The Harder I Try…….

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Do you ever find the harder you try, the worse things get?
I’m sure it’s not just me right? Please tell me, it’s not just me!

The last couple of weeks, I have been really trying! Trying to be in a good routine, trying to eat healthier, trying to get enough sleep, trying to get a good balance in my life, and you know what? I feel I was better off when I wasn’t trying!

It seems as though, the harder I try, the worse things get. I feel cranky, overwhelmed, feeling like I am in over my head and generally feeling like I am not winning at life. And I can tell you, this was not the outcome I was hoping for.

It’s been little things along the way…..I have cut down on the amount of coke zero I drink and have been drinking tea instead. Not realizing how much caffeine some teas have, I had a cup before bed one night and at 3 am I was still wide awake, not even the slightest bit sleepy! The next day I just say, was one I was not proud of! But lesson learnt and now I only drink caffeine free tea after 8 pm!

The funny thing is, the week before I started all this, I was good! I wasn’t changing because things were bad and I needed a dramatic change, I thought things would get better and I would feel happier with just a bit more discipline in my life! Gosh, how wrong could I have been!

But you know what? I am not going to stop!

The easy option would be to go back to my old sluggish ways and not change. But that is not my style, I am too stubborn to give up, and so I persevere. I hang in there when it doesn’t make sense and it all seems too hard. I hang in there because I know change does not happen overnight and I hang in there because I know it doesn’t happen without opposition.

I will become a better person because of my changes and I will see fruit as long as I persevere!
And so tomorrow morning, I will again implement these changes and no matter what may come my way, I will be victorious!


You can’t keep me down….

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I have a cold!
Another rotten head cold, and I am feeling miserable!
This is the 3rd cold for me this winter and I am kinda sick of being sick.

Our family is not one that gets sick very often. We have gone for years and years with none of us getting sick. To the point, our Doctor rung us to see if we were still patients of his as he hadn’t seen us for so long!

But since moving to TA, we have had more sickness and injuries than we have had in the previous 5 years. We have had broken bones, damaged tendons, influenza, bronchitis, root canal’s, gastro bugs, headaches, unexplained aches & pains, and cold after cold after cold!!

Now, this may sound like I am complaining. I am not! Honestly, I am not!
But I do look at all the sickness and think to myself, that we are getting attacked. And that kind of excites me, not the sickness part, but the part where the enemy is so scared of what we are doing, that he is trying to attack us any way he can. And it seems he thinks he can stop is through our health!

I think not enemy!
If you think a broken bone or a rotten cold will hold us back, you don’t know us very well!
Team Strong are stronger than that, and to be honest, there is nothing that would stop us doing what God has called us to do! We are on a mission and we know we have been called for a purpose!

So, as I write this, I am grabbing yet another tissue, and blowing my nose. I am counting down till I can take more panadol and I am SO looking forward to my bed at the end of the day.

But I am also praising God! Praising him for all he is doing in my life and all that he has promised to us. I am thanking him for my #blessedlife and I am so grateful I don’t have to go through life without him. As I spend time on the couch, I am thankful that life can slow down a little and I can spend time in prayer and thanksgiving.

Let’s keep it all in perspective friends. Being sick is not fun, I am not trying to pretend that it is. But on the greater scale of things, what we go through now will fade in comparison to the glory and grace that we will eventually see.

So as we say in our family (and it is said with lots of love) “Suck it up princess” and let’s not lose our focus because of a wee cold or a broken bone! You cannot keep me down for long……


Dreaming with God

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I am preaching at Church this Sunday, and I am kind of excited!
I say kind of, because once again I am stepping out of my comfort zone, and that is never an easy thing for me! But on the other hand, I am excited because I am speaking on something I am super passionate about!

I am speaking about dreaming with God, and that is something I could talk on for hours! It is something near and dear to my heart, and I only wish more people would do it!

You know, so often people “settle” for life. They just accept their lot and think well this is it, I’ll just make the best of it. Or even worse, not make the most of it, but just struggling through it! I hear this from women on a regular basis, and honestly, it breaks my heart!

I have absolutely no doubt that God wants so much more for us than just what we settle for. There is a whole world out there, just waiting to be discovered and a world where there is adventure around every corner if only we would dare to chase after it.
Now, I am not saying we up and leave our lives as we know it. We still have jobs, responsibilities, and families that need looking after. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live an adventurous life!

