Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Birthday!!!

Happy 3rd Birthday to my only nephew and favorite little man J.T!!!




What can I say? You are the cutest, funniest, sweetest, smartest person in the world and you've taught me so much in your little life.


You changed our world and made our extended family a little more interesting...






Know you are loved so much by your parents, your grandparents, your uncles and aunts (especially your favorite, me!)


 

Wish you a great year and a great life marked with God's blessings!




Auntie "Ambua" loves you!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Serviced Apartments in Nairobi


I wrote this for Dream Properties Ltd website, first published on 18 June 2013

One of our biggest requests here at Dream Properties comes from international travellers or resident families of international travellers looking for temporary housing for the length of their stay in Kenya. In our years offering these services, and getting feedback from different sources, we’ve learnt a couple of things that you may find helpful.

Do your research. Most people who stay in serviced apartments reside in rooms prepaid by their employers as part of a work trip but, it does you good to check the place out beforehand or arrange your own accommodation because you might be looking for a “home away from home”, only to find it’s quite the opposite. Ask your company to hire a professional real estate firm (such as this one) who will do the leg work for you, sometimes even taking pictures for your approval and looking for the best deal for you. Some things you might want to be pre-aware of are: Is the room on the ground floor? If so, is it a reasonable distance from the main gate &/or parking lot?

Safety & Security: These apartments are normally located on the outskirts of the CBD away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It’s good to get details such as the entrance and exit points, information on procedures in the event of an emergency, printed details of how to summon the assistance of emergency services, ask your realtor if there’s an adequate level of lighting for safety and comfort in all public areas, including sufficient light on stairways and landings.

Get value for your money. It’s tricky for visitors to find affordable mid-range price and quality accommodations especially because most of the apartments you would find doing your research online seem to be a little steeply priced, but don’t be disheartened, travelling to Nairobi affordably is very possible (Also remember, we are here to help you find the absolute gems just waiting to be discovered)

For Owners of Serviced Apartments, my piece of advice is to keep it simple.
  • Make sure the room smells nice, keep the windows open before their arrival, get some air freshener or light a candle. This is one of the 1st things that will decide of the guest will be a one-off or loyal customer.
  • Make sure the room is painted in bright, homey colours. This affects the mood and general appeal of the guest.
  • Leave the cheap motel d├ęcor to cheap motels. One example; no mirror on the ceiling over the bed!
  • Regardless of the size of the bathroom, make sure it’s clean, the shower curtain is clean and effective (i.e. No water spilling all over the floor) and bright. A mirror is also great.
  • Tell the guest about any amenities you offer as soon as they check in. If there’s a pool, sell that, if there’s a welcome basket, either hand it to them as they arrive or leave it in their rooms, don’t deliver it the next day.
  • Organize the services. It’s not a good experience to have the maid banging on a guest’s door to see if the room was occupied at 6 a.m.
  • Develop feedback mechanisms: a guest book, a dedicated customer service representative etc. All these tools would give a guest an adequate sense of security especially since they’ll know where and to whom they can address any issues.
Check back here for more great tips and tricks, and to start booking your trip reservations, please contact us or send us an email and we’ll get back to you.

Happy Travels.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Know God's Will

The cry of our hearts is, “I just want to do God’s will.”

It's such a privilege to know God and to have this desire and I bet God is proud of us when He hears us say this and surrender ourselves to His plan for our lives. The point where I think He might get frustrated is when we act as if God’s will is some sort of vague, hazy, 'way out there' thing. A vapor that can’t be grasped.

It’s almost as if we want God’s Will, but don’t think we’ll have a shot at actually knowing what it is. Or when we act like surrendering is the biggest sacrifice in the world  we could ever make. We treat surrender as our burden to bear and expect God's calling to be a huge downgrade to our current lives. For instance a successful doctor saying, "Oh God, I know I have to surrender, so here I am giving all my worldly goods away and only remaining with the shirt on my back and I guess you also want me to go live in a 3rd world country because that's just what people do when they've surrendered, right? So......here......I......go. (sob sob)"


Allow me to put something out there that might challenge our thinking, bear with me here, but what if;

God has a real actual plan for us and has pre-ordained our steps?
"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that's what I had in mind for you." Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message)

God wants our lives to matter more than we do and He sees more in us than we see in ourselves?
God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.' I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there. I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it. Don't be afraid of a soul. I'll be right there, looking after you." God's Decree. Jeremiah 1:7-8 (The Message)

