Misery Likes Company

death-valley-1303573_960_720Misery likes company
doesn’t want to be alone,
it drags you down into the hole,
dries you up right to the bone.

It takes away your sweetness
and your family you will rob.
You’ll lie and steal for the vice,
Your word won’t be worth a bob.

You’ll look for love and not find it,
Misery thrives on defeat.
Don’t look for love in the drugs,
you’ll pay dearly for its keep.

Addiction will cost you more,
than the dollars you’re willing to pay.
Your self worth, your friends & family gone,
now that misery has you enslaved.

By Sandra Ciminelli.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There are 24 hour Emergency counselling services

Search for a counsellor near you at the Australian Counselling Association:  http://www.theaca.net.au/

24 Hour Emergency Counselling Services

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

Men’s Line Australia on 1300 789 978

The Old Man’s Wisdom

Some things that our parents say to us stick. Their words become our inner voice.

dad-on-left

Watch your step is what my father said,
being a person of your word’s a must
Once your credibility’s lost you’re toast,
& what you say, others will distrust.

I learnt a lot from my old man
who valued others before him
He gave me an understanding
that beauty lays within.

Unless you’re as sweet as honey
flowing with love as if on tap
there’s no amount of money
that can sweeten the sour sap.

By Sandra C.

Image:  My father on the left with his brother in Uruguay.

Thanks for always being there!

Faith – Even The Intelligent Need Hope

No matter how intelligent or strong a person is, faith and hope will carry them through the lowest points in life.

maldives-850508_1280My mother grew up as a Christian attending churches in South America.  She prayed to God every morning and Every night for all of us. My father was and had always been an atheist believing that we die and that’s it, there’s no afterlife.  He was a good honest and hard working man, we didn’t pray or talk about God in the house.  I’ve heard him say religion is for who live in the dark ages and that good intelligent people don’t have a need for a God.  While mum believed that no matter how intelligent a person is that faith will carry them through their lowest points in life filling them with hope.

In Australia the only connection to Christianity my non-English speaking mother had was through a letter sent by a nun (which I interpreted) from a compulsory scripture class at my school.  That letter was an invitation to all 8 and 9 year old children to take part in their first Holy Communion which was something like a dedication of our purity to Christ.  Not wanting to be left out I agreed to go through with it. So mum put her signature on the permission slip.

Although mum wasn’t a Catholic, she thought that any connection with God was better than none.  Communion practice began and so did my interest in learning more about Christ.  Eventually I got to dress like a bride in a ceremony.   Not understanding exactly what it was all about at the time, I really enjoyed being dolled up for the occasion.

Growing Faith

Even though I believed the bible story of Jesus’ birth, life and death on the cross as an innocent holy man, I had no idea who he really was.   I had no relationship with Christ and prayed to a statue in my room that glowed in the dark of the Virgin Mary.

Years later as an adult, I learned about Grace and Holiness.

I asked God in prayer to lead me to himself.  Soon after my sister came to my door inviting me to attend a Pentecostal church with her.   Thinking that this could be an answer to my prayer or just a really weird experience I went along.  It turns out that both assumptions were correct!

The Pentecostal church was a little building tucked away in the middle of suburbia with only a small number of people in the congregation. Immediately blown away by what I didn’t see due to the absence of statues of Mary holding baby Jesus, no huge cross with a dead crucified Christ on it, no paintings on the walls or decorations to speak of as such, I thought, “what a weird church this is!”.  But I also understood that a church should be a house of prayer.  Taking my surroundings in I quickly noticed there was a room full of chairs with people sitting in them, a microphone, musical instruments, speakers and a pastor dressed in ordinary clothes holding an open bible as he read passages to the audience straight out of it.  He spoke about loving one another like brothers and sisters in the purest sense of the word.  Accustomed to rituals that I didn’t understand, this was certainly different but it all made sense.  It seemed real.

At one time the pastor read the bible quoting Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life and nobody goes to the father except through me.”

