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contents... autumn twenty-sixteen
06 FAITH Walking by Faith and Not by Sight
11 DEVOTIONAL A Place Called Beautiful
16 GOD CONVERSATIONS The Pain of Social Infertility
08 A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE The Missional Power of Generosity
12 TRANSFORMED Angel Wings
18 THANKFULNESS Living Well: Elka Whalan
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ABN 58 090 450 285 CEO Matt Danswan Editor Nicole Danswan Advertising Australia P: 02 9007 5375 Advertising New Zealand P: 09 281 4896 Advertising Manager Ray Curle | email@example.com Correspondence Australia PO Box 1321 Mona Vale NSW 1661 P: 02 9007 5376 W: www.christianwomanmag.com Correspondence New Zealand PO Box 318 334, West Harbour, Auckland 0661 Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, copyright-1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society.
20 TRUE STORY From Heroin to Christ 22 PARENTING How to Support a Young Person who is Self-Harming
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WALKING BY FAITH
NOT BY SIGHT
ave you ever tried to walk somewhere blindfolded? It’s a pretty awkward experience. It’s disorientating and uncomfortable. I personally hate it! I’m a total control freak by nature and struggle with the unknown (big time)! Unfortunately, life is often like that and the Christian walk is marked by steps of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse. This year my husband and I took our own “step of faith” and left our “nest”. We said goodbye to a church we had been a part of and pastored in for nearly a decade. We left all natural family, close friends and every sense of comfort and stability. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it has been one of the most uncomfortable and isolating experiences of my life thus far. I find myself on a roller coast of 6 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
emotions - grieving over the loss of deep friendships, yearning for the familiarity of family (both Church and natural) and aching for that sense of belonging I once took for granted. My conviction has been tested and, at times, my resolved weakened. I find myself asking questions I never thought I would. But through this journey of complete surrender I’ve had moments with Jesus that have been like no other. I recall praying one day, kind of trying to psych myself up I guess. “Don’t worry Sabrina, you’ve got this. It’s going to be great. You can do it. Who needs friends? Or family? Who needs to know their future and where there kids might grow up? Again I uttered the words to myself, YOU’VE GOT THIS.” Only to be interrupted by a still small voice.
“No you don’t”. “Huh”? I paused a little confused at the response I felt. The voice went on, “Sabrina, you don’t have this. I have you.” Wow... Silence. Tears. Lots of tears. And He continued. “You don’t have anything, I’ve got you! I’ve got your family! And your kids! I’ve got your dreams! Your church, your future! So let me be God. Some of you need to hear that today. He has got you. He sees you. He has not left you wandering. Be still and hear His voice. Let this verse resonate with your soul. “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart, rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
Faith. So here I am, out of the boat, in the deep unknown. A complete blank page seeking God for the next step. FEELING A LITTLE BLIND, A LITTLE DISORIENTATED, A LITTLE DESPERATE FOR SOME DETAILS.
and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with awe and wonder and avoid everything that’s wrong.” - Proverbs 3:5-6. So here I am, out of the boat, in the deep unknown. A complete blank page seeking God for the next step. Feeling a little blind, a little disori-
entated, a little desperate for some details. But every time my emotions overwhelm me and I feel the sting of isolation, I am reminded that He didn’t call me here to leave. He doesn’t say step out, to watch us sink. I don’t need all the details, He is the architect of my destiny. I don’t need to be strong, He is the rock on which I stand. I don’t need to fear, He has never let me down and He won’t start now. I don’t need to see, I just need to hold on to Him as he continues to
lead me in peace. I may feel blind, but my God can definitely see. CW
Sabrina Peters is a busy mother of two, Youth Pastor and avid writer. Visit her website for more pearls of wisdom. virgindiaries.com.au
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The Missional Power of
8 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
A different perspective.
f I were to ask you, “How much does the Bible talk on the subject of generosity,” what would your answer be? Just a little, a moderate amount, or a lot? If you went with either of those first two options, you’d be way off the mark. In fact, there are more verses on generosity, than on faith, hope and love combined. And there’s a reason for that: In the beginning … what? Well, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and everything in between, and then … then He gave it all away. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31) A pretty generous act, wouldn’t you agree? It turns out that generosity is in the very nature of God – more so than we may think. We of course think of Him as a loving God, but how often
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A different perspective.
