worship play, the New Zealand national anthem came on. I have heard this anthem many times throughout my life, I mean its part of who I am as a Kiwi, of course I know it…..or so I thought. We all know the first verse in English and in Maori but have you heard all nine verses? Have you seen the translation of the Maori verses? Perhaps you do know all of this already, but for me my mind was officially blown. I already thought our National Anthem was awesome, but now…….WOW.

Statements like ‘Let our love for Thee increase, May Thy blessings never cease, Give us plenty, Give us peace, God defend our free land.’ Or ‘Guide us in the nations van, Preaching love and truth to man, working our Thy glorious plan, God defend New Zealand.’ WOW

The english verses are awesome…..and then there came the Maori verses. The verse we commonly sing (E Ihowa) says this:

‘O Lord, God of all people. Listen to us. Cherish us. May good flourish. May your blessings flow. Defend Aotearoa.’

‘Let all people red skin, white skin, Maori, Pakeha, gather before you. May all our wrongs, we pray be forgiven. So that we might say Long live Aotearoa.’

WOW WOW WOW….

The final verse in Maori translates to..

‘Let its good features endure. Let RIGHTEOUSNESS and HONESTY prevail among the people of God. Let it never be ashamed, but rather let its name be known. Thereby becoming a model to emulate. Aotearoa.’

I don’t know about you but all of these verses give me goosebumps. What an incredible declaration over our land. And most people sing it without even realising what they are saying. As we sing our anthem we are breathing life over our nation. His breath of LIFE is permeating through New Zealand. Papa is breathing into His kiwi kids!

As I have sat at the prayer house most mornings and started to learn about what it means to contend for something like New Zealand or this wonderful city of Tauranga or the people in my community of Gate Pa – I have come to realise its not about desperately trying to persuade God to be good and bless these places or people – but it is about taking the time to agree with heaven and releasing His kingdom and His goodness and God-given destinies on earth – releasing this over His kids who might not yet know Him or know His goodness. This anthem has basically got most of New Zealand contending for the country without even noticing.

Anyway…Im still learning. God is GOOD. Thanks Papa

‘Make her praises heard afar! God defend New Zealand.’

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