The Tabernacle

Creating 'spaces' to experience the presence of God

The Pain of Blame – What to do with it!

September 12th, 2018

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It had been a stressful evening. Late afternoon meetings, dinner, a phone call, kid shower and a bedtime session that went longer than I expected. I flopped down exhausted.

As I began to decompress from the compact ending to the day, out come a son who needed a bit more time with his parents to chat through some stuff on his mind. I reacted. I was done, done, done and ready to rest.

Communicating with that forced frustrated sigh, I spat back “Bedtime was 8:30, it is well past that, and this consistently happens because of my husband.” I ended my little outburst with that classic eye roll look that wives have such a unique way of perfecting.

Ouch! As soon as the words leapt out, I knew I had just been done in by blame! Oh my gosh we all know that emotion and go to behaviour. Connection was dead in the water. The shame storm kicked into its next level brewing!

Blame.

News, Internet, Social Media, Politics, Business dealings, School interactions, Church cultures are saturated in it and sadly it shows up in our very own homes! Who’s to blame? Who’s at fault?

It seems we have lost our capacity for discomfort, vulnerability, and a simple life reality that somethings just take time. When we loose our capacity to ‘sit in the mess’ as one spiritual mama used to say, and feel the process, we become powerless and played by it.

Blame is the mindset of powerlessness. Blame is when we target others with our pain. Blame has been defined as “a way to offload discomfort and pain”.

When blame is running the show, accountability goes out the window. It is adverse to it and so slowly but dramatically, decline moves in and settles into our once civilised and well defined cultures.

The great casualties are connection, creativity and a capacity for positive change. Entire civilisations and nations have been the victims of this little nasty piece of human emotion and behaviour. World wars have been started on it.

At the heart of blame is really a story of not enough. This was the lie that got Eve and then Adam. Is what God said, enough? Is what God is, enough? And so human connection with its Creator turned on a dime in one fateful moment.

Painfully and sadly I owned and addressed my story of blame and the not ‘enough’s’ that ran with it. All week I had been combatting the myth of vulnerability is weakness and now again another opportunity to bat that out of my ball park.

I sucked it up and vulnerability showed up with a wincing utterance of ownership, quick flush of a red face and a brave heart in the mouth apology.

To my relief, it was courageously met with grace and forgiveness. This is the power of these two architects of connection. They love to put blame in their sights and target it with their full weight.

Needless to say, our son got his much needed space to chat. My shame storm quickly fizzled away and I sunk into that awkward but necessary space of self forgiveness. My story of ‘not enough’ finally arrived tumbling onto the shores of His enough, Jesus the Champion.

 

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How to overcome the ticked off culture

August 23rd, 2018

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I was out riding the other morning. As I rode home, I rode past a group of three council men picking up an enormous amount of rubbish around a building site. The rubbish had blown into the park and down the road. 

With their long pick up sticks and plastic bags in hand, they were busy at work making a beautiful difference. As I rode up to them, I was so grateful for what they were doing but also felt for them in the job they were needing to do. 

So as I cycled past them, I caught their eyes and said thank you for what they were doing. The first guy whipped his head around with a cautious defending look on his face. The second looked up and seeing the smile on my face relaxed and smiled back.

It hit me again riding off, how much I appreciated their activity and how it nourishes us towards honor, dignity and respect.

But I was also intrigued at how we are becoming conditioned to public interaction being the default place of expecting angry, ticked off people. 

We are in one the most dramatic moments of human history, where the weightiness of our words has a far reaching impact like none other of previous generations. There is such a war on our words right now. 

Social manners, social discourse is up for grabs, but even more serious than quality of living with one another, is the serious attack on our identities.

In an interview earlier this year, Dr Brene Brown said that from her research, “Participants expressed a growing concern that the only thing that binds us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect, or love. People report feeling more afraid to disagree or debate with friends, colleagues and family because of the lack of civility and tolerance.”

Psalm 57:4 quotes Brene in this way, “My soul is among lions: I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” 

Interestingly in Ephesians 6 one of the weapons we are given is the ‘sword of the Spirit’.  This sword was an 18” dagger in 61AD when Paul wrote this letter to the people of Ephesus. This dagger was specifically used not only for close combat but for the soldier to dig out arrows that had hit him.

Ever had a sudden pang out of no where felt in your body, especially your back? It can be word arrows hitting you.

And so the words of Proverbs 23:7 echo and play out in our everyday lives, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”

As sons and daughters of God, our words create worlds. Because we are made in the image of God, when we speak our words, something is created. We see this in Genesis. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Our entire existence, the world and galaxies around us were spoken into existence. This is the both the nature of God and our nature of whom we are made in.

This is the exciting power of prophecy. It is a spoken word from God, that just birthed something into the realm of men that did not previously exist.

Coupled with this reality, is the reality that our words also carry resurrection power. Romans 8:11 says “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

When we give the Holy Spirit permission in our lives, we are receiving the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We have resurrection power flowing in our DNA that gives life to us. Our words will resurrect things.

Robin Williams said it well in ‘Dead Poets Society’, “No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the word.” 

Some of the most powerful words that are changing the world, are coming from  what I call a movement of honor. Pastor Bill Johnson defines honor as celebrating who a person is without stumbling over who they are not.

But honor is also about owning our stories, being willing to live alive to recognise the words which are building these stories and receiving their truth with compassion, not off loading our pain, discomfort and made up stories.

Honor is what big people do. Honor is what free people do. Honor says “we are better than this.” Honor is who we are, not the narratives that shame the ‘master emotion’ as Sociologists call it, speak.

There is a higher standard and invitation being asked of us in this moment of history with all the freedoms of speech and connection at our disposal. 

That standard is honor. This standard will stop the war on words and create a new default place, one marked by civility, gratitude, truth, love and above all connection.

The standard begins with us. It begins with us as parents teaching our children, and being this in our workplaces and sporting clubs.

We are honorable because it is who we are. We are honourable not because we base our honor on the actions and behaviours of others. Because we are honourable, we speak words knowing they create worlds.

And by the way, if the sharp pain felt was a word arrow. Pull it out by forgiving the speaker(s) and declare blessing over them in Jesus name.

 

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Living Free  –  Practicing Generosity so I Stay Who I Really Am

August 7th, 2018

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What do you do when suddenly you are ushered into the room of unexpected change? What do you do when change becomes messy and seems to evoke the ugly in people, including yourself?

What happens when you boldly set out a course and it attracts unwanted judgement and criticism?

What do you do with the cranky driver who waves their judgement at you or the out of sorts teenager who offers a mouthy assessment of your instructions?

These common and not so common moments land on all of us. We are in a season right now we where are being given a multitude of opportunities to practice something other than negativity and judgement. 

Judgement paints others with our values. Our values are what shows up when there is conflict, tension and change.

Generosity is something else we can reach for when these moments happen upon us.

Generosity says “At any given moment people really are trying to do the best they can with what they have. Our bests are all different!”

