Halfway House

pink ribbon girlNo! I am not in rehab, if that’s what you were thinking. But I have shifted and I am halfway back home to my house on the Shore! Actually just waiting for the last flatmate to shift out and then I’ll be back with my precious grandson as we all prepare for the arrival of his baby sister later in September. He will be such a good big brother. He already looks after himself and his mummy like a good young man should.

It only seems like yesterday when I had two youngsters packing their own lunch boxes into their bags in the morning and getting their shoes ready at the front door ou peut on acheter du viagra. They also had to eat their breakfast, clean their teeth and put their pjs under their pillows, from three onwards! Those were their daily chores, and they got a little surprise each week they managed to do them. Made things much easier for a quick getaway to work in the mornings.

Tyrell started basketball training again tonight. All of 5 years old, playing on the Breakers’ own court. So proud of him when he took the shot at goal that would either earn them all a drinks break, if he got it in, or five pushups for everyone if he didn’t. He did a few bounces and then shot the ball way above his head and straight through the hoop! He’s been practising shooting the hoop since he could just walk and I bent a wire coat hanger into a ring for him and mounted it on the retaining wall outside. Four years and about ten different height hoops later, and he can shoot with the best! He is not even daunted by the full size hoop at the local park – giving it a go with great gusto – and nearly sinking it much to everyone’s amazement! He is still a little shorty like his Mum, but he is reaching the heights of his Dad!

For many parents with a gifted child, they can be erroneously given the name “pushy” when they make opportunities for their children to excel in their given field. Just as we have given Tyrell the opportunity to excel in his sports, and encouraged him to do his reading homework every night, parents of the gifted mathematician, or acrobat, or social justice promoter are keen to give their children opportunities to excel at what they love to do, too. They want to expose them to all things so as not to prematurely cut off their potential. But as the title of a recent thesis I read on gifted education said,

“If you talk, you are just talking. If I talk, is that bragging?”

So sad, and yet, so true in many unfortunate cases. Parents of gifted children too often have to enjoy the pleasures with their children quietly, so as not to seem like they are bragging. Yes, we have all heard those that speak far too much about what their kids can do – and that is why this situation exists. But, deep down, we are just cutting off their flower heads, (poppies are often used here), the most beautiful aspect of the flower. But, in doing so, we kill the stem and support of these kids – both that of their parents and their self-esteem. These people end up living to limbo – another sort of halfway house – where they are not so sure they have a permanent place where they can be happy for their kids or not.

In the Bible, Jesus wouldn’t let the little children be stopped from coming to Him. He embraced them all with open arms. Advocates in gifted education are ever hopeful that our children will be embraced with open arms – and their parents, too.

He made beauty from ashes

I am living in a cold house this winter. Noticeably colder than where I have lived before, even discounting my recent tropical escapade to Samoa. One thing I have come to enjoy is the fire at nights. And, more than the warmth as I stoke it up before I go to bed, I love to see the glow of hot embers still there in the morning. It is so much easier to fan it again into flames if there are still hot embers.

Since my weekend with Helen Calder I have had the words of a song stuck in my mind. Oh-h-h the frustration when this happens with a song you don’t particularly like! But in my case, the words of this song are incredible.

He made beauty from ashes, turned sorrow into dancing,

Only You, Jesus son of God.

When I get up on a cold morning and see cold, dead, grey ashes in the fireplace, I know there will be a much greater effort needed to get the fire started, than when there is even just a small glowing ember. Those ashes don’t look very beautiful to me … from a visual perspective or a functional perspective.

But God can make beauty from ashes! Miraculously. He can make lives that are full of pain and remorse wiped clean and we can be forgiven in an instant. We only need to declare that we believe in Him and want to walk with Him. He says it in the Bible, and I believe it as He has outworked it in my life.

Even when I had only the faintest glimmer of hope that life could get better; even when I could only just distinguish a small glow in the furthest ember, God has helped me fan that hope into faith and showered me with blessings as a result. It doesn’t mean my life is now immune from hardship. But, then I don’t expect it to be. But, what it does mean is I have restored the reason for my hope and an assurance that I am loved and cared for at all times, no matter what my circumstances.

