Bible Journaling….

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So last week I promised you I would share my Bible journaling journey with you, so here it is:

Denise Hughes book “Deeper Waters” has had a profound effect on me. It is a beautifully written book that spoke to me in volumes. You can learn more about the book if you click this link (she even gives you the first chapter for free!)

In her book, Denise talks about writing out passages of scripture to help you get into God’s word and more than that, to actually retain it! I have never been great at remembering scripture and so have always said to myself, that it just wasn’t my thing! But you know what? I want it to be my thing! So I am training myself. I admire people that can quote scripture with ease and seem to know where every verse in the bible is found. I may never be one of those people, but I will give it my best shot, and surely something will stick, right?

And so I have started writing out passages of scripture. Denise says this doesn’t have to be fancy. You can even get an old school book and just write in it! But for me personally, I want it to be pretty. I have always loved colouring in. I remember lying on our lounge floor when I was a kid and colouring in for hours. I remember sorting all my felts in order (yep, I think the OCD tendencies started back then!) and getting so excited when I would get new felts for my birthday!

And so for me, my scripture journal was going to be pretty! I first went searching the web for some inspiration, and then I went down to our local stationery store and got myself a spiral bound notebook, some gel pens and water colour pencils…..I was ready!

As I sat there, my perfectionism kicked in and I was too scared to write on the first page!

What if I stuffed it up?
What if I didn’t like it?
What if I made a mistake?
What if it wasn’t Pinterest perfect?

Breathe Kathy, just breathe! This is just for you, it’s not like your going to share it on the net!!!
What did it matter if it wasn’t perfect, that was not the point of the exercise. And so I just started!

I took my new stationery (which I am sure is another one of my love languages!) turned off all social media devices, put on some worship music and put pen to paper! Oh, the simple joys in life! I spent the whole day (guilt free) writing, colouring and creating, and I can tell you, I was one happy camper.

I never knew that getting in God’s word in a creative way could be so good for the soul!

I have sectioned my journal into months, and at the start of each month, I am keeping a gratitude diary to remind myself to look for the blessings in my everyday life. So every day I am writing three things that I am thankful for.

Phil and the kids joke and say “Are you colouring in again?” and I just say “yep” knowing that this journey for me is so much more than just colouring in!

I am not an artist by any means, but that’s ok! I am teaching myself lettering, and I am getting stuff off the net till I am more confident in my own skills (or where I get to the point where I don’t care!) But I am having fun, and I am soaking myself in Gods word, and that my friends, is what it is all about!

ps….For those of you wondering how my chronological reading of the bible is going…..it’s going great! To be honest, I am glad I have made it through Leviticus, that was seriously hard work! But I am loving it so much that I am 24 days ahead of my reading plan! Miracles, my friends, miracles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Getting into my Bible….

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I have started Scripture Journaling and I love it!

I have had quite a few people message me about it, so thought I would explain my journey here on the blog, but first I need to give you some background on how I got there…..

A couple of weeks ago our internet went down for 2 days. 2 whole days people! I know 1st world problems right?
And so because the internet was down I spent my time doing other things….I spring cleaned my wardrobe, organized my pantry, sorted out all my craft supplies and vacuumed the garage (I know, I am totally living the dream!)

But the best thing I did was start a new book. My friend Denise Hughes invited me to be on her launch team for her new book which is being released next week called “Deeper Waters.”
I started reading it because I wanted to support Denise, but I had no idea the impact this book would have on me!!
I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two days! It is not something I would say lightly, but this book has changed my life as I know it!

In it, she talks about getting into God’s word. If I was going to be totally honest, it is something I have always struggled with! Now I know all the reasons why I should, and I do read it, but it was only if I was doing sermon prep, was in desperate need of God or so I could “tick the box” for the day.  Now, I am not a bad Christian, I constantly have worship music playing, I read Christian books, I listen to podcasts, I pray and I spend time with God, but I just struggled with getting (deep) into His word.

Denise suggested starting with a chronological reading of the Bible, which I am doing. I am only up to Leviticus (did you know that Job comes after Genesis if you are reading it chronologically? I never knew that!) and I am honestly loving it. I am listening to it on my Bible app (I love the man’s deep voice as he speaks out Gods truth!) and at the same time I read along in my bible. I find that listening and reading at the same time really works for me! It stops me from getting distracted and my mind from wandering.

I love how God doesn’t do coincidences but everything is in his perfect timing. You see, I have never been a morning person and I struggle with functioning in the morning, let alone getting up and reading my bible. But a couple of weeks ago I started drinking New York Breakfast tea (that is a whole nother story I will share another day!) and so now I LOVE mornings! Miracles can happen my friends!

I set my alarm to get up early (well, early for me anyway!) I make myself a cup of tea and sit down with my bible! This is something I always wished I did, but now I am actually doing it and loving it! It is not a chore, it is not a tick on a to do list, and it is not done because I should. I am doing it because I want to!

I am purposefully staying off the internet more these days and instead of having FOMO (fear of missing out) on whats happening on facebook, I have FOMO about what I am missing in Gods word! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter….it’s way better than any suspense novel I have ever read!

I have not given Facebook up completely. It’s how I stay connected with so many friends oversea’s and I love seeing whats happening in the lives of my friends, but my time is no longer consumed with scrolling through every spare minute I have, in case I have missed something!

And so you may be wondering where the scripture journaling part comes in? Well, stay tuned and I will share that with you next time……

 

 


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!


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.”


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!


And Yet, Another One….

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Yep!
This week has started with yet another goodbye!

God is pruning things in my life at the moment and you know what? It super excites me!
Ok, admittedly I was in tears yesterday as I did my final blog post on a site I started 4 years ago and have been overseeing ever since. It was a bittersweet moment as I handed the baton on to the woman who is taking it over. As I handed over my baby and said “she is all yours now, look after her and please love her as much as I have” the tears welled in my eyes and I just let them flow. I let them flow till they were no more and then the healing began.

You can read my final farewell here.

I had a number of women contact me and said how brave I was handing over my baby, and what a servant heart I have. To be honest, I didn’t feel either of those things yesterday as I sat in tears and wondered if I had made the right decision, wondering if this woman would look after my baby. If she would do things how I did them and if she would love my baby as much as I did. But these things are not mine to worry about now and so I have let them go, otherwise, I will become so consumed by the past or what I am missing out on (there’s that FOMO again!) instead of focusing on what is ahead of me.

But as sad as this was for me, I knew it was what God was asking me to do. To let go of things that were holding me back from the new season He has for me to walk in. Not holding me back in a bad way, but now just headed in a different direction. This new season that I have no idea what it looks like, but a new season that is filled with shiny new possibilities.

God is already putting idea’s in my head and dreams in my heart and I just want to blurt out all He is saying to me. But I have learned from past experiences, some things are better left unsaid until you have a resounding yes!

So as I sit in my office and I dream and I plan, and I look at all that is ahead of me, I can’t help but smile to myself. Yes, goodbyes are hard but the promise of the future, my future in Him, is safe, secure and a maybe just a little bit scary.