on habits…

I’ve been talking to my Middle School students quite a lot about habits recently. How often they’re unintentional, a routine formed over time, often because we ‘accidentally’ make a decision to suit us in the circumstances we find ourselves in, and then the next time that situation occurs, our mind/body combo decides ‘let’s repeat the decision, because it didn’t kill us last time!’ or something.

However, if we unintentionally form habits that we see in others and would prefer to NOT have ourselves, then we have a problem. English poet and literary critic John Dryden is said to have coined the phrase: ‘We first make our habits, then our habits make us.’

What habits am I forming at the moment? Are they intentional or unintentional? Because whatever habits I allow myself to form (couch potato in front of the TV; Hubby and my kids’ worst critic; lazy housekeeper; workaholic) that’s the person I will become.

The takeaway? Be INTENTIONAL! I once read somewhere that “the trick to life is to be awake in it” and this is so true. So often I let life pass by because I’m focusing on something, which I deem ‘more important’ at that moment in time.
It is always my decision, and mine decision alone, to deem that ‘something else’ of more importance. And that decision automatically meant that other things were, of necessity, of less importance to me during that moment, that time, that season.
And that decision then reflects my values. So my question is: are these values, ones that I truly want to be holding? And having others witness my holding?
And what exactly do I hold dear, anyway?
So it seems I’ve taken a bit of a tangent, but the thoughts are swirling around up there and this is probably as logically coherent as I’m going to get, this time of the morning.
Here’s to an ‘intentional’ day – and, indeed, week – for the both of us, dear Reader!
– KRidwyn

Introducing #blogJune 2018

So I’ve been doing this #blogJune thing for a while now; since its commencement in 2011, as a matter of fact. Each year is different, depending on my mood and where I’m ‘at’ in life, as a wife / Mum and an employee (or lack thereof) mainly.

As the years pass, I’m noticing that age is wearying me more than I’d care to admit. And as I was reading my Bible recently, Psalm 71:18-19 jumped out at me. It reads, “So now that I’m old, and my hair is gray, don’t abandon me, God, till I have proclaimed your strength to the next generation, your power to all who will come, your righteousness too, God, which reaches to the heights. God, you have done great things; who is there like you?” and then again in verse 24a:

“All day long my tongue will speak of your righteousness.”

And the thought appeared: why not #blogJune about God’s greatness to me?

Stay tuned – if you’re interested, that is 🙂

Because coming up this month are the stories of how God has blessed me – some of them huge, some of them miniscule – but all of them unexpected, smile-making, and praise-worthy.

So, till tomorrow, have a great day, dear Reader!

— KRidwyn

S is for ‘scamper’

I love this word. I smile every time I see it. In my mind’s eye, I picture a child of 5 or 6, enthusiasm exuding from every pore, beaming widely as they run about exploring, delighting in their discoveries and keen to squeeze as much as possible into every single moment.

I remember that age… I think. I remember the excitement, the feeling of life extending forever, the knowledge of my own invincibility, convinced I could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything.

Where did that feeling go?

And why?

I’m reminded of that verse in the gospels, where Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Honestly, I can’t actually remember the last time *I* felt that excited. That eager to squeeze the joy out of every single moment.

I should probably try that again…

Here’s to a ‘scamper’-ing day today! And have a ‘scamper’-ing one for yourself too, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

[PS That Bible verse was Matthew 18:3, by the way…]

C is for ‘clever’

As a mum to three cherubs under 12, and also as a Head of School with over 100 ‘cherubs’ aged 11 to 14, I find myself ‘praising’ kids a lot. It helps, you know? Builds rapport, which in turn assists in ‘training the child they way (s)he should go’ (nod to Proverbs 22;6, if you were wondering).

But I find myself often using the same words. This wearies them – the words, the kids, and also me – and thus forms the topic of today’s post. Synonyms for ‘clever’. If only to keep myself from going stir-crazy!

So. ‘Clever’, according to my handy MacbookPro thesaurus, has four different meanings.

Clever – as in intelligent – could also be: bright, smart, brilliant; talented, gifted, precocious; capable, able, competent, apt, proficient; educated, learned, erudite, academic, bookish, knowledge, wise, sagacious. Also brainy or genius, if we’re being informal.