Helen Calder helped me to see the tower walls that needed to be broken down, and this little Rapunzel is ready to fire again! So watch this space … I don’t know where my now ‘uncovered’ enthusiasm will take me, but I know where it won’t take me. And that is probably the best thing of all!

When the battle is at your door

Technophobic grandmaHelen Calder finished the conference with another message involving a man who fell short, and allowed a woman to overcome on the day of battle. Men do have responsibilities in life … serious, important responsibilities … but when a man falls short of these, God is quite willing to use a woman to stand in his place. Deborah, the prophetess from Judges 4 gave Barack a word from God, to take 10,000 men and conquer Sisera the oppressor. He would not go unless Deborah went with them. She did, but told him the honour of the battle would instead be given to a woman.

Long story short, the woman to whom Deborah was referring, Jael, went against her husband, and while the wicked Sisera slept, Jael stabbed him dead with a tent-peg, and showed him to Barack when he finally caught up with them. The battle honour was certainly due to this Bedouin housewife. In Old Testament times, her role was that of an enforcer of the Law. But, today, in New Testament times, we must be enforcers of Grace.

In a crisis, when a miracle is needed, we are not supposed to just go with the status quo, we must be dispensers of grace. Helen taught 5 truths to remember when the battle comes to your door:

  1. With God in your life you are powerful. Even one woman, Jael, with God, was the majority and overcame the battle. We may look like we are nothing of value to others, but with God on our side we become mighty victors.
  2. You are significant. It is not about our position, our personality, our part, or about the others around us. Jael was not a thermometer that rose and fell as she went up and down. She was a thermostat – she set the temperature. She wasn’t going to entertain this evil oppressor even though her husband wanted to. 
  3. You have everything at hand you need to succeed. And if the battle seems to be overwhelming, you only need to call out to God and praise Him. He will be with you.
  4. You place is significant. You don’t need to be anywhere else. God has put you in the exact places He wants you to be, to fulfil His desires.
  5. You have options. Are we going to flee at the first sign of difficulty? Or will we be the grace enforcers God wants us to be? We get to choose. Impact others’ lives with the message of good news, or say it’s too hard and leave it for someone else?

Women who find themselves ‘by themselves’ don’t have to fear that they will not cope with life’s tragedies alone. We have a kind and loving Father in Heaven who is ready and willing to stand beside us and support us through the trial. He has placed in us from conception, the seed of significance that no-one can take from us. Choose to rise up today, and claim your rightful place, not in the worldview of ‘feminism’ but in God’s view of equality and joint heirship with His son.

Rapunzel’s Story

Beautiful young woman looking in the mirrorWe know the story and the line … “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.” The handsome prince climbs up – I used to cringe at the thought of his weight pulling on her hair! But do you remember why she was in the tower in the first place?

She was there because she had been tricked into believing it was not safe for her outside the tower. She was a self-imposed hostage. Have you ever put yourself in a safe place where you dare not venture out from, lest you get hurt? Have you kept your distance from people because you were scared of intimacy in relationships? Have you not put yourself forward for a promotion because you couldn’t bear the shame if you missed out?

It is not a good place to be, with a “mark down” label. Other people seem to love it at sale time, when they get the benefit from someone else’s “mark down”. But if you are the owner, you definitely feel the pinch each time you sell an item under cost!

So, how is it that some people can bounce back from hard knocks in life, while others feel permanently scarred from them? The simple answer comes in the knowledge of knowing who you are, and knowing how valuable you are. Your value is not at the whim of the market place. Your value is tied up in your whole being; you were valued as an heir right from birth.

Helen Calder spoke more wisdom this morning at Harbourside’s “Free To Live” Women’s Conference. Speaking from Judges 1:12, when Caleb offered his daughter Aksah to the man who could capture a named enemy, his younger brother took up the challenge, and Aksah was given over to him like a chattel. But later, when she asked her husband to ask more from his brother, Caleb, he hesitated. But God does not want us to be affected by others around us who may hesitate in their spiritual walk. Caleb himself asked Aksah what she wanted, and it was given to her – in a double portion. She stepped out of the limiting mindset of the tower, and was able to get the springs to water her inheritance.

