Why I am so Enthusiastic!

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

 


Adventure Awaits…

Posted on

I spoke at Church on Sunday.

Now, this may seem like a simple statement, and I guess when looking at it, it is! But for me, there is so much more than just ‘speaking at Church on Sunday.’

This kind of thing is so far out of my comfort zone, it scares me silly. Public speaking is definitely not my forte but it is something that God is allowing me to grow in. It’s not that I don’t have enough words, cause, believe me, I have plenty to say. It’s just that standing in front of a room full of people sharing what’s on my heart (and more importantly God’s heart) is somewhat daunting.

What if I am not Biblically correct?
What if I say the wrong thing?
What if I offend someone?
What if I walk on stage and my skirt is tucked into my knickers? (actually slim chance of this as I am more of a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl!)
Or what if I make a fool of myself and everyone laughs at me?

These and many (many) more irrational thoughts swirl around my mind every time I get the opportunity to speak. And yes, it is an opportunity. No one is forcing me to get up there. No one is twisting my arm or bribing me.

And so why do I do it?

I do it because I want adventure in my life?
Yes, I know this may seem like a strange way of having an adventure but I want to grab life with both hands and not live a life that I will look back on and say “I had the opportunity, but I turned it down because I was scared, or I turned it down because I was tired, or I couldn’t be bothered or I was just playing it safe!

I want to live a life that chases adventure, because adventure, is not going to come and find me. No, my friends, it will not come to me when I am curled up at home in bed watching Netflix. It will not come and find me when I am hiding behind all my insecurities or when I am playing within my comfort zone. Adventure needs to be sought after and faced head on!

And so I live my life to the fullest, sometimes scared and sometimes with no fear at all. But either way, refusing to allow fear to hold me back from the adventure that awaits me.

A beautiful friend gave me this picture a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it! It sits on my desk in my office at home and it is a daily reminder that, yes, adventure does await me, but I must seek after it!

What adventure awaits for you my friend?
Are you grabbing life with both hands or are you hiding in your comfort zone, complaining that your life is boring and nothing ever happens?
Are you stuck in a rut of never ending laundry and housework or are you looking past that, and looking at your life as an adventure that is to be chased after?

 

So go! Go and grab all God has for you. Go live your adventure, the one He has specially designed just for you! The one you were made for, the one that no one else can chase but you!

 

 


The Death Of Who I Thought I Would Be….

Posted on

There is a lot of loss in my life at the moment. God is putting to death some things that probably should have been put to death many years ago, but God in His infinite wisdom is dealing with it now!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about saying goodbye to a dream that I had had for a few years (you can read about that here) It was a permanent goodbye and to be honest it was a hard goodbye.

And then on top of this, I read a book that I finished in 2 days as it was just so good and really spoke to me in this season that I’m in.
I have re-read so many chapters and was so impacted by it that we are now doing it as a Book Club at our Women’s Ministry at Church.
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst was just what I have needed as I walk through this season of life.
The tagline of the book is “Living loved when you feel less than, left out and lonely.”

Lysa has so many thought provoking questions and statements. Here are a couple of my favourites:

“Pain is the invitation for God to move in and replace our faltering strength with His.”

“Rejections steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst that’s been said about me.”

“Heartbreaking seasons can certainly grow me, but they were never meant to define me.”

And this one, well this one undid me:

“The death of who I thought I would be.”

This statement smacked me across the face like I was being hit with a sledgehammer. Wow! This is not something I had really thought about before, but once I read it, there were so many deaths of who I thought I would be:

When I thought as a kid I would be a Police Woman.
When as a teenager I thought I would marry my first boyfriend.
When as a Mum we planned on having 4 kids, but not being able to.
When I thought at one stage I would be living in the USA.
When I thought my life would take a different path.

I know all these things were not meant to be. God had other plans for me, but even still, sometimes the death of who I thought I would be, is a little painful.