As I looked around there were families with happy faces and arms raised offering  prayers to God.  That started me thinking about what the early church might have been like.  During the service prayers were said from the heart that weren’t scripted out of a book.  It dawned on me that we had a real God and that we needed to be real with Him.   Discovering there’s nothing I could ever hide from God and I started feeling transparent but also felt empowered.  I learnt about Salvation and who I am in Christ.  Trusting my instinct that God wanted me there, I said a prayer out loud and invited Jesus into my life and into my heart.  Immediately there was peace and joy present and a burden was lifted off my shoulders. It was tangible.

Confession was replaced by real repentance of sin.  My prayer comes right from the heart and I now believe in the liberating power of forgiveness, repentance and loving others as God loves us with the desire to do God’s will in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my daily life.  That’s what salvation is to me and the reason Jesus died so that we can be reconciled to God through his sacrifice on the cross.

The Greatest Commandment Mark 12: 28-30
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognising that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

Jesus answered, “The foremost is,  Hear oh Israel! The Lord our God is the one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.   The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

If you believe, Pray, acknowledge your sins and repent.  Ask him to cleanse you and forgive you. Confess to God that you believe in what Jesus did on the cross for you and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth.  Read your bible, get to know God and His word in order to avoid making the wrong choices for your spiritual walk with Christ.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus, watch a full movie here on the Life of Jesus from the book of John as written in the Bible.

FULL MOVIE – Gospel of John – The life of Jesus.

How I quit Smoking

Outside hidden from view I lit my first cigarette after stealing one from my mum’s packet. I was only 12 years old at the time.  At 18 years of age I had a job at a local supermarket and openly smoked around my parents.  My father, a reformed smoker was always telling me that my decision to take up smoking was going to be taxing on my health. 

There were times where I didn’t feel right smoking but, quickly got rid of those thoughts by telling myself that I will be fine.   I carried an attitude against anti-smoking campaigns justifying my habit so that I could carry on smoking without the guilt.   Having conflicting thoughts obviously meant that I was in denial. 

So I began a series of failed attempts. The longest I’d gone without a smoke was 12 months!  That in itself was quite an achievement.

Celebrating a year of not smoking

Ironically, after trying to quit a handful of times, success was celebrated proudly and stupidly by lighting one up.  I was hooked with the first drawback.

Lesson Learnt – There’s no such thing as ‘visiting’ an addiction or ‘entertaining’ one!  I told myself that this can’t happen again.  I felt like such a failure.

The 12 Steps to Freedom

A local church pastor announced that he’ll be running a Christian 12 step type of program for all sorts of addictions.   After many failed attempts to quit, I just thought, “Why not? It couldn’t hurt to try.” 

So there I was with many people who had various hard core addictions thinking mine wasn’t that bad in comparison.  Suddenly the realisation hit, we were all addicted to drugs and I was no different.  So I sat back in my chair listening attentively to what the pastor had to say. 

One evening, while outside on a break I noticed the pastor was standing beside me as I was lighting one up.  Contemplating about quitting this program, I defiantly talked about how enjoyable smoking was.  He stood looking at me right in the eyes and told me that I was full of sh*t.  Of course I was, otherwise what was I doing there? 

Back at home that night I realised that this pastor loved me enough to hit me with truth when I needed it.  He saw right through me.   If there was one thing that I understood it was tough love which is the kind of love that family interventions come from.  While they might seem mean and intrusive they actually work if done right.  This particular pastor and his wife had a huge heart for the hurting and the lost. 

That night while researching the internet for a quit smoking site, I made a decision that when I found one to allow the information to sink in as truth.  Reading the information purposely over and over again to become a recorded message that I wouldn’t forget, I continued with the 12 step program unto completion.   

One morning I just didn’t feel the need to have a smoke with my coffee and haven’t smoked since.  Yes cold turkey! It’s now been 14 years since I gained freedom from slavery.  I know that sounds harsh but lets face it, we are subject to our addictions.

To gain control over your life you simply have to take courage, accept harsh realities, pray and take action.  Don’t just sit there, do something!

ReGen’s 12 Step program’s similarity to Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program.

  1. We admit our powerless over our addictions and that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. We believe that God has the power that can restore us to sanity.
  3. We decide to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
  4. Make a fearless, searching moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Repent of our wrong doings and tell another person.
  6. Ask God to take away our character flaws to strengthen us.
  7. Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of everyone we’ve hurt and be willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Attempt to make direct amends with them except if it were to hurt them or anyone else.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory promptly admitting where we are wrong.
  11. Pray daily for God’s will for our lives and for the power to carry it out.
  12. Spread the message and teach others about the Hope & Freedom that God offers through the message of Salvation.

