The God Who Enters My Shame

The God Who Enters My Shame

It was my shame, but it wasn’t to be carried alone. I had a friend who knew it all, and God entered in and healed the pain.

I was being laughed at. I was only a seven-year-old, but for the first time, I felt the cold icy winds of being mocked and shamed.

The situation was that it was my school assembly and I thought our class had won a prize for some art project. So I got up from sitting on the floor and started to walk to the front.

Within seconds I realized that I was the only one standing and moving.

Slinking back to sit on the floor, I felt every eye was on me. I felt very alone and stupid. Kids were laughing and making sport of me.

That was the first time I remember being exposed to the humiliation of getting it wrong. I went on to have many other moments of shame.

Like a bumper boat being shoved from one intrusive experience to the next, our little life gets bumped and bruised along a passage of painful moments. Continue reading “The God Who Enters My Shame”

The Healing Nest of Kindness and Compassion

The Healing Nest of Kindness and Compassion

I need a nest that I can call home. Actually, digging down a little further, I need a grouping of relationships that know me, love me, and have compassion and kindness when I get things wrong.

The other day I was pruning a vine and there high above my head was a nest. It had long been vacated. I’m not sure what type of bird built this elaborate structure to raise its young, but as I looked closer, there was an intricate architecture to the design.

Twigs, grasses, moss, lichen all gathered and foraged from around the garden and woven into a home.

Here are some pictures of the nest.
Continue reading “The Healing Nest of Kindness and Compassion”

Can anything good come from this?

Can anything good come from this nazareth

Can anything good come out of that time, place, or person? Only if we take a risk and explore. We are invited to ‘come and see.’ 

I was raised on a farm near a small town called Wellsford. In fact, my ancestors settled there in the 1860s, migrating from England. Through this town and the middle of our farm, a very busy road ran, taking traffic to one of the poorer areas of New Zealand, Northland.

It was also the route to some of the most beautiful beaches and summer holiday spots we have.

My little town was a place you mostly went through or stopped off for refreshments (amusingly, that’s how it’s still referred to on tourism websites).

It was also a place where many decided to leave. If you wanted to advance and get a better education or work, then you had to leave.  Continue reading “Can anything good come from this?”

When You’re Feeling Stuck in a Dark Hole

When You're Feeling Stuck in a Dark Hole depression

Sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in a dark hole and feel like we are going down, but there is hope when we open ourselves to the connection and support from others.

One of the properties I work on as a gardener is a small farm and I get to use a tractor for some of the jobs I do.

I was driving the tractor one day when all of a sudden I couldn’t move forward. I could see my wheels going round but there was little movement.

All had been going well. I was having a great day.

Driving the tractor, shifting dirt, and making the paddock I was in look tidier and neater. That was until my large wheels broke through the crust of soil and I discovered the mud and muck underneath.

I sunk. Continue reading “When You’re Feeling Stuck in a Dark Hole”

Are you Praying Against Yourself? The Abusive Art of Self-Deprecation

Are you Praying Against Yourself The Abusive Art of Self-Deprecation

Words said, have power. Self-deprecation is to pray against the self, but we can learn to pray for the self and so develop healthier thinking patterns.

It was the words at the end of his sentence that caught my attention.

‘I’m so stupid; I always do things like that’.

You learn to notice them—little words used as qualifying comments that disempower the self.

I think that many of us have little words or sentences that we probably tell ourselves and others. Sometimes they slip out in conversation.

Maybe they are offered up as an excuse or reason for things being the way they are.

Most of these thought sentences are kept quietly to ourselves, where they can continue to shape and poison our thinking. We say them so many times that we become used to them. They are our default thinking regime.

As a child, I was taught to ‘not think too highly of oneself’ Romans 12:3 and that ‘pride comes before a fall’ Proverbs 16:18

So the obvious course is to think lowly of yourself and to keep yourself humble through a self-flagellation diatribe of dismissive self-talk. Continue reading “Are you Praying Against Yourself? The Abusive Art of Self-Deprecation”

God, will it always be like this? Being a slave to despair

God, will it always be like this

God, will it always be like this? That was what their heart was wanting to know. The answer lay in knowing their slave master of despair. Hope is the dance partner of Faith and Love.