I had so many hopes and dreams for my future, right from the time I was a little girl, and not all of them have come to pass. There have been twists and turns on my journey that no one, not even I could have predicted. There have been seasons of lack and seasons of abundance but through it all, God has had me in the palm of His hand.

I live an incredibly blessed life so please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all, but just processing, and letting go of some things.

This week, it has been freeing for me to let go of the things I thought at one stage I would be. To really lay to rest those “what if’s” and “if only’s” that are so not helpful and holding me back from who God has called me to be.

Even as I sit here and type, living my blessed life, thoughts of who I could have been, come to mind. And like all thoughts that are not from God, those ones that are sent to hold us back, I fight them off with God’s truth and allow myself to be excited about my future, knowing God has got it all under control. Knowing I am exactly who He has always planned me to be!

 


It Will Be Beautiful In The End.

Posted on

This is what a friend said to me the other day.

It will be beautiful in the end.

We were talking about the blog I wrote last week (if you missed it, you can read it here) and we were saying how hard the journey is sometimes. We weren’t whinging or whining, but just being honest with each other. Some days are tough. Some days are so tough all you want to do is crawl in bed and watch netflix for the rest of your life. But when that isn’t an option, you need to put on your big girl pants and face life head on.

And then she said this “It will be beautiful in the end”

Now most people say, it will all work out in the end, or it will be fine, or even, it will all come out in the wash, but none of these is inspiring or motivational to me. They just paint a picture of someone struggling through to the end and then just breathing a great big sigh of relief. But the thought of everything being beautiful in the end, well that gave me hope!

Hope that this journey is not just about enduring. Hope that there is more than what we can see in the here and now. Hope in the things to come. But not just hope friends, a beautiful, faith-filled hope.

I have no idea what my beautiful end will be! There are so many things I dream of and so many lives I dream of changing. There are thoughts, emotions and plans that swirl through my head on a daily basis. Big dreams, little dreams, crazy out of this world dreams and dreams that I can’t even dare to believe just yet.

At conception none of these things seem “beautiful” They seem like blood, sweat, tears and heartache, oh my goodness, so much heartache when I see the hurting people around me. How this is beautiful I don’t know! But the thought of it all being beautiful in the end is enough to spur me on.

It reminds me to take my eyes off of me and what I can or cannot achieve, and focus them on Jesus, because really, he is the only one who can make everything beautiful. He is the one who will turn our sorrow into joy. He is the one who will turn our mourning into dancing. And he is the one who will turn our mess into a message. A message of hope, determination and overcoming for the people who are watching our journey, and believe me friends, there are people watching!

So this week, no matter what you are facing in your world, hold on to hope. Hold on to the fact that Jesus will make things beautiful in the end! Rest assured knowing that he will get you through what you are facing. But more than just get you through, he will make it beautiful!

 

 


The Death of a Dream.

Posted on

It is never easy saying goodbye.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a temporary goodbye or a permanent one, they are hard.

I have had a couple of goodbyes this week, and neither of them was particularly fun! The first one was when I dropped Phil at the airport. He has flown off to India and Indonesia for 10 days. Thankfully this goodbye is only temporary and I get to pick him up again in another 5 sleeps…..yay!

The other goodbye was a permanent one and this one was not so easy.
You see, a few years ago I had a dream. Now, to be honest, I don’t know if this was a God dream or just something that I pursued on my own accord, but either way it was definitely something I wanted.

I held on to this dream in the hopes that one day it would become a reality. And funnily enough, it did! Just recently I was offered an opportunity that a couple of years ago I would have jumped at. It was something I truly wanted. But as with everything I prayed about it to make sure it was right, and I got a no! A big fat resounding NO! Not even a maybe, it was a flat out no!

Really God?
But what if this is a really good thing?
What if it was what I was meant to be doing?
Why would it come up if it wasn’t right?
But God, I really want to do this!

So many questions flooded my mind, but even though none of them were answered, I still knew it was a no!

And so I spoke to the person who had asked me and said that I had prayed about it, and it just wasn’t right. She was completely understanding and thanked me for even considering the opportunity.