Facing the truth

My personal battle wasn’t about beating a smoking habit.  It was learning that by being totally honest with myself I was respecting myself.    Love yourself enough to be honest.  The truth only liberates us.  No matter what’s happened to you in your past.  Don’t side with the world.  God loves you so much that he thinks that you’re to die for!

Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Wisdom and truth go hand in hand & lies have no part of it.

It doesn’t matter how many attempts you make at quitting.  The main thing is to keep trying till you get there! When is the best time to quit?  Mornings are easier to start off on a clean slate.

Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.

Lance Armstrong

If you’re having problems quitting talk to your doctor about it or visit the Australian Government website: www.Quitnow.gov.au or call 137 848

When we give denial power it only serves to keep us bound in a non-rewarding cycle of self abuse. 

Image courtesy of: www.rgbstock.com /xymonau

Growing up in Sydney’s West in the 70’s

bikes

Photo: Here I am on my sisters red bike and she’s on my blue Malvern Star in the middle with our cousins on their bikes at Stanwell Park NSW.

My parents decided that we needed a change from the constantly flooding townhouse they rented in Granville.  Every time it rained our bottom floor became inundated in a torrent of water.  We were all relieved and excited about the move.  Although looking back, it was a bit of fun swimming in that dirty water that ran from our flooded small courtyard out the back, through the house gushing out the front door and spilling us kids out onto the footpath.

So in 1973 we packed all our gear and moved to Fairfield in Sydney’s West.  I was 9, my sister Vivian was 8 and Patricia was almost 3 years old.

There were about 10 units in our apartment block with people from all different nationalities and walks of life residing in them.  Many families lived there, so there was never a shortage of people to hang out with.  The twin set of units across the concrete driveway with their garages and overhanging balconies faced each other allowing us to communicate & socialise with the neighbours without leaving our unit.

Life was a social affair most days in Smart Street as the flats we lived in weren’t the only ones on our block.  Italians, Assyrians, Maltese, South Americans (like us); Greeks, Iraqis and Yugoslavians (as they were known at the time) populated the area amongst a handful of Aussies.

The only Aussie that I actually remember well on that block in Smart Street, Fairfield was Mrs. Stone who everyone knew as the delightful and friendly old lady who lived in an old shack up the road with her Shih Tzu.  She took daily walks with her little dog allowing everyone to pat him. Her sweetness brings a smile to my face to this very day.

Every morning on the way to school we’d pass the local shop that was metres from the crossing to the public school we attended.  Wonderful and friendly people have come and gone throughout our lives there.  Mr. Zoric was one of them.  He was our local shop owner whose little tuck shop was across the road from the school on my side of the road.  He sold, milk, bread, coke, some grocery items, ice cream, chocolate and lollies.  While he was very popular with everyone in the neighbourhood, the kids just loved him. He was known mainly for his kindness and his huge bright and cheerful personality.  Back then we hardly got any pocket money and I remember the excitement of taking the empty glass bottles of coke for a refund of 10 cents to spend on lollies.  That was a lot of money back then!

Playing outdoors was a way of life for us kids. After school the children were everywhere riding their bikes, playing handball, hide and seek, playing elastics, doing handstands, cartwheels and skipping.   When we didn’t know what to do we improvised and enjoyed life.  We didn’t have the technology that kids have now.  We learned how to be imaginative and creative making things with our hands or making up games.

Our New Bikes

For Christmas that year we all got bikes.  Vivian’s was a new orange bike.  Mine was a dark blue Malvern Star Dragster with gears, long seat and a sissy bar. I had been asking my father for that bike for ages and was over the moon with it.  It was the latest rage with the kids, it was beautiful and I couldn’t believe it was mine!