Generosity looks at the situation and the individual and says “What is the most generous interpretation of what another is saying, intending and doing?”

Practicing generosity allows us to operate from the place of compassion and grace. It is jail breaking out of judgement. Socrates stated, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Pain and discomfort will always make itself known. Is that for us to judge or it that for us to bring the courage of compassion and healthy boundaries to? 

Courage extends generosity to other people and extends generosity to ourselves. When change, out of sort teenagers and cranky drivers walk over our boundaries, compassion or judgement will show up.

I remember years ago reading in the Old Testament the description of the Temple, the place God chose on earth to dwell in.. His home. Amidst grand descriptions of gold censors, candle stands, altars, huge winged cherubim’s, was a item called the ‘Mercy Seat’. It seemed humble, easy to overlook in the eye distracting dazzle of everything else that made up the most important real estate on earth. 

Mercy. What God, the King of the Universe, sits on. The surprising centre piece of His house. This layout and choice of furniture in God’s house screamed the reflection of His heart, mercy triumphs in this house over judgement.

The minute someone’s behaviour or words hurt us or puts us down, the arm wrestle is on! It is hard to be generous! It is hard to slide into that space of saying “They are trying the best they can with what they have.”

It is much easier to reach for judgement. While we do not know that they are in fact trying the best they can with what they have, it is way more fun to assume that. And way more responsible of us.

The alternative to generosity leaves us in self judgement that says, “I don’t want to accept that this person is doing the best they can because it would make me look like a very unkind person the way I have been treating them.”

What will we own? Ourselves or be more distracted at what others are not doing.

The harder thing to do is practice generosity, but it is what courage does. Courage is not afraid of doing hard things because courage will not give itself away to the behaviours and opinions of others. Courage owns itself.

Generosity is what love Himself has always done. God practices perfect generosity!  “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

I love the definition of repentance as doing a u turn to return to higher thinking. In the word repent, we see ‘pent’.  Pent is attached to the word penthouse and this is a confined space on the roof or top floor of a building.

When we fall from thinking higher thoughts, generous thoughts, the Bible says our minds become “debased.” (Romans 1:29) Debased means to lower in status, esteem, quality and character. It is to reduce the intrinsic value of something or someone.

This is the scary thing about judgement. We decide what is valued and not, and sentence accordingly. When our judgements are around what is wrong with a person, organisation or situation rather than on what God has given them, we reduce them in our mind. Our thinking lowers the status, esteem, quality and character of another and  suffering and negativity results.

We end up not only punishing others but ourselves as well, and being unable to receive what God has given them.

The most courageous thing we can ever do is be generous in the face of tempting judgement. For too long Christianity has been defined by what we see as the problem and not who we see as the answer.

In effect we have worshipped sin and all that is wrong with others and the world, rather than the answer to it. We practiced experiencing not the presence of God but the presence of negativity, condemnation and shame.

When we lift Jesus up and our delight is in God, the answer, this will draw all men. (John 12:32) What are we drawing?

Practicing generosity is our way forward. It will break off judgemental thinking and set us free to show up and be, and remain who we really are.

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Want more courage?

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What stops us from living Courage?

July 24th, 2018

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I was encouraging a friend recently who has been blogging online. Their heart is to encourage and empower others. Their action came because God asked them to rise and shine. A good positive community upbuilding thing to do hey?

But barely into the venture, the social media critics came out blasting. Courage was looking wobbly.

We all know that feeling. It’s nauseating. Debilitating. Its enough for some to pack up and head home and let courage belong to others.

How do we fight thru that emotional nausea and stay the course? How do we do the critics and haters, rather than they do us?

One of the key features of the times we are living in is what I call a judgement culture. There seems to be a focus more on what is wrong with a person, organisation or situation as opposed to what God has given them.

Doug Addison a Christian Prophetic Leader shared recently that an “Angry Wind has been released on the earth because too many people were negative and judging rather than blessing and lifting up.”

Proverbs says “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat the fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” (Proverbs 18:21)

With the spoken word God created the world. (Genesis 1:3) John even introduced Jesus as the “Word” that become flesh and dwelt amongst us. (John 1:14) Just like the God we follow, we also are creators.

Our breathe, our words have created and now we are bearing the fruit of the substance of our words, a culture of Judgement.

Judgement is both an experience and an emotion. Judgement has been defined by Sociological research as “observation with values attached.” In other words, when others express their judgement, they are expressing what they observe of those around them thru the lens of their values. It is putting their values on the actions of others.

Interestingly this same research showed that we judge others in areas where we ourselves are most susceptible to shame. There is nothing like the vulnerability and courage of others, to shake out our shame narratives that we are not enough.

Judgement reveals as much about ourselves as it does those we are judging.

When judgement is in operation within a culture, connection will suffer. It is not just relational connection that suffers. It is connection with our destinies too. In fact judgement has to die for there to be connection.

So how do we be courageous continually in the face of painful and hurtful attacks of judgement? How do we not become what is surrounding us?

As I asked Papa God this, he said to me “Getting curious will shut down judgement and keep you out of it.

Curiosity is what cats do so well. Over and over again I see cats walk up to something that’s a bit different, that’s entered their ‘dominions’ and simply get curious. I notice they have no hesitation, shifting their position, moving around to check out all the angles, all the squeaks, all the movements of what just entered their worlds.

I have never yet experienced judgement from a cat. Conquest yes. Judgement no.

It is impossible to be curious without shifting our position. When I get curious rather than judgmental, I have left my values, what I think is right, or my ego at the door, and I have ventured into the new. This is the way of empathy. I have decided to move towards rather than move away from that which is different or unexpected.

And as I do that, I let go of my need to judge. Henri Nouwen puts it this way, “Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy.” And this is the point. Cultures of Judgement are cultures devoid of mercy and where there is no mercy, there will be no courage. Mercy is a champion of courage!

Ironically as we get curious in the face of experiencing judgement, we are cultivating one of the key qualities that got us to the point of courage in the first place, curiosity.

So get curious, not judgemental. Get curious, not defensive.

Curiosity. Check it out. It will protect you from becoming what is around us and it will keep you in what you really want, courage.

Keep showing up anyway.

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Want to understand more of the world you live in?

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The Power of Curiosity – Defeating Defensiveness

June 27th, 2018

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I was on a call yesterday with a leader and creative. He shared how he is encountering a lot of defensiveness as he works with people.

Part of the shift especially in the western world, is that now we live in cultures that are shame based.

When we are hit by experiences and emotion of shame it yells at us, “You are bad. You are not enough.” The differentiation between a behaviour/action and identity is blurred and lost.

Yet there is a world of difference between my choice being bad and me being bad!

Shame cultures are marked by fear, disconnection and blame. This leaves thin identities and self confidence in people.

One of the leading Social Scientists of our time says, “all too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence.” (Dr Brene Brown)

Curiosity is our way home. Curiosity changes our heart. It shifts us to learner where we acknwledge don’t know it all. But that’s a journey! We must fight biology.