Door closed.

I knew I had done the right thing, but then it hit me…..the doubts, fears and insecurity that I had made the wrong choice:

Maybe I should have said yes?
Maybe I will never be asked again?
What if this was my only chance?
What if I had just missed out on something amazing?

FOMO (fear of missing out) had hit me big time and I suddenly doubted everything I knew I had heard from God.
As Phil was away I knew I had to talk to someone about this before I changed my mind again and made a wrong decision or worse, let this FOMO take over completely!

I am so super blessed with good friends and so I chatted to 2 of them about it (one in NZ and one in the USA, cause you know, it’s good to get international opinions right?)
I am so thankful to both of them for talking sense into me and showing me the things I couldn’t see…or chose not to see.

One friend said to me “It’s ok to grieve” and with that, the tears started flowing. It was like this huge release and all of a sudden it was ok that I was sad. It was ok that I was struggling, and it was ok to feel disappointed. Just because we make the right decision, doesn’t always mean it is the easy one!

So I have processed it all this week, I have chatted with God, and let Him know (like He didn’t already!!) that I was sad.  He reassured me I would be ok, and He reminded me that He has plenty of opportunities out there for me when the time is right.

So friends, it’s ok to grieve! It’s ok to say goodbye to a dream. It’s ok to feel sad when things don’t go as you think they should. And it’s ok to feel disappointed. But let’s not stay there! Grieve and move on. Don’t dwell on what might have been, focus instead on the open doors ahead of you, knowing God is always a good God, and His plans are way better than what any of us could dream up!


Snakes & Ladders

Posted on

I love board games!
My family will attest to this. Ever since I was a kid I have loved playing games. And as the kids have grown, we have always played games as a family. Now I am not a competitive person (well, not all the time!) and I am not a strategic player, but I love to sit round the table with friends or family and spend time together….and most of the time this is accompanied with eating chocolate!

There is a great feeling when you have reached world domination, brought every property on the board or won all the cards in a hand. Yep, winning is definitely a good feeling! (I did say I wasn’t competitive didn’t I?)

But, there are a couple of games which I refuse to play. Last card is one of these. I really (really) can’t stand this game. I am not a mean player and so I hate making people pick up cards or changing direction when they are about to win. I also dislike when someone does that to me. The other game which I can’t stand is snakes and ladders! Again, I think this game is just mean and sliding down a snake when you are two squares away from winning is not my idea of a good time. And I have learned over the years, there are some people I won’t play games with. I don’t mind if they are strategic or out to win, but I can’t play with people who are sneaky, nasty or vindictive…..not that I have many friends like that!!

As I was thinking about all this game playing, and pondering life as I often do, I couldn’t help but think how much my life is like a game of snakes and ladders. So often I feel like I am winning at life! I feel like things are going on track and I am making progress, and then BAM! I land on a snake and somehow I end up where I was weeks ago, and I need to push forward again, covering ground I have already covered.

And so I pick myself up and I carry on…..only to find that just when I feel like I am winning again, somehow I have landed on a snake, and there I go, down that curly wurly tail to a place that is so familiar, but so frustrating.

It is a roller coaster ride of highs when we get to climb that ladder, and lows when we hit that snake.

Sometimes I look around at people I am doing life with or people I admire, and they seem to avoid the snakes, their life seems to be one ladder after another, climbing higher and higher while I seem to be heading in the opposite direction! Really God? Why is my life filled with so many snakes and theirs is so full of ladders? Can’t you just roll the dice so I can avoid the snakes and hit all the ladders? Why can’t my life be more like a game of candyland?

You know, all sweet and sticky with beautiful bright colours, and where it is easy to win? But even as I ask that question, I already know the answer……Who ever said life was going to be easy? Who told us that life was like a game of candyland where life is sweet and easy? Where is the growth in that? Where is the stretching where we grow in God and learn to trust in Him, when we fall down yet another snake?

How else will I learn perseverance, stamina, and grow my resilience? How will appreciate the good times if I don’t fall down a snake every once in a while?
And how will I learn to trust in God if I get to climb every ladder I come across?