God wants to enable us and use us to change the world?
God reached out, touched my mouth, and said, "Look! I've just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered! See what I've done? I've given you a job to do among nations and governments—a red-letter day! Your job is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, And then start over, building and planting." Jeremiah 1:9-10 (The Message)

God's will doesn't always require you to be in a specific career or work in Church, what if you can serve God from right where you are?
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for human beings. Colossians 3:23 (Good News Bible)

So, knowing those truths, how do we wrap our minds around that seemingly mysterious thing called, “God’s will?” I was watching the sermon series "God's Will is Whatever" by Steven Furtick and I got some helpful points:

  • The works of God are the things He's going to do no matter what. 
  • The ways of God are His moral laws and how He wants His children to live. 
  • The bulls eye of the Christian life isn't to necessarily get a personal text message from God telling us to do this or that for every decision but rather to see the center of God's will as walking in His ways because if we're walking in His ways, we're always in His will. If we will be who God has called us to be, we'll know what He's calling us to do in any situation.
So, how does God show us His concealed will?
Word of God
Influence of others
Life situation
Leading of the Spirit 

When through the leading of the Spirit, you exalt God's word, you're able to see the influence of others through it and you see your life situation through it and the will of God is revealed."

I loved this message and it totally made sense to me. I'm realizing more and more that God's will was ingrained in each of us. We are all passionate about different things. I've always been the girl that can watch TBN all day and feel thoroughly entertained and my friends think that's weird. I have a friend who's obsessed with a type of music I find weird. I have friends in career paths that I'd have never imagined being in. God's already made us passionate about different things. It may be I.T, Business, Medicine, Law, Journalism, Teaching, Nursing, Opera music, Rock music, whatever it is that sets your heart on fire.

Bill Johnson said once how someone came and asked him to pray for them to know God's will because they had to pick between 2 choices. Bill said, "That's easy, pick one, then heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons and cleanse lepers" At the end of the day, whatever we do should have the effect of bringing heaven to earth.


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Monday Devotional :: Dealing With Tempatation

Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made. The snake asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” Genesis 3:1 (Good News Bible)

For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, "If you are God's Son, jump. It's written, isn't it, that 'he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone'?" "Yes," said Jesus, "and it's also written, 'Don't you dare tempt the Lord your God.'" Luke 4:9-12 (The Message)

Why exactly is the devil so hell-bent (Hehe, see what I did there? Hell-bent!) on tempting us? The obvious question is to seperate us from God. The devil knows that he can't have a bunch of people walking around free and loving God and being loved by God because that love leads them to a realization of how blessed and powerful they are. The enemy is aiming to keep people blind to the truth and deaf to God's call to come up higher.

If we look at scripture we see 2 ways the devil uses to get us off track:

1. He questions our view of God. Is God's word really true? Did God really say? 
We need to firmly establish in our hearts who God is to us. The more we study the Bible the more His character is revealed to us. We know from scripture God is good, sovereign, and His word is true. From different passages and stories we also get to know God is love, passionate and full of wonder. The more we read, the more we know. 

One thing we can hold on to though is that every word He says is true. He is the supreme authority in our lives. His word is unquestionable and that's just the way it is. We're faced with aspects of this question the devil posed more and more in our culture: Did God really tell you that this is wrong? I know I face this when it comes to the kind of TV shows I watch. My sister asked me once why if I was so excited about a certain type of show and whether it's something I would be comfortable watching with my pastor's knowledge. I laughed it off, but the question stuck with me.  

Did God really say I shouldn't watch this and that? Did God really say I can only go this far with my boyfriend? Did God really say I have to honour ALL authority? It's hard to make the better choice. I know. I've been there. I'm there right now! The devil tempted Jesus to presume upon the promises of God. We presume upon the promises of God when we purposely sin while clinging to a promise of God. If Jesus had purposely sinned by throwing Himself down from the temple, He would have been testing God’s promise to not let Him fall. If I purposely sin while claiming God's promise to forgive sin, I am testing God. It's the same as praying, "God, please forgive me for this sin I am about to commit,"—it presumes upon God's grace.

We need to look at everything through the lens of the word of God. Repeat after me, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."
Check out "How to know the will of God" tomorrow.