Clever – as in shrewd – I could use: astute, sharp, acute, quick, sharp-witted, quick-witted; ingenious, resourceful, canny, cunning, crafty, artful, wily, slick, neat. And informally: foxy, or savvy.

Clever – as in skilful – dexterous, adroit (I love this word!), deft, nimble, nimble-fingered, handy, adept; skilled, talented.

Clever – as in witty – quick-witted, amusing, droll, humourous, funny, sparkling, entertaining, scintillating (love this one, too!)

Which one did you like the most? And – here’s the kicker, if you choose to see it as such- will you use it in a compliment to someone today?

[In case you were wondering, this set of 26 ‘A is for’ posts is a part of the global A to Z challenge, where consequential letters of the alphabet are used on an a daily blog posts in April (with Sundays off for good measure). My topic for 2017 is ‘word of the day’. Feel free to tune in tomorrow for ‘D’ 🙂 ]

And until then, here’s me wishing you a scintillating day!

Yours,

KRidwyn

30 must-read books – #25

“The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp.”

Some memories remain with us, stuck like Ludlum’s simile above. I remember reading that sentence for the very first time, stopping, leaning back in my chair, looking up at the cloud-streaked sky above my parents’ house in Brisbane, and saying, “Wow.” I looked back down; read it again. And again. Then stood up and trotted off to find my dad, and share the sentence with him.

I knew, after that very first sentence in that very first chapter, that this novel, this author, was gong to be remarkable.

#bj25

No wonder these books, this character Jason Bourne, has spawned a multi-million-dollar movie series. It had to; the writing is too good to NOT be adapted for the big screen.

Unfortunately.

Because yes, I’ll go watch the movies, but any similarity to Ludlum’s incredible character / setting / plot ceases immediately after the name of the character. Just as there are many ‘John Smith’s in the world, so there is a Hollywood ‘Jason Bourne’ who bears little resemblance to Ludlum’s original creation.

Ludlum’s creation is spectacular. Rarely am I lost for words; but describing how I feel about this novel – in fact, the entire trilogy – eludes me. How many synonyms can I find for ‘brilliant’? And use them without boring my reader? (And I think that was probably my quota gone right there…)

Anyway, have *you* read this? Or the trilogy? Do you agree with me?

And have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #26

And we’ve made it to Z! The final ‘metaphor’ of God: King of Zion.

Each of these posts was inspired by a cross-stitch made by my Mum. The picture of the ‘z’ square shows: a crown of thorns (although in reality apparently the thorns were approximately 6 inches long!); the phrase ‘King of Zion’; and the verse Matthew 27:37. This verse reads:

Z

“A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Now you’ll notice that the word ‘Zion’ isn’t included. In fact, the word ‘Zion’ isn’t part of this verse in Matthew at all, in any version.

Rather, the designer of this cross-stitch pattern used this verse to emphasize Jesus’ kingship. The bit about ‘Zion’ comes from Psalm 2:6: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” And some translations use the word ‘Jerusalem’ instead of ‘Zion’ as well.

So what *is* Zion?

Well originally, it was a place. A fortress in fact, which David captured in 2 Samuel 5:7, and later built the royal palace there. His son, King Solomon, built the temple there too, and the word ‘Zion’ came to mean the whole temple area. Later in the Old Testament (as in, before Jesus’ birth) the word Zion is used to refer to the city of Jerusalem, the land of Judah, and even the nation of Israel as a whole.

In the New Testament (from the birth of Jesus onwards) the word Zion refers to God’s spiritual kingdom (See Hebrews 12:22 and 1 Peter 2:6).

So the Romans who were crucifying Jesus, and who then hung a sign above his head showing that his ‘crime’ was being ‘King of the Jews’, incensed the Jews watching the spectacle. John 19:19-22 records that the Chief Priests ask for the sign to be changed, from ‘Jesus, King of the Jews’ to ‘Jesus, who claimed to be King of the Jews’. Pilate (the Roman governor) refused.

And so Jesus, the King of the Israelite nation, was killed. His death was sought by the leaders of Israel; and sanctioned by the leader of the Gentiles (non-Jews).

And he died.

And yet, God had decided that He would install his King on Zion, on His holy mountain.

So Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised him from death, thus conquering its hold on us, should we choose to believe in Him and follow Him.

