Monday, September 2, 2013

A different kind of beginning

3 months ago I shed my skin. I left my little desk, my regular income, my friends & the thing that had defined my life for over a decade. Then I felt tired. For the first month I spent half of my days sleeping in; sitting in a chair with my new puppy & half researching & working for my clients. Exhaustion magnetised me to stillness as my mind, body & soul recovered from years of beating. I didn't think. I didn't process. I sat. I stopped writing. I stopped cooking. I didn't do anything on the list of things I was excited to do when I left my job. I didn't do anything that wasn't on the list either.

I sat.

It was the strangest month of my life. I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad. I wasn't angry or grieving or upset. I was excited, inspired or energised. I was tired. I was peaceful. I wanted to rest. I didn't have to do anything so I didn't. I didn't have to be anywhere so I wasn't. I didn't want to read or absorb anything. It felt like I had never sat down before. Like I had never stopped & I desperately needed to.

I don't know that anything profound happened in that time. I don't think I uncovered anything deep or destructive about myself or my life. I didn't change the world but I did change my world. I discovered that when you take away everything you have to do, you can just rest. When your body knows that it can sleep as much as it needs to sleep it will & the sleep will be glorious. I discovered that sometimes it is ok to not do, that I don't need to be motivated & running all day everyday to be happy. I found that peace & rest is not doing nothing but sometimes doing nothing helps.

In my month of doing nothing I discovered that most of the things that used to rule my time aren't actually that important. I discovered that I do love to work but that it's not who I am, that I do love to write but it's not who I am. I discovered that I can sit in silence & not do or think or talk & still be ok.  But most importantly I discovered the joy of listening to my mind, body & soul & giving it what it needs.

I pray for eyes to see & ears to hear the needs of my mind, body & soul as I continue in this season.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My heart breaks silently as I hear them talk about the way they are being spoken to at school. Anger rises in me as I hear of teachers and guardians failing to listen, failing to stop the bullying. My reaction is the same as most peoples I know. How did it get to this? How did we become a society that lets this happen & when? When did the tables turn? When did it go from a mean word at lunchtime to full on harassment? Does it even matter? Is that even the right question? If I understood the why would that give me the solution? If I fully comprehended the problem, diagnosed it, understood it would that give me the solution? Would that help me equip and empower my girls? Would that be what puts the tools in their hands? Would that help them on monday morning when they are back at school and someone is lifting their skirt up and calling them names or chasing them around threatening to beat them up? Understanding the problem, is that really where the solution comes from...

Sometimes I think we are so focused on finding out the why & talking about the what that we fail to ask the right question... We get so focused on what is going wrong that we fail to see what we need to see. I don't know what we are missing but I can't help but think we are seriously missing something. And for me that something is important because tonight like every Friday night we will gather our youth, we will gather them to talk about life, about God, about being a young person, about who the word of God says they are. Tonight bullying will come up because it always does and tonight like every other Friday night we will talk about it, we will talk about grace and forgiveness and walking away. We will say all of the right things that everyone already knows but it's not enough!!

I know it and they know it.

It's not enough because Monday morning when they walk into the school grounds they aren't surrounded by people who love them, they aren't in a safe environment where they can relax and be themselves. A place where they are free to love and be loved. Come Monday morning they will step back into the reality of being bullied. Back into the reality of the constant names, the physical abuse, the war for their identity. Come Monday morning I can't protect them & the words I tell them on a Friday night will only take them so far... The simple fact is it is not enough and the saddest part of all is that for some of them the bullying won't wait until Monday morning, it will be there on Facebook waiting for them, it may even infringe on their time at youth. When I think about it I want to cry.

I see the faces of my beautiful girls. I see our young men. I see their potential. I see their open, kind, generous, hungry hearts. I see how precious they are, the contribution they could have in this world if only they knew. If only they knew who they were and how dearly they were loved. If only they knew fully and deeply their identity. I pray so hard that they get it, that one day something someone says just clicks and the door to who they are unlocks and the truth comes rushing out flooding them with love. I pray for opportunities to sow seeds of life, of truth. To be able to hold up a mirror and show them who God says they are and to have them get it. That's my wish, my wish is that they would know, they would know that they are precious, that they have purpose, that they are loved. That they would know it so deeply and fully that it would change the way they saw themselves and the people in their world. That it would change the way they loved. I just want them to know because knowing who you are changes your world.