2. He questions our identity. We need to ask God who we are. Beyond being a child of God made in His image to love and be loved by Him, I've been asking God, "Why did you create me the way you did? Why do I feel like this when this happens?" "What does this trait of mine teach me and teach others about who You are?" 

The enemy wants us to doubt our relationship with God, and to focus on meeting our own needs without Him. Jesus' 1st temptation was to turn a stone into bread. See how he didn't say 'pray to God and ask Him to turn it into bread.' The devil wants us to doubt our identity in God and then place our reliance on ourselves which ultimately leads us straight into chains. When we're disconnected from our creator and disconnected from His purpose for us, we search for other ways to fill the gap and 'be complete'. 

The truth is that we were created by God, for God. Of love and for love. You and I have a desire to have a full life and God has promised  us that we'll live and live to the fullest. We desire for fullness and satisfaction, and God has promised to fill us with Himself. Will you believe Him and find your fullness in Him? Or will you believe the lies of the devil, who tells you that stuffing yourself full of the world will meet your desire for fullness?

We learn 2 ways to resist and overcome temptation, from someone who fell (Eve) and someone who conquered (Jesus).
  1. Jesus refused to agree/comply with the enemy. Again, repeat after me, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."

  2. He was ready to reply to it. He quoted from Scripture, "It is written". We have to be stubborn about making time for the Bible. Squeeze in the word of God at every opportunity. If it means listening to a sermon on the way to work instead of (often times pervasive talk radio) do it. If it means blasting worship music and singing in the shower, do it. Surround yourself, cover yourself in the word of God.


So Lord, I pray that you'd forgive us for all the times we've doubted who You are. I pray that you would reveal the subtle ways we allow sin into our lives knowingly or unknowingly. I pray that you may show each of us who you made us to be. Amen.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Memory Verses

Not everyone is called to share their deepest darkest secrets with the world; but I have been, so a part of my blogging is out of my awe of God and how He’s healed me.


Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Sometimes we go through stuff that other people have gone through but their untold stories remain in the dark. A huge benefit of being a lastborn is that my mom and sister tell me how they dealt with the things I'm dealing with now. I get to learn from amazing women who've gone before me. 
As humans, and speaking for myself, I've gone through struggles and  pain that I don't want anyone I know to go through. It's hard to talk about all of it, because a lot of things would break my pride and this cool and "unfazed in the face of anything" reputation that I cling to. Satan takes hold of that fear of sharing and binds me up. It seems that when I, and people in general, start talking that Satan loses his grip. I pray that many people will find the confidence to speak up about their secret sin/fear/shame… and in the process, find healing through Christ.

Currently an area that I'm pursuing is making and sticking to firm boundaries. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control and that's an area I want to grow in. I have to keep reminding myself, I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but rather to defne the parameters of my freedom. I'll write more on that later on.
For today, I want to remind myself and you guys of a couple of things:

Deuteronomy 2:3, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.”

1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, 
who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 
you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 10:13-14, “...God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond 
what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out 
so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee...”

2 Corinthians 12:9-11, “But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, 
for My power is made perfect in weakness...' therefore, when I am weak, 
then I am strong.”

Romans 6:19-20, “I put this in human terms because you are weak 
in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body 
in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now 
offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.”

We've Moved!







Hey There!
Thank you for dropping by joannefuraha.com! We recently moved from rahaandlife.blogspot.com. Feel free to click on the link to head over there or copy paste this address on your browser http://rahaadlife.blogspot.com/ to catch up.

Remember you can also like my Facebook Page or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest to catch up.

Bless You Guys,

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Blog Reveal :: Treasured


It's a little hard to a blog reveal when it's already revealed the minute you click on here! However, I still have to do this post to kiss my 1st blog, Raha and Life goodbye. It's served me well the past few years but I really felt like a change was necessary.

To remind you of what it looked like, 

 This is the before shot, and...

This is the after shot.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

I was praying asking God for a name for this new blog and for whatever ministry I'll start and this morning, treasured just flew into my mind. One of the songs that really impacted my life this year was Jesus Culture's "Sing my Love" 

"Words could never say the way He says my name He calls me lovely // No one ever sees the way He looks at me He sees me holy // Words could never hold this love that burn my soul Heaven holds me, oh heaven holds me //
You would not believe the way He touches me He burns right through me // And i could not forget every word He said He always knew me // The earth could never hold this love that burns my soul Heaven holds me oh heaven holds me"

This song spoke directly to me. I'd never imagined that God could look at me and call me lovely or see me as holy or love me ferociously or tell me that He's always known me. Then coming across these 2 verses in Deuteronomy. In case I ever doubted it, here it is in black and white, we not only have treasure in our hearts; but He calls us His own treasure. We are treasure in and out. We are treasured people. So this is what I want this blog to be about. To be a reminder of all these things. To re-teach my heart what it means to live like I'm loved and to share my lessons along the way.

