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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Busy-ness is not godliness…

There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you want something done, ask a busy person”…Implying that it’s the busy people who get things done and keep things going, compared to the ‘lazy people’.

I don’t know if you’ve heard this saying before, but I have had it said to me, and I’m pretty sure it was said with the aim of pressuring me to take on more duties and responsibilities…and while I know I’m considered by others to be a ‘doer’ and an ‘achiever’, I honestly know I need a substantial amount of ‘down time’ in each week to recharge for my health, creativity and personal relationships.

How often does the pendulum swing too far in either direction in our lives, as we aim and strive for what we desire? This can be in any area. But in regards to our time, it can be so difficult to achieve the balance we need, when we desire to ‘achieve’ a goal.

I know I’m probably not saying anything here you don’t already know…yet I also know when I read something I personally relate to on a deep level, it can really help me gain some clarity and focus in my life.

We know how we use our time comes down to our priorities…So I think we should always come back to this when we feel overwhelmed…

Now this overwhelming feeling could be at either end of the pendulum. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed with no sense of direction, or motivation to even get out of bed most days and achieve more than getting through that day. Perhaps you’re so busy trying to earn money and care for your family that you are becoming physically and emotionally ill. Perhaps you’re so busy, that when your head hits the pillow you can’t switch off. Perhaps you desire the best for your children that you become so busy serving them, you neglect yourself. Perhaps you have an addiction that you serve that consumes your time at the detriment to your well-being.

The first thing I personally must do when I feel overwhelmed in any way before I can find any balance in my life, is come back to the premise that my relationship with Jesus is, and always must be my first priority – The wonderful thing about this premise is that it applies to every Christian. It is not based on gender, occupation, skill or personal circumstances or other relationships.

Jesus needs to encompass my life. He goes before me, is with me, and is my rear guard. He is with me in everything and must come before all things, for it is only in Him that we ‘live and move and have our being’ Acts 17:28 . Without Him everything else is just futile busy-ness that amounts to nothing at the end of the day. Without Jesus in prime position of my life I am leading myself which will result in no true Kingdom productivity, no matter how ‘good’ my intentions are, for I am guilty of idolatry if something else has my heart.

When I read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry life I know just how extremely busy Jesus was, yet I also read of His priority to connect with The Father, alone each day for their relationship, to recharge and seek clarity and direction – We must not forget that Jesus who was and is fully God, totally became a human being and faced all that we do, and even more!

Yet when I also read the gospels, I take comfort when I read the stern words Jesus sometimes spoke to his disciples, and of His anger in the temple over their abuses, as I know its human to feel challenging raw emotions like anger, frustrations, tiredness and pain. I know if Jesus experienced these challenges yet never sinned, I can ask Him to help me with mine. I know NOT to expect a perfectly balanced life, even if my spiritual life and relationship with Jesus is in check, as challenges come to us all – But I know I will be so much stronger when I'm walking closely with Jesus.

When reading the gospels I am comforted and enabled to not feel ‘false’ guilt when I say no to some requests and put my relationship with Jesus first. For I have truly found, when I put Jesus first I have His peace, and I have more energy and love for others. With Jesus first I have actually found working less harder than before, as He always provides abundantly what I need to prosper…like creative ideas, helping hands and open doors…Let me be clear here, I don’t mean abundant money.

Busy-ness is not godliness, but neither is laziness and apathy.

No amount of busy-ness, or money gifted will ever proclaim the gospel of a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ to other people, including our children. The only proclamation that will ring loud and true, is a genuinely humble and dedicated life.

If we feel overwhelmed, let’s remember the goodness of the Lord, and of how His mercies are new every morning (Lam 2:22-23)…So that we can repent of anything that has taken His rightful place to receive His peace, regardless of our circumstances. Then we can re-prioritise and begin afresh to love and serve Him and others, in work that will bear much fruit until He returns.

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with Casting Crown, Here's my heart Lord!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Marriage: An Ordinary Aussie Woman's Contribution to the Marriage Debate in Australia.

With the current debate surrounding the notion to redefine marriage pretty much taking center stage in Australian news recently, and an approaching plebiscite, I cannot help but often reflect on what marriage means to me.

Each time I think about marriage, I am left with the reality that it is never about my own needs being at the forefront of what ultimately is a legal, and also to me, a spiritually binding agreement.

I needed to add ‘a spiritually binding agreement’ as for me marriage is a holistic union, which is why I also believe sex needs to be kept for after the wedding ceremony takes place. You see I honestly believe sex easily clouds a person’s good judgement, and creates such a powerful bond that when it happens outside of marriage often there is no protection for either person in the relationship…and really if people don’t need protection of their commitment to intimacy with one person why do they need marriage? 