Jesus, is now, and will remain forever, King of ‘Zion’: which is God’s spiritual kingdom.

And I’m a part of that kingdom, if I choose to be.

And I do!

So with that, we conclude the lessons for this month of April, and this, my first attempt at the annual #A-Zchallenge.

What a huge month it’s been!

Thank you to all those who’ve supported me along the way; your company and encouraging comments have truly made this journey a memorable one! I never would have realised how blessed this experience could be. Thank you!

So where to next? Well, back to my regularly scheduled once-a-week blog posts… for the month of May, at least. Who knows where after that; what with #blogJune an’ all…!

Anyway, time for me to stop rambling. Have a lovely day, dear reader – and thanks for stopping by!

May God richly bless you today 😀

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #25

Welcome to the second last post of this series on God’s metaphors. Twenty-six different names God uses to describe Himself- all in one handy A to Z cross-stitch that my Mum made for me a few years back. Each letter has a name and a Bible verse… all except this one, Y.

Y is for Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH.

The name of God.

The first time this name is used is the book of Exodus, verses 14 and 15. The version of the Bible verse in the quote below, uses Hebraic language, rather than the Anglicised words. [In the overwhelming majority of English Bibles, the different names of God are translated as the word ‘LORD’ – the capital letters indicated that it is one of God’s names.]

Y“And Elohim said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and He said, you shall say this to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And Elohim said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, Yahweh the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever , and this is My memorial from generation to generation.”

I mentioned just above the Bible verse that God has different names. This can be a little confusing for us Westerners, in modern times, to understand!

But basically, the different names for God refer to different aspects of his character. Thus “Elohim” emphasises His might, His creative power, and His attributes of justice and rulership – whereas in our English Bibles it’s translated to the word “God”. Likewise, the Hebrew scrolls have names such as “El Shaddai” (LORD God Almighty) and “El Elyon” (The Most High God) and “Adonai” (Lord, or Master). Names can also be lengthened, so “YHVH Tzva’ot” means ‘Lord of Hosts’, where ‘hosts’ refers to military groupings.

But this post is about “Yahweh”. And this is the name that God gives of Himself.

In this passage above, we see Moses speaking to God, who has appeared to him in a burning bush, and has told him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharoah to let the Hebrew slaves go. Moses, understandably sceptical, and probably not wanting to go and be laughed at by people when he tells them that he saw a bush on fire that didn’t burn up, and heard the voice of God coming from the bush, he decides to ask God directly, “Who should I say sent me?”

And God replies, “Tell them that  I AM sent you.”

This is the name that He gives himself. Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH. They know it as the Tetragrammaton. And for any readers who are also writers, you may be interested to know that this name is *indeed* related to the verb ‘to be’ (to exist). Cool, hey! This name was incorrectly translated into English as ‘Jehovah’, by a German scribe back in the sixteenth century, and the name has since found common usage. Personally, I prefer the original.

And did you know that observant Jews consider this name to be SO holy, that they don’t even write it out in full? This is why, rather than writing ‘God’, they write ‘G-d’. Some believe that this is to lessen the risk of ‘taking God’s name in vain’ (one of the ten commandments) however it could also be because Judaism prohibits erasing or defacing a name of God. So if the name of God is written out in full, then at some point in the future, this writing could become erased or defaced. And to prevent this situation occurring, they avoid writing it.

So. Quite a bit more information in this post than in the usual, but then again, it *is* Day 25. And it’s such an interesting topic, in my opinion!

So what, then, is the take-away lesson for today? For me, it’s to reflect on the name/s of God, especially the One Name that He gives of Himself. YHVH. “I am”. It reminds me a little of what I was thinking when I wrote about ‘the Alpha and the Omega’.

Writing this post, and thinking on the different names of God, also had me singing the Amy Grant song ‘El Shaddai’, so here it is for your enjoyment too 🙂

So. That’s it for today – and almost for the entire month too! Tune in tomorrow for the final post: “Z is for King of Zion.”

See you then, and have a lovely day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #24

Just three more posts to go in this #AtoZchallenge for April. And today’s letter, ‘X’ has (in Mum’s cross-stitch, picture below) the phrase ‘eXalted one’ and the verse Acts 5:30-31.