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I hope you like the new site, can't wait to interact with you all more.


Where Before Meets After: Teaching/Speaking

Proverbs 31:26 She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Do you hunger for the Word of God and long to teach it with authority and excellence? Yes
Is your heart burdened for hurting women? Yes
Is God calling you to a teaching/speaking ministry? Yes

I feel God's leading me to speak in some forum. I got a taste of this understudying Mizizi (beginner Bible study) at my church. One of the things I want to do in regard to that is to equip myself with the tools I need to effectively share a message, create a bio sheet, market my ministry, and polish my presentations. 

For starters, once a week, I want to have five-minute teaching message prepared from a favorite passage in the Bible; and will deliver it to...my YouTube page - dress as though I'm speaking at an event and all. I haven't decided yet if they'll be public or not, we'll see how it goes. After that, I'll spend time brainstorming ideas for expanding that short message into a full-length talk. Hopefully the end result will be a renewed confidence in my calling as well as the tools I need to grow in my speaking. How cool would it be to live a life called by God to represent Him through the spoken word?

So, what I want to focus on is:

Introduction: How well did you open? Did it capture the attention of the audience? 
 
Message: How well did you develop your subject? (Example: with story or knowledge of subject)

Support Material: Your use of support, such as Scripture, quotes, references, etc. Did you read from the Bible, a book, etc? 
 
Style: How well is your use of grammar, volume and ability to speak clearly?

Conclusion: Did you build to a climax, end strong, and get your point across? 
 
Delivery: Did you make eye contact, connect with the audience, and show passion about your subject?

Physical Appearance: Were you dressed professionally and appropriately? Were you sincere, believable, warm, and effective, etc? 


I got the following "Helpful Guidelines for Your Presentations" from the She Speaks website:
1. Make sure your presentation is the correct length
2. Content must be based on a meaningful passage of Scripture since we will evaluate each speaker’s ability to teach the Word of God. 
3. Make sure your message is Biblically based and includes Scripture and application.
4. You may use visual aids if they add to your message. Let your personality come through! Please make sure they don’t distract from your message. 
5. If this is your first presentation, we recommend that you practice with friends and family in order for you to gain confidence and improve your presentation style.
6. Share what is unique to your life instead of something that you have heard or thought was clever. Remember – you are the only one that has “your story!” 
7. Have fun!


So, see you back here next Friday.



Follow Me on Bloglovin


Hey everybody! I just finished updating my About Me page, so be sure to click on the link above and check it out. I am still planning a big "New Blog Name Reveal" this coming week, so be sure to check it out :-)

Speaking of changes, I wanna invite you guys to keep up with me via bloglovin. As you know Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st and those of you who follow my posts via that will miss out. I might also not be able to update every new post on Facebook and Twitter; however there's a great alternative which is bloglovin. So, just click on the link above or on my right sidebar and I'll see you there :-)

(P.S I'm Joanne Furaha on everything, so I'm easy to find)

Have a feel-good weekend!

 





If You Wanna Know Where My Heart Is...







It was stolen.

xx
Jo

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Before Meets After

I have these huge dreams about my life that not many people know about. In fact, when I told my sister some of them, she remarked that she would have never known those things about me because I've never talked about them or shown any kind of passion or motivation about them. I told her, "What do you mean? I blog all about it?!"

It's gotten easier this year to put some of my dreams out there, starting with the beginning of the year when I actually verbalized it to my mom. Then telling my worship team about some of the ways I'm pursuing that and finally saying it to my sister.

There's a reason for it, I came to find out.

I've given so much of myself to worthless pursuits. I've been saved since I was 10 years old, but I've lived backslidden for a lot of that. So, any time I'm back on the proverbial Christian bandwagon, I hesitate sharing whatever it is God's teaching me because I feel like the people around me are just looking at me with one eyebrow up, cynical and waiting for me to fail yet again. I'm getting better about sharing God, especially through this blog. I think I've always been real here. Well, I've come to find out I had the equation all wrong.

