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What do Spring rolls and Playdough have in common?

What do Spring rolls and Playdough have in common?

I wonder how you eat spring rolls? I have always loved spring rolls, but I had never tasted spring rolls like in Hanoi, Vietnam, until this year. I think I have been spoiled for life now

I wonder how you eat spring rolls? I have always loved spring rolls, but I had never tasted spring rolls like in Hanoi, Vietnam, until this year. I think I have been spoiled for life now. They are quite a delicacy in Hanoi and nothing compares to them anywhere. I also learned alot about how they eat them. That was very inspiring.

In Vietnam culture, the spring roll is something that is shared with the community, it is something they do together, using the same dips for everyone. Where in Australia, we have a rule of NO double dipping, in Vietnam, it is an essential part of eating them to share the same dips and to dip together.

The spring rolls “dips” are also very symbolic of the experience of doing it together. The dip is a mixture of lemon (sour) , garlic ( smelly) , capsicum, chilli (hot) , Pepper (spicy), fish sauce (sugar) , water that joins it all together.

The ingredients of the dips represent all types of tastes and combinations, coming together and being blended to make something special. This is a symbol of community. There are all kinds of people who should make up community and it is the variety that makes it TRUE community. What a beautiful example of what community should look like. We all get to be together at the banquet sharing it together. It reminds me of the great banquet Jesus talked about where all were invited and welcomed to share together. The sad thing is that, just as in the parable, there were many who wouldn’t come. So it is with our culture, which has become so obsessed with having our own dips and making sure that we are separate so as to not share germs, and allowing everyone to have control of their own combinations and eat what they want to eat and not have to share.

I often do this excursive with all ages, where I give them a piece of play dough and everyone has a different colour. I begin by asking them to design something with their play dough and create something that represents them. Many enjoy this process but the next step is hard for them. Even though this is only a piece of play dough, it is amazing how attached they get.

I ask them to share their creation with other people in the room and as they do they must share a piece of play dough, which means they give a piece away and gain a piece. As they continue to swap with people over and over again, they end up with different colours in their hands. It always amazes me how the majority of people keep all the colours separate even when I am constantly asking them to massage the colours together as they go.

When they sit down I ask them again to massage the colours all together in order to make a new colour. Many just can’t do it. They have either been conditioned to NOT mix the colours or they don’t like the fact that their creations has been destroyed and it is no longer the same as when they started.

Again this practical exercise reminds us that to be TRUE community means that in the sharing process, what we end up is not the same as what we started with. Some people love this, but more than often our “isolated”, “controlling”, “self-focused”, “comfortable” culture means that we really struggle with this exercise.

Sounds harsh I know, but there is no other explanation for this behaviour. If this is so hard in an exercise with play dough, imagine the sacrifice it takes for people to live in TRUE community. Like the spring roll experience, life is meant to be shared and done together.

And through the combining and sharing we are all transformed to become something different..

How about you … are you okay to SHARE your sauce dips and double dip your spring rolls? Can you MIX your play dough colours … or does the thought of that make you cringe?

The bigger question is … is life in your faith community truly shared and mixed together, and if not what are you missing out on?

The bigger question is ... is life in your faith community truly shared and mixed together, and if not what are you missing out on?

Family is not always ROSIE!

Family is not always ROSIE!

What do you do as a family when faced with challenging times? The sad thing is that most people’s response to is to avoid it at all costs. To separate, give space, isolate, stay comfortable. Today this has become easier and easier to do.

One Christmas our little Aussie family UNIT decided to travel to the USA for a White Christmas. 2 adults, 2 teenagers, 1 room, 2 double beds, 1 bedroom, 5 weeks. This is not the first time we have done this type of thing, but the kids are growing up and getting older and bigger and suddenly sharing two double beds in a small room, in a different Hotel every second night, was set to be a challenge. It was certainly had the potential to test the limits and reach new heights.  I have always believed with any awesome highs comes some challenging lows, so here’ s my chance to test my beliefs.


During this trip, I decided if my family UNIT was to be described by a colour it would be “red”. When I think of the colour red, I think of roses and the beauty of them, the fullness of colour, the sweet smell and the specialness of flowers.  Our family UNIT in so many ways is that. When we are together in a confined space on the whole we get on pretty well, in fact we seem to get on better and better as time goes on. We experienced some major highs and there was a beauty to be savoured, or course with much laughter involved. That’s when all was ROSIE and we were all in a GOOD space.


Then, the colour red, also can represent heat, electricity and fire. And boy, we had some of those moments.  All four of us have been known to be a little “Firey” at times.   When you are in a confined space, this seems amplified. These moments stung, but fortunately there were only a few of them.