Biologically our brains are wired for story. Infact neuroscientists have discovered that our brains only need a few pieces of information and then our brains will make up story using just a few pieces of data.

Getting curious is leaving our stories at the door, and shifts us emotionally from judgement to curiosity. This makes us safe.

All too often we live choosing to be safe theologically/academically but not safe relationally.

Hebrews 3:13 says “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
??
Curiosity makes a way for encouragement, and specific encouragement to happen. Curiosity says your worthy of love, connection and me!

We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations and be more curious than defensive.

The opportunity of this moment is exciting. It offers to us a skill that can change our worlds in an instant, encouragement.

One of the greatest leaders of our faith was a guy name Barnabas. His name meant “son of encouragement.”

Encouragement is what awaits us the other side of curiosity. Try it today and watch it shift your heart and the heart of others!

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Want to understand more of the world you live in?

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The Courage to Show Up and Be Seen

June 20th, 2018

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I have been thinking lots lately about 1 John 4:18. “Love has no fear, because perfect love casts out all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

When we are courageous we will face off with fear. Courage is not the absence of fear but the choose for something greater than it.

When courage is the choice, we impact the space and narratives of others around us.

How they respond reveals a lot about them, and us. Listen to the differenet voices about the USA President Trump right now. Whatever we think, he is choosing courage over comfort that’s for sure and it is impacting our spaces and narratives!

The thing about fear is that it shows what level of love we have experienced and what level of love we are in need of.

When I connect with fear to others showing up and letting themselves be seen, it is never pretty. Fear never reveals the best of us.

When we reach for punishment as a way of managing our fear or shame, it’s even less pretty. Slander, disconnection, threats, withholding kindness and civility.

The sad thing is that we hurt ourselves the most when we choose punishment as our response.

Sadly most of the cultures we live in daily are cultures of punishment not love nor courage. They are cultures and actions driven by self interest and as a result they become selfish, entitling and narcissistic.

And not safe.

Are we raising our children on a culture of courage or punishment?

Are we nurturing friendships, work or church environments in cultures of fear or courage?

Love is vulnerable. Love is not self seeking. Love covers not exposes. Love speaks truth civilly. Love hurts and it suffers. Love is kind, messy and celebrates the courage of those around them to show up and let themselves be seen.

This is love’s manners and it will always have courage around it.

Maya Angelou says “Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

So will we show up and let ourselves be seen? Will we pursue love or continue with punishing behaviours and fear, when others choose courage over comfort.

Love casts out fear. Fear casts out courage. Own your story. If fear is owning you, take you back.

Choose courage.

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Want more courage?

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Fear Growing Over Your Fence

June 13th, 2018

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Oh my gosh I just saw now as I looked out the window, the trees we planted a few months ago. They are now reaching higher than the fence we positioned them next to! I can’t believe it! It’s winter and shouldn’t they be slowing down their growing?

As parents we know that feeling with our children. Their continuous growth can be shocking and daunting at times! And notice how it always happens when we don’t expect it!

The suddenlies of growth!

Over the last few weeks there has been something more than just trees growing.

Fear has grown too. I have been seeing it everywhere. Peoples eyes, peoples words, peoples way of driving on the road, laced with fear.

I was at the check out yesterday, glanced down and there embolden in large black font were the words “Terrorist plot foiled!”

Fear! And it was reaching over the fence into my backyard. It wasn’t in the backyard of Ireland or Israel, this time it was in mine!

It is in all of ours.

And we are growing really tired of it.

Everywhere I am going as I train, consultant and speak, people are communicating that they are getting sick and tired of being bombarded with being told who they should be afraid of.

Kids are tired of being scared into not saying ‘hi’ to the neighbour who walks by as they play football in the park. In the work place, people are tired of being scared into performance reviews. On our roads, people are fed up with hate and anger as the prevailing go to emotions to deal with fear.

Fear.

My husband says its overrated!

Yep.

Is it really that powerful that it now seems to be ordering our lives, our values, our relationships???? But what do we do about it? How do we navigate fear?

Isn’t it a basic human need and right to feel safe physically and emotionally? So what are we doing as a society? Do we really understand what we are doing when we teach our kids and ourselves to not say hello??

A few years back I had the amazing privilege of studying under Dr Brene Brown. She is a Social Scientist and Professor at Houston University. From her research, she defined fear as the inability to manage vulnerability.

Because the nature of vulnerability is risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure, this naturally evokes feelings of fear in us. We all experience the fear that vulnerability pulls on in us and for some it pulls on terror.

But fear always comes with a story. And because terror is the more common word now used for fear, the story is more extreme, more life threatening, more debilitating.

Are we aware of the story we are hearing when we feel fear? Our brains are wired for story. NeuroScientists say that our brains only need 1-2 pieces of information in order to make up a story, then it will fill in the rest with emotion, if an individual doesn’t have the skill set to find out the information needed to get the true story.

God has a story too. The bible acknowledges and honours the vulnerability in moments of fear and speaks to that. The freedom offered to us in the Scriptures is that fear is faith in an inferior. It is the by product of a whole bunch of “me” in focus.

This is true. Fear is by its nature a self conscious affect, emotion. It is one of 4 emotions we experience as human beings that makes us intensely aware of ourselves.

Fear is a power emotion. It drives a enormous amount of energy physiologically in us. That energy has to go somewhere.

God says put that energy here. He shows up, draws us out of ourselves and says crazy things like, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you”, “Don’t be afraid, Trust in me”, “Don’t be afraid, for you have found favour with God.”

God loves vulnerability. He calls it faith. He calls it courage. He calls it pleasing! Me on the other hand, can call it crazy, insane!!

Time and time again he reaches out to us and offers us vulnerability, because in vulnerability is connection and that will sustain us in the fear! Here is the bottom line of what God is really on about, connection.

Fear kills connection.

What do I really believe about vulnerability? It is not oversharing, off loading or blaming. It is not weakness. In fact research has shown us that it is the most accurate measure of courage. It is a courageous, honest owning of ourselves before another.

What value do I give to vulnerability? That will determine how I manage fear.

It is vulnerable to grow. But we can’t stop our kids from growing, we can’t stop the trees from growing.. apparently even this winter!

Are we tired enough to give up being scared and reach for vulnerability? Are we sick enough of growing our children on fear and brave enough to say, “Hello!” instead of walking past saying nothing?

Have we had enough of hate and anger as go to emotions for dealing with fear, and ready to try something new like “o that quick turn in front of me frightened me” and  I will own my emotion and actions by taking my time to deep breathe and slow my heartbeat”?

What is going to reach higher than your fence today?

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Want to be empowered more to live fearless?

Read my blog  http://all4him.org/2018/05/02/your-humanity


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Do Human not Hustle

May 29th, 2018

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Hustle. Yep there it was, just waiting as Monday began. Hustle was all over the roads driving on them as the sun rose over the late autumn hills. Hustle was there inviting itself into my parenting. Hustle was in the car park. Hustle was at the checkout in the Cafe. Hustle tried to catch a lift back with me to work.

Hustle. We all know it. We all experience it.

Hustle. The outworking of our fear and inadequacy onto others.

We live in cultures that really are having an emotional conversation. The conversation is around our value and dignity as human beings and this conversation has some significant drivers. Inadequacy and fear.

Are we enough… not only for our functions, but for the greater things that really change the world like love and belonging to something bigger than ourselves?

I have watched over the last 12 years fear change us. Change our families, change our communities, change our nations. Before my very eyes, I watched fear dramatically change the USA as we lived there.

Fear is accompanied with other words now. Infact they are more commonly spoken than the word fear. Words like hustle, anxiety… terror. I have seen for the first time in my lifetime not only acts of terrorism, but repeated acts of terrorism in my own city. It is no longer confined to London or Israel or Paris.

Dr Brene Brown defined terrorism as “time-released fear. It embeds fear so deeply in the heart of a community that makes fear become a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another.”1.

Participants in a recent research expressed a growing “concern that the only thing that binds us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect, or love. People report feeling more afraid to disagree or debate with friends, colleagues and family because of the lack of civility and tolerance.”2.

Fear has become the dominate emotional driver of so many of our cultures and relationships, and by and large we don’t recognise that!

What we don’t lean into, we can’t move through. When we do this, we become defined by it and it owns us.

Fear intimidates our humanity and our divinity.

So in this atmosphere of heightened fear, we evidence society reaching for anger and hate as the go to emotions. When we reach for anger and hate as way to manage fear, we descend down a very dark path of the destruction of human dignity.

Hustle is a sojourner on this path. Hustle is slippery. Hustle is the clever demise of human worth. But when we refuse to hustle, we begin to disempower fear and inadequacy and we give ourselves permission to be human and others permission to be human.

To be human is to be vulnerable, and I believe that the invitation to us squarely and fairly in this hour is to do human better. Infact, if we don’t do human better, the force and unconsciousness of the fear in our nations will drive us only further into loss of dignity and freedom.

If we don’t value vulnerability, we won’t manage fear.

When we stop hustling, we stop fear and we let in love. Love casts out fear or fear bullies love (1 John 4:18). They are mortal enemies.

God did human. Full human. Philippians 2 says, “He existed in the form of God.. emptied Himself of the OUTER glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man..”

God loves human. He took His image and dignity and made human (Isaiah 60:1). God is not afraid of human, nor is He afraid of fear. He honours our humanity and vulnerability (Psalm 103:14). Love is fearless.

We encounter a sense of worth when we encounter His Presence and this sense of worth is a prerequisite for showing up and living courageously in our lives.

The opposite to love is not hate, it is fear. Fear hustles. Love is patient. Fear is a whole bunch of me in focus. Love is sitting with each other not afraid. Fear argues with our self worth. Love says “You are enough.” Fear demands tidy, perfect lives. Love is messy and vulnerable. Fear keeps us small. Love makes us big.

So let me leave you with this question. Do we really think fear is that powerful that we have to be afraid of it?

We can do human better.

  1. Brene Brown, Speech to the RSA, The Power of Vulnerability, June 2013
  2. Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness, 2017

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Want to be empowered more to live fearless? Read my blog  http://all4him.org/2012/08/20/dwarf-or-brave


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“It’s about me!” Turning a Season that is Turning

May 16th, 2018

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This week has had one repeated word. Joy. Everywhere I look, the word joy appears. I am being stalked by the word.

There is a shift in the atmosphere and season. We experienced it pretty quickly at the beginning of the week and along with it was in an invitation to an intense agreement with “it’s all about me”.

I noticed that if we shook hands with that invitation, intensity and hustle were the immediate welcoming committee.

A quick search in the top trending issues in business and society in Australia and USA right now, revealed the word ‘narcissism’. It listed twice in the top 5 current concerns in these spheres. Narcissism’s heart is “it’s all about me!”

Psalm 16:11 says “In His Presence is fullness of Joy”. What invitation do we want to shake hands with? When I invite joy, I invite Him. What does He bring? Fullness of Joy! Suddenly I am more conscious of Him, not myself.

The interesting thing about the emotion of joy is that it is one of the emotions that is additive. In other words it “adds” to us, it gives us energy, strength, hope. Anxiety, disappointment, negativity “take” from us. These emotions consume huge amounts of energy and focus from us.

Joy and anxiety can not coexist. We either choose one or the other. Joy displaces anxiety and actually cures it! Likewise joy and anger or joy and entitlement can’t coexist. When I choose one, I kick out the other.

A Jesuit priest once said, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” The pathway to joy is laid one stone of gratitude at a time.

Joy is cultivated by repeated choices to be grateful for what is. Joy doesn’t stumble over what isn’t.

Joy is cultivated by celebrating often little things, and as we celebrate them, we awaken in understanding, in sight, in joy.

So last night I sat down with my journal and wrote across the top, “I am grateful for..” The first thing that popped into my head was God’s provision. He arrested my focus!

As I wrote those words, I began to experience His presence. I saw Him drawing near to me and suddenly a bunch of energy and ideas tumbled out through my pen.

I began writing all the ways I had seen Him provide in this day. I was grateful for His provision of the rain, a warm home as winter makes it decent, the joy on my son’s face as he shared the finish of his first exam of 3 for this week, and on it went.

By the end of this flow of gratitude, I was in awe and worship of a Father God who provides. I was aware, it wasn’t all about me and the heavy yoke that this invitation brings! Me was settled in the focus of joy.

I was in partnership with God and what His goodness is bringing in this season. I celebrate and cultivate the joy of the substance of what He has done. I don’t shame Him or blame Him for what is not yet.

Joy is revelatory experience and this transforms us! This is a key for living and overcoming this current atmosphere and season. It is a very tangible way I can bring heaven and the God of heaven to earth!

His presence is attracted to our joy!

His will for me, for you on this earth as it is in heaven is joy!

How can you invite joy into today? Turn the key and you turn your atmosphere and season!



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You’re Enough is Not Up for Debate

May 8th, 2018

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Always with change, be it a little change or big, our identity gets another work over. The relentless message of “you’re not enough and there is not enough” pounds away at our current identity as we navigate the transition.

It is in facing honestly the conversation we have about ourselves that we find a new encouragement and a new opportunity for growth.

Jesus encouraged us that “The truth sets us free.” (John 8:32) Truth is not for the faint of heart, but truth is for the heart!

He adores our humanity. He is not afraid nor surprised at our narratives of not enough. And it is in that space, his love will upgrade and affirm who we are.

Our enough is not up for debate. Our worthiness is not something we negotiate. If we go through the world looking for proof we are not enough, we will find it!

The truth of who we are, our worthiness, our identity is not an eternally determined thing. It is a truth we have chosen to settle in our hearts. A truth from His affection and honor of us.