I write here about my relationship with God, and I get sometimes months of consistent writing. Then a rough season comes and I write about it too, then I read back what I wrote and somehow God uses my past words to speak into my current life and He gets me back on track. So sharing my heart leads me back to God. Hiding my heart to try and preserve my dignity or reputation or to put it bluntly, pride, it drives me further away from Christ.

I've made so many decisions to protect my pride and deny my Christ, deny my heart. I've replaced this, God; my purpose with this desire to be accepted or to receive affection or again to protect my dignity or reputation or again to put it bluntly, pride.

Today though, I want to put it all out there. These are the short bullet points of my purpose and my goals.


Me: I am a Follower of Christ and absolutely nothing without my Lord. I love helping people especially with purpose, relationships and life with God. I love digging into His Word. I'm learning how to be the woman I've always wanted to be every day. Trying to be all in for God. I am thankful for Love and Grace more than anything else.

My husband: I am soon to meet him. He is a warrior in prayer and defending His family. He is a priest and in random moments I will find him on his face before God. He is a great leader who will teach me something about leadership every day by simply watching him live his life. He has an incredible passion to lead people to deeper knowledge and understanding of God's love. He loves every part of me.

My Kids: They are the biggest blessing God has entrusted me with. They are the most fun part of my life. They love Jesus, music and sports. They make me laugh till I cry. They teach me how to live. They grow my heart everyday.

My Ministry: Still stands unnamed and the vision remains dim, but, oh, it's coming.
Do you hunger for the Word of God and long to teach it with authority and excellence? Yes
Is your heart burdened for hurting women? Yes
Is God calling you to a teaching/speaking ministry? Yes

My Everyday Life: God, family, health, friends, ministry = a very happy me.

So that's it. Again though, I don't want to get my hopes up. I don't get my hopes up about anything usually, it's just how I am. I just don't, it's easier that way.

But with the Maker of the Universe and the Almighty Sovereign Lord as my Savior, why shouldn't I have hope? That's again my pride getting in the way of faith that He has the best for me. Because He does! He promises that! If I don't have hope, then I'm just setting myself up for another failure in my walk with God and a failed life lived outside of my purpose, which very well could happen. But by God's grace, and with His guidance, and how He's preparing everything for me ahead of time, it will not happen. I'll be sure to tell you all about it as it unfolds.

It's an amazing thing that we don't have to settle! We don't have to be content with our own little plans! God's plans are infinitely greater and more creative than any of our dreams! What this means is that we can always, always have hope.

He's about to blow in this place.
 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

52 Weeks of Bloggin with a Purpose: Who I am


It's difficult to be faced with that question. At 23, a college graduate, working in an office job, I should have it figured out by now but I don't. Truth is most days it feels like I'm living in the "Who I'll be one day" phase rather than the "Who I Am Now".

Who I'll be one day is wife to an amazing man of God, mother to adorable kids. A daughter, a sister and an aunt. A sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a friend. Pastor in an amazing Church.

Who am I now? That's a tough one.

Well, I'm a writer and a blog designer. This is a newly-formed passion of mine. I've written all y life. In High school I was the annoying girl who did extra essays, compositions and book reports for my English teacher to grade. At some point I thought of that lady as my best friend! Yeah, I'm that girl who scribbled in her journal about boys and God and my future in somewhat equal measure.

I'm a singer and learner and lover of music. I sing at my Church worship team and I love it and it's something I want to pursue.


I'm daughter to an amazing mom, sister to an amazing sister and auntie to a bunch of amazing kids



I'm friend to amazing friends and I love each of them dearly.

I'm many things, but mostly I'm a daughter of God. Beloved, treasured, fought for and won, delivered, redeemed, restored and all those many words that mean, God, creator of the universe loves me and gave Himself for me and for my freedom. His love and grace overwhelms me.

I'm a person learning what it means to walk forgiven and what it means to be redeemed. I'm many things but one thing. Does that make sense?

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Of Weddings & Such :: Kenyan Wedding Photographers


I have to break my wedding silence by writing about this photographer...my dream photographer when I have my future wedding here in Nairobi. I have to say I've been a fan from the beginning and I've seen his business and talent grow by leaps and bounds; this is both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because by the time this single girl finds her one and plans to get hitched, my dream photographer will probably be one of the best in Africa; a bad thing becasue there goes my wedding budget! Either way, this quality is worth it.