I have recently finished a book called “Loving my actual life” by Alexandra Kuykendall and I loved it! It was all about not wishing for another life, but actually loving the life that God has given you. She looked at her life over a 9 month period and made small changes each month to be more engaged in her actual life. It was a great eye opener for me and so for the last couple of months, I have been implementing some of her idea’s and it is seriously making a difference.

I actually do love my life, but let’s be honest, there are some aspects that I don’t completely love! But that is just the way it goes, and no one’s life is perfect (no matter how shiny and amazing it may look on social media!)
But I am intentional about how I live my life. I seek God and adventure in all that I do, and I have an uncanny knack for turning even the mundane into an adventure. I always try and find the blessings in everything and I am careful who I allow to influence my thoughts and who speaks into my life.

But the greatest thing I do, to love my actual life, is to dream! I dream with God. Now, some of these dreams start off with just a daydream or a random thought, and other dreams come from my intimate relationship with God. Listening for His voice and opening my heart (and ears) to his promptings. God is in every aspect of our lives, and He want’s to bless us in all that we do. It is up to us how much we allow Him into our daily life, and how much we lean in and listen to His voice.

I have some super exciting things brewing, and I can’t wait to share them with y’all. But for now, I am continuing to dream and see where God takes these thoughts and dreams…..stay tuned for when I can share more with you!

So as you head out into your week, my prayer is that you would be open to his voice. Whether you are doing the extraordinary or if you are doing the mundane, that you would allow God to invade your thoughts and allow Him to plant dreams in your heart.

Dream big my friends!


#Blessed

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“Mum, you can’t do that, it’s so cheesy!”
“Do what?”
“Put #blessed” on social media. People will mock you!”
“That’s ok poppet, I’m ok with that!”

And you know what? I am ok with that! I am happy to be mocked and it is not going to stop me doing it!

I often finish things on social media with #lovemylife or #blessed. Now people have accused me of bragging, and maybe I am. But I am not bragging about me, cause we all know there is nothing particularly special about me right? But I am bragging on God and all He is doing in my life. And so yes if it’s bragging on how amazing my God is, then I will continue to do it.

I am very aware of things I put on social media. My life is an open book and I have many non-Christian friends. I am not ashamed of my faith or what God has done in my life, and so why would I not share that openly on social media?

Now, we all know that life is not perfect, and we all have ups and downs, but how am I glorifying God if I am complaining about Phil or the kids? How is that being a positive role model for the younger girls following me?

The world does not need to know every time I get a cold, or Phil doesn’t change the toilet roll. They don’t need to know when the kids have left dishes in the sink or when I have had a bad day. Sure, that is real life, and every now and then I will share this kind of thing, but in general, how is that encouraging or inspiring to someone who is watching my life?

For a few years now, God has called me to live my life as open and as honestly as I can. Whether it’s speaking at Church or writing on the net, I will always be me and I will always be open and honest. But more than that, I will always glorify God in everything I do!

And so as I continue my journey, I will continue to document it, and I will continue to hashtag it because at the end of the day, I am Blessed and I really do love my life!

 

 


When God Whispers Your Name.

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God never yells at me!
I am sure I have given Him many opportunities over the years, but when He really wants my attention He whispers to me.

He whispers my name ever so gently and I know He means business.

The #DOT-K weekend was beyond anything I could have dreamed of. God was in every detail and in every conversation, and I could never convey on paper all that happened over the weekend. I was moved to tears so many times, and I had to explain to the girls that if they saw me crying, they were happy tears and that really, I was ok.

But the weekend got off to a bit of a shaky start. We sat down for dinner on Friday night, and a 9-year-old told me she couldn’t eat her dinner. “Why not sweetie, I don’t remember Mum putting on your form that you have allergies?” “No, it’s not that, I can’t eat it because I am fat.”

And with that, my heart was undone before the weekend even began. I explained to her that she would need lots of energy this weekend and it was ok to eat her dinner. She nodded and proceeded to eat. I excused myself and went to the bathroom, the tears already streaming down my face and the overwhelming feeling that I was out of my depth flooded my body again.

“God, I can’t do this! What made me think I could make a difference when we have 9-year-old girls worrying about their weight. This is so wrong God. We have girls being bullied at school and other girls who are calling themselves ugly and now beautiful girls thinking they are fat. Seriously God, the problems are too huge, I can’t do this.”