That is never up for debate! That is the gift change gives us. In whatever change faces you today, ask him, “who am I to you Papa God?” To receive that is to receive his affirmation for the new that is before you!
 

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Making Friends with Your Humanity

May 2nd, 2018

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“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him.” LUKE 15:20 AMP

Wow what a response to disappointment and the humanity of another, especially when that other is familiar, known, family?

Here is a Father. He sees a long way off and connects with the vulnerability of his son. He rans towards. He embraces. He clothes and covers that vulnerability with the finest he has. 

This is so counter-cultural. Culture is so wired right now for rejecting our humanity and our imperfections, preferring to dose up on the myth of perfection and the juice of judgment.

Heaven’s culture is ridiculous and offensive, and will find our religious buttons. It runs towards and makes friends with our humanity and our vulnerability.

Heaven was so ridiculous in its honouring of our humanity, it got really carried away and made Jesus, the Darling of heaven, human. And then not only that, but human son to a virgin teenager betrothed to be married!

What do we do in this toxic shame culture with imperfection?

We are neuro-biologically hard wired to not hurt one another. Did you know that? It goes against our human nature literally. 

Violence, slander, gossip goes against who we are. We are made for connection, for forgiveness, for interdependence. We are made to need each other. Research shows that when we hurt another person, we actually hurt ourselves. 

One of the growing behaviours in the Western World right now is what researchers call ‘common enemy intimacy’. Common Enemy Intimacy is connection around who we should all hate. We relate to each other based on who we hate, rationalising that is where our pain and suffering is coming from.

Social behaviours get actioned out thru so many avenues, social media being a significant one of them, slowly eroding our humanity with words and images that dehumanise.

Meanwhile history is shouting to us showing us that these progressions are the basis of every genocide that has ever happen. 

“In USA right now we are slowly using dehumanising language with people with whom we disagree. No one has the high ground, from leaders to people it’s happening. When we use dehumanising language it says more about us that the people we are dehumanising & I think honestly it chips away at our soul. Dehumanisation is not a social justice tool, it is emotional off loading, it is self indulgent, it is a way to off load our anger, our fear, our rage.” Dr Brene Brown 2017

But this was not what the Father did. The Father did not choke at the vulnerability or imperfection seen in his son, though he had every ‘right’ to feel disappointed.

This Father did what our Father in Heaven does. He was safe. He was honor. He was completely intolerant of shame and it’s tools. The Father’s capacity to receive who and what his son had chosen, was on show here. For you see, our responses say more than perhaps the actions of others.

The Father was moved. He reckoned with emotion and responded with fearless compassion, reckless love and bullet proof honor. He knew he was not judge, he was Father. He mastered his self-righteousness and grief.

His strength was both in spirit and soul, and he ran TOWARDS vulnerability, towards humanity, towards imperfection.

And he still runs towards today. God is a good Father!

And us?

Father God, thank you you are good. You are safe, you are always honouring us and you never dehumanise us. You love our vulnerability. Teach us how to be like wise. Teach us how to be like you and not like that which is around us. In Jesus Name and for Jesus name.



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You are Enough

April 11th, 2018

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As we grow our spirit, we will also be invited to grow and mature in our soul too. 

Our soul maturity shows up as we rumble with such questions as how do I navigate mystery, disappointment, delay or failure in my faith journey with God? What is my value for creativity and vulnerability when God changes the season? How do I live in a shame based western world culture and not be of that pattern in my thinking, my relating, my heart thoughts? How do I walk in honor with others vs off load my pain, shame and blame onto others? How do I own my story and write it rather than be unconscious giving it away for others to write?

There is no doubt, life is a journey! To hold this perspective is kind.. and real. What we don’t know today, we may know tomorrow.

Grow in spirit yes. But grow in the soul realm too! Be kind to yourself, grow! Don’t be afraid of change. It is your best friend. Own your spirit and soul, its part of your beauty and gift to the world, and right now the world needs you!

A leading Socialogical researcher recently said, “We are at a turning point in history, that should not be minimised or misunderstood. When I look through 200,000 pieces of data my team & I have collected over the past 16 yrs of research, I can only conclude our world is in a collective spiritual crisis.” Dr Brene Brown, November 2017.

We live in shifting sands where we need both spirit and soul maturity. We live in an atmosphere of accelerated change whether we want it, like it or are seeking it. We do not get to opt out of change. This is a turning point moment in the history of mankind, and in this context, we live, we matter and all that God is stirring within us matters.

“You are responsible for the energy you bring into a space” says Jill Bolte Taylor. This is not only true of each of us as individuals but also as a generation.

This “I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” (Philippians 1:9) Isn’t it interesting? As we choose to step further into love we begin to abound in knowledge and discernment, this is going to put tension on our soul maturity.

This is the essence of growth. Growing in our soul health and maturity balances us. Real spiritual maturity can’t exist without it. Faith without works is dead. We are invited to the work of love and that will grow our soul maturity! 

You are enough for that! Your presence, your journey, your choices for growth, matter. They occupy a space in a crucial time.

May we never be afraid of growing. Father God help us to grow in spirit and in soul! Encounter us with your great love Jesus! In Jesus Name and for the name of Jesus.

If you want to intentionally grow more in soul, consider doing a Living Courage Day



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Culture Shift – What world are you living in?

March 20th, 2018

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A report on the Shift in Culture

by Helen J Goatley B.A. Dip Ed. Dip Theol.

www.All4Him.org

Introduction

Our culture has shifted. I propose that in the majority of the Western world, we have shifted our cultural base. Our culture is not in process of changing, but has already fully changed.

I believe that the Western world is now a Shame based culture and that this culture is penetrating every mountain of influence thus affecting every aspect of how we do life. I also propose that in this new world, we have a brilliant opportunity to grow in understanding of and anticipating the needs that now are being presented to us.

This shift invites the courageous, the brave in us. It already is demanding dramatic development in how we work with people in all spheres of life.  Compassion, empathy, creativity and vulnerability are going to be our guides as we navigate this world in change.

What is a Shame Based Culture and how did that happen?

In her recent research spanning nearly two decades and very turbulent ones in the USA, Dr Brene Brown of Houston University unearthed shame as the emotion of feeling, “I am bad, I am not enough. It is that intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love, connection and belonging.”

Her research also supported medical findings that shame when experienced physiologically especially for children, has the same effect as trauma.

Anthropologist Ruth Benedict popularised a distinction between a guilt based culture and a shame based culture. She asserted that in a guilt base culture, good and bad (morality) is defined by your own personal conscience. It’s emphasis is upon the actions not the identity of an individual.

A shame based culture however, defines morality by what your community says about you by their actions and words of honor or exclusion. Thus in a shame based culture, social exclusion asserts they are bad.

I propose that a shame based culture feeds on the fruit of fear and often negative experiences and choices that impact an entire people group. An example of this is being witnessed in the USA. With the impact of 9/11 followed by an economic crisis unparalleled since the Great Depression, few American families have been left untouched. The result is now a nation rumbling through an identity conversation as it has traversed the passage from a guilt based culture to that of a shame based culture.