Who is it I'm raving about?

Why, Kenyan Wedding Photographer Ben Kiruthi of course!

This is my favorite wedding Number 1, this is my Number 2. Check them out and tell them if you won't rush to book him before I do :-)


xx
Jo



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Miracles & Counting the Cost

John 2:1-11
Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” Jesus replied, “Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.”

His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they did.

When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!”
 
Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.







I find it awesome that the God who said, "don't build a house without counting the cost", is the same God who re-filled the vats of wine at this wedding. I don't know much about planning a wedding, but from all the shows I've watched I know one of the 1st questions your planner or your caterer asks you is, "How many guests are you expecting?" Then they work depending on your answer.


Now, maybe this couple did do that and did do the work, made a proper guest list, but people ended up thirstier than expected. Maybe people brought their friends along; or uninvited guest just showed up. In any case, there was no wine left.


Think about all the times when we've said yes to God and pledged to do one thing or another for His sake with 100% intentions to do it, but life gets in the way. You get sick, you get lazy, you didn't really sit down and plan every detail perfectly, what happens then? We can learn a lot about the gracious nature of God and how He wants to be involved in every tiny detail through this story.

  • There was someone outside this situation seeking Jesus on behalf of the couple. I know there's a lot in my life that can be attributed to my mom and my grandma and the rest of my family praying for me. Times when I couldn't pray for myself and I put myself in danger but somehow survived or times when I could have been going through something but miraculously I'm not. This is on us, to keep our friends and families and better yet, total strangers in our prayers because someone somewhere is doing the same for us. Seeking God for you on behalf of something you're not even aware of! The steady insistence and the faith that Mary had that even if He walked away and seemed bothered, Jesus would do what she asked Him to was the force that pushed this miracle to be done. The fact that this was the 1st of Jesus' miracles goes to show this is something we could all learn from.
  • Someone has to do the work. You have to have a workable plan. You see, the wine did run out, but they had six stone water jars which Jesus could refill. We need to walk into situations with a heart totally open to God. We need to make enough room for Him to fill us up. This could be stuff like staying consistent with feeding yourself in the word and quiet time and going to Church and so on. The well will run dry sometimes, but as long as it's open to the rain, it can get full again! You have to do the work: if you're looking for a miracle regarding your job, be the best employee there. If you're looking for a marriage mate, become a perfect marriage mate yourself. Whatever it is, do the work, start working on your plan.
  • Jesus is so gracious. He didn't go to the couple and say, "Why didn't you plan your wedding better? Why didn't you order enough wine? How does one even throw a party without a good plan?!" He didn't reprimand, He came in and gave them wine that was even better than what they had before. God comes in where we fall short and makes all things new and better. We sing this song at Church, "You latter will be greater than your past, you will be blessed, more than you could ask. Despite all that has been done, the best is yet to come All things are possible,the best is yet to come, the soon is soon to come."

So, I hope this encourages you as much as it has me.

xx
Jo



My Family from Other Mothers - Worship Team

We had our Worship Team auditions yesterday. Everybody has to audition. Even if you've been in the worship team for 5 years, you have to re-audition every year; which I think is cool, it's something to look forward to and to display growth and get feedback.



Well, apart from us "oldies" (I love saying that, since I was a "newbie" for so long, we had a few fresh faces come in and it reminded me of myself - how nervous I was, how I was hoping to be perfect and was disappointed when I wasn't, having guys speak some sort of 'secret language' about chords and key changes, to be honest, I have no idea what a lot of that music talk is about :-)


So with all this, I'm reflecting on how AMAZING the past year serving with these guys has been. My team pictured here - I tell them all the time, they changed my life. I found another family here and even when it's not my team serving, seeing these other guys on stage, I feel so proud to know them, to know how hard they work and how much they love doing what they're doing! So, if you want to join a worship team, or any Ministry team, DO IT! Then show up. It's a humbling experience but you have to stick to it because the best is yet to come.


I thought I'd post today on what I wrote in my journal after my first time on stage, it was a Worship Night I think in September or October last year, I can't remember. Anyway, be encouraged.