But back to the legal side…For a long time over human history people have been happy to commit to another person without a ‘piece of paper’. However we know, marriage is an instituted, lawful binding contract established to protect the most vulnerable people in a family, and we know from history and current domestic violence statistics, this is women and children. 

Back a long time ago and even not so long ago, women and children were not considered (in many societies) to be equal with men. Many men had concubines and women slaves they had intercourse with, and could dispose of when they desired. We know the children were often not a consideration at all. Prostitution was often the only source of income for many unmarried women. Women and children were treated like property…But I’m probably not stating anything you don’t know, right?

Fast forward to today and here in Australia, I have equal legal rights as a female to any male. I have legal protection even without marriage, and so do my children, therefore many people, especially those with no faith, don’t bother about the piece of paper anymore…

Marriage today, is more of a public declaration of monogamous commitment, and the assurance that children know both biological parents…The husband and wife both being on the birth certificate, and mother, father and child having the same surname.

Marriage therefore is still an established legal right for the protection of the most vulnerable – it has nothing to do with our own desire to be loved, and declare that love to our friends and family – that is really done every day through the often unrelenting, tough sh*t you go through because of being committed, with or without a piece of paper! 

Marriage is not about looking flawless and spending thousands of dollars. It’s not about sexual attraction. It's not about equality or legal protection in Australia – cohabitating couples regardless of sex are recognised. Yes, we already have equality and legal protection here in Australia, irrespective of our gender, thank goodness! Furthermore, marriage is not about commitment, people can easily get divorced…yes even a woman can divorce her husband without his consent – It’s been this way for a while now...

The current legal definition of marriage ensures the protection of the child’s right to know their biological parents, and have shared custody, especially if the marriage ends in divorce. We who work with children and adolescents know the trauma a child experiences from feeling abandoned by a parent, irrespective of the factual circumstances involved…It is these children and youth, who so often grow up to be dysfunctional adults, crippled by the loss of their biological connectedness and cultural heritage.

As someone who has had a failed marriage and is now married again, I can honestly say marriage is always about the children, it protects their right to grow up knowing their biological parents. It certainly should not be a vehicle to service the insecurities of adults. For if it does this, where will the redefining of marriage for a ‘loving relationship between consenting people’ stop? We already are reading of cases overseas where parents and their biological children are being legally married, just to name one arguable situation…

Marriage is a legal binding agreement that requires our mature response for what’s best for our children and society as a whole. Again especially today, marriage is not about our adult needs. Over my life I have lived in a defacto relationship, and also as a married wife…I know legally I had the same rights, and equally could leave either if I so chose to do so…the document makes no difference. 

The truth is marriage shows us selfless love for those who are the most vulnerable and today that is still children…I know that I have given that right to my children who do know their biological father, and even though that union ended in divorce, they have that legal protection granted by the marriage and their legal birth certificate.

A society which ignores the voiceless, and bends to the will of any volatile mob will not prosper, history has proved this. Structured working societies that prosper are not ones that treat everyone the same – They are the ones that protect and give more to the most vulnerable…The unborn, the children, the disabled, the sick and frail…

In true love, respect and concern, Melanie.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Why Am I So Sick?

Have you ever thought, why am I so sick?

You know the type of sickness that just seems unrelenting? 

I have been struggling with some illness for a while now, especially since getting married my health has been in a declined state. This is not usual for me and I admit, it has been a struggle and a challenge, requiring me to rely upon my new husband a lot more than I would personally prefer.

Add to this the need to work and the fact I have begun a new chaplaincy role this week, while still struggling with my health, and I began to wonder, "Why am I so sick?"

On top of this I have friends who are struggling with things like cancer, mental illness and so on...After time with The Lord today this post comes from where I am at with my own sickness after He ministered to me through His Word...

There can come a time in our lives when we are not well for such an amount of time, others may become really concerned and we think, “WHY is this happening, and WHY am I not healed already?”

Illness is such a difficult thing in anyone’s life. It literally has the power to stop someone from doing all the things that bring them pleasure, and for the Christian this even includes worship.

Illness has the ability to strip someone of not only their health and vitality, but of work, an income, and even sadly relationships which includes the one with God.

Sometimes from exhaustion and poor mental processing, a desperate and exasperated person may turn their back on God.

Frustrations as to why a sovereign God would not heal them, when they have been trying their best to live a faithful life can amount to anger and disillusionment.

There are even some Christians who believe that if a person is not healed and are continually suffering with sickness that they MUST have done something wrong and therefore be out of God’s favour…Yet this is NOT a rounded biblical view on sickness and what it can produce.

When we suffer we have the options of two positions to take.

The Pharisee or The Disciple.

Now these obvious polers seem easily distinguishable, and the choice of Disciple we know is the one we should choose…But in the face of sickness, it can be really tough to see the Pharisee position within.