do we ever stop to think of Him as a generous God. The God who wants to bless us? Blessed to Be a Blessing To Abraham, the father of God’s chosen people, the Lord said: I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2) God’s intention has always been that His blessing in your life, should become a blessing in the lives of the people around you. If God is indeed the God of love, then as we watch Him in action, we discover that His generosity is in fact His love in action. I was listening to a message from the pastor of my church recently, and he said something quite profound. He said
doesn’t. But as my pastor explained to us the other day, the principle of reaping as you sow, involves multiplication. Sow one kernel of corn, and you will reap thousands. But at the time of planting, it’s very much an act of faith. Yes, generosity definitely involves faith. And it involves hope too, because there is always a lag time between sowing and reaping. When the farmer plants the corn in the dirt, there’s an agonising period where nothing happens. And then, when finally the little seedling sprouts, there are so many things that can go wrong between that green shoot, and the delivery of many cobs of corn. Yes, generosity definitely involves hope. Sowing through a generous act of giving towards someone who doesn’t deserve it, someone who hasn’t earned it,
you for it. How many Christians think that by telling the world how far it’s strayed from God, they will bring people back to Him? When all along, a simple act of generosity will speak of Christ’s love more powerfully than anything else! There is a reason that generosity connects the love of God so powerfully with so many people. And that reason, is this. God is a generous God. It is in His nature to bless generously. And each sinner on this earth – you and me included – has been created in God’s image. Therefore, a simple act of generosity from us to someone who doesn’t know the love of Christ yet, is indeed an act of deep calling unto deep. It’s something
Sowing through a generous act of giving towards someone who doesn’t deserve it, someone who hasn’t earned it, someone who really deserves your scorn in fact, is a great act of love.
that: you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. Generosity of giving, as things turn out, is one of the powerful ways that God expresses His love. It makes sense when you think of it that way, doesn’t it? These Three Things Remain And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13) It seems to me that generosity is a combination of these three. The old mathematician in me wants to postulate that: Generosity = Faith + Hope + Love Because generosity always involves faith. Generosity is like planting a seed and hoping that something will grow. Sometimes it does and sometimes it 10 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
someone who really deserves your scorn in fact, is a great act of love. That’s what the greatest act of love in all of history was all about. The Cross of Christ. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7,8) Yes, generosity definitely involves love. Generosity is Mission How many Christians think that “mission” is beating somebody over the head with their Bible? As though somehow you can shove the truth down their throat and expect them to thank
that the Holy Spirit uses in such power to speak His truth in a way that you and I never could. Yep. Anyway you look at it … generosity is mission. The question for you and me is … So what ya goin’ to do about it?
Berni Dymet is the CEO of the global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week his radio and television broadcasts are heard by millions of people in 160 countries around the world. To obtain your FREE copy of his latest booklet, visit christianityworks.com.
t’s possible to miss it you know. It is possible to miss that still small voice calling you to a different place. It’s possible to get trapped in the voices in our head, and miss the voice that calls us to a place called beautiful. There are crazies running inside my head, demanding ones, screaming ones, condemning ones, hurt ones, tired ones, betrayed ones, unbelieving ones, wounded ones. There are crazies running through everyone’s head. They love to run, they love to run so fast they leave you spinning, your head turning so quick, that you can’t hear, that you don’t stop to hear, that you fail to hear. The crazies always run, for they have no place to rest. They are looking for a resting place, to do the big journey from the head to the heart and take rest in the chambers of a human heart. To burrow in so deep that we mistake them for who we are, we think they are part of who we are. But, my heart is no home for the crazies. My heart is reserved. It is an enclosed space, it is reserved for the one and the only. For the giver of life, the fountain of life, the creator, the lover of my soul. He rests in the chambers of my heart. He fills the chambers of my heart. He stretches, refurnishes, builds and renovates the chambers of my heart. He expands the chambers of my human heart. I am His workmanship and my heart is His workshop. And from the chambers of my heart, I hear His voice, Its tone is deep, eternal, beautiful, unique, ever creating, ever believing, ever loving. It pierces through the crazies. The tone of my beloved. He calls me to the garden. He takes me to a place called beauty. It smells of life, and colour and growth. At its heart is a tree, a tree called life, a wooden rugged cross, pinned hard with nails, now blooming with life, colour, energy, hope and radiance. I lean hard against the tree called life, and it’s nails and it’s beauty pierce me all at once. Garden dwellers can’t avoid this tree. Embrace it and it will make a garden of your very soul. Pierced and flourishing. Take me to a place called beautiful, and let every wound become wonder at the foot of Your tree. CW
THERE IS A GARDEN
When days are harsh, and reality bites, When the landscape is bleak, and we lose sight, When the towers of this earth loom tall, And the room in our soul seems very small. There is a garden the Lord woos us in, There is a garden where we see and swim. There is a garden that restores our soul, There is a garden that makes us whole. There is a garden where wrong meets right, There is a garden that gives new sight, There is a garden, to which you tend, There is a garden where you mend, The fragments of our broken heart, The places abandoned, deep and dark. The garden where our soul meets you, The garden that makes all things new. When the world is spinning, Trying to turn our head. We travel to the garden instead. What was lost, now is found, In your garden, life abounds.