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OK, first time on stage:

Not so great parts:
Very nervous!
Blanked for a second in the song “make me over”
Forgot some lyrics here and there
Had a hard time harmonizing on some songs so I jumped back and forth between soprano and alto.
My voice is shot! Doubt I’ll be speaking tomorrow.
Band was confusing. Guitar amp was all over the place, some songs we were at the chorus and the band was at the verse, but we soldiered on.
Best parts:
Sung some songs really well
Lots of people came forward for the alter call
Crowd was singing along and seemed somehow into it

Personally, God just jazzed me at the alter call time because I started having these thoughts in my head like, “People are bored and disconnected” etc, and then all of a sudden these people walk up and God is just like, “Jo, this is not about you! I desire to connect with my people more than you desire for me to connect with them.” So, despite my best efforts, it’s not about the worship leader releasing encounters, it’s God.

There were times I really felt the presence of God in me, but at the same time there were many distractions. Like you have to look at the atmosphere in the church, look at what the leader is signaling, listen to what the harmonies are and if you’re ok… I mean, it’s a lot of stuff outside then trying to lay all that aside for what’s inside. It’s tricky, but what I’m telling myself is Jenn Johnson led worship since she was a kid, it’s taken a lot of things - time included to get those guys to where they are.

Now I have a funny story about my first time on stage. I blanked for a whole chorus just staring into space with the mic held off to the side.

:-)

The Rejection "Anti"-Rainbow :: Dealing With Rejection







Rejection isn’t a new concept to me. It’s a mountain I’ve had to walk around regularly for most of my life. When I was a kid, I’d struggle to get in the popular groups in school so I wouldn’t be rejected. I was rejected in the process – popular girls do not give you an easy time when you try and break through their circles - but I thought, if I only make it across that finish line, I’ll be fine. 

In High School, the popular crowd had a name and an actual club. Have you heard of the St. John’s ambulance cadets? Well in my boarding girls-only High School, we sure had, and almost every girl on campus wanted to join it. We used to wear special uniforms and march around the quad singing songs and having fun, it was just a fun crowd. This was good for me because admission was best on how well you grasped first aid techniques so it wasn’t a popularity test as such. Again, seeking to be in the most popular group in school, I sacrificed studying for Chemistry or Biology or whatever and I’d give all that time to learning the First Aid manual and what to do in case of an emergency because those are the tests you had to pass.

Let’s not even begin to unpack the mountains of rejection I’ve had to face out of High School and into the real world. The friends who edge you out, the relationships that leave your heart wounded the job applications you never got a reply to and all that’s yet to come.

When you want something, when you really want something and you’ve been waiting a long time to get it, then suddenly the stars align and it seems that your dreams could actually be a reality or that things are working out in the direction you wanted, it’s exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

You move from a place of anticipation to excitement to intense vulnerability because you know things could go either way. You sit in vulnerability for a while, then with the passage of time, you slowly inch toward acceptance. This is it. This is real. This is happening. // All of a sudden the ground shifts beneath you realize the other person hadn’t really been moving through the phases like you had, you aren’t on the same page as that person you thought you could spend the rest of your life with and you watch as they walk off into the sunset with a piece of your heart or your job doesn’t have room for you anymore and you have to pack up that little brown box and make room for someone else. 

Rejection stinks.

Rejection hurts.

Sometimes it is what it is. There’s no happy reconciliation at the end of the break, there’s no hero coming back to reclaim his lost treasure. It’s just over.

This is the point where we need to remind ourselves the power of redemption. That God can breathe back new life where death once existed. That God can turn this nasty battle into a story of hope. That at the end of every death, there’s always a resurrection of some sort. I know that’s not what you want to hear. You want to hear tips for avoiding the death in the first place, I wish it did, but it doesn’t exist. What we do have is God’s call to us that we don’t have to circle the mountain of rejection looking for a cave of acceptance once in a while where we can set down our luggage and rest for a while, only to discover the walls caving in after you've barely settled in.

God is our resurrection and our hope. Christ sits at the throne over every area of our life. He’s calling us to head north and stop circling the mountain.

Head to Him for your acceptance
Head to Him for your reliance
Head to Him for your home

He is the reminder that rejection from man isn’t rejection from God or from His plans for you. His plans for you DON’T rest on another person’s plans with you. Yes, He does bring some powerful partnerships in your life, but at the end of the day, He has plans just for them just as He has plans just for YOU.

One day, we’ll look at this beautiful tapestry of our lives that He’s weaving together and realize that it all made sense.


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