It was fairly difficult writing this post. I think that’s because I’m a born and bred Aussie. And although I’m definitely VERY proud of this fact, we truth remains that we don’t do too well with ‘exalting’ things down here. In fact, it’s the opposite which is the cultural norm.

Down here, we’re well known for our ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’.

And I don’t think that’s a good thing. In fact, if you read yesterday’s post, it reflected on how words have power, and we can use them to either heal or harm, build up or destroy. We have the choice of our own words.

Likewise, we have the choice of our own attitudes. Here in Australia, we’re better at tearing the successful down rather than giving them the credit they deserve. That’s not healthy, in my opinion.

And God Himself set the example, too. Those verses in Acts read:

X

“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might being Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.”

In this passage, one of Jesus’ followers, a guy called Peter, was standing with his friends in what was their version of court. Judging him were all the religious leaders of the biggest city in Israel. These were the people EVERYONE looked up too – and here Peter is, accusing them! ‘Whom you killed by hanging him on a cross’! What courage, hey?

God exalted Jesus, so that the religious leaders – and, in fact, all Israelites, and through them, the whole world – could repent (as in, say sorry for sins committed) and they could be forgiven.

Praise God that He did, huh?

And my takeaway lesson from that? If God exalted Jesus, then I should too. And perhaps build up my fellow man, encouraging them and giving them the credit where credit is due 🙂

Your thoughts?

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

x

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #23

Today’s post is ‘W’ for ‘Word of Life’.

I love, love, LOVE being a writer. Playing with words, exploring infinite possibilities with them. With just a piece of paper, a pencil, and time, worlds can be created, rich in detail, full of interesting characters, and scenes full of laughter or nail-gripping tension. What power there is in a string of words!

The spoken word, too, is often more powerful than we realise. I’ve blogged before about my autistic Mr7. He’s the most soft-hearted person I’ve ever met. (And believe me, teachers meet a LOT of people!) So even just a mention of his ‘making the wrong choice’ is enough to bring on the tears and have him self-recriminating-in-spades. And he’s not being melodramatic. It’s all genuine. And it stops me in my tracks each time: seeing so visually how huge an effect spoken words can have.

Words have the power to heal and to harm, to inspire and to destroy. I’ll admit now, I’ve cried twice in the researching and writing of this blogpost, in realising yet again how powerful the wrong words can be. I’d been looking for a quote I’d half remembered, and discovered this image instead:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.52.22 am
[Click on the image to find the original source]
And the second was one of those co-incidental-maybe-perhaps-not-finds, an article from scientificparent.org, which I immediately shared to all my friends via Twitter and Facebook:

(In fact, if you have two minutes, could you also please click through and read this article? I’d really appreciate it!)

So back to ‘W is for Word’ – our words are important. They can give life or take it away: it all depends on how we use them.

And they have this power because of the author of life, God Himself. He calls Himself ‘the Word’ – and rightly so. John 1:1 says:

W“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

God, the creator of life, spoke – and it was so. His words gave life.

That’s something I should try to emulate. Use my words to encourage, to build up, maybe even to inspire.

How about you?

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #22

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 6.49.19 amOne of my son’s favourite books is BASIL THE BRANCH from THE LOST SHEEP series – about a branch who wants to bear fruit.

No matter how hard he tries, he can’t.

It’s only when he gives up in despair that he hears the voice from over his shoulder. It’s the vine. And it’s smiling at him, telling him to relax.

You see, Basil is only a branch. It is *impossible* for him to grow grapes all by himself. That’s not his job.

His job is just to focus on the vine. And *then* the grapes will grow – because it’s the vine that does the work, not each little, individual branch.

So that’s what Basil does. And you know what? After he focuses on the vine – and *does* grow a beautiful big bunch of grapes!

One of God’s ‘metaphors’ is that of being the vine. The cross-stitch picture uses the words ‘the true vine’ (from John 15 verse 1) and shows a picture of a bunch of grapes, with leaves and tendrils. John 15:5 says,

V“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

I find that pretty challenging: I’m one of those people who’s pretty self-reliant with a lot of stuff. ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ kinda gets my hackles up – until I realise that I really *am* just a branch. And I need One who’s greater than me, to be able to achieve anything worthwhile.

So that’s my takeaway lesson fro today. Jesus is the vine: my job is to just focus on Him!

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn