Bread. Wine. Love.


A couple of months ago a beautiful friend from Australia surprised me by sending over a book for me to read. It was a book that her bookclub read, and she loved it so much that she wanted to share it with me. It sat on my shelf because I was swamped with writing papers for school, but once I met all my deadlines this December I was finally able to pick it up and pored over the beautiful stories of Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

The pages of this book are filled with Shauna’s memories and life experiences, all brought together by her love of food and passion to sharing beautiful meals with family and friends. With each chapter she weaves in a special dish that reminds her of that time in her life, a dish that leaves your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling with hunger because it just sounds so delicious. What makes this book so special is that at the end of the story Shauna shares the recipe with her readers, so we can experience the fabulous flavours of the food she has written about. Two nights ago I made her risotto. It was superb (if I do say so myself!)

Bread and Wine is beautiful, but at the end of each chapter I find myself wanting to crawl up into the foetal position and cry. Maybe it’s because of the time and situation of life in which I find myself right now, but her book leaves my heart heavy. Firstly, as she talks about the beautiful friendships she shares with people I feel an ache of loneliness and desire to sit around the big eight person dining room table that we used to own in Australia. I want to sit and share meals with all our closest family and friends whom we left behind when we moved to San Diego. While I have beautiful friendships here, I don’t have nearly as many, and whats more it takes hours and hours to develop those really deep and special relationships with people that can last the distance. Secondly, as Shauna talks about the pain of struggling to have a baby for years, of miscarriages, and then the hard and exhaustive pregnancy that she endured to bring her second son into the world, her stories open up deep longings and I am left desperately wanting to hold the baby we have desired to have for the past six years. The despair caused by infertility makes you do crazy things like go on diets to try and make your body more “fertile”, or have silly routines to get your menstrual cycle on the same pattern as the Luna calendar (apparently it helps), in addition to the thousands of dollars you’re spending on acupuncture, alternative medicine, and many different fertility treatments. These days I have learnt not to try to force our baby into existence by doing these things, but reading Niequist’s book opens old wounds.

Don’t get me wrong the book is beautiful, but Shauna writes with such openness and vulnerability that it leaves me terribly raw. It brings me face-to-face again with some of the pain that I have done so well to withdraw from… But I think being confronted with your pain is a good thing, and having it be brought out into the open to deal with is much healthier than pretending it doesn’t exist. When we learn to face our own hurts, discovering God’s presence in the midst of it all, we become much better prepared to meet others in their pain. I think this is one of the privileges of being human. It also reminds me of another book — The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. In a nutshell, Nouwen shows how we are living in a hurting world, and that wounded people who can work through their pain are equipped and ready to offer authentic empathy and compassion for other wounded and lonely people.

This is what I want to offer to those around me: a safe place to be vulnerable and hurt. I want to be a person who will not shy away from another’s pain, but is ready to offer hospitality to those who need to cry and talk and work through their own wounds. I pray that you can be one of these people too — that special friend who can enter into another’s pain and be with them in it. The world desperately needs more people like this, and when we can offer this then we are truly the best friends hurting people can have. The reality is that pain exists, it’s very real for all people at some stage or another, and the effects of it can run so deep, but if we cannot offer genuine love and life to those people who are in despair then what’s the point of life? Life is about more than success, having the best car, having this nicest house, or having a fabulous Instagram account. Life is about relationships. Relationships are the reason we were created, and developing strong relationships with God and people is our purpose here on earth. Relationships ask us to be there for each other in the good times, and more importantly the bad. Relationships require intentional vulnerability and hospitality towards others in their pain. But to do so requires us to face our own pain, and be ok with the wounds of our own lives.

So I am grateful that my dear friend introduced me to Shauna Niequist, and I am grateful that Shauna’s writing has opened me up to myself in a real way. Bread and Wine is a beautiful book, and one that I am going to cherish always… as well as one that I am going to enjoy splashing food and wine all over as I cook every recipe in the book!

Learning to rejoice in Small Beginnings

nativity scene

“Don’t despise the small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”  Zechariah 4:10

I stumbled upon this verse as I was reading the Bible during my time with God the other morning. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I’d never seen this before, but I was so warmed and encouraged by these compassionate words from God to His people.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very easy to get frustrated with where I am at. I can often feel like a failure, as though I should be further ahead in my efforts to bring glory to God. I get frustrated that I am not preaching week-in-week-out; I get frustrated that I am not writing blog posts on a more regular basis; most of all I get frustrated that I am still at school studying, rather than working in a church and impacting lives for Jesus.

But then I read these words of encouragement from God to His people; His words to me…

It makes me think about that first day that I walked into seminary to begin my theological study, and I realised that in that moment God rejoiced that the work had begun. I was taking the first, small step of being trained and tutored for the purpose of becoming a pastor.

It makes me think of the first time I got up to preach before my church community and how energised it made me feel. Yet another small beginning which God celebrated. I was totally untrained and green, but that was ok because God’s work of shaping me and refining my speaking ability had begun.