As the nation has walked the recent season of electing a new President, the shame culture has shown its hand in blatant, brutal ways. New York Times Columnist, David Brooks recently wrote an enlightening article declaring ‘America the Shame Culture.’ He quotes Andy Crouch, who argued that with the “omnipresence of social media in the form of Facebook and Instagram, a new sort of shame culture is being nurtured. The world is on constant, accessible 24/7 display and observation. Desire to be embraced and praised by the community and not exiled and condemned is intense. Freedom of speech just reached another volume and plane, dragging with it, moral life.”

What’s the impact and implications for us now?

So how does this impact us in the nations and us as Believers in Jesus? What are the implications for us? What are the answers?

The world of shame hits identity and identity is at the heart of our functioning as human beings. It is out of identity that destiny flows. When shame becomes our narrative, then our identity postulates, ‘I am bad, I am not enough’. The fundamental story of who we are has changed.

Medical science has bought us the understanding that our minds are made for narrative, for story. When a event happens, the brain functions to identify what happened (the story) and responds by directing the body’s actions. The amygdala which is located in the brain is responsible for regulating emotions, and when triggered releases energy to the body so it can move the body to a place perceived as safe. This primeval need for protection must be met. The story the brain makes up doesn’t have to be based on truth, it translates whatever pieces of data it has and uses it to meet the need of the opposing threat.

The impact of the ‘shame story’ then becomes manifest by self-righteousness, blame, comparison, performance, judgement, criticism, slander and the greatest of these, the hustle. Our Western culture drives, models and exalts hustle as the definition of self worth. Hustle becomes justified by perfection that rushes to be first in an attempt to head off rejection. “Not enough” eats away at identity and reduces the human being to a human doing, all the while suffocating with pretence our real selves, our real anointing and our real destinies.

The implications of the ‘not good enough’ drum in a culture is the hiding of our real selves, the loss of integrity as a means of presenting the real self or the identity of a group.  It brings a loss of boundaries which help define personal integrity and generosity towards others.  Tribalism is witnessed as shamed groups shame their shamers and social media becomes the hammer to meter out ‘justice’. Shame never has and never will make big people. Shame is willing to delightfully sacrifice courage and bravery to reduce any one to its ‘not enough’ norm.

On the advent of many prophetic voices speaking of and communities actively preparing for revival, I have to ask, what will be revived by God?

What I have seen globally because of my Anthropological and Sociological training is now being seen in the results of other fields of scientific research. Answers lay in educating and nurturing the qualities and values of honor, empathy, compassion, forgiveness and wholeheartedness. None of which can be entered into unless there is a willingness to look eye to eye at our stories, ways in which we ‘do’ life and rumble honestly with emotion to encounter the radical but offensive kindness of God. The end result I propose will produce a new level of maturity in our humanity and His Divinity. It is the becoming of being human.

There has been for sometime a real push in acknowledging the whole being, body, soul, mind and spirit. Buzz words like spiritual and emotional intelligence are frequently used. I suggest that in the Christian world there is a HUGE need to upgrade and develop more understanding in these realms if we are to survive in what is now the reality of a shame culture running rampant.

What we don’t understand we naturally reject. That rejection will continue to be costly and fatal to our hearts, our messages, our relationships and our organisations. We have the greatest message of honor, hope, joy and freedom. God’s message says, “You are enough for the King of the Universe to come and seek out connection. You have value not because of what you have done but because you are simply worthy. You are enough. You are a son/daughter of the Most High God.”

Self righteousness doesn’t loan us value. It simply is a tentacle of self loathing (shame), puffing itself up beginning with the belief that I am better than others and leaves us thinking the worst of ourselves confirming that we are not enough. Self-righteousness died because of Jesus’s righteousness that screamed, “IT is FINISHED.” (John 19:30)  What was finished? Our not enoughness!!

To recognise shame, we must embrace our story. True honor confronts our story with vulnerability, empathy and compassion, this is the power of the cross! Honor speaks to what is lost in the onslaught of shame. It reminds us again that we are honorable. Journeying through our difficult stories to lay aside blame, comparison, performance and arrive to the embrace of vulnerability, forgiveness and the truth of a Father whose love and view of us never changes. It is compassionate light and not comparison light that will shift culture and shift the shame narrative.

The leading field of research in Psychology now is Heart Math. At the core of Heart Math is understanding of emotion and belief systems which produce energy, energy to change and create synergy. The outcomes of this research are having significant impact in how and who is employed in the work place. Heart Math has always been the central focus of our God. Jesus message always invited the learner to consider that what the heart meditated upon was the director for actions pursued. To God, the issue was heart and who moved the heart, and so it is for current Psychology! Shame is a heart issue. It is a trauma to believe anything else other than when God made us, His first words were, “It is good” and so He blessed us (Genesis 1 & 2). There is no blessing or affirmation that you are good in a shame culture.

What will we embrace?

So as we venture further into a new century and a new culture, we embrace a new journey into spiritual, emotional and cultural intelligence.  Vulnerability, empathy, compassion, honor can light our way. Can we and do we have the skills to handle, nurture and embrace them? The “Passion of Christ” is a template for these. Jesus has and Jesus will always be our central connecting point. Connection came for us when He was lifted up in total vulnerability, empathy and compassion.

We are going to have to have confrontations around our ideas on vulnerability. The myth that is so commonly believed is that vulnerability is weakness. Yet sociological research shows it is the most accurate measure of courage. Vulnerability is a skill to practice and receive, but it is how we can move through the shame culture.

When we teach our kids and ourselves as adults to communicate that they feel scared rather than do the actions of scared like bullying and violence, we can begin to shift culture. We must change the current status quo where we are more comfortable causing pain than feeling the pain. This happens when we embrace the power of vulnerability.

Will we put our brave on as Jesus did? It will invite a revival of honor, empathy and generosity which is as Dr Brene Brown’s research discovered is bringing the most generous interpretation of someone else actions, intentions and words. This is encountered in another culture, the culture of His Presence.

The Presence of God is a culture shifter and transcends all communities, all generations, all languages, all experiences. It is in His Presence we encounter and are undone by His compassion, His unconditional love, His honor, His empathy, and above all HIS vulnerability. He shows up and show us Him. Presence centred Communities, Business’, Schools, families & individuals will shift a culture that has shifted. Which will we choose?

*This text may only be used with full acknowledgement & permission of the Author, Helen Goatley.

References:
Brown PHD, Brene  – I thought it was just Me (But it isn’t)
Brooks, David – The Shame Culture (New York Times, March 15, 2016)
Vanier, Jean – Becoming Human
Thompson MD, Curt – The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves

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ONLINE RESOURCE FOR YOU

March 7th, 2018

It’s up as a ONLINE Course!!

Experiencing the Presence of God – Nuances of God’s Presence

is now an ONLINE COURSE!

What do you do with disappointment, confusion, fear of losing control of your life or God will ask too much? Can He really be trusted?