So I am not sure where you are this week, I hope you are climbing a ladder, but if by some chance you feel like you are sliding down a snake, hang in there? There are seasons of snakes and there are seasons of ladders, but at the end of the day we will all end up at the finish line, where we will long to hear those words “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”


What’s Your Best Feature?

Posted on

That’s a tough question.
Well, it is for me and for some other women I know!

We had a women’s event at Church the other night, and as you do at women’s events, we had some ice breaker questions. You know, those questions that we all love to hate! We had the usual ones, who would you like to have dinner with (Easy, Johnny Depp) who would you like to be for a day (Again, easy….Johnny Depp’s dog) and if you could be in a movie, which one would it be (easy-peasy….any movie with Johnny Depp in it!)

But then this was this one question that stumped all of us….what is your best feature?
As we went around our table each one of us took a deep breath and thought long and hard. In my head, I was going through all the things I can’t stand about myself…..This is too big, that’s too small, this is too long, and that’s not long enough. I worked my way down and could only come up with the negatives. Come on Kathy, this is not that hard! You don’t hate EVERY part of your body, surely there is something you love? Surely?

As I looked at the other women, I could see that I was not the only one struggling. When it came turn for us to speak out our best feature, all of us fumbled and struggled to speak out loud what we loved about ourselves!

Why?
Why is it so hard?
Why is it so hard to speak positive words about ourselves out loud?

Earlier that day I had been in a Pastors meeting and we talked about how each and every one of us is God’s masterpiece. We had to say it out loud, and to be honest, I had no trouble with this…..maybe it was because I didn’t fully believe it and maybe because I wasn’t being specific. But that night at the women’s event I struggled. This wasn’t a self-pity thing, for me it was just fact!

As we went around the group we shared what we loved about each person and what we thought their best feature was, and then we moved on with the night!

But I couldn’t let it go! If I am God’s masterpiece, and God does not make mistakes, then why do I struggle so much with the way he made me! Surely if I am a masterpiece I should be able to ramble on about my best features and be confident in the way I am made!

This is not a conceited thing, it’s about being ok with who you are, and for me, this is a constant battle. Some weeks I am like “I am awesome! I can conquer the world, God has great plans for me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (as I tell my Daughters of the King girls every chance I get) but then there are other weeks when I look in the mirror and I just don’t get what other people see! I stand there and all I can say is “Really God?”

When did we start believing the lies of the enemy?
When did we lose the self-confidence and assurance we had as little girls?

And so this week I am trying hard to look in the mirror and not focus on all the bits I don’t like. I am trying to look through God’s lens and to be ok with all the bits that I wish were different. I am being ok with this outer shell, because ultimately I know, it really is whats on the inside that is the true beauty.


Kick Boxing, Sugar Free, Juicing & Other Fun Things!

Posted on

I know, I know!

It’s been a while since you have seen or heard from me. Life got a little crazy towards the end of last year and I just needed a bit of space to breathe and get things back into perspective. I love living a full life, but things kinda got out of kilter, and I needed some time to just figure it all out!

So I have started this new year with the intention of getting things back on track! And for me, that starts with my body! I know from past experiences that if I feel better about myself, so many other things just seem to fall into place. It’s not about weight or the way I look, but more of the way I feel about myself. Jackson has decided to go sugar-free this whole year, and so I thought I would join him for January. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard, but it also wasn’t that helpful! I didn’t really feel any different or notice a huge change in my health, and so now it’s February I am back on sugar (although I haven’t had any as of yet as I am not sure what I should break my fast with!)

So if being sugar-free wasn’t the answer, maybe juicing would be! I watched a documentary called “Fat, sick and nearly dead” and it really inspired me to give juicing a go to increase my micro-nutrients, along with various other health benefits.
I went and bought myself a juicer and away I went…..Now some juices were delicious, but those ones with kale, ginger, and everything green in them, were pretty yukky! But I persevered for 7 days and had nothing but micro-nutrient filled juices. Now, this time I did notice a difference! I felt less hungry, I had less cravings and generally felt healthier and happier! But let’s be realistic, I can’t live on a diet of just juice, so keeping everything in balance like you are meant to do, I am doing one day a week of just juicing. The good thing about doing this is that Gracie and Phil have joined me and I am also getting micro-nutrients into them as well!

So if I am being kinder to my body by fuelling it right, then I might as well go the full hog and exercise as well right? I am still running…..admittedly it is spasmodic but I am still doing it! So I decided I needed something else! For the last couple of years, I have always wanted to do kickboxing. But for one reason or another, I have never gotten around to it. But this year, this year it is different…..this year I am determined to do more of those things I normally just talk about, and kickboxing is one of those!

I managed to drag Gracie along with me and you know what? We had a blast! It was such hard work, but just so much fun and I cannot wait for next week! I have been online looking at getting gloves and some gear, but think I will wait a month or two to see how we go!

I have also started taking ACV (apple cider vinegar) twice a day to aid with digestion and overall wellness! That stuff is seriously foul but I am discovering that most things that are good for you are!

So my January may sound like a mish-mash of healthy fads and realistically who knows how long I will last with each thing. But what I am hoping to find at the start of 2017 is a healthy balance that will sustain me for the whole year. I am not wanting to burn out and I am not wanting to end 2017 like 2016 ended….wishing I could quit my life!

I am putting boundaries around my time and who I spend it with. I am exercising and I am eating better. I am making room for fun and I am being realistic about my goals. But most of all, I am setting my eyes on Jesus, and seeking Him as together we tackle another year!

Bring it on I say…..


Just Be Kind, People!

Posted on

There’s a saying that goes “Be kind, everyone you meet is facing a battle you know nothing about.”

The other day I was scrolling through facebook on my phone. I was in a bit of a hurry, and so I was scrolling through pretty fast! Gracie saw me and she said “Mum, aren’t you even going to “like” anything?”

Part of me was like, well no, I don’t really have time. And the other part of me got to thinking…..

And so, I slowed down and started to really look at what was going on on facebook.
There were people celebrating birthday’s, celebrating kids achievements, friends in hospital, others fighting battles and others having lost loved ones. And then there were the ones that I thought personally were just words for the sake of it, attention seeking even!

But regardless of what was being posted, these people obviously felt it was worthy enough to share with the world. Whether it was heartfelt, trivial or a desperate cry for attention, all of these friends needed something. Validation, sympathy or simple kindness.

And then I felt bad for scrolling through so fast and not liking or commenting on anything! Now, I am not going to go through and like absolutely everything, because the simple fact is I don’t! I don’t get into political debates, I don’t like or comment when people are being rude or inappropriate and I don’t condone putting people down on facebook.

But the majority of my friends are putting genuine things up about their life, whether good or bad and so if I am on facebook, then I need to participate. I know some people do it, but I am not into the whole facebook stalking thing! If I am on there, I will let you know I am on there.

And so I am making a conscience effort to be kind! I am liking things, commenting and participating in this whole social media world. I am not liking out of pity or obligation, but when friends share their world with me, I think it is rude of me to not acknowledge it. Now, I am not on social media all day every day, not everyone shows up on my newsfeed and so there are things I miss but when I am on there, you will see me!

Part of me was thinking, well why should I like their stuff when they never like any of mine, they didn’t wish me happy birthday and they didn’t even like my favourite photo! But again, this is not all about me, and it is super petty to only like for a like! I am bigger than that, and hopefully, I am kinder than that!

So, I am going to be kind this week! How about you?
I am going to get over whatever issues I am personally dealing with and make an effort to be kind. As the saying goes “Everyone you meet is facing a battle you know nothing about.”

If you are on social media, take the time to hit the like button, which takes all of 2 seconds. Take time to comment on the things you see, and take the time to really see what is going on with your friends, you never know what it could mean to that person!

You will never regret being kind!

kind