Knowing who you are changes what you believe about yourself, about what you deserve. Knowing who you are allows you to listen to what someone says and know that it isn't true. It allows you to look at a choice in front of you and say that's not for me not because someone told me I shouldn't do it but because I know who I am and that's not me. Knowing who you are it changes everything, it changes what you accept, it changes where you go and what you do. When you know who you are you know where you're going and you make choices that help you get there. When you know who you are you know how to love that difficult person, how to see their own hurt in their words. I don't think knowing who they are is the fix it to bullying but I sure think it goes a long way to helping our young people face their Mondays..

So today I pray for people who are bold enough to speak identity and life and peace and truth and hope into our young people. I pray for people who will authentically seek out who they were created to be and model it, people who will take others on the journey. I pray for wisdom to ask the right questions and sow the right seeds. I pray for answers to questions I don't even understand. Today I pray for wisdom and strength, for peace and protection. Today I pray for our young people x

Friday, March 16, 2012

Words I never thought I'd have to say.. Places I never thought I'd have to go.. Part 2

Just saw part 1 & realised that I didn't ever tell you part two & part two is the good stuff, the fairy tale stuff. My beautiful cousin is alive & well. Her operation was a complete success & she is slowly getting back to something that resembles a normal life. Study has started again, she just got back from a trip overseas & she has this new appreciation for life. I now live about 30 mins from her house & get the pleasure of her company quite regularly. But that is not sufficient, the detail not enough, I feel like I should share something more so I am going to share one of my favourite things to come out of this experience..

It is beautiful you know, the way that something which hits the core of who we are as a family can be used to create so much healing. During the time that my cousin was in hospital I saw whole parts of our extended family come together. I saw an empathy rise up in my dad & with that empathy came a certain amount of healing. Something changed in him during those days we were at the hospital with my cousin. He softened and strengthened all at once. The way he comforted her, spoke life directly into her fears, the way he completely understood & knew how to provide her with the exact support she needed.. It was so beautiful to see. I love my dad xo

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My old friend

Good Evening my old friend, it has been some time since I was last here & much has happened inside of that space. Weddings, moving cities, churches & jobs, deaths, births. Life has certainly been full. I have been stretched, strengthened, expanded, challenged & cherished - the later is perhaps the most beautiful & strangest part of my new life. I'm not entirely sure where to begin or what to share so instead of catching you up I will instead pretend you have been journeying with me & begin from right here in this moment...

Do you ever get that feeling, that feeling that there is something inside of you that must come out. That restless, stirring that means being still is no longer an option. The desire to do something but not just any something. You need to do the particular something that deep down inside you know you need to do.

Tonight I was lucky. We had been at the youth band rehearsal, we had originally planned to do some planning tonight so it wasn't so difficult to figure out what was going on but it's not always that easy sometimes figuring out what is bubbling inside of me is hard. Actually lately it feels like there is so much to come out that I could just write forever & I find myself starting new things all the time. Yet nothing I write seems to be it, it is all just surface stuff well that's not entirely true it is deeper than surface but it's not as deep as it goes. I mostly find this frustrating. Life is great but writing seems to constantly leave me dissatisfied, like I haven't gotten down to where I need to be. It's as if this thing inside of me is bubbling away & it's causing all this other stuff to rise to the surface, as if all of these half ideas need to come out partly expressed before I get to any of the real stuff...

Hmm so I think the new plan is to get all of the half stuff out as quickly as possible so the real good stuff can come out. Pray for me xx

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

words I never thought I'd have to say.. Places you shouldn't have to go again part 1

Yesterday I got a call from my cousin, her sister had been admitted to hospital that morning so I was expecting an update but I wasn't expecting the update I got & I don't even know if I can explain the reaction I had or an having to it. There were two people in my office when the call came through, they were looking for something & at some point they must have left because when I got off the phone they were gone. I guess the world blurred like it does in a bad movie & all I could hear were the echoing words "mass", "bottom of brain", "transferring to Brisbane", "top of neck". Other words were spoken, I said I'd let my mum know, that we'd meet them at the hospital - all that logistical stuff but the words echoed. Those familiar words.

It has been 14 years & around 4 months since we first heard those words & to this day they haunt me. Those words changed our lives & we live in the reality of them every day. I remember where I was, I remember who I was with, I remember my mum delivering them to me as she spoke about what they had found was wrong with my dad. Yesterday I spoke them back to her & I listened on the other end of the phone as her heart broke for her niece and her sister, I heard it break again the way it once broke for her husband. I heard her cry out to my dad & listened the sound of a deep pain broke out from within her soul as her memories met this new reality.

