HOPE NEVER DISAPPOINTS

Posted in Thoughts on June 10th, 2013 by Aliki

pine road
Disappointment is a strong emotion. It’s a surprising mix of sadness with an empty winded anger. In comes through situations that we have no control over and yet can see how things might have been different. We watch the choices of others and sometimes shake our heads in utter disbelief… “How can this be?”

There is a bible verse that says “Hope never disappoints us.” Yet I believe disappointment only ever exists where there is hope. I’ve hoped many times and wound up disappointed. So how is this bible verse true? And how do we continue living if hope carries risk?

For me, I think it’s about where our hope is placed. I used to apply that bible verse to circumstances, future plans and the actions of people. But in retrospect, that is folly. Where ever life depends on the actions and will of people, there will always be uncertainty. Even those with best intentions can fail and God does not bend the principal of ‘free will’ in order to guarantee our expectations in life. We can ‘hope’ for the best in people, but at the end of the day we can only really hope for the best in God.

He is consistent.
He keeps his promises.
What ever he says is followed up in action…. and action speaks louder than words.

In the realm of humanity, poetic gesture and lavish promises are but sentiment without sacrifice. You could say such people “are full of it.”

And so my hope is built on the one I trust.
And the one I trust most is the one who has proven His words over and over.

I trust Him with my life….. and an honest days work.

Promises create hope, but only fullfilled promises build trust.

JANUARY 2013

Posted in Thoughts on January 4th, 2013 by Aliki

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Writing Them Off
The disappointments of life can lead us to write off the future. I meet a stroke bound woman who wanted a better future, but her carer whispered to me “she’s a disappointment to us all, nothing but trouble and she’ll never change”. Sadly, the carer had written her off, but the bible says God never writes us off…that he believes in a better future.

River of Life
Going down creek rapids on an air mattress can be dangerous. I did this once, only after I got a surge of courage. But by the end of the journey I had a lot more confidence in that mattress. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to discover what’s truly faithful. Risks can hold us back, or risks can open our eyes.

Any Tent
Good company is rare & precious. When my son was little I asked him
“What sort of tent would you like for our camping trips. He replied without hesitation: “Any tent your in mummy”. The joys of life aren’t found in a location or a belonging… they’re found in the people we share them with.

Humble
Running ahead of your hiking guide is a bad idea, if you have to cross a river. I did this once but toppled over in waist deep water. The weight of my pack held me down and I thought it was the end. My guide went to shallow water downstream and crossed ankle deep. Being humble isn’t about embarrassment. It’s about learning from the best.

Wally Dogs
Dogs the size of footballs should be careful who they turn on. Little Wally sunk his teeth into my leg, minutes after playing with me. He felt like the boss in that moment and I could have shown him who was really the bigger dog, but I let the offence slide. Sometimes little dogs need mercy and sometimes people need mercy too.

Moving
On the stretch of road between Broken Hill and Mildura, we were fighting a headwind. I wished for a second it would change direction and push us instead. Within minutes the road swept round and the wind defaulted to one side. I smiled at the irony. Sometimes we want life to change around us, but it’s us that needs to move.

The Main Thing
When my son plays soccer I want an impressive photo of him. At first I followed the ball with my lens and waited for Alex to enter the picture. This got tiring so I started following my son instead and waited for him to kick the ball. Focusing on the main thing is more inspiring than chasing after incidentals.

Ebay Bidding
Auctions can get the heart racing but the wallet trembling. I prefer to start Ebay auctions with my highest price then walk away. But whenever I get an ‘outbid notice’ it’s tempting to up my price, especially when I the item’s popularity. Peer pressure comes at any age and sometimes costs us more than things are worth.

Straight Lines
The gruelling last leg of a triathlon is the run. It’s been said that a circular track gives a painful reminder of the previous lap, but a straight path inspires the runner to the finish line. Life can go around in circles leaving us mentally tired. But eyes fixed on the finish line will make our paths straight.

Slow Changes
A triathlon has 2 transitions. Swim to bike and bike to run. Each change needs special gear and many athletes stay standing to frantically change over. But a friend of mine sits calmly to change gear, to grab a fresh rhythm and a new perspective. Perhaps life would benefit from transitions like this … calm and restful.

Love
My little boy was very affectionate as he held my face and said “This is the order I love people. First you, then daddy, then my sister” I smiled, and he continued “But I love God before you mummy”. I must have looked surprised because he added this reassurance, “But don’t worry mummy, cause God loves you more than me.”

Busted
“Girl I’ve just saved your bacon” was the response when my grade 6 teacher busted me for smoking. I should’ve been sent to the office, but he saw a girl who was better than her mistake. He saw potential. When we make mistakes we hope others will see potential, so when others make mistakes we need to ‘save their bacon’.