Every day felt the same, in fact, every week and every month. Do the job, make a meal, go to sleep: repeat, repeat, repeat — monotonous drudgery.

It wasn’t just the repetitive nature of the grind that got to you., it was the slow wearing down of the soul.

It was like something beautiful and purposeful was being scraped off a ‘Mona Lisa,’ dropped on the floor, trampled on, and ground into dust.

They sensed they were losing themselves. Who they were, who they were meant to be — all at the hands of a slavemaster tyrant.

Continue reading “God, will it always be like this? Being a slave to despair”

God’s Love can Heal a Heart Full of Anxiety

God’s Love can Heal a Heart Full of Anxiety kandace rather

The heart can be full of anxiety from a young age. But there is hope when we are feeling helpless and vulnerable. Kandace Rather tells us how God’s love healed her heart.

I remember the first time I felt panic.

I was in third grade, and my mom had just told me that my dad would not be coming home from work (Even typing that sentence just made my heart rate increase).

My dad was my safe place.

My parents were divorcing, and my little girl world was about to be shattered. 

A few weeks later, I came home from school and walked into seeing my dad on his knees, begging my mom not to divorce him.  Continue reading “God’s Love can Heal a Heart Full of Anxiety”

Mental Health is … Learning to Listen for the Whispers

Mental Health is ... Learning to Listen for the Whispers

The noise of our world will never fully satisfy, but when we learn how to listen for whispers, we find a safe place for the soul.

I wonder when the first sound was made? Was it a big bang or the quietest of whispers. As the sound waves vibrated out, what was heard? Who heard it?

Here in New Zealand, it is believed that the earliest of migrants would have heard the lands existence before seeing it. Such was the abundance of birdlife. Much of that life force is gone now, but even as I write this on a sunny deck, I can hear some of the native birds singing to me.

I hear whispers of God in the throat of a Tui, the whoosh of a Keruru flying by, and the flitting movements of a Fantail dancing in the sun.

It’s a noisy world 

Continue reading “Mental Health is … Learning to Listen for the Whispers”

When the Darkest of Valleys becomes a Suffocating Despair

When the Darkest of Valleys becomes a Suffocating Despair

The darkest valley can become a suffocating tomb, a hole that feels impossible to dig oneself out of, but with the help of others, a step can be made, and light can shine again.

Recently I went to see ‘Tolkien,’ a movie about the author J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote classics such as ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings.’

The movie invites you to look through the reminiscences of Tolkien as he lies in a  bomb crater on the front line of the Battle of the Somme in World War One.

Tolkien has been left there in the mud with the stench of dead and rotting corpses while an aid goes looking for help. In his delirium, he drifts in and out of his past. He remembers his mother, brother, schooling, friends, and the love of his heart.  Continue reading “When the Darkest of Valleys becomes a Suffocating Despair”

Matthew McAllum shares some of his story

Matthew McAllum shares some of his story

The life of a person with a mental illness is often accompanied by the necessity of taking prescription medications.

My name is Matthew McAllum, I am 50 years old. I have been on mental health medication since 1991. I was raised in a Christian family in Dunedin, New Zealand until I was twelve-years-old when, in 1980, I moved to Hong Kong with my family.

I learned much in Hong Kong, especially about living with other cultures.

I returned to New Zealand in 1984, after a holiday encompassing many countries, including the U.S.A. and Europe; then boarding at Nelson College, in Nelson for three years learning about New Zealand again. I then moved to Auckland to live with my family.

I now have a job as a cleaner in a very large retail and wholesale bakery in the suburb of Mount Wellington.

I live in a group of flats in Mount Wellington under the auspices of Community of Refuge Trust, having done so for approximately 7 years.

Here are some things I would like to share about having a mental illness. Continue reading “Matthew McAllum shares some of his story”