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Janet Balcombe catches up with Hillary Kieft, the woman behind Hillaryâ€™s Law
12 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
hen I met Hillary Kieft for the first time in Napier earlier this year I knew I had just met a very special woman even though I knew nothing about her. I was right. In spite of having endured more than her fair share of hell and heartbreak, she boldly goes where angels fear to tread with a lion’s share of the heart of God and His courage. In 1972 Hillary was born in Masterton and raised in Clinton, Otago, the fourth of seven children. Her dad was a shearer and her mum was constantly sick as far back as Hillary can remember. Hillary’s childhood played out on the stage of parties, domestic violence and further blackened by sexual abuse due to her mother’s affiliation with a local bike gang. During mothers’ endless hospital visits the kids were farmed out from pillar to post. From age 8 Hillary began to live in fear when a boarder in their home bribed her with lollies and raped her every night when her parent’s were away. It went on for years. Hillary’s heart switched off and she just sat looking blankly at the world. Her ability to learn also switched off and she partied and did drugs through her teenage years to cope. She left school barely able to read or write. Hillary loved to cook and at the tender age of 15 she moved to Brisbane to work as a chef. By 16 she had moved to Muttaburra, North of Queensland to cook for a shearing gang and met Peter, the love of her life. Their relationship was rocky. Drugs and alcohol were a foundational part of their daily lives. After Hillary was raped by a shearer, she returned to New Zealand with Peter and they continued the shearing life here. After a while they split and Hillary found herself pregnant, alone, and very scared. She was only 16. She moved back to her brothers in Brisbane and had an abortion after finding herself still unable to deal with the pregnancy. She didn’t think much of it at the time but once it was done she was wracked with so much grief she couldn’t stop crying. It was the worst day of her life. She realised, too late, she had just killed her own child. The next day she packed up and moved back to Muttaburra into a renovated old chapel with some others. She threw herself back into work but couldn’t outrun the grief. The first night in the chapel a foul presence came into her room and gripped her with incredible fear. She ran from the thick, smothering blackness to the neighbours, screaming. Peter and Hillary crossed paths again and fell back into their old ways. Work hard; play harder. She remembers hearing stories of people hearing God but it didn’t mean anything to her. She had never known God or gone to church. When Hillary fell pregnant they moved back to New Zealand. They raised their family with many struggles on the way and ended up working on Peter’s uncle’s dairy farm. Depression dogged Hillary constantly. In 1998 Hillary gave her heart to Jesus then was baptised in the Holy Spirit at a meeting in Hawera. But the black dog seemed to bite down harder after she got saved and she was helpless in the grasp of the demonic for years. Depression, gambling and drinking gripped her and she was raped again after someone Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 13
Depression, self-harm and suicide attempts escalated until one day they found her hanging in the garage. They put two and two together that she had had an abortion that day the health nurse had dropped her off to deal with the aftermath of the abortion alone. Today, at age 22, Hillary’s daughter is still struggling.
spiked her drink. When she ended up in a mental ward God really began to deal with her life. Over the last seven years Hillary has finally, truly come to know healing, forgiveness and a true relationship with the living Christ. Hillary and Peter now own the wonderful Well Café in Stratford, Taranaki. The aim of the business is to help fund mission projects the family is involved in through their church, the Stratford Baptist Church. However the war continues, although on a different battlefield. One afternoon their daughter didn’t come home on the school bus. Later, a local health nurse dropped her off, having taken her without her parent’s knowledge during school hours to a ‘counselling appointment’. So Hillary and Peter had no idea why their daughter began to plummet downhill so fast. Depression, self-harm and suicide attempts escalated until one day they found her hanging in the garage. They put two and two together that she had had an abortion that day the health nurse had dropped her off to deal with the aftermath of the abortion alone. Today, at age 22, Hillary’s daughter is still struggling.