Our hearts broke together & I longed to be with her, near her, to see my dad, to touch him, check he was real, to be together so we could go to the hospital together. We had done this before, we had done this before, my emotions spun out of control. Like a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean during the eye of a storm the emotions crashed down on me - this is how she must have felt when she told me all those years ago, hope, fear, doubt, faith, anguish: "she's only 19". Confusion. "I need to get to the hospital, how can I get to the hospital?" Life, responsibilities, commitments, "I have an important meeting in 2 hours & I'm going away next week". "mass", "bottom of brain", "transferring to Brisbane", "top of neck", reality: "I need to be with my family now!" This can't be happening again, I know these words, I know what they mean, as the final wave hit a deep calm washed over me. I delivered the news to another auntie, spoke to my boss & rushed to be at my mother's side. We needed to do this together.

The rest of my day is a blur. We met at my mothers mum, dad, an auntie, a cousin we drank tea & tried to distract ourselves while we waiting for word that they had arrived in Brisbane. We cried together & laughed a little but mostly we waited together. I spent the afternoon on the phone to my cousin on the coast as she sat with her mother & sister waiting for the ambulance to transport her little sister from one hospital to another. Each time we spoke it was as if time stopped as everyone froze & listened to my end of the conversation, no-one moved as I spoke, not even daring to breathe in case they missed something. Finally they were in the ambulance on the way. We fidgeted & fussed about for the next few hours while we waited for them to arrive. Would we go? Wouldn't we go? Who would go? Would they want us? Were there too many of us? Would they be here yet? Should we call them? Would they be waiting for a bed? I'll text. They were in the ques. Should we go or should we wait? Mum you should call. We're going mum, me & dad. More fuss as we got ready, said our goodbyes & got into the car. It felt like it took longer than it should. No-one wants to leave, we all want to go, we want to be together. This is about to get a lot more real. You can't un-see the things you see in hospitals, the images burn to your mind, you can't escape the reality once you are there, you can't escape the feelings & the helplessness can be suffocating if you're not careful or if you are alone - we must leave & add support to my auntie & cousin.

Hospital. We are practised with hospitals, we've spent a lot of time in them over the years. They don't intimidate us. We spilt up my mum to the ATM, I go to find out where she is & dad supervisors. We meet in the middle & I lead us to emergency where she is waiting for her MRI. MRI - the word makes us shutter, we speak it every 6-12 months. An MRI once saved my dad's life but it also changed it forever. We snap back to reality & proceed to the ward. We find my cousin; auntie; engulf them with hugs & kisses. We cry, we hug, we hold hands, we chatter, we hold each other; cry some more, we keep holding hands, we will do this together... to be continued

Friday, June 24, 2011

Innocence lost

I don't know old I was the first time it happened.. was I 13 or 14 or maybe only 12. It all seems like a blur now, a big giant blur that merges together and I can't see the beginning, the middle or the end. I just see one giant muddled picture and when I look at it all I feel is numb. Numb and a deep sense of hatred for the place where it occurred.

One of my friends said to me last night that I associate places with people and the memories I have from being there. She is right, that is how I see the world and the places I have been. I see the pictures, the memories and the people in them. I guess that's why I hate where I grew up so much because when I look at the picture I see a big giant mess. I used to think that it was because of me, because I never felt like I belonged there but tonight I realise that it was because of the people I loved when I lived there and the things that happened to them. The horrible, horrible things that are stored deep down in my core, the moments that shaped me and broke my heart.

It's funny because I can talk about it, I can matter of fact tell you about the bullying, the eating disorders, the abusive relationships, the girls who lost their virginity too young, the alcohol, the drugs. I can tell you about it all but I can't feel it, I can't access the emotions that go with the memories. I can tell it so that you can access the emotions, I can tell it like the sad, sorry story that it is, I could probably even make you cry but for some reason I can't cry. I can't reach back to any of those memories and feel them, I can't see any of those stories and weep for myself and my friends. My heart doesn't break for us like I know it should.

