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.

 


Adventure Awaits…

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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!

 

 


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.


Why I Don’t Like Easter!

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Well, ok, it’s not completely true, but it is something I find very difficult!

It’s not that I don’t like Easter, I mean, who doesn’t love spending a long weekend with their family, eating copious amounts of chocolate and hot cross buns? I for one love that side of it, but for me, there is a far more important side of Easter…… It’s all about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Easter for me is one of the most important times of the year for reflection. It’s a time to sit down, take a deep breath and remember the price Christ paid, so I could live this Blessed life that He has given me.

A few years ago, Phil and I went to see The Passion of the Christ. I knew it was going to be a horrific movie, but until sitting through it didn’t realise what a huge impact it would have on me. To be honest, I walked out of the movie halfway through. I just couldn’t handle it. The torture, the humiliation, the absolute cruelty shown towards my Saviour, was too much for me to sit through. Now I know it’s just a movie, but it rocked me to the core. I have thought several times when I have seen it on Netflix that I should sit through all of it…… But I just can’t bring myself to do it! I guess it’s one thing to read about it, but it’s another to sit there and watch it!

Tomorrow afternoon we will transform our auditorium and have a giant cross in the middle with everything apart from the Cross blacked out. We will be performing a drama and every time I read the script, I can’t do it without tears welling in my eyes. Good Friday is a day that I don’t look forward to even though I know how important it is. Just get through Friday Kathy, and then you can look forward to Sunday where we will celebrate the Ressurection!

So for me, Easter is about remembering. Remembering the price Christ paid for my freedom. But do I only reflect about this at Easter? Shouldn’t this be something that I reflect on more often? Sure, we look at it when we take communion, but again, shouldn’t it be more than that, too? The price Christ paid for my freedom is something that I don’t actually take for granted, it is something that I still struggle to comprehend. That when it came down to it, if I was the only person on earth, Christ still would have died for me! Christ was hung on that Cross for me. Yip, little ole me! Kathy, who stuffs up on a daily basis, Kathy, who takes Blessings for granted, Kathy, who regularly asks for forgiveness and is far from perfect. Christ persevered through all that suffering so that I could live in abundant freedom.

So as I get ready for this weekend, one that will be spent with family, eating chocolate and most importantly going to Church, my goal is to honour Christ as best as I can with my life. To make what He did for me on the Cross worth it. Not just this Easter weekend but every day that I am graced with. I may not be perfect, but that doesn’t change the fact that Christ was the perfect sacrifice for my life. REMEMBER.

a done


Even When….

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Even When!
2 small words that have had a huge impact on my life at the moment.

I had the privilege of speaking at Church last Sunday night. I say it is a privilege as it is not something I take for granted, and realise not everybody gets the opportunity. So even though it is totally out of my comfort zone, I am learning to embrace it, and see the Blessings in it rather than looking at the scary side!

One of the worship songs we sang was called “Even when it hurts” by Hillsong United, it is such a beautiful song, you can listen to it here if you would like to. The minute I heard it, knew God wanted to use this song to minister to people. I had prepared a long message, and God said to me “Just step aside and let me deal and heal.” So I cut my message short and let God do what God does!

The overriding theme for the night was “Even when….”

Even when my strength is lost, will you praise Him.
Even when it hurts, will you praise Him.
Even when it doesn’t make sense, will you praise Him.
Even when it hurts like hell, will you praise Him.
Even when, even when, even when!

 

“What is your Even When?”

What is it that you are going through that you have to say “you know what God, even when…..I will still praise you!

Because you know what friends? He is worthy of our praise….no matter what.
Through the good seasons.
Through the tough seasons.
Through all the seasons we may find ourselves walking in.
He is worthy of our praise.

So as you go out this week and face whatever season you are walking through, can I encourage you to praise Him. Praise Him because He is good. Praise Him because that’s what He deserves, and praise Him for no other reason than because He is God, and he is always, always worthy.

 

 

 


The Death Of Who I Thought I Would Be….

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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.

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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.

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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!