We were working in Russia for Wycliffe Bible Translators when the Iron Curtain had just fallen. We were broken hearted when we heard and saw Russians flocking to Buddhism, because their first option Christianity was too slow in resourcing their hunger.

This experience and living the journey of walking with God ourselves along with many others, burned in us a burden to be part of bringing resources to hungry ones.

Consider this for your own personal times with God or to do with a small group?

We want you to be blessed and encouraged in 2018,

so for the next 2 weeks TILL MARCH 21, this course is available HALF PRICE.

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May God bless you far beyond what you hope for!



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Powerful Joy

February 27th, 2018



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Mindfulness of the Haughty

February 15th, 2018

I have been thinking about a very old fashioned word lately. I was pulling out of our street a few days ago. There was plenty of time between vehicles. It was mid morning and peak hour was over.

Suddenly I looked into the rear view mirror to see a big truck roaring up behind me. He stopped barely a hands length from the tail of the car. For the next kilometre he sat right there.

Practising empathy & working hard to stay out of judgement & the many stories that were fast forming in my head, I continued on driving focusing on my up coming turn!

I came to the corner, turned and as the truck drove past, I was given a hearty long sound from his horn, incased in some specifically chosen parting gestures.

I was feeling the love!

Digging a bit deeper into empathy and paddling hard to fight off self-righteousness, I wondered what his day, his year was like for him so far? After some muscular emotional work, I landed at the outskirts of compassion.

Had it been another day… perhaps a day like what the truck driver was having, I might not of reached what can seem such an impossible destination at times for us all to find, the shore line of compassion.

As I endeavoured to keep myself camped out in compassion land, I remembered a word that had come up in the early hours that morning.

Haughty.

Such a strange, uncommon word. Seldom used in today’s vocabulary.

Haughty.. having or showing an attitude of superiority & contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior.

“Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, & before honor is humility” says Proverbs 18:12. In fact as I looked at this word, it seemed to appear a lot in Proverbs, the book full of wisdom on people.

As I sat in the moment, I let the wash of truth flood over me. Compassion practice is daring! But when we allow ourselves to move gently towards what scares us, when fear is dragged under our feet and we stand on it rather than it stand on us, we remember our own darkness and we can be present in the darkness of others.

For God so loved the world, He sent His Son into our darkness (John 3:16). He is completely free of a haughty heart. While He is God, Elohim, Supreme, He is love & His posture towards us is not nor ever will be superiority or contempt.

What amazing grace!

Haughty visited me that day and it purified my soul. It was no longer about someone else, it was about me. Landing at compassion revealed my own pride.. my own haughty thinking.. and what I’d just experienced, I did not want to pass on.

In a time when people’s capacity for pain, discomfort, inconvenience seems to be lost, that pain has morphed into hatred & blame where it is much easier to cause pain than it is to feel it.

Is this the result of haughtiness? And is haughtiness a result of our incapacity as a planet to have conversations around vulnerability & fear? Our emotions indicate our needs.

We are living in a time set up for some of the most significant breakthrough and needed growth in maturity of two things that defined Jesus & changed the world, and still is.. empathy and compassion.

Papa God I ask that you would release encounters of compassion upon each heart that is reading this blog. May they be blessed with freedom from a haughty spirit that will not only cripple them but can end up in destruction on so many levels. Papa God would you bless us all again with the gift of repentance and compassion. Thank you you are not for our destruction. Thank you that you are for growing our maturity and prospering our destiny. In Jesus name, Amen



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The Privilege of Calling out Excellence

January 15th, 2018

Every parent knows that gut sickening experience when in the stress and pressure of a moment, we react to our child with a choice of words and tone that precedes to strip a sense of human dignity and excellence from our child. Their face reads like a book.

Sickening.

Heart-breaking..

The real story here is that shame just did us. And we all know that pain. All of us have it.

So easy in such moments to off load our sense of inadequacy and the slander that shame splashes over us onto others. After all, isn’t it really about what our child or another person did or said???

Psalm 16:3 says “As for the saints (including the little ones!) who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.”

Wow! saints.. excellent ones.. is this what we are thinking about others or even ourselves in such moments?

Then there is the little matter of “in whom is all my delight.” What?? Delight in these moments is the last emotion I am feeling! How about you?

So much easier to give in and yield to that dark voice of slander & meter that out on others as a way of trying to dodge the bullet ourselves!

Slander is a way to shake off our discomfort and pain around our identity. Slander is a cheap way to jump start connection with others. Our world even builds entire communities around this ‘weapon’. We gather around what others are saying a person or community is doing or not. How do we use our empowered freedom of communication, whether it’s face to face communication or on social media?

We can not use technology or our ‘justified’ shame and offence to flatten the world.

Is there another way? YES!!! We don’t have to be an unconscious victim simply reflecting the culture around us that is hyped on shame & slander.

God shows His heart here in Psalms 16. He sees SAINTS! He sees EXCELLENT ONES! This is honor. We get the enormous privilege of calling out excellence in others, calling out the divine design in our children, in our family, in our community.

Certain things then are below our dignity to talk about and we become contributors not accusers.

The Psalmist here makes an interesting link. “As for the saints who are on the earth..” One of the areas of responsibility we carry as saints is for the land. Delighting in the excellent ones impacts the land! Mother Basilea Schlink a writer and leader of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Germany discovered this.

After World War 2, Mother Basilea and her Order began to rebuild their centre in Darmstadt. She was trying to cart in sand and every time it came near the entrance of the property it would flip over. This happened over and over.

Instead of simply looking at this problem through rational logical eyes, she asked God and listened to his interpretation as to what was going on.

Mother Basilea discerned that there was a link between the cart flipping over and their vindictive attitudes. So delighting in these excellent ones, she called them to repent for their attitudes.

The next cart of sand smoothy came into the property. Nothing changed but their hearts.

This began a strategy in this order where they actively applied repenting to problems they came across in their garden and surroundings. For example, when pests came into their garden instead of using pesticides, they would check their hearts and repent for the things in their hearts.

This required a brutal honesty with themselves. They were learning to live in truth, in the way of excellence, in the life of Jesus. They were willing to own their stories, repent and restore themselves and each other back to excellence.

Pastor Jennifier Eivaz says that repentance is a war move!

I invite you today to consider what’s in your heart, what slander has the Accuser, Satan, who accuses the saints day and night (Revelation 12:10) has tried to put over you or those you know? Step into repentance as a war move on shame and slander.

It is as simple as saying, “Papa God I hate this feeling and action. I hate slander and shame that I have done or others have done, and I repent. I repent for getting done by shame and slander. I repent on behalf of others who have been ‘done’ by shame & slander and I speak blessing and forgiveness over them today. This is below my and our dignity as excellent ones. Thank you Papa God for restoring my eyes to see my excellence and the excellence of others. Jesus thank you for showing me the way. Jesus you are Lord over me, over my land.”

God bless you excellent one!!