When I look at it I just feel numb. A deep still sense of nothing. No fear, no anger, no pain, no joy. Numb. White cold numb. I realised tonight that I have been numb for some long that I don't even remember the first time I decided to become numb. Was I 12? 13? 14 - I couldn't have been any older than 14 so I'm thinking it was more like 13 or 12. But I can't remember the incident! Was it the first time one of my friends was hospitalised? Was it when my first friend lost her virginity because she could? Was it when we started drinking? Was it when the girls I hung out with became so obsessed with being popular that they stopped eating during the day & started doing whatever/whoever it took to be popular? Or the time my friend cut her wrists in the bathroom while I was away? Was it when she dropped off the planet? Was it when the rumors about her started? Was it when a group of boys took advantage of a girl years younger than them and had her perform all sorts of horrible acts - it was definitely before then. I think I was in grade 11 when that happened and by then it seemed kinda normal and no-one really said anything to them, they just talked about the girl. It makes me feel sick in my stomach to think about it but I still can't feel it like I should be able to because in part I am still numb.

Yep I definitely still feel numb and it bothers me that I can't remember when it happened, I can't remember when I first did it and it's frustrating. I can't remember the first time I turned my head away and decided to feel nothing. I can't remember the moment when I accepted that these things were a way of life - when did I accept that young women were to be exploited? That drugs, alcohol and sex were a way of life? I wasn't raised like that at all - my mother would be horrified - yet at some point I became a person who could look at it and simply feel numb. It bothers me that I can honestly say that I can't remember the first time I looked at a lost broken little girl destroying herself and her body and felt nothing but I know it happened. But it's worse than that because I look back at my past and it still happens, I can't feel it! As I write these words it's like there is a big black door between my eyes and my heart and I can see it and intellectually I know that it's wrong but I can't feel it. I can't feel the emotion that goes with what I'm seeing. I still feel numb, I look back at the place, the people and I just feel numb and I don't know how to feel anything else.. I'm scared to feel anything else.

I'm scared that if I were to sit down and look at my past, my teenage years, if I were to look at my life and the lives of my friends with the eyes I have now.. I'm scared of that emotion. I'm scared to let out the cry that I am sure is in my heart.. I'm scared to let the deep, deep sobbing that I'm sure is in my soul out. I'm scared that if I left it out that I won't ever stop.

As I write this my eyes begin to fill with tears, my natural reaction is the try to stop them, to squash this emotion. There was a reason I stopped feeling the choices that my friends and I made, it was because it hurt, it hurt so much that sometimes I couldn't breathe. It was easier to feel numb than to feel the hurt but I can't feel numb anymore. I stop and I close my eyes for a brief moment and let myself feel it, the pain I feel is so great that I cannot move, I am paralysed staring at my computer, a soft tear runs down my left cheek and I bite my bottom lip.

I snap back to reality. I am afraid of these emotions, they hurt so much but I can't escape them anymore I need to let them out and so I begin to let them come free and the blur is not a blur anymore, it is people. My friends, I see their faces in my mind and I just cry and cry and cry. I wrestle with myself and try not to cry, I try to capture these emotions, to lock them away and feel numb like I used to but I can't, so instead I give in and I cry. I cry for our innocence, for foolish decisions, for the years of pain.

I don't know that any of the people I went to school with were still sweet at 16, I cry for their lost souls, stolen and robbed of joy and love, robbed of the innocence of youth. I look at the destruction of our choices. The seperations, the lack of purpose, the addictions and I weep for them and I weep for all of the children like them that are currently stuck in that cycle that we were stuck in.

I have spent a little over 10 years journeying through the mistakes I made in high school and I wish I could tell them what I know. I wish I could tell them that love and acceptance isn't in being skinny or popular or in having a cool boyfriend or career, that numbing your pain with drugs and alcohol is like putting a bandaid on a deep cut that needs stitches, it looks like it might help but when you take the bandaid off the next day the wound hasn't healed and you still need stitches. I wish I could tell them that they are loved beyond measure, that they are worth more than rubies and gold, I wish I could tell them that their life has meaning and purpose and that it wasn't too late to be happy. 

I pray for the courage to tell them what I know, to share my journey, to show them how God has healed my pain.. I pray for the courage to be the difference for someone that someone was for me.. I pray that God would take this pain that I feel now and that he would heal it, that he would heal it not only for me but for them and for those on the path that we were once on..

Each of us has a story and I pray that this week you have the courage to let your story minister to someone else..