God declares here in Zechariah 4:10 that He rejoices in the small, slow beginnings. And we must remember that these small beginnings always lead to greater, faster momentum down the track.

As I reflect on this truth I recognise that small beginnings are in fact good. It is much, much better to start small and slow, than to go big and quick, only to then fizzle out because the Lord was not in the work.

Then I think of Jesus who came as a tiny baby. Before that, just an embryo in His mother’s womb. Small beginnings. It took thirty years before Jesus stepped into ministry. It was the small beginnings that trained him, and prepared him, and perfected him for the purpose of changing the world.

So next time I get frustrated with where I am at, wishing I was further along in life and making a bigger impact on the world around me I am going to pause to remember that God does not despise the small beginnings, but rejoices to see the work begin.

R, xo

Resisting Spiritual Poverty

putting on shoes

“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest –

then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;

scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

 ~ Proverbs 24:33-34

I’ve read these verses many times, but I’ve always interpreted them as a lesson on how quickly physical poverty to catch up with you. However as I read these words the other day I was struck with how this lesson speaks to our spiritual life as well. It occurred to me, as I reflected on these verses, that they indeed speak to my own experience of spiritual poverty when I have rested from my prayer and devotional life.

I have found that a “little extra sleep, a little slumber” manifests itself in a couple of ways. One such way is through spiritual boredom or restlessness; Evagrius Pontus (345-399 A.D.) spoke of it by the name of acedia. At times I’ve found myself going through the motions of my spiritual disciplines, but mentally and emotionally I’m disconnected from the sacredness of what I’m doing. So out of boredom I choose to “take a break” from prayer, reading the bible, and meditation, and decide that its a good idea to put it all off until I feel motivated again. The other way slumber has manifested itself in my life is when I feel like I’m in a really good space with God, that our relationship is strong and flourishing. On those days I find myself thinking “I feel like my relationship with God is great at the moment and I’ve got a busy day today, so its ok if I ‘fold my hands to rest’ from reading my bible today.” Which ever way my emotions have swung I have found that I quickly fall into spiritual poverty and depression, and for me the feeling of disconnection from God is tangible and painful. What I’ve been coming to recognise though is that when spiritual poverty attacks it does not mean that the LORD loves me any less, but rather its affect is to tempt me to run further from Him out of shame and embarrassment. I’m coming to recognise that I can run back to Him and He will pour out in abundance His fullness of grace, peace, and love – I am rich again in Him.

As I meditate on these verses above I recognise this: Even when I don’t want to go to work or school, I still go. We turn up even if we don’t feel like it (or if everything is running smoothly) because we know that if we don’t the negative outcomes could be catastrophic for both our lives and the lives of those who depend on us. So it ought to be that we approach our devotional lives with the same mindset. Faithful commitment to our times with the Lord, whether we feel like it or not, can only bring greater richness to our souls and to the souls of those we live along side of.

One last thought… When King David wrote “Bless the LORD O my Soul” I wonder whether he was rousing his flesh to worship the Lord even though he didn’t feel like it. I wonder whether he recognised that “a little folding of the hands to rest” would lead to a spiritual poverty and a disconnection from God, which he desperately wanted to avoid.

Get Out Of My Way, Fear!

girl running

I’m super excited to share with you how over these last few months I have come to a greater understanding of my identity in Christ. Seems silly doesn’t it? I’ve been a Christian for just shy of 16 years, plus I grew up in a Christian family, and yet I’ve only just now come to know and understand what it means to have my identity rooted in Christ. But it’s true, and the freedom from learning how to walk in my identity as a DAUGHTER of the MOST HIGH GOD has been amazing.

The learning began after I started reading some books about seeing and moving in the spiritual realm. I’ve always wanted to be able to move in the spiritual realm through the power of the Holy Spirit, and as I’ve read the Gospels and the Book of Acts I’ve become convinced that God wants to move in signs and wonders — through prophecy, healing, casting out of demons, and through the gifts of the Spirit. For as long as I’ve been a Christian I have longed for God to teach me to move and minister in this way, but each time I started exploring this in my own faith I would be overcome by terrifying fear. Fear of Satan, demons, and the possibility of their possession of me. It was crippling. When I’d pray I would have this sense of something malevolent in the room. When I’d take my dog out to the toilet at night I was terrified of coming face-to-face with something demonic or a person influenced by the demonic. When I went to bed at night I would cover my head with the blanket because it felt like I was surrounded by more than simply the darkness of night. It felt like I was surrounded by a spiritual darkness, and sometimes even seeing demonic faces hovering in front of my closed eyelids. When fear came over me at night my heart would shrivel up and I would curl up into the foetal position under my doona. I couldn’t sleep and I never felt safe.

As a child my mother had taught me that if I ever experienced something evil or was afraid then all I needed to do was to call on the name of Jesus and he would fight for me. And so I did, but it didn’t seem to work. The fear kept coming. I felt utterly helpless. I felt captive to this fear.