It is certainly not comfortable, but if you want the highs, you can’t avoid the lows.   I understand why people just don’t do it, travel I mean, besides the cost involved, travelling with 4 people, and 2 being teenagers just opens you up to really tough challenges.


When you drive into a new town, you don’t know where you are going to stay for the night, you are hungry and you can’t find anything you all agree on that you are all willing to eat, and for the right price. When each person has a different idea of what they would like to do with their day and no one can agree on what attraction to go to first. Even driving somewhere, there at some point has to be some agreement on the music we listen to.  This is when it is not always ROSIE ! But I will add… In American country towns, where the only option is country music, on this matter we ALL agreed, even silence is a better option.

The sad thing is that most people’s response to challenging times, is to avoid it at all costs. To separate, give space, isolate, stay comfortable. This has become easier and easier. Now more than ever before 4 people can be in a confined space like a car and yet be truly separate. With technology, earphones, Ipads, computers, it is really easy to check out. I understand this response but it is so sad that people don’t understand we are meant to push through the challenges, even grow through them, rather than do all we can to avoid them.

In the end it is in that place where we truly learn who we are, who God can be and what really matters! And what matters is that it is not always ROSIE, and it is not meant to be. Whoever said that REAL LIFE and LOVE never had a sting, is living in LA LA land… I want our kids to know, when it gets heated, those who grow and last are those who hang in there to work it out.

I am glad our RED family has been willing to grab the bull by the horns and go for the adventure, because what we gained by being together, far outweighs the bruises along the way.  The memoires we have created, the chats we have had, the laughter we have shared, the things we have seen, the ways we have grown together, the talks about God and life cannot be replaced or recreated. It is not always ROSIE, but when the ROSE blossoms, it is BEAUTIFUL.

It is not always ROSIE, but when the ROSE blossoms, it is BEAUTIFUL.

The Encounter must be yours

The Encounter must be yours

While there is important strength to be found in the community of faith and being with others that spur us on, our encounters with the Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit must be our own.

Our encounters with Jesus must be our own. A Christian will not get very far on someone else’s encounters.  This is a very important formation piece. When Jesus left this earth, He said “It is better that I Leave so the spirit can come.” (John 16:7) If Jesus was still present and visible on this earth our focus would be on Him, where He is, what He is doing, seeing Him as much as we can and trying to get contact with Him. After all, He is the Son of God, so who wouldn’t?  It is our human nature to get our inspiration from tangible things.

Jesus said that the comforter would come; a guide, a teacher who would be available to everyone, everywhere, anytime. The spirit has been described as the wind, breath, life that flows, a fire and much more.

“The wind can be blowing, but if your sail isn’t raised, you wont go far. You can be surrounded by oxygen, but if you don’t breathe, it won’t do you any good. The sap can be flowing, but if the branch is not connected to the vine, it will wither. If you don’t put wood in your hearth, a lit match won’t burn long. It is the same with the spirit. All that remains is for us to learn how to let the spirit fill, flow and glow within us.” (McLaren, PG 254)

While there is important strength to be found in the community of faith and being with others that spur us on, our encounters with the Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit must be our own.

Sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t live in the time of Jesus, and get to actually meet Him and sit at His feet and see the miracles He did, but then I realise that now I have something so beautiful. I have His spirit inside me, guiding me daily, never leaving me. I don’t have to go to a service, a meeting, a conference, trek to a far off land to meet a man who may place his hand on me and bless me. I can encounter Jesus daily, just Him, as I get up in the morning, as I walk through the day, as I lay down at night.

Formation and growth can happen at any time, when you “walk with the spirit of Jesus”. But this must be your own journey.

Sometimes the church “mis-communicated” to young and old, that programs, services, teachers and leaders are who you must come to, to encounter Jesus?  Have we created spaces, liturgy, services, practices and processes where we have come to believe that if we do, recite, or attend, then and only then, Jesus will fill us again? We must be aware that this is our human nature that needs to make a formula out of things; that desires to have 4 steps to assure an encounter. It becomes a dangerous thing when people come to church for the purpose of getting another fix, another shot to keep them going for the next week.

As I read more and more about the life of Jesus, He sensed when people were enjoying the spectacle of being with Him, and it was then that He would often retreat. Jesus did things differently all the time. Each encounter with individuals was exactly that, unique and individual?  There are some things that never change … the fruit of the spirit is always love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit guides us in what is really the Spirit of Jesus working in us and its purpose is always about transformation of a person’s life.

We ask why are so many people leaving the church? I believe it is partly because they are withering from being unconnected and have found the conduit of a service or a leader is not enough anymore. Because they can’t breath throughout the week well enough, and the oxygen they get on a Sunday morning is just not enough. Because they have not been encouraged or taught to put their own sails up and catch the daily wind of the spirit. Because their kindling has all burnt up as they are waiting from Sunday to Sunday, or from event to event, and it is just too long. In the meantime they find other things to get the fire going. If we are going to be to “Here2Stay” in life long discipleship, our encounters must be our own.