Hillary has been campaigning since 2015 against the law which removes parental consent from the process of girls under the age of 16 having school-assisted abortions. On 26 May, 2015 Hillary presented her family’s petition (aka Hillary’s Law) to the parliamentary select-committee which requests new legislation be passed to the effect that a parent of a girl under the age of 16 years: 1. Has the right to know if that girl has a pregnancy confirmed, before she is referred for any resulting medical procedure; and 2. That any consent sought for the medical procedure be fully informed as to procedure, possible repercussions and after-effects. Apart from the Catholic Church, the body of Christ has been largely silent on this issue. CW Evil prospers when good men do nothing - John Philpot Curran
For more info or to support Hillary, visit hillaryslaw.org.nz If you need help or support regarding issues raised by reading this article, you can find help on Hillary’s website. Hillary is also on Facebook.
14 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
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The Pain of Social Infertility There may not have been a cure for the condition I was experiencing, but at least there was a label - something that gave it the gravitas it deserved. Now my pain had a name. Tania Harris
here was a couple in our church who were barren. I don’t know the medical reasons for it - I just remember watching their painful struggle to conceive. I remember how as a church we rallied around them; how we stood with them as they responded to altarcall after altar-call praying for a miracle. Every time another round of IVF failed, we built them up with our words and prayers of encouragement. Every time another woman in our church gave birth, we embraced them with our love. The journey was long and distressing. To this day I don’t think they ever had children. They’re not alone of course. Experts tell us here in Australia that one in six 16 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
couples experience fertility problems. In spite of the reality, most of us grow up expecting that one day we’ll be parents. It’s a God-given instinct to reproduce after our own kind. So when what seems the most natural thing in the world is denied us, it’s shocking. It feels deeply unjust - almost deviant. Recently a friend opened up to me about her own journey through infertility. Her and her husband were on their second round of IVF after trying for five years to conceive naturally. With tears in her eyes, she shared her rollercoaster ride of hope and loss. How they’d conceived, then miscarried, conceived then miscarried again. Now they were
waiting another lengthy period before they could try again. I listened with as much empathy as I could. Then I said; “I know how you feel.” In retrospect I wondered if I should have said that. After all I’ve never been pronounced medically unable to conceive. I don’t have a problem with my uterus or a partner with a low sperm count. I’ve never been through a round of IVF. Yet I still knew how she felt, because I’m infertile too. But my infertility is different. My inability to have a child comes under a different label. The type of barrenness I’ve experienced came
God Conversations. because the right man never came along at the right time.
an array of lace doilies and whose baby names were long picked out. I grew up practising motherhood with an extensive collection of dolls, insisting that my prized favourite only ever be called a ‘baby’ by my annoyed siblings. My goal was to have at least four kids, maybe five. Mum was good at it and so would I be. There were no plans for a career - it was all set - with no back-up plan if it didn’t happen. And then it didn’t happen. My 20s passed with a few prospects. Then the 30s with one or two more, but now in my 40s, most of my male peers prefer a fertile 30 year old and with the current ‘man drought’, they can easily get them. It wasn’t just the numbers. I had whittled down my prospects in seeking a partner who was as passionate about serving the kingdom as I was. Today that choice has left me with an unrealised dream, an ache that still wakes me in the middle of
none, the single woman today may need to come to a place of acceptance about the status she finds herself in, believing The Value of a Label instead that God can give the grace When I first heard the phrase ‘social needed to live with a thorn in her flesh (2 infertility’, it filled me with a profound Corinthians 12:7-10). sense of relief - like the feeling you get But what we can do is speak about when your doctor finally gives you the it. We can bring the concept of social diagnosis for a long-term illness. There infertility to the surface and give it the may not have been an easy cure for the recognition it needs. When the pain condition I was suffering, but at least is unseen, it is difficult to grieve. Like there was a label - something that gave a death without a gravestone, there’s it the gravitas it deserved. Now my pain nothing to mark it. There’s no warm had a name. condolences after a failed hormonal But what exactly do we mean by treatment. No prayers of intercession ‘social infertility’? The term has been for a doctor’s appointment. Not even coined relatively recently by the IVF a partner to share the grief with in industry to attribute infertility to the moments of vulnerability. It’s often felt lack of a male partner during the alone, day after day, silently gnawing reproductive years. Though I’ve found away at a woman’s heart. it a helpful term, some say it’s not only As the church we’re called to carry ugly and degrading, it’s also offensive to each other’s burdens and in this way those who are truly infertile and can’t do fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). anything about it. To bear them of course, we Some of course, are must first recognise them. When the pain is unseen, it is difficult doing something about For many, the pain of being to grieve. Like a death without a it. IVF clinics in major unable to bear a child due cities of Australia recently to the absence of a partner gravestone, there’s nothing to mark it. reported a 10 per cent is felt just as deeply as those jump in the use of donor who are physically unable to sperm to conceive a child. Although the night and flares up at baby showers. bear them.2 Like the physically infertile lesbian couples account for some of the Now I will never have a child of my own. woman, the socially infertile woman increase, doctors say the real growth is Don’t get me wrong; I love my life. needs to feel the love and grace of those among older single heterosexual women. God has blessed me incredibly and I who care enough to understand. She For the single woman who has don’t regret any one of my choices. But needs others to stand with her as she convictions about raising a family the pain is real and it never goes away. I takes her grief to God. CW with two parents, that leaves very few know I will carry it with me for the rest options - if any at all. A researcher in of my life. the UK recently concluded that given the current church population, the only Death without a Gravestone choice for many Christian women today At this point there’s no real cure for singles was singleness or marriage to a non- like me. There’s no medical technology 2 A 2012 study in the UK, The Modern Motherhood Report for Red Magazine, Christian1. But what about those who that promises relief for the partner-less found that more than half want to serve God with their partner and and adoption is not usually an option for 54% of motherless women have a baby? a lone parent. Like the married woman said emotional infertility, believing for a miracle child yet receiving was as bad as being medically infertile. Growing Up with the Dream Some of my friends are childless and Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker and the founder of God perfectly okay with it. I’m not one of Conversations, a ministry that equips people to recognise God’s them. I’m the one who had the ‘mostvoice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, Tania’s ministry is known for its all-age appeal, wisdom, and ‘Godlikely-to-be-married-first’ tag at school; stories’. She speaks to groups of all ages and denominations and is a popular voice the one with the glory box packed with on Australian and New Zealand radio. Currently Tania is completing her Doctorate in Ministry researching peoples’ experiences hearing God’s voice. When not 1 http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ ministering, she is most likely to be found kayaking on Sydney Harbour or climbing the.choice.for.many.christian.women.singlea tall mountain and skiing down it! Tania is an ordained minister with the Australian ness.or.marry.a.non.christian/47496.htm Christian Churches. Hillsong is her church home in Sydney, Australia. accessed, 6 February 2015
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lka Whalan is just as famous for her vibrant personality and positive attitude as she is for her success in the pool. Elka represented Australia in the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games, reaching World Number 1 in her freestyle events. These days, she’s brightening our tv screens, hosting Channel 7’s ‘Live Well’ program and until recently, as one of ‘Kochie’s Angels’ on Sunrise. She’s also an Ambassador for the National Day of Thanks. Elka is happiest spending a day at home with her 3 children and hubby, (former 4 time water polo Olympian) Thomas Whalan. I caught up with her recently to talk about life, faith and gratitude. Tell us about your faith journey. I was brought up in Sunday school along with my siblings. My mother is actually Jewish so we learnt both Christian and Jewish views. We had and still have wonderful talks whenever we choose to bring it up and both my parents never forced us into our beliefs. I loved Sunday School and I immediately felt a spiritual calling to God but when school sport, nippers and weekend activities took over and we didn’t go any more, I found myself drifting away like so many young adolescents. Yet when every new year came around, I would stay up at night and write God a letter. Ha! I still have my books asking him for protection, apologising for not being fully committed and reading the bible more. I found myself running into a boy I went to school with and he’d had an incredible journey as a strong Christian. Then his life turned upside down when he walked away and chose a darker side of life. After telling me about his renewed faith, he invited me to his 21st birthday party, knowing no
18 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
Elka Whalan one I said yes... That was the Holy Spirit right there. As soon as I walked in, there was something different, you couldn’t see it but I felt it… a sense that these people knew their purpose. I re-entered church, gave my life totally to God in 2004 and I’ve never looked back. We belong to C3 and all five of us attend. It’s a joy walking in there and it’s home. What’s it like being a Christian in a very mainstream media environment? Certainly interesting and exciting, truthfully. To be that beacon of light when you walk into a room, representing who Christ is the best way you can, I mean I’m far from perfect but I have a good sense of what’s real and what’s not. Media can be very dark, insincere and cut throat. I know that a great conversation has started when people ask what I’m up to for the weekend. It’s always amazing as it allows you to open up by telling them you’re off to church on Sunday and then they ask if you’re religious, to which I always reply ‘NO way! Religion, I believe, causes so many problems today. I have the best relationship and kick it tight with my best friend JC.’ Often they look confused until I tell them JC is Jesus Christ. They laugh, the ice breaks and more often than not, a flowing conversation starts. I love when I meet someone in media who is a Christian. It’s an automatic connection. God does that, I love it. I have many girlfriends and guy friends who are in the same field so it’s lovely knowing there’s a group of us believing together. Everyone has a bad day at the office. Let’s talk for a minute about winning Gold in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay at the 2001 World