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I made it to the end of today

I sat down - correction - I flopped down on the bed, unzipped my boots & breathed I made it to the end of the day. Suddenly a big smile covered my face, my body. I made it to the end of today! Praise Jesus I made it to the end of today! He is real. Miracles happen because I made it to the end of today!

Do you ever start a day or a week feeling like there is a mountain in front of you, not necessarily a bad mountain just a mountain.  The kind that goes as high as you can see & is as wide as you can imagine. The kind that makes you feel really, really small & really, really ill-equipped. Ill-equipped like you were prepared to walk over a hill or not even a hill, more a slight incline but then you get to the incline & realise it's a steep incline & it's definitely more mountain than hill. Yep it's a mountain. A big, ginormous mountain. A you can't walk around me, you have to climb me mountain. That was how I felt at the beginning of this week. I was at the foot of a mountain & at the beginning of today I was still really at the foot of the mountain.

Yeah I had Monday & Tuesday so you would think that by Wednesday morning I would have made progress but honestly by this morning I still felt like I was at the foot of the mountain. I guess I had made some plans, packed some of the equipment I needed, maybe touched the face of the mountain but I hadn't really done any climbing. I talked about climbing but I was still at the bottom looking a long way up to the top. Yuck!

This morning I had that cranky, argh feeling I get when I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. I had the "nothing is going to go right" humf/sigh thing going on. By about 10am (after our 1 hour so what have you been doing team meeting) I was at the photocopier & could actually feel myself beginning to stress out about everything I had to do. I actually looked at our secretary & said "Deb, I can feel myself beginning to stress out." She looked at me surprised & we both had a giggle. I walked back into my office silently saying to God "I can't do this. I can't do this", I took a deep breath, made a cup of tea & began climbing the mountain that stood between me & the end of my day.

I didn't do anything differently to yesterday or the day before. I just did one thing at a time, one application at a time, one advice call, one meeting. I just stepped one foot in front of the other & before I knew it it was 12 & I was stopping for lunch & doing it all again... One foot in front of the other, one task at a time & suddenly I looked up & the mountain didn't look quite so big. I had reached a different level. I had crossed something substantial off the never-ending to-do list that sits on my desk. I felt great. I stopped & enjoyed the new height I had reached, I breathed in the cool crisp air before jumping in the car & heading to evening college.

I arrived to find a smaller team than we're used to plus a few technical  logistical issues thrown in for good measure :s for a second I felt like I was at the bottom of the mountain again but then I looked down & saw how far I climbed.. Instead of looking up at the mountain in front of me, I put down my bags & got about the business of doing what needed to be done. Slowly more team members arrived & the night fell into place & before I knew it I was sitting on my bed taking off my shoes to the realisation that I made it. I made it to a new level, a new plateau. I don't know what I did to get here, to get to the end of this day having climbed a significant chunk of the mountain but I'm here & I made it & it feels great.

Hmm I guess the turning point in my day was when I stopped trying to be superwoman & realised that I couldn't do this day all alone, that I couldn't do it all at once, that I needed to stop, lean on God & just take one step at a time. It was when I stopped trying to do it all on my own all at once that the shift happened. It was when I let myself be human when I stopped for a moment & went I can't climb that mountain in one giant leap but I can read this application. Ok I've done that now I can do x. Ok I can do y. It was when I changed my focus.

I spent 2 days looking at everything I had to do this week & feeling overwhelmed by it, feeling inadequate & not good enough because when I looked at it all at once it seemed too much & yes I got things done early in the week but it was hard & it didn't feel like I was getting anywhere. Then today I shifted my focus from everything that was in front of me this week to the one thing that was in front of me in this moment & honestly I got more done today than I have in weeks & I feel great. I feel alive & energised, ready to take on the world & all I needed was a shift in attitude, a shift in focus. So simple.

It made me wonder where else in my life do I need a shift in focus? Where in my life do I need to stop looking at the mountain & start stepping into what's in front of me, one step at a time on the path that God has lit in this moment..

We all have our mountains. Everyday there is a new one, some are big, some are small. What are the moutains in your life? What are the things that you look at & say "but God I can't"? What if instead you looked at them & said "God I can't do that but I can do ......."? How many mountains would you climb if you stopped looking at what you can't do & instead focused on doing what you could do? What kind of a difference would that make in your world?

Praying that you stop choosing to look at your mountains & instead choose to boldly walk on the path God lights for you this week. Be blessed Min xoxo