What is your “Jesus Encounter” story?

We cannot put a program, a set time a day, an age limit, or 6-week course on the Spirit of Jesus. The spirit of Jesus is not limited for some to access and share out as they will. Our encounter with Jesus must be our own. The greatest thing any program, ministry, leader or church can do is to keep drawing us closer to the truth that our encounter with Christ must be our own. The spirit is always moving, always present and we must learn how to let the spirit fill, flow and glow within us.



Mentoring 101

Mentoring 101

 It is natural to go back to what you know when you are not sure of the future. It is during these times of uncertainty that the right mentoring and coaching is vital to anyone’s life. 

 A few of Jesus disciples were back fishing only a week after Jesus had died and risen again and had even appeared to them.  It is natural to go back to what you know when you are not sure of the future and stick to what is familiar.  Our human nature will do this even when it very destructive for us. It is during these times of uncertainty that the right mentoring and coaching is vital to anyone’s life. 

So the disciples are fishing, they have gone back to what is known, what is sure, can I even say “easy”. It seems to be an acceptable thing to do, to go and get a job, provide for your family and try to make ends meet especially after three years of travelling with a miracle man are over.   It is interesting that this is even after they have seen Jesus in the upper room and they know He has risen.  I would have thought this would have been a time when they would have been the MOST excited about the future. I wonder if they were a little scared.   They were forging into new territory and were not sure what it all meant; so they went back to what was familiar.

Peter must have been carrying a big dose of guilt and shame and the prospect of facing Jesus, his master and mentor would not have been easy after all that happened only a week ago. However Jesus shows himself to be a caring, loving mentor and makes a very strong point by his deliberate actions.  He does not lecture, or lay out a guilt trip or start a condemning conversation.   It is often in what is NOT said, even if tempted to do so, that qualifies a good mentor or coach. When we ask our kids if we can have a chat with them, their first response is often, ”What have I done wrong now?” Boy, have we failed in mentoring 101!

Jesus is strong yet gentle, firm yet loving, strong on actions and symbolism, rather than put downs and “Ï told you so”. He says, “Did you catch anything for breakfast?” (John 21:5) When the response is “NO”, he doesn’t say, “Well that’s because you shouldn’t be here……what the heck do you think you are doing?”  He says, “Try the other side”. The nets are suddenly full showing them an incredible visual for the first time they meet Jesus. It shows that He will provide our basic needs if we trust him. His actions may even say, “If you want to go back to fishing, I will bless you.”  I believe he was also recreating an experience of when He first said called them to become “fishers of men”.  This was an anchor point that would ground Peter in his ultimate calling.

What visuals, actions, experiences and anchors are you creating for those you mentor that help them stay the course?   I believe God creates these all the time for his disciples and maybe our call as mentors and coaches is to bring people back to this place time and time again in various ways.

Peter knew who the stranger on the beach was. I love the fact that Peter jumps out of the boat immediately at a time when he could have felt like he couldn’t possibly face the One he had let down so badly.  Instead he runs to Him!  This challenges me as a coach and mentor, as I find often when people feel that they have messed up they try to avoid me. There is so much I need to learn from the way Jesus mentored and coached his disciples.

Jesus ever so gently, but firmly, addresses the “elephant in the room” or more correctly on the beach. Jesus chooses to address what must have been an awkward situation, head on. He does it by breaking bread with them and sharing it, just like he did the night before he died. He uses symbolism, past experiences and reminders to create an environment that allows a “safe” conversation. There is something powerful about breaking bread together. As coaches we can create rituals and moments shared over and over again that become safe places, anchor points and places of trust where difficult and constructive conversations can be had.

Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-21) There are so many layers to this conversation however the layer that challenges me most as a coach and mentor is the manner in which He makes his point without “over saying” it or heaping on the guilt.  He knows when NOT to tell a story, a parable or a life lesson but rather by His simple actions and questions, over a simple breakfast, He releases Peter to move on and leave the past behind. Through His love, Jesus empowers Peter to leave his past failures behind and move forward.  What should our focus be on as coaches and mentors? What do people hear from us?  Most of us are acutely aware of our own fears and failures, we don’t often need to hear or feel them again from someone else.   What we need is to sense the love and grace that empowers us to move through them and know that we are not alone in that process.

“If each new generation of disciples follows this example, centuries from now apprentices will still be learning the way of Jesus from mentors, so they can become mentors for the following generations”

(B. McLaren, We Make The Road By Walking, pg 219)

Jesus finished the breakfast with the call, “Follow me.” Peter immediately loses focus and asks about someone else and what is going to happen to them and Jesus replies, “Don’t you worry about them, you simply follow me”.  The call has never changed even though at times there will be uncertainty, dark nights and empty nets. Others will fall away, get distracted and stop following.  Opportunities and old habits will be tempting and we may trip over, but a coach and mentor walks with you through it all and helps anchor you to the call.  We all need this type of coach/mentor.  We all need to be this type of coach/mentor to others.


Messy Families

Messy Families

When I look at the families in the Bible I love that they don’t try to mask or hide anything. All the dysfunction, the lies, the deceit, the pain and the forgiveness and healing is all out there for all to see.

There is a new movement in faith communities around the world called ‘Messy Church”. The heartbeat of this ministry is to create a space where families of all ages can grow, learn and be together. The environment created is often messy with craft, games, food, noise, and many interactive activities for all age to engage in. It is acceptable and fun to make a MESS together. This is often a more comfortable environment to bring people into to meet than more traditional church experiences. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a BIG fan of these types of gatherings and in fact I am usually the one making most of the mess or instigating the ideas that create the MESS.

It is funny how MESS in this context is not only accepted, but expected, but when it comes to family MESS we are very good at covering it up. Let’s face it, if we are honest FAMILY LIFE can be some of the messiest places and I am not just talking about the physical mess of a home. Yet, one of the greatest challenges in living in an intergenerational faith community has been the people that come and leave because….. honestly they find it too confronting to actually be a part of a community where others might see that parts of their lives are a MESS. In a smaller faith community this is not as easy to hide as it is in a larger community. We try so hard to HIDE our struggles, our dysfunction, our imperfections and Sunday mornings has become the place where Christians can be guilty of putting their best clothes on, their best happy face and their best behaviour ensuring everyone only sees the good bits. I have watched hurting families who feel that when things get really MESSY the first place they must pull away from is their “Faith Community”. They fear what people will think or how they will be treated. What saddens me most is that we are so conditioned by this that our goals for our worship experiences have become more about creating an environment where the truth can be hidden and masked, rather than creating an environment where the MESS can be shared, restored, supported and listened to. I want to ask is this TRUE community?

When I look at the families in the Bible I love that they don’t try to mask or hide anything. All the dysfunction, the lies, the deceit, the pain and the forgiveness and healing is all out there for all to see. Have you ever thought while you are reading, “OMG, how did YOU ever get into the BIBLE?!” But then quickly say, “But I am so glad you are there, to remind me that I am not the only one who makes a MESS!”

Let’s start at Genesis. Fathers switching brides on the wedding night (Genesis 29:23), Fathers sleeping with multiple woman (Genesis 29-30), children cheating, lying and stealing from each other (Genesis 27:35), mothers favouring one child over another and scheming for them to take a something that is not theirs (Genesis 27: 13), wife’s deceiving husbands (Genesis 27:42-46), brothers plotting to kill their brother (Genesis 37:18), husbands pretending they are not married so they protect themselves from being killed (Genesis 12:11-20), Generations repeating the same hurtful behaviour over and over again and this is just the chosen ones, God’s people destined to fulfil God’s purposes here on earth. This is not the latest Hollywood sitcom, this is the BIBLE. This is real and this MESSY! You don’t have to scrape very deep to know that the same pain and hurt is riddled within families but we have just become very good at hiding it.

So you may be wondering is there a happy ending to this? Where are you going with this? Well, for me there is so much comfort in knowing that from the beginning of time people have always made MESSY mistakes and from the beginning of time families have been MESSY. Yes, I do find comfort in the fact that there is no PERFECT family. But I find even greater comfort in the fact that from the beginning of time God has always had a plan. That He uses MESSY families in mighty ways and that it is often IN the MESS that HE is glorified and HIS purposes are fulfilled.

Why do we continue to hide and mask the MESS?

So my big question is why do we continue to hide and mask the MESS? Why do we run from God and Christian community when the MESS hits? Why do only parents who are doing OK go to parenting seminars and not the ones that could really do with some support? Why, when we feel like a MESS do we feel we have to put on a happy face and pretend that everything is OK? When I feel like a MESS as parent, why do I retreat and think that I can’t be in ministry if I can’t get my own family matters correct? If this was the TRUTH then ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, JOSEPH, DAVID and the list goes on……wouldn’t deserve to be used by God either!

Maybe we need to get MESSIER, more REAL, and more HONEST. Maybe then the world would see my God who gives me daily strength to serve and follow Him and to be the kind of parent, wife, daughter, aunty and friend He desires me to be. They will see that He is one that can walk with them too, EVEN IN THE MESS.