When I had experienced this previously I’d eventually get to a place where I just had to shut it out, but that also meant that I shut down my growing ability to see and move in the spiritual realm through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Over and over I went through this cycle as I sought to try and grow in my ability to move in the spiritual realm more fully, but each time the experience of fear would stop me.

Recently I decided to try and step into that space again. The fear came back with an intensity like I’d never experienced. But I was now in a place where I was determined to conquer it. I didn’t want to keep living like this. On the recommendation from a friend I started reading two amazing and life changing books – Visions Beyond the Veil by H.A. Baker and The Veil by Blake K Healy. As I delved into these books I came to realise that the reason I was so overcome by fear was because I had an underdeveloped understanding of my identity in Christ. I had never fully come to appreciate and own the fact that I am a child of the Most High God, and therefore Satan and his minions have no claim or power over me. They wanted me to believe they did, hence they used fear to try to overwhelm me and prevent me from learning how to step into the potential that I have in Christ, but I’ve come to realise that it was all smoke and mirrors.

At the same time my friend (the same friend who recommended the books) told me that in order to step into our identity in Christ we have to first reject the false identities that Satan desires us to live in. He plants these false identities in our minds through negative experiences and memories, encouraging us to believe them and take them on as definitions of who we are. Satan does this because he wants to stop us from growing into the people God wants, and has planned for us to be. For me, one of those false identities was the belief that I was a failure. There was the lie that I was a failure because I was always sinning, the lie that I was a failure because I am unable to give my husband children, and more recently the lie that I was failure because I had wasted time trying to have children instead of pursuing God’s ministry.

As I spent time with God, asking Him to show me and teach me about my identity in Christ I was able to shed these false identities, and step into my true identity as a daughter of the Most High King. I realised that I truly am loved and adored. I realised that I have been given God’s authority. I realised I have nothing to fear.

And the freedom has been UH-MAZING! My prayer life is joyful and I sense loving energy flowing in the room again. I’m not afraid to walk my dog out at night. I’m sleeping again (with my head above the doonas!). I’d heard it before, but now I’ve come to realise on a deeper level that God is love, and there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). God is my protector and shield, and because I am his beloved daughter I have no reason to fear. For as the Apostle Paul said, “… nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38).

Laying A Solid Foundation

Sky Scraper

Recently I was having a day where I felt terribly discouraged by the reality of what lay before me: three and a half more years of theological study after the four that I had just completed. I felt trapped and frustrated by the lack of options and opportunities before me. I truly could not comprehend why God had me in this situation, and how I was going to find the motivation to keep going. I personally felt that I was ready to step into the plans that the Lord has for me, and I couldn’t understand why He was making me wait for such a long time!

The next day I was having a coffee with a new friend and she unknowingly spoke into this secret frustration of mine. She said, ‘Rose it doesn’t take much foundation to build a chicken coop, but to build a mighty Sky Scraper you need a very solid and deep foundation. It takes time, and a lot of effort to build that type of foundation. You are a sky scraper and God is building a solid foundation on which you are to stand.’ Those encouraging words brought so much hope to my situation, and in that moment I could see that it was God’s plan for me to have this extended period of study and learning, and that He has me right where He wants me. I realised that He wants to set me on a deep and solid foundation so that I can succeed and prosper in the work He has for me.

Think about a chicken coop: it’s relatively easy to build and it doesn’t need much foundation to stand, but if hit by a storm, a tornado, or a flood it will not stand against the stress nor will it protect ones it was built to look after. A sky scraper on the other hand needs designing, crafting, and it needs to be built down deep before it can start to stand tall. It requires an investment of time and hard work. It requires commitment. But once the job is done is can stand against the storms, the floods and the tornados. It brings glory to its maker and upholds those for whom it has been built to serve and protect. A sky scraper leaves a long lasting legacy.

I’ve decided that I want to be a sky scraper rather than a chicken coop, and therefore I realise that it is not good for me to run ahead of God’s timing and the work He wants to do in me. He wants to set me on a solid and deep foundation so that I can stand tall, and won’t be crushed when the storms, and winds hit. I now have a new appreciation for the study ahead of me, and I know that if I walk in God’s will and timing I will become the sky scraper that He wants me to be.

So I ask you, do you want to be a chicken coop or a sky scraper? Sometimes it feels like the situation we are in is hopeless and it’s tempting to short-cut, or run ahead of God’s timing. We might feel that we are ready for the plans God has for us, and we don’t want to wait any longer. But it is important to recognise that God is for us, He wants us to succeed in His plans for us. That often means that God first wants to build a solid and deep foundation in us. So if you’re feeling how I have been feeling recently I encourage you to trust God and His timing. He knows what He is doing. He doesn’t want you to be crushed by the weight of His plans for you, He wants you to stand tall. He wants you to be a Sky Scraper.

An everyday journey with Jesus Christ

Mike Frost


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Holly Smith Sports Dietitian