Championships in Fukuoka, only to be disqualified for jumping into the pool in celebration before other teams had finished! What was the feeling in that moment? And how did you maintain positivity moving forward? I chose not to react but to act on what had happened. I can now say there are 4 women who were World champions and world record holders for 30 seconds, that’s an incredible feat! Yes, it was tough and certainly there was plenty of talk and media about it. I chose to let all that noise drown out and be there for and with my team mates, knowing we did the right thing. This technicality has since been eliminated from the swimming rule books. It definitely motivated me for years to come. One of the most incredible moments no one saw was after all our drug tests and media press conference, when we arrived back at the hotel so late in the night, we walked into the food hall and ALL the athletes from the different countries stood up to give us a standing ovation. That said something more powerful than any words could have. Motherhood! Let’s talk about the work/life balance myth and your message for mums afraid they’re not getting it right. Mothers are incredible. Being a mother is the most rewarding, yet challenging role we will ever take on. It’s pure unconditional love and no words can justify the importance of it or the status it has. We keep trying to label it, play it down, lift it up, but take away however you choose to view it and know we are all together in the thick of it, that beautiful mayhem, those crazy moments, that laughter that breaks the ice. Every day comes with new challenges, new experiences, new giggles, new thoughts. I tell people
since becoming a mother I’ve learnt more from my three children than they have from me. You learn what to discern, what to prioritise, what’s truly important. We had three children under 3.5 years and I loved it. We hope we are blessed to have more! It’s the best. I’ve always wanted to be a mum since school and I couldn’t wait. I’ll take the tough days, the long nights… you name it, to wake up again the next morning and see them happy and smiling. We have the chance to leave them a legacy. It’s incredible and I feel so honoured and humbled that God allowed myself and my husband and all you mothers reading this, to have children who we can minister to and nurture and love. It’s the best. You’ve hosted a show on Channel 7 called ‘Live Well’ and regularly give talks on “Being a first rate you not a second rate someone else” What part does gratitude play in being the best version of yourself ? You hear the half full, half empty cup sentence a lot, but what about being thankful you have a cup?! I love that thought. Gratitude is an essential quality of life; you can tell if a person has it. They carry humbleness with them, patience, all fruits of the spirit, really - Peace, love, kindness. It’s all God, any and every time amazing work comes up for me, often at times that are terrible for me; the birth of a new baby, or family commitments are big, but that’s just God telling you to increase your capacity, it’s all in his timing and we need to trust in Him more. I’m wanting all women in particular to see how blessed, favoured and full of gifts they are. Being thankful has to start from the beginning of your day; it allows room, grace and softness.
You’re the ambassador for the National Day of Thanks – What made you jump at the opportunity to be involved? It’s so brilliant to remind people of hope and that being grateful is something we need to exercise in our minds more and more these days. We continue to live in a world that is so super fast paced that everything has to be done immediately. We hear that expression: “Don’t take anyone or anything for granted” but sadly we lose people every day and that same sentence is repeated. If you were to leave a trail of your life behind, what would it look like? What path are you leaving behind? It truly makes you think. It’s a joy to be part of something I honestly focus on everyday - being grateful. I love all that’s in my world the good, the bad and the tough days. I am grateful to have legs to walk, eyes to see, a heart that beats, all these things we expect to have when we wake up, instead of being grateful ALL the time that we do. To bring awareness to those that lift our lives and the chance to tell them how much we care. What are your 3 tips for cultivating gratitude in everyday life? 1. Wake up every day happy. You’re alive, you’re breathing, that heart is still ticking. 2. Hug your spouse, your family and if you’re alone, have that moment to yourself that you can breathe in and be truly grateful for all you’re doing in your life and the influence you can have on others. Life is about relationships. 3. Tell someone everyday something loving, caring, positive and uplifting. Be a cheer leader of life. Annette Spurr
The National Day of Thanks is on Saturday 28th May. Visit www.austhanks.org.au to find out more.