One morning my father discovered that our garage was broken into. The bikes were missing and I remember that I was heartbroken.  That bike was the only thing I ever really wanted.   Dad assured us that everything will be alright and that his insurance will replace our bikes.  But one day before our bikes could be replaced, I was visiting a friend in a neighbouring apartment building when I saw two boys downstairs sanding down bike frames that had been sprayed black.  Immediately I knew that our bikes had been stolen by these two Assyrian boys who didn’t have bikes of their own and I was angry and felt sorry for them at the same time, knowing that mum was poor and had 4 kids to look after.  Telling my father about it brought out my emotions.  He assured me that even without the bikes that we adored, we are still better off than those two boys because we have each other.  He made me see that material things are replaceable but people aren’t.  I had to let it go and decided to forgive them, though it took a while.

We never did get the same bikes back.  Although I was grateful to have a bike to ride, the replacement bike was a bit too sissy for this tom boy.  It was white with reddish-pink love hearts stickers.

Years later when I became a Christian I realised that my earthly dad was reflecting my heavenly father by choosing mercy over bitterness and revenge.  In Matthew 9:13 God says, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

I love you dad!  You always taught us to be content with life itself and that the most important thing in life is to love the people we share it with.  Because of it we have a very close and tightly knit family unit that loves each other dearly.

 

 

Childhood memories coming back to teach me.

girl

As a child while I played with other children as kids do, I learnt some valuable life lessons.  I’m still learning from those moments that I didn’t give a second thought to.

Like that time when I was five years of age sitting on an old metal see-saw (teeter totter for Americans) that my father bought around and put together in grandma’s courtyard.  While we were rocking up and down the metal handle that I was holding onto in order to keep my balance came off in my hands.  I remember being surprised and upset because as we were rocking I nearly lost my balance and nearly fall off.  Dad had noticed so he stopped rocking us while holding onto the boy. I became upset and pegged the handle at the floor but to my horror I clocked the kid on the head. I was mortified. Dad was slowly becoming furious as he consoled the boy.  When the other kid calmed down I was disciplined.

Even though I didn’t mean to hurt the child, the fact remains, I did.  

In the same way, we can aim words at people with our good intentions in the hope that they’ll be received in the way we intend them to.  But the truth is that we don’t really know where our careless words will land or how those words will be received.  Ignorance is no excuse.  We need to watch what we say by really giving thought to the weight of the words before we speak them.  They have the power to build someone up or hurt them.  It’s our responsibility is to abide by the social adults code of behaviour, “hurt no-one”.

Matthew 12:37    New King James Version (NKJV)

37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Image courtesy of: http://www.rgbstock.com / lusi

Is Christianity a Cop Out?

 

To understand Christianity we need to take a good look at the instructions that Jesus gave his followers.  Christianity has to be the most difficult faith to follow because it requires absolute trust in the New Testament as Jesus taught in the Word of God as the life blood of our beliefs.   Jesus challenged society and the lives of people around him even unto the way they thought about food and many more things.  He bought a lot of good change about that set people free from religious rituals & slavery to sin.  God wants our hearts to be full of HIS love and HIS light.   To know HIM is to love HIM.

Keep in mind that Christians aren’t perfect but they follow someone who is!

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT I’VE HEARD

  • Christianity is a cop out.

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. ”   Matthew 5:38-39

Turning the other cheek has to be the most difficult of all teachings to follow.

What no revenge? Most people would fight back to the best of their ability to make sure they got a piece of the other person.  A Christian however is to consider even a thief or a violent person as a child of God and love him or her as God Himself does.

  • Christians live in fear of punishment.

Christians live by their convictions and judge themselves and their lives according to Jesus’ instructions and live to please God.  They live in reverence of an awesome God.

Jesus gave clear instructions on how to love God and Man.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.   Matthew 22:37-38

Aiming to be like Jesus is to follow God as he wants us to in obedience and reverence as we seek to know him more.   We don’t do it alone as we have the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  • God doesn’t answer prayer

Christians pray in faith believing that God is not only able to answer prayer but willing to answer them.   God isn’t under obligation to answer yes to every prayer request.  He answers with a yes, no or wait.  Everything in HIS perfect timing.

Bible Verses about Prayer

James 4:3  “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

John 15:7  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Hebrews 11:6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Many more reasons to pray: http://www.openbible.info/topics/pray_without_ceasing

Christianity is being constantly watchful, prayerful, faithful and certainly a challenge requiring a lot of hard work and self discipline.  A cop out would seem to be an escape and lot easier wouldn’t it?