Hope
Climbing Mt Warning turns your legs to jelly. It’s hard work, especially towards the end. But if I lose hope and give up before reaching the top, I’ll miss out on a spectacular view. In the journey of life, Hope prevents us from giving up prematurely and missing out on the sweetest rewards. Hope takes us beyond giving up.

Treasure Hunters
Indiana Jones found treasure because he searched in extraordinary ways. That’s what treasure hunters do. They jump obstacles, take risks, squash opposition and apply wisdom. Adding value to life sometimes takes that kind of madness. Treasure is found by those who are prepared to search in extraordinary ways.

Noise
A GPS is only as good as how well it’s heard. One day we wound up in a dead end street outside a factory, because there was too much noise in the car, and we missed a few turns. Silence is helpful in hearing instructions and stillness of heart is perfect for those finding new paths.

Rebuilding
The challenges of life can sometimes end in train wrecks. We could search through the wreckage, finding old pieces to make it what is was. But the pain of starting over doesn’t have to mean rebuilding what we had. Starting from scratch may be the catalyst to rebuild something better than before. A new beginning with fresh hope.

Lament
Life contains pain, but some people think it’s wrong to ask God ‘why’ or futile to lament. But a man very close to God once asked ‘Why have you forgotten me’. He was on a cross, dying by roman crucifixion. His name was Jesus. Maybe expressions of pain are acceptable to God. Perhaps broken hearts matter to Him more than we think.

Seek
Dismantling the front end of my project Saab 99, one screw just wouldn’t budge. After 10 frustrating minutes I went searching for clues, to discover it was actually a bolt with a nut at the other end. Well it had a nut at both ends. Sometimes you have to take a closer look at circumstance to work out what’s really going on.

Communication
Statistics are telling. A woman once showed me her telephone bill which had a graph of each months usage. There was a spike in one particular month, to which she made the comment: “You can always tell where there was a family crisis.” It’s true, in times of need we need to share and talk and care.

Right Place
I once decided to skip the queue outside the women’s loo in favour of the men’s toilets. All the blokes had left the building, so I felt safe until a couple of boys came in. I nervously waiting in the cubicle for them to leave and I thought to myself: “Choosing the wrong place at the wrong time is pretty dumb”.

THOUGHTS FOR CHRISTMAS 2012

Posted in Thoughts on November 15th, 2012 by Aliki

Gifts that Say Something
A christmas present in humble packaging is often spectacular and a gift in glitzy paper can be disappointing. But, the most treasured gift isn’t necessarily the most expensive, it’s the one that shows how well we listened during the year. How well we’ve watched and discerned in the midst of life. The gift that says I know you, is the one that’s most often appreciated.

True Wisdom
I wonder what made the wise men wise. Was it their astronomy or maybe they were simply brothers with the surname Wiseman. For men who already had it all you’d think they wouldn’t bother looking for a baby in a back shed. But maybe their wisdom was in knowing that they didn’t know it all.

All Invited
Invitations to royal events are usually given to people who are high up the status ladder. In the Christmas story the first invitation to meet Jesus was given to shepherds and shepherds were regarded as total low life’s. But I love the fact that heaven ignores our social pecking order. It says something like,the playing field with God is always level.

Receiving Well
If Christmas is the season for giving, then by default it’s the season for receiving. Some people are great receivers, others struggle to accept something they haven’t earned or don’t feel they deserve. But receiving a gift wholeheartedly is sometimes the best thing that you can give in return. It says ‘thank you’ with grace and simplicity.

Hanging Out With Jesus
One of the names for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God is with us”. Joan Osbourne sang the question “What if God was one of us. Well,Christmas means we can answer Joan’s question. Cause Jesus was always on the bus or with the slobs. He had an amazing way to be with people. He lived up to his name Immanuel.

A Top Bloke
In the Christmas story, Joseph doesn’t get a lot of airplay but he was an amazing bloke. He would have looked like the guilty party when he took pregnant Mary to be his wife. But at God’s instruction he stuck with her and raised Jesus. He was a good man and a faithful step father, definitely the shining knight in the Christmas story.

A Legacy of Giving
St Nicolas was a 4th century bishop in modern day Turkey. His reputation for secret giving is what our modern day santa klaus is modelled on. St nick would do things like put coins in shoes left them out for him. I think it’s stunning how his generous and creative heart left a legacy for all time.

Giving to Strangers
Christmas trees were traditionally decorated with fruit, nuts and dates. Im glad those things migrated to the table, but so did huge Christmas lunches. And we try to eat it all! Maybe this christmas we can leave some food on the tree so to speak, by donating to a charity that puts food on other peoples’ plates.

A Place to Stay
I wonder how many people the publican turned away before he offered a place to Mary and Joseph. ‘Mate we’re full here, but you can have the hay shed” Who do we know that might be alone this Christmas. Maybe someone whose ridden across the desert on a metaphorical donkey. And what will we say if they knock on our door.

