Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflections: reading my words back

I am about to sit down and do something I have never done before and I'm kinda nervous about it. This week will be my 12 month anniversary of being home. It will see the curtains close on what I would call a gap year, a year dedicated to God, to laying down my life and placing it in his hands in an effort to reconnect to myself and my purpose. Overall it has been a year of tuning into the small quiet voice that lives deep inside and following it. 

A lot has changed in my world this year, I have worked through a lot of messy emotions, revisited some of the ideas I had about myself and my life and reevaluated a lot of my dreams. It has been a hard year but a great year and I have documented every second of it..

As I sit here there are 9 journals by my side - 4 of them are bursting with words written by me, they are documentation of my daily life; one is a visual journal half filled of images of hopes and dreams for the future; one is my emergency journal kept in the overnight bag in my car just in case something happened and I had to spend a night at mum & dad's - it contains a few entries written in the spare bedroom of my parents house late at night after watching my father be tormented by the voices in his head; one is dedicated to visions of the future; one contains my reflections as I slowly work through the gospel of Matthew and the final one is a baby journal that I picked up last week to document the end of this transition phase. Between them they capture the bulk of my year.

There are also a few books from evening college that document the weekly classes that really pushed me along on my journey with God. I also have access to my online spaces, this public blog and two private blogs which document specific parts of my journey and healing plus there are the brief moments captured on twitter and facebook. Every moment of this year will be captured somewhere which both scares and fascinates me and I am both terrified and excited by the thought of reading them..

The person I am today, the peace and joy I feel, the foundations on which I have built my life, the decisions I make.. all of it is soooooooooo very different from what my life looked like as I nervously packed to come home.. for the first time ever I feel happy and free perhaps it's because I actually feel like I know myself. I feel like the hopes and the dreams I have for my future come from a place that is in me and not from the outside world. I guess I am curious to discover how I got to here so I am going to read the words I wrote, the things I went through to get to here.

For the first time in my life I am going to take some time out to reflect. I am a person who reflects and processes as I go, scribbling notes, cutting out images, having conversations in the moment but rarely (if ever) do I go back and read what I previously wrote. The idea of it makes me a little afraid but at the same time it seems like the perfect way the end my gap year, so over the next few days that is what I am going to do...

I am going to be still and examine the last year of my life. I am going to take time out to remember the things that God has brought me through, to remember the wounds that have been healed, to remember the people that allowed me to get to here.. the friends who sat back and watched as I stumbled into myself loving the me that lived under the baggage, those who guided my steps, those who held my hands, those who encouraged but most importantly those who allowed me to love them and in doing so taught me to love the world again.

I am afraid of what I will find but I am also excited. Much of my reflection will be offline, in my baby journal or in my private spaces but I will share some moments here because this space was one of the biggest leaps of faith that I took this year.

So my prayer today is simple and somewhat selfish, I pray for the courage to revisit my year and to honestly reflect on the moments that have changed my life xx

Thursday, December 9, 2010

genuine inloveness

Excerpt from A Sever Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

What was happening was happening to us both.
I believe it is always so, mutual and, at least at first, equally intense, if it is genuine inloveness.
The actual thing - inloveness - requires something like a spark leaping back and forth from one to the other becoming more intense every moment, love building up like voltage in a coil.
Here there is no sound of one hand clapping. unreciprocated love is something else, not genuine inloveness, I think: perhaps it is infatuation and passion or, perhaps, potential inloveness.
I believe that genuine inloveness is less common that the romantic novelists suggest. 
One who has never been in love might mistake either infatuation or a mixture of affection and sexual attraction for being in love.
But when the "real thing" happens, there is no doubt.
A man in the jungle at night, as someone said, may suppose a hyena's growl to be a lion's; but when he hears the lion's growl, he knows damn' well it's a lion. So with genuine inloveness...
... A sudden glory.

For my 50th post I thought I would share a beautiful piece of writing that has touched my heart xo

praising through the pain

As I drove away from my mother a single tear welled in my left eye and trickled slowly down my cheek, I blinked and looked ahead at the traffic as another tear fell softly onto my lap. Why was I crying today, was today really so different from any of the other days.. Dad has been like this before, I have seen the torment in his eyes, the inability to concentrate, I've listened as the paranoia rises from his mouth mid-conversation and watched as suddenly he disappears, lost in a world that we can't see or understand. This has been our life for months now, we have watched him get worse then improve slightly then get worse again, he is trapped by his own mind and out of our reach.

You see when it takes over we can't quite get to him, he disappears into this place that lives inside his mind, a place where our love can't reach him. It's like he doesn't hear our words or if he does then it is like we are speaking a language that he can't understand. Sometimes it feels like I've lost the ability to talk to my dad but worse than that I've lost the ability to do life with him. He comes along to things, he tries to join in but he is only half there, he will be looking over his shoulder, ever alert to the impending danger in his mind. Peace, security, joy and understanding are no longer a part of his life because torment, danger, fear and frustration have taken over. The worse part is that for him this world in his mind is real and he lives with it every moment of every day and so do we..