Now at this point, God would have had every right to yell at me. To tell me to pull my head in and suck it up. To get over myself and just get on with it! But instead, He whispered to me. “Kathy. Take a deep breathe and breathe in my peace. Breathe in my love for you and for these girls. I haven’t asked you to save the whole world, I have just asked you to speak truth into these girls, and I know you can do it. Kathy, I have called you, I have equipped you and I believe in you.”

And with those whispered words swirling around my heart, I wiped my face, got myself together and resolved that I would not let the enemy’s lies take me out, and they were certainly not going to take out these girls……not on my watch!

As I walked back into the dining room, one of the girls saw me and rushed up and gave me a hug, for some reason she just clung to me and wouldn’t let go. And as I hugged her back, I knew she needed me just as much as I was needing that hug in that moment.

There were so many heartbreaking moments over the weekend as I listened to story after story of what these girls face on a daily basis. I don’t think the tears stopped all weekend. We prayed and we prophesied over every girl and God healed. He moved and restored in a way I had only dreamed off. Lies were being broken off and He was replacing them with His truth.

Now, we didn’t fix all the problems but it is my prayer that we have given the girls tools they can use when they are feeling less than all who God has called them to be.

But can I also just say we had FUN! Oh my goodness, did we have fun! Camp chants, songs around the campfire, crazy dance parties, talent shows and so much laughter that my sides ached! The team that God put around me were phenomenal and all of them went above and beyond what was asked of them!

So I would have to say “Chosen” was a success. When people ask how it went, I still struggle to find the words to accurately describe all God did. I feel humbled that He thought me worthy to speak His truth to His girls, and I am so thankful He gently spoke to me. That he whispered into my heart “Kathy, I believe in you.”


My Heart is Broken.

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As I sit here at my computer the tears are flowing.
I am trying my best to suck them up, but they are cascading down my cheeks at a great rate of knots, and onto my keyboard. I can’t stop them.

I have just had a message from one of the Mums whose daughter is coming to “Chosen” this weekend.
She wanted to let me know that her daughter is being bullied, coming home from school crying every day, and doesn’t have any friends. Now, I know this Mum and she is an amazing! They have an awesome Family and this girl comes from a loving Christian home. And I think to myself, if this is happening to a lovely Christian girl, what are other girls in the world facing?

My heart breaks for this girl and for her Mum. In fact, my heart breaks for all the young girls out there that this is happening to. Because sadly, this is not an isolated incident.

Seriously friends, what is the world coming to when we have beautiful 8-year-old girls being bullied? When once what was a problem for teens is now a problem for girls who are so much younger than that? Not that I want teens to go through it, but 8 years olds? It’s just not right.

But as I try and dry my tears, my sadness turns to anger at what goes on in the world. A world where we try and protect our kids the best we can, but it’s a world that would spew forth its hatred on young unsuspecting girls. Beautiful girls that have their innocence stolen from them. A choice that was not theirs, but will have consequences for years to come. A world where the actions of others can change the way a young girl will view herself, and how the lies of the enemy will take hold, and contradict God’s truth.

My heart breaks and I cry out to God “I just want to fix it all. I just want to help these girls. God show them that they are loved by you?”

And then I heard God’s voice clearer than ever. “Kathy, show young girls how much I love them. Show them that they are valued and cherished for who they are. Show them what it means to be a Daughter of the King. Show them that they matter. Teach them my truth. You know what it is like to be broken, show my girls how I can heal and restore.”

This is why I started #DOTK. This is what it is all about. Speaking God’s truth over these girls so that they may know God’s peace and love. Now I can’t stop the bullying or the teasing, boy do I wish I could! But what I can do is equip these girls with tools they can use to fight the lies of the enemy.

So as I prepare for this weekend, I am letting go off all the “Stuff” that is drowning me, all the schedules, the timetables and the logistics of who is going to sleep in which cabin! And I think about what God has asked me to do, what the real purpose of this weekend really is. I reread the message from this girl’s Mum, and again the tears flow.

I focus on what is really important…..getting God’s truth into these girls hearts. Yes, we will have lots of fun, that was never in doubt, but it’s my prayer that the girls would come away knowing who God has created them to be, and to give them the tools they can use to fight the lies of the enemy and remember God’s truth.

Friends, would you please join me in praying for the girls this weekend?


Looking Past The Busy!

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Ok, so ya’ll know how much I dislike that word right?

Busy!

It conjures up bad thoughts and an overwhelming feeling that rises to the surface every time I even think of it. I have tried as best I can to remove it from my vocabulary and I choose to use other words that have a less negative connotation.

But this week it is. In fact, the next two weeks leading up to #DOT-K camp is going to be a little manic. I knew this was going to be the case and I have tried to prepare myself as well as I can, but those old familiar feelings come back, and I am again, reminding myself to just breathe and take one day at a time!

“Breathe Kathy, Just Breathe”

If I had ten cents for every time I say that to myself, I would be a rich woman! But instead, I sit here in my office and I make myself “to-do” lists, I work through them and tick things off as I go because we all need ticks next to tasks to help us think we are winning at life right?

I had a team meeting on Monday night, and all of a sudden this good idea of mine to hold a camp for 8-12-year-old girls became more than just a good idea, reality hit me and a thousand thoughts raced through my mind:

What am I doing?
I can’t do this?
What on earth made me think I could pull this off?
What if the girls think it is lame?
Is it too late to cancel?
I could cancel right?
Ok, let’s cancel!
No, I cant cancel!
Or maybe I could?
No, I can do this?
What could go wrong?
Oh my goodness, so many things could go wrong?
It’s ok Kathy, nothing is going to go wrong?

I won’t share all my thoughts with you guys as they would fill this page (and the next) but I can tell you, my mind was racing at a million miles an hour!

And then God said “Honey, stop! Just stop! Do you not think if I have called you to this (But have you God?) Yes, you know I have! Do you not think if I have called you, I will equip you?”

And so started a wee argument with God:

“But God, I don’t know if I can?”
“I know you can”
“But someone else could do it better”
“I have called you”
“But, I have so many faults and flaws?”
“Yes you do, what’s your point?”
“Well, maybe I’m not the right girl?”
“You are! Have more faith in yourself, and have more faith in me. I just need your obedience, and I will do the rest.”

And here ended my wee argument with God. One that I knew I was never going to win, but one I had to have anyway!

So now as I look at the next two weeks, I am choosing to look past the busy, and know that this is what God has called me to do. All He is asking for is my obedience, and I can breathe easy knowing He will do the rest. Ok, so I still need to do a schedule for the weekend, and make tribes, and co-ordinate Leaders, and wrap gifts and make name tags, but the important stuff, God will do.

He is the one who will whisper in the girl’s ears how much He loves them. He is the one who will speak truth into their hearts. And He is the one who will make them feel worthy.

All I need to do is walk in obedience…..


Finding Balance!

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For those of you that know me well, you will know that I am an all or nothing girl!
There is no middle ground for me, no shades of grey and no luke warm! Either I am in or I am out. I am in boots and all, or not at all.

Now sometimes this is a good thing. It brings passion and commitment to things I believe in and a heart that will not be swayed from what I know to be true.

On the other hand, in day to day life, this is often not so good. Sometimes I wish there was a middle ground where I walked with consistency in my life on a daily basis.  But it seems that in all that I do, I live life with the philosophy of go hard or bust. Whether it’s eating healthy, exercising, writing, cleaning, being close to God, in fact, all area’s of my life seems to be like this!

When things are going well, they are seriously great, but when they are not, they are seriously not! If only I could balance things out I would feel like a more sane person that has their life together!

For as long as I can remember I have been this way, and so changing it is going to be more of a challenge than just making up my mind! Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we just made up our minds and that was that! But I know that my fight is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers over darkness.

So instead of fighting this in the flesh, trying to convince myself to go for a run or not eat that second (ok, that third) cookie, I am fighting it spiritually!

I am leaning in on God and getting into His word. I am trying to find balance in my life. Now I will always be extreme in some area’s that I am passionate about and that’s ok, but on a daily, and weekly basis, I am trying to find a happy medium. Somewhere between all or nothing. Somewhere that will give me peace and perspective without losing my passion!

Ok, so here I go friends…..


Why I am so Enthusiastic!

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kathystrong.co.nz

“How can you be so enthusiastic all the time?”

Well, first off can I tell you that I am not! Some days are hard and enthusiastic is the last thing I feel like being. But I get asked this question quite a bit, and often I shrug it off and say, it’s just the way I am!

But my daily devotion at the moment is all about enthusiasm, and I am learning it is so much more than a feeling we have. It is not all about motivational speakers and cheerleaders. It is not all about feeling good or as simple as making a choice to be enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm comes from the greek language, en Theos, meaning, in God, being possessed by God, or even being filled with Gods spirit. The enthusiasm we’re talking about isn’t so much about the feel-good talks or the pom poms, but rather closeness to God’s heart.

Enthusiasm is born out of intimacy with God. It is not just a mood but a spiritual result of a relationship with God.

And so why am I sharing all of this with you?

Well, because so often we think enthusiasm is a choice we just make and is dependent on our circumstances. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when things are going great, but not so much when life is hard. “Oh, I can’t be enthusiastic, do you not know what I am walking through?”

But I am learning that I can still be enthusiastic when life doesn’t make sense. My enthusiasm does not come from my worldly circumstance. I can be enthusiastic when things are hard because my enthusiasm is rooted in my relationship with God, and the only way that will change is if I lose my connection with Him. It is about being connected to God’s heart, and that can only come from spending time with Him and reading His word.

Now, this is not always easy but if I want to remain enthusiastic about my life (and I do!) then I need that connection with God because no matter how much I try and convince myself otherwise, I cannot be genuinely enthusiastic without Him!

And so this week as some exciting plans are coming to fruition, I am super excited and I am super enthusiastic about all that is headed my way. I am determined to look past the worldly things that would hold me back, those things that would steal my joy and take my focus away from God. But instead, I choose to stay connected with God, to spend time with Him and to draw close to Him, because I know that’s where my enthusiasm comes from!


Parents of Teenagers….Please Read.

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To say I am disturbed is an understatement.
To say I am lost for words would be another.
To say I am struggling with what I have seen, would be yet another massive understatement.

I have just finished the series on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why” and I have to be honest with you, I am shell shocked.

13 Reasons Why, if you haven’t heard about it, is a series about a fictional character Hannah Baker, who through a series of events, bullying and being raped two of these things, ends up taking her own life. The series is about what led her to this point, and the aftermath that ensued with her family and friends trying to make sense of it all.

It is raw, it is emotional and it is graphic. There is no doubt as to what went on and the episode where she takes her life is disturbing. And when her Mum finds her, well that is truly disturbing.

So why would I watch it you ask?
Well, because it is Netflix’s most-watched series of all time and since it came out has been tweeted over 11 million times. Because all the teenagers I know (including Gracie) are watching and talking about it on social media. And because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But I don’t think I was quite prepared for what I saw and is not something  I will forget in a long time.

There are lots (and lots) of websites and blogs out there talking about 13 Reasons Why. Blogs that will satisfy your curiosity if you don’t want to watch the whole series. Blogs with helplines, numbers for support networks and reasons why they made the series. There are some great sites for support and I encourage you to go and read them, so I’m not going into all of that here, but I do want to say this:

If you have a teenager, please please, please be aware of what they are watching. Please pay attention to what is going on in their lives, and please have those awkward conversations! As parents, it is never easy, and teenagers are a breed unto themselves. But this stuff goes on in their world and we need to be aware of it. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this kind of thing doesn’t happen because it does. We can’t bury our heads and think it will never happen to our teen because it could. And that is the cold hard reality here…..it could.

Life is so different these days. So many more challenges and pressures facing our teens. And we need to educate ourselves the best we can to help our teens navigate their way through this season of their life. We need to be hands-on, and involved in their lives, no matter how much they complain or think we are awkward!

Now I am not naive enough to think that Gracie shares absolutely everything with me, but she always knows she can come to me if she needs to. She knows she can use her parents as an excuse (Mum and Dad won’t let me….) and she has an amazing network of good, Christian friends speaking into her life. I know this won’t protect her from all life will throw at her, it won’t completely protect her from peer pressure, and as much as I want to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her from the mean ole world, I know I can’t do that either! But what I can do is be aware, be educated, and be involved.

And parents, please don’t forget to pray. Not just if things aren’t going well, but all the time! Cover them in prayer.

So friends, please be aware.
Aware of what your teens are watching.
Aware of who has influence in their life.
Aware of what is going in their world.
Aware of their social media and the anxiety that come with it.
And please, please be aware of the pressures teens face. Not just any teen, but your teen.