Monday, March 10, 2014


Surrounding my sister’s holiday home in Urquhart’s Bay is spectacular scenery.

 There are many day walks of various lengths that can be done. There is one particular walk that I love that takes you over to Smuggler’s Cove’. It involves a steep rise for half of it, and then steep walking down to an exquisite beach. 

Yesterday morning I was keen to do this tramp and managed to persuade my 9 year old niece, Stella, and 7 year old nephew, Will, to join me. They have hiked a lot up here and are very fit and I knew they were perfectly capable of it. However, as we got to the entry gate of the hike Stella started to complain of having a very sore knee, and Will began to whinge that he too was sore. I decided to take this opportunity to share with them how I have learned to manage my own pain with these hikes.

I told them about a song that I had written to help me with this exact hike with the intense leg pain that I experience. It is based on the book of Philippians in the Bible, chapter four, verse 13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Back in 2011 when I was up here I first started to challenge my beliefs that I couldn’t do these hikes due to my pain. I made it over to ‘Smuggler’s Cove’ every day that summer and when my pain was intense I would just sing this scripture to myself with varying intensity, depending on how much I needed that strength at that time. However, I changed the wording from the actual scripture to being,

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
There is nothing that I will not try
For I am empowered with the power of God”

Stella and Will seemed to have taken in what I was saying as they both stopped complaining of their ailments and happily did the hike over to ‘Smuggler’s Cove’.

Later, in the early evening, when we went to walk down my sister’s very steep drive to go swimming, I said to the kids that I might have to take the car down to the water’s edge as my leg pain was really bad. It was then that Will piped up and asked “But Aunty Gabe, why don’t you just sing your song? It will give you the courage to keep coming!”

Will’s saying this was a total reality check as I realised that he had 100% believed that I gained strength and courage (his words) from the words of my song and he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t also apply it now when this was the case. His speaking up and saying what he did really got me thinking of how it is far too easy to say things to others that have helped me in the past, and then forget to continue to apply them to my life.

This brought to mind a comment that was made to me as a teenager by a non-Christian friend who had said that Christian’s are all hypocrites and never practised what they preached. I wondered if I had become one of the hypocrites. However, in this instance it is more the case that I remember the things that inspire me and help me keep motivated when I’m not weary, but forget them once fatigue is added to my pain.

Will’s comment yesterday really challenged me to not only ‘talk the talk’ but to also ‘walk the walk’ and it is something that I hope I will remember to come back to every day.

I believe that if we are to be true, authentic people, we need to not only mean what we say, but also put into practice what we say.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Over the past 14 years, since I had 6 lots of neurosurgery in 8 days in March 2000, I have at times felt immense frustration with my body. Especially with the continual headaches I live with and the fact that I seem to have so little control over the chronic pain that I have everywhere.

However, one of the things that has helped me so greatly over the years has been changing my focus. It would be so very easy for me to fall into self-pity mode if I focused on what others have that I don’t have. And especially if I focused on the lives of my friends who were at University with me and what they have gone on to achieve. However it would be utterly futile and actually destructive to focus on these things.

When things have been extremely intense with my pain, and my spirits sink, my mother and father are quick to remind me how fortunate I am to even be alive. When things are trying it is just so easy for me to forget the number of times that I nearly haven’t made it through my (13 lots of) neurosurgery, and forget how long it was that I couldn’t even see clearly (due to changes in my tumour), and forget how I couldn’t walk unaided, how I had TENS electrodes stuck to every limb with wires sticking out of them that everyone noticed. I forget that I was 55kg heavier than I now am (due to gaining 40kg in 10 months on steroids) and didn’t even recognise myself. It is just too easy to forget how incredibly hard things have been for me at times over these past 14 years and how vastly better my life is now compared to what it was.

Being reminded of these times serves as a much needed wake up call, a slap on the face you could say, to remind me of the freedoms I now experience that I haven’t always had during these past 14 years.

I think that a great way for anyone to sink their view of their own life, regardless of their circumstances, is to focus on what they don’t have rather than what they do. Worse yet is to focus on what others have that you don’t. When we have this frame of mind we are so blind to the blessings in our own lives. And in doing so we are undoubtedly starting ourselves down the slippery slope that leads to the destructive mental state of self-pity.

In the 4th chapter of the book of Philippians in the Bible, Paul sums this up brilliantly. “……I have learned how to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need. I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

I have found that the only way that I have reached contentment about my physical situation and my circumstances is to try to focus on the blessings in my life. I try to remind myself about what I now have that I haven’t always had, and also remind myself of the freedom I now walk in. In focusing on these things, and on the fact that God will give me the strength to do anything I need to do in life, I have indeed become truly content.

Like the old saying says, “keep your eye on the donut, not the hole”.