ot many people are able to maintain a twenty-four year heroin and methadone addiction, all the while raising five children. But Sydney woman Elizabeth Muldovan was an exception. Born and raised in Sydney Australia, Elizabeth’s addiction to drugs started off as a woman in her twenties – and would remain with her for close to two and a half decades. Hers was a life a life of depravity and destruction, couple with her an honest recount. In her recently released book, The Prodigal Daughter, Elizabeth recounts her life story. From the depths of hopelessness, to the saving grace of Jesus, this is a story that truly shows God at work. In fact it would be hard for a skeptic of Christ to remain that way after reading her telling story. When the average person thinks of a heroin addict, the stereotypical idea that comes to mind is of inner-city streets, of ‘junkies’ huddling around in a dark, dingy lane trying to find a vein in which to inject. But we don’t imagine a housewife doing her daily chores, including preparing the school lunches, getting the children out the door, and ensuring they are all run off to their afterschool activities, homework completed, dinner made, and so on. It’s hard enough to do the work of a mother with your mind on the job, let alone being dependent on a damaging drug daily. And to top it off, Elizabeth did it with five children, not just a couple. But the twist in this story is that not only was she heroin dependent, but her husband also shared the same daily addiction. Here is a family in the city of Sydney, the city in which I reside, packing their children off to school, getting out the door to work – all the while sharing a dirty secret. As Elizabeth recounts in this amazing book, she and her husband were able to cope whist on heroin; it was this drug that kept them going and maintaining ‘normal’ lives. But when their lives really took a turn was when they decided to kick heroin, opting for methadone instead. 20 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
From Heroin to Christ
E L I Z A B E T H M O L D O VA N ’ S EXTRAORDINARY LIFE
As readers delve into the pages of this extraordinary woman and her life they will be held spellbound at the enormity of the power of addiction to drugs. They will also be aware and in awe of the resurrection power of God to bring one of his children through to a new life. I have read the book and quite honestly, I couldn’t put it down. There is so much to learn from Elizabeth’s life. I asked Elizabeth what led her taking drugs in the first place. She explained, “The reason I delved into the world of drugs is because I didn’t really want to live. I didn’t have an identity and I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I was just lost and disconnected from society – I felt very rejected.” In hooking up with a drug addict, this brought her life tumbling down for all those years. Elizabeth’s children were very accepting of the addiction she had. They also had each other and they had their school friends and their own little world, apart from her addictions. This is how they coped with their lives while their mother tried to fight her addiction. But it was hard for them even so – very hard for them. They were supportive of their mother and loved her. “They accepted me just the way I was, although they didn’t like it and it was hard for them. That acceptance kept me alive through those years.” What was the final trauma that led Elizabeth to finally call out to God, I wanted to know? “The catalyst that got me separated from the co-dependant relationship with my husband was when he hurt my youngest child Grace, who was three at the time. I just thought I couldn’t keep Grace in that environment by herself because her older brothers and sisters couldn’t help. “If I left it would halve the risk to her. God just showed up in the refuge that I finally escaped to and I heard his voice twice, where He said, “Do you want
to be made whole?” Well, of course I wanted to be made whole and well again for myself and my children so I just gave into Him. Elizabeth’s mother was very influential in helping her daughter to want to be set free. She reminded her of who she was before she started using drugs, and that memory jolted something in her that had been lost all those years ago. “I thought to myself, ‘What happened, how did I get to this point before I started using hard drugs’? I had a good job, good friends, was connected to family, and then I met Francis and everything changed after that, so much. I got to the point where I forgot I had freewill. Being reminded of that was that we do have free will and we are allowed to seek God and allowed to worship him and pray to Him.” Elizabeth wanted to share her story to show the incredible love and power of God. She was adamant that this is available for all those who have addictions of any kind. Change is possible and there is freedom on the other side. If anyone is looking for a way out of addictions Elizabeth says to ask God to help you and forgive you and get baptized, and your life will never be the same again. God always forgives us. Elizabeth is passionate as she states, “I want to give God more glory for what He has done. I had Grace by my side and didn’t go to any psychiatrists or rehab. I only had God – He does the impossible. I didn’t have a car or home – no money, no phone. God did this for all the addicts out there – not just for me. He wants to set everyone free. He doesn’t want us bound up in addictions.” This book is one of transparency about the life of a former addict to the beautiful and gentle woman she is today. CW Lynn Goldsmith
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Here are some strategies to try... Social Strategies – • Talk to a friend • Help someone else • Go to a public place Physical Strategies – • Go to the gym • Punch a punching bag • Walk or ride a bike Constructive Strategies – • Do homework • Clean room • Organise wardrobe Comfort Strategies – • Cuddle a toy • Take a shower • Wear your PJs Fun Strategies – • Watch a DVD • Listen to music • Play with a pet Creative Strategies – • Write a letter • Do some art • Make a compilation Spiritual Strategies – • Phone a mentor • Read the bible • Listen to worship music • Pray with someone you trust
22 Christian Woman Autumn 2016
HOW TO SUPPORT A YOUNG PERSON WHO IS
Self-Harming I saw cuts on her leg and she thinking, “They are just ruining their told me she had fallen over on body”, “They need to toughen up”, sharp grass during PE. I actually believed her at the time. I didn’t think about it anymore until I saw cuts on her arm. That is when it clicked. That was at least 2 years ago now.