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Ordinary Courage

December 4th, 2017

Everybody wants it.

In today’s world courage is often linked to Heroics. We think of an individual who puts their life on the line to valiantly save another. But the courage I’m talking about is ordinary courage. It’s the courage that puts our vulnerability on the line.

In our world that is so shame driven that we are unconscious to it, hussle for worthiness goes to a whole other level at Christmas time.

Ordinary Courage is putting your hand up in class & saying “I’m lost. I don’t understand.” Ordinary Courage is saying “I don’t know”, “I am not ready yet to take on that aspect of the job, I am still needing time to learn this one.”

These are some of the bravest things we can ever say & do.

Ordinary courage is willing to risk being disappointed & it is willing to risk trusting again. Ordinary courage confronts suspicion & moves past it with faith, choosing uncertainty & honor rather than the barren bastions of control & predictable outcomes.

Ordinary courage is one of the most frequent commands in the Bible, used over 300 times in the bible.

But courage is never courage without vulnerability. Think of a time when you were courageous. Could you be courageous & not be vulnerable? When this question was asked recently to the highest level Military Generals & Commanders at West Point in the USA, they could not think of any occasion when courage did not demand vulnerability from them or their troops.

Courage is risk. It challenges our notions of control & our emotion of fear. So does vulnerability.

Dr Brene Brown says. “It is our inability to feel vulnerability that makes us weak.”  The Hebrew word for courage is chazaq & it means “to show oneself strong”. Strong is not armouring up with emotionless perfection to ‘get her done!’. To show ourselves strong is show our hearts, our true selves. This is ordinary courage & it in turn demands in us compassion & empathy, the twin arms of fierce fearless love.

2000 years ago, compassion moved heaven not judgement & courage walked the earth. Jesus bearing the heart of God for connection, showed himself strong with the might of courage’s true measure, vulnerability, & conquered the world.

God is birthing a whole new revelation of grace & love. And it will be wrapped in the arms of ordinary courage. You have it.

Live Courage.



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The Social Cancer of our day

November 21st, 2017

“Don’t copy the behaviour & customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is GOOD & pleasing & perfect.”
Romans 12:2

Do you know what are the behaviours & customs of this world? WHY EVEN CARE?

Ironically, the Business world is studying very carefully your behaviours & customs. Google & YouTube can even predict them! Crudely put, you are being studied because ultimately you have needs & needs = money = profit = happiness & worth. Or so they say. We are built for meaning & significance. We have worth & value, & the world knows it.

Do you?

We are now on the other side of the tipping point that happened this month. There is a weightiness to this time we live in, & everyone is sensing it. Politicians, Social Scientists, Prophetic leaders, Teachers, Musicians & Artists are all speaking about it.

Do you know what is God’s GOOD will for you in this weighty hour?

I want to encourage you today.

I believe from all the research that is coming out from so many different sources right now, we are living in a SHAME based culture. The behaviours & customs that are being evidenced right now are the outcomes of what I call the SOCIAL CANCER of our day, SHAME.

The world is diseased with SHAME & it is fatal. I submit that if we do not arrest this disease, it will be the end of our destinies, organisations, & our very civilisation. Right now I believe this to be the no 1. reason taking out so many Churches & individuals.

Shame has a story. Shame has a narrative. It is a narrative that can be CHANGED! But we must be willing to hear the story. Emotion is the way to that narrative.

Again one of the biggest concerns & focus in Business & Education right now is around helping people develop a value, respect & maturity in their emotions. We call this emotional literacy.

Shame is an emotion & experience. Shame says “You are bad”, “Who do you think you are?”, “you are not _____ enough.”  It erodes our identity &  suggests our behaviours are our identity. It has the same impact on the brain as trauma. And it was all over the first moments of Adam & Eve’s story.

This is its narrative.. “I will reindentify you with your worst day, worst choice, worst actions.” It attacks our creativity, our lovability & our divinity.

Even right now as you read these words, you probably are experiencing that emotion. Speak the word SHAME, & it typically triggers shame. But the inverse is also true, speak the word SHAME & it dies.

Every morning we wake up & armour up. The world is a tough place. Life has its moments of grabbing you by the scruff of the collar & yelling in your face, “I am serious. What will you do with the time you have!”

And so in SHAME based cultures, we armour up with fear, blame, disconnection, perfectionism, comparison, competition & slander. All of these are ways to off load pain & the discomfort of believing the social narrative that you are bad & not _____ enough.

The world begins to transform us with this thinking. Recent Sociological research under Dr Brene Brown has discovered that when SHAME is running the narrative of the day, the behaviours & customs are addiction, aggression, abuse, suicide, eating disorders, bullying & violence.

Who we should fear & who is to blame is the strongest narrative of SHAME’s story. Every morning every newspaper & news show centres around these two questions. Every day in our family homes, these two questions pop up.

The power of the Sovereignty of Jesus is that He put SHAME on the cross. The whip of mockery, His body took. This was the human cost of taking our shame & covering us with His love & healing. When we receive Jesus & do this for each other, it is transforming. Darkness trembles. Dignity is restored.

The greatest transforming moments of my life have been when I encountered the narrative of honor & love that covered my imperfections, my dances with shame, rather than exposing it, punishing it, disassociating from it or slandering it.

There is nothing more amazing than being around those who do not think according the pattern of this SHAME world, who have been healed & work hard at resilience to this social cancer.

Jean Vanier in his book Becoming Human, says it this way. “We can bring each other to birth as we respect & love one another & as our value is revealed to us through the love of others.”

This is why I care.

I have seen it.

And it changed me forever.

You?

 

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If this blog has stirred or inspired you to pursue more about how you can get free of this social cancer, check out our Living Courage & Creating Great Relationships courses. Get some friends together & go after more!

Tipping Point

November 17th, 2017

This morning the words of this song kept coming, “Day and night let incense arise.” It’s a reference to Revelations 8:5 about the prayers of the saints.

I keep hearing over and over, pray! Pray while making coffee. Pray while driving. Pray while gardening. And pray WITH THANKSGIVING! Thanking God is prayer and it is the function that cultivates joy. Joy is not an emotion that comes from circumstances, it is a skill. Skills need to be developed.

Intimidation, grief or inadequacy are about in the atmosphere. November has been by many prophetic voices called a ‘tipping point’ month. And haven’t we seen that in many nations! This is a significant time in a significant month for what God is doing. Don’t be fooled, intimidation, grief and inadequacy are NOT you! It is in the atmosphere and it wants to sabotage all God is doing and stirring within and around you and in your nation.

Zechariah 4:10 was a scripture God took me to this morning.

“For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven REJOICE to see the plum line in the hand of Zerubbabel.”

Don’t despise this turning point day. To despise is to shame! Shame says “I am not enough. Heck I’m a looser.” It reidentifies us. Shame is not worthy of you! Rejoice! Pray with THANKSGIVING! There is so much to be thankful for with JESUS! Remember JESUS! Remember!

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