Simply put, the Pharisee position is one of an elevated self-view and of blame.

The Pharisee position is one that cannot self-reflect with The Lord in prayer and through scripture reading for enlightenment as to why they are still suffering. Rather this person blames others for the illness, and ultimately may even blame God. The Pharisee position hinders the person from being able to see the work God is wanting to do through this situation in their life, rather than simple acceptance. The person may look for an answer, like giving more money to the church, or praying more and so on. And while these things in themselves are acceptable to do, they are not the solution and elevate self above God. 

When one is sick, often the question should not be, “What can I do more of?” rather a humble Disciple type prayer of “What is really going on here? Lord reveal this to me.” 

When we don’t accept that God is good all the time and totally in control all the time, irrespective of any life circumstances we are in, we look to blame. We may blame ourselves thinking God is angry with us. We may blame others such as doctors, our family, or other Christians. We may say to a friend when they are sick, “You must have a sin you haven’t repented of!” The Pharisee position blames as it elevates health and prosperity above suffering and persecution, and this is not a sound biblical position.

When we are slowed down to the point of only being able to pray when we’re not sleeping, God does not love us any less. If all we can do is pray when we’re awake, or listen to sermons with our eyes closed, Glory still be to God who has rescued us and sealed us as His own!

If in our time of need most people desert us, we know that we still have The Lord, who will give us what we deserve in the right time. We may be healed, or we may go to be in glory with Him…either way we win, because He is good and sovereign and this is the truth of the Gospel.

Remember, Job was a great man of God, along with many other true prophets who all suffered from spiritual attack for their righteous living. Don’t be surprised if you become ill at a time in your Christian life when you feel everything else is going so well, yes, even faithfully testifying to the truth of Jesus Christ. Not to forget Saint Paul, who was a mighty apostle yet received a ‘thorn in the flesh’ from the enemy, but God did not take it away, even after Paul asked in prayer three times.

God has a good plan and purpose for all His children, but we need to know from scripture that He never promised it would be only pleasurable and easy. Let us not elevate health and prosperity above suffering and persecution, and vice-versa; for the Christian experiences both. And even though there is an enemy who will try to tear them down in their Kingdom work for The Lord, they can rest in times of illness through acceptance and peace that God is still at work and WILL bring something good from this difficult time if they remain faithful to Him!

Love Melanie.

P.S. I truly hope this post encourages you if you are struggling with an illness. My husband Richard and I, have been writing together still over at the new study-type blog Zeal for Your house, our previous blog post series was on Spiritual Food and the current one is on Spiritual Fruit. The next series will include this post here you have just read on illness, as a wider study series on 'Prosperity - Health, wealth and happiness' in the context of scripture. 

So, if you haven't yet checked out Zeal for Your house, just follow the links above. Remember, you can easily follow Zeal for Your house by submitting you email address in the top right corner of the blog, and just like Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman,  if you do you won't receive any spam because we don't do this for revenue!

Casting Crowns: Praise You in this storm.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Next Chapter

My ordinary Aussie life has been extremely busy since getting married last month.

I came to a decision to resign from my school chaplaincy position so that we all could live together as a family…and this required my boys and I moving to Bendigo!

Another move…And another moment of letting go and trusting God with everything…You see I had no job lined up this time to go to…

I admit, amongst the exhaustion of moving, cleaning, beginning the boys in a new school, cooking, unpacking, sorting, more cleaning and so on and so on…I have had moments of worry when I have thought, I have no job now…no ministry title anymore…

Yet the majority of the time I have felt absolutely free and so very loved!

I have felt a peace with knowing I am His, regardless of my job title, and I still see opportunities daily to show His love to others and my family. I am more than a job title. I am the same person, chaplain or pastor or not, as I was never anyone but my genuine self in these roles anyway!

I’ve applied for some jobs but really it was because I thought I should, not because I thought they were right for me. I prayed and asked The Lord to shut the doors of these positions if they weren’t His will for me, and you know what, I haven’t even received an interview!

I’ve been taking time to rest and serve my family and I’ve honestly loved every minute of it…

My boys have been going great too, the best they’ve been in quite a while which is wonderful confirmation I made the right decision.

Now for some news…
My new husband and I have begun a writing adventure together. It’s a bible study blog called, 'Zeal for Your house'!! 

While we're both committed to serving locally, and firmly believe in and support our local home church in Victoria, Australia, we also feel called and equipped to serve the wider body online. We understand the power of connecting online with others, and the importance of providing digital resources to encourage and build up the worldwide church for free! So we decided to start 'Zeal for Your house' as a free resource blog, providing sound, biblically based devotional posts for personal and group meditation and study.

I hope you check it out and let me know what you think!

Love Mel :)