Can we look at limiting factors in our lives today, and step out of the limiting mindset we have, to gain a fresh perspective?

I know for myself, I had been held in a limiting mindset for too long, and Helen’s message this morning encouraged me that my decision to break free was a wise call, and in God’s will for my life. Be blessed and walk free, like Aksah.

NB Helen also explained that ‘Aksah’ meant shackles and bondage. A woman with this name could have taken on the attitude of a victim, but instead, she took on the true attitude of an heir.

 

Forgive them and move on

In life we can come up against people who hurt us. Maybe unintentionally, by not realising the depth to which they drag us down with them to places we don’t want to go. When life throws you a curved ball you may have to pick yourself up and move on. One thing to make sure of is to not hold bitterness in your heart about the situation. It will only cause you grief.

Be on the lookout for good things that come your way. Be expectant. Don’t pine for what you once had but allow your spirit to be refreshed and made beautiful again. At the point just before forgiveness you are at a crossroads. Don’t let your anger stop you from taking the road to freedom. Remember what road you were once headed on and again head towards your destination.

You might feel like you are just picking up the leftovers for a while but you will be positioning yourself for a blessing. Just put one step in front of the other and keep moving.

These words of wisdom were shared at a women’s conference tonight at Harbourside Church. Thank you for relating the story of Ruth to us so eloquently Helen Calder. When Ruth chose obedience, not because it appealed to her, but because God wanted her to, she was blessed. God said to her, “Rise up daughter. Receive the fresh anointing for the new day.” What an encouragement for me, especially as I had decided some time back this was the best choice for me to move forward.

Giftedness in the Elderly

Cosy by the fire
Cosy by the fire

Inspired by a Spam Comment

It is one of those days – wet, cold, fire going, and I am pondering all the research I have been reading lately in Gifted Education (catching up the last 10 years!!!!). An article I promoted a while back by Gay Gallagher, in the NZ Journal of Counselling had again sparked my enthusiasm. I was thinking – I must contact this lady and tell her how inspiring her article was, when I first read it, and still is today as I search out ways to advocate for the gifted. Maybe I could take some of this information and relate it to my life experiences in gifted education and gifted family members and start blogging more frequently, I think to myself!

Then it happens … I get an update on my phone asking me to accept a comment on my blog … on the very article I wrote about Gay Gallagher’s work! I can’t tell you exactly what it said now, but it was one of those spam comments trying to hook you back to their site selling unmentionable products. But for a split second, I believed what they said, and got excited! The very time I am thinking about her work, and writing more, I get a comment that says ‘I like what you are writing about, and if only the web had bloggers who took the time to write about valuable stuff, then it would be so much better’! Great words – if they had not come from a spammer!

Then I got to thinking some more! Maybe they had actually read my work, and had been impressed by what I had to say, and just happened to encourage me on a cold, wet day in winter, to speak some more about what I love so much. Advocating for the gifted and talented! In fact, my passion has taken a temporary twist as I see an elderly relative getting assessed for dementia and her ability to live by herself at home, at nearly 80, with a test she probably wouldn’t have scored that well on at 40, let alone twice that age! Visual-spatial giftedness may be a bug-bear and an inconvenience to teachers and the gifted themselves, when we think of catering for their education needs. But it becomes tragically much worse, when our medical folk don’t know about the implications of it on everyday life, and use these learning deficit-impacted results of the elderly to determine their future living arrangements.

My relative has never been able to work with numbers and spelling out loud. But she still manages to pay her bills on time and budget her weekly shopping. She may not remember the addresses of her friends, but she can find her way there in the dark, driving on the busy roads and motorways of Auckland. She may be vague and hide her frailty from her family – but then, so would you. It would be smart to do that if the alternative means being tossed out of your home, in the bush with your favourite Kauri trees growing up through the deck! For a passionate ‘greenie’ – a real one, not just the political sort! – walking through the native bush, rather than around an aged care facility, has got to be the best way to spend her last days. Come to think of it – it’s not a bad way to spend any of your time (apart from when it’s cold and wet, and then I would much rather be tucked up in front of the fire).

If you know of this happening to any of your relatives, I would be keen to hear from you. It sounds like a research idea to me! Happy sunny days to come!