Down to Earth
On the night Jesus was born, some shepherds were invited by a choir of angels to visit their new king. I wonder if they were disappointed or excited, when they arrived at a dirty stinking stable. Disappointed that he wasn’t staying at the Bethlehem Hilton, or wrapped that he just came as down to earth as them.

Dreams and Hopes
To Santa or not to santa, that is the question. I can’t say too much here, But one thing is for sure, kids need dreams. Something to look forward to, and it’s no different for us big kids. Santa doesn’t work the same way for us, but the principle is the same that dreams and hope keep us looking forward.

Coming in 2013 “The Grace Unearthed Collection.”
A boutique book series by author ALIKI exploring the byways of life, faith and hope.

The Reward
Shopping for Christmas presents can wear thin.There’s a constantly evolving list that leaves us wondering who we’re going to forget or could we get away with recycling some presents from last year. It can be hard work, but let’s remember the reward comes in seeing excited outstretched hands,a lit up face and a warm Christmas hug.

Christmas in Australia
It’s funny how Christmas is usually portrayed with snow, when half the planet has always spent Christmas in Sunshine. Coming from New Zealand, I spent my first Australian Christmas at the beach, complete with BBQ, surf, prawns and sand. A beautiful way to celebrate the blessings of life in an amazing country.

Keeping the Peace
I once heard a taxi driver mention, that on Christmas day, passengers around 2 in the arvo just couldn’t wait move onto the next thing. It seemed the obligatory family lunch and interactions often get too exciting. My hope and prayer for you this Christmas is that family time is a time of peace, joy, reminiscing and blessing.

Christmas at War
Christmas 1914 was quiet at the western front of World War I.Unofficial ceasefires brought soldiers from both sides into no mans land, where they exchanged gifts, songs and Christmas greetings. Differences were pushed aside to acknowledge the birth of one who died to save many. The next day it was war as usual, but in those moments each man found common ground and peace.

Light of the World
The tradition of Christmas lights is beautiful. A blaze of twinkling glory from Aussie roof tops. We do the rounds and stand in awe right alongside our kids.But in January it all gets taken down. Jesus offers himself as the light of the world all year round. God is called the Father of heavenly light sand the best thing is: They’re never pack up or switched off.

Still in Sight
There’s normally a lot of excitement around the birth of the first child. But, Mary and Joseph were a long way from home when Jesus was born. They were effectively alone but I love that God sent angels to bring them shepherds and a star to bring them wise men. It says that no matter where we are, we’re not off God’s radar.

Gratitude
A stable probably wasn’t Josephs dream for Mary having a baby,and He might have felt embarrassed when the wise men plonked down their expensive gifts. It takes a man with a humble and grateful heart to get through a situation like that. Christmas is a time to be grateful for what we have,whether a stable or very great riches.

The Gift of Compassion
On Christmas night with Mary having contractions, it would have been unsettling every time an inn keeper said NO. But something made a difference that last time and I think it was compassion. The Inn keeper put aside management rights and put himself in their tired dusty sandals. I love that! Compassion is an extraordinary gift we can give another this Christmas.

Good News
On Christmas night, the shepherds were told that the birth of the messiah, their king, was good news. But King Herod thought it was bad news, because it would end his career. Jesus said “whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life”. That does sound like good news and that’s what the shepherds chose.

Breaking the Rules
Shepherds are not supposed to leave their sheep alone at night. But the ones near Bethlehem broke all the rules, to search for a baby. And this is what Jesus said God is like that He would leave 99 behind to find just one. Because every single one of us, is precious to him no matter how far away, lost or alone.

First Fleet Mercy
The first Christmas in Australia was celebrated at Sydney cove 1788. After church in the morning, the governor and his officers enjoyed a decadent lunch, while everyone else got rations of bread. BUT goodwill was offered to man called Michael Dennison who had stolen a pound of flour and was sentenced to 200 lashes. But since it was Christmas day he only got 150. A christmas gift of mercy.

Joy to the World
In a world where bad news makes for a good news week, my favourite Christmas carol is “Joy to the World.” My favourite line is: He rules the world in truth and grace. Truth on its own can be harsh and unforgiving. Grace on its own has no backbone. But when you put them together, you get perfect love. That’s what brings joy to the world.

Spirit of Australia
William G James wrote the Aussie Carol ”the north wind is tossing the leaves.” The North wind is hot and dries out the earth. Nevertheless William writes “As we lift up our voices and sing……” This is the spirit of Christmas in Australia, one that will celebrate life even in harsh conditions and the challenges of the day.

A World with Christmas
Christmas is a pause on the landscape of a busy life. It takes stock of family and love, it teaches us to give and receive, it splits time into two,BC and AD, it brings communities together and adds colour to the canvas of traditions. A world with Christmas is beautiful indeed.

For more about ALIKI www.aliki.com.au

Copyright 2012 Square One Ministries. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of the author/copyright holder.