iven current national statistics, we can safely assume there are very few young people who haven’t known someone who has deliberately injured themselves by cutting, self-battery, overdosing or intentionally participating in risky behaviour. In 2015 the Australian Child and Adolescent Survey reported that approximately 10% of 12 – 17 year olds have self-harmed, with 8% selfharming within the last 12 months and 60% more than four times in that period. Despite how widespread self-harm is and how normalised it has become in youth culture, I firmly believe that God has a plan to use this generation’s challenges to reveal Himself to them. And although it breaks my heart to see young people struggling in this way, I also know that we cannot underestimate how He may use self-harm for His glory. If you are a parent whose child is selfharming, know that self-harm is not in the too hard basket for God. He has got this generation in His hands and is deeply connected to their needs. On the whole self-harm is very challenging for parents to understand. Many parents secretly find themselves
“Everyone has issues”, or “They just want attention”. If you are a parent who just doesn’t “get it”, be assured that you are not alone. The issue of self-harm conjures up frustration in many adults and the default reaction is often shaming, blaming and criticising because we don’t know how else to handle it. It takes time, deliberate effort, insight from above and often professional support to understand self-harm. Adults who “get it” have usually made a concerted effort to do so. Over the past 15 years I have repeatedly heard young people express either a cry of pain or a cry for help through self-harming behaviour. Both cries are valid requests for specific support. I have not always found selfharm to be linked to suicidal thoughts, but research does indicate that those who self-harm are at higher risk of suicidal idealisation. I have always found the reasons for self-harm wide and variety and very difficult for young people to express. Initial conversations are often crowded by secrecy and shame. For these reason, any response to self-harm has to be approached with genuine empathy, patience and care rather than condemnation. Parent are often the last ones to find out about self-harm and may be faced with a well-developed problem by the time they have the opportunity to intervene. Some of the first signs of self-harm include knowledge of others who are self-harming, unexplained marks on the body, wearing long sleeves that are never
removed, difficulty expressing emotions, changes in behaviour, downward spiral, secretive behaviour, extended time alone, missing items that could be used for cutting (sharpeners, blades, scissors, safety pins, razors, led in pencils and signs of depression (withdrawn, sad, negative, lack of resilience and hope). God wants to get in the middle of young people’s deepest emotions and provide real answers through His transforming power. I have more often seen this discovery happen through the support of a third party, such as a psychologist, counsellor, mentor of youth worker, and I encourage every adult to keep their eyes open to how they can make a difference in young lives. It is often through long term relationships that real change happens. Although self-harm gives young people a euphoric sense of control like few other coping strategies there is hope. The opposite of self-harm and it’s only antidote is self-care. People who self-harm have forgotten how to care for themselves as God intended them to, and often need a renewed sense of purpose and hope in their lives in order to rediscover it. I personally encourage all young people who are self-harming to find at least three strategies to help navigate them through times of intense emotions. Each of these strategies below are great alternatives to self-harm and replace the “pain + self-harm = temporary relief” cycle with “pain + self-care = long term relief”. They can be used preventatively by young people at any time they feel the urge to self-harm. CW
By Michelle Mitchell www.youthexcel.com.au
Illustrated Bible verses
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