Most days we accept the reality, we muddle along loving each other despite the circumstances thankful that we are all alive but some days, like today, for no reason at all a sadness washes over me as I leave them. Sadness and a deep despair at the situation cloud my mind, my bones ache with the pain of this reality and I am paralysed by the pain, unable to move I cry until I don't know how to cry anymore.

Yet in the midst of all of this pain I feel a hope stirring deep inside, a hope that this is temporary, that this is merely a season, a hope that there will be a time in the future when I will look into my father's eyes and see the joy that used to live there, that one day he will know the pleasure of life and that my family will be whole again. I let the hope rise to the surface where it is joined by my faith, faith in my God who loves me, my God of health and life, my God of love, my God who specialises in miracles. Suddenly his peace washes over my body and comforts my soul. The tears stop and I can breathe again, I can live again and I realise that here in the shelter of his love I can love and give and grow through this pain.

Tonight I praise my God for all he is and I pray that his love and peace and blessing will wash over my family and yours xo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

But I'm not ready to see

Confession time: I have been avoiding this space. Not overtly going out of my way to avoid it but passively avoiding it. I could use the excuse that I have been busy but I am always busy and when I want to I can always find the time to get here. Why you might ask have I been avoiding a space that I myself lovingly created, a place where I feel safe to empty my mind and evaluate my journey? A place that I look forward to being in.

Well that right there is why I have been avoiding this place.. you see for me this is a safe and empty space waiting to be filled with the strange thoughts and emotions that hide deep in the back of my mind and as soon as I get here those thoughts come rushing forward before I can stop them and to be honest I wasn't ready for that. I wanted to hide from myself for a moment, I wanted to lounge around enjoying my life wrapped up in the cosy warm blanket of busyness that is this time of year. If I am really, really honest I wanted to just avoid the fear that has crept quietly into my world unnoticed... a part of me would like to stay wrapped up a little longer but summer has arrived (albeit with some serious rain) and it's time to throw off the blanket and face this fear!

So you might be wondering what I'm afraid of. Well I would say that I am afraid of life as a butterfly. Let me explain.. most of you would know that last year after much turmoil and prayer I decided to return home to Brisbane to once again discover who I was and to work out what exactly I wanted to do with my life and that is what this year has been. In essence for me the journey home for me has been like when a caterpillar crawls into a cocoon to become a butterfly. For me this year was my cocoon, I have squirmed and stretched and grew in ways I didn't even know I could grow all in the safety of my warm cosy cocoon but now it is time to leave my cocoon and I am afraid.

I am afraid because I know who I am, I know my life's purpose, I know where I'm going and now it is time to have the courage to step into that. And yes I am excited but it is so cosy here in the land of dreams where my future is nothing more than some sketchy visions in my mind and to put it quite simply I don't know if I'm ready to look closer at those visions. I don't know if I have the courage and the strength to really look at them and to see what is required of me and to then let that happen, to take the day dream and turn it into my life. To fly.. I just don't know if I am ready to be a butterfly!

I guess in part it is because if I allow myself to be a butterfly then this is real and there is no going back but it's more than that, it's the fact that I simply don't trust myself to map out the path I need to take to make my dream a reality. You see this year has been all about me and my journey and I have simply stumbled along letting life happen but surely this next season will require a little more from me than that. This next season is bigger than me, bigger than what I can dream and I'm afraid that if I make a decision about bible college or where I will serve or how I will make time to fit in A, B & C, if I allow that dream that has been simmering to come true then it will be wrong and I will have failed at the one thing that I want more than anything in this world - wow when I avoid this space for long enough all of the craziness comes out in one big neurotic moment and then once it's out I realise the fear was all because I was relying on me and then I take a breath as I realise..

.. it wasn't me who got me here, it was God. It wasn't me who planted these dreams in my heart and mind, it was God. It wasn't me who decided that it was time for me to go into my cocoon, it was God so it makes perfect sense that it's not me who wants to get out of the cocoon but God. Right now in this moment I realise that of course this next season is bigger than me but it's not bigger than God. Of course I can't dream big enough to dream this dream because it's God's dream and I trust God. I also realise that these decisions I face are not in fact my decisions but are indeed a part of his perfect plan and that as long as I listen to his voice he will lovingly guide me along the path which he has laid before me.. and suddenly in the shade of my big God the fear becomes very small and the desire to fly grows stronger as I peer out of my cocoon to see what it might mean to fly.

I pray that this week we will take the time to sit quietly under the big tree that is God, to pull out our fears and to sit them on the grass beside us and to then look up and stare at the wonder and beauty that is God. I pray that we take a moment to see how little our fears are in the shade of God's greatness and that this perspective will give us the courage to fly!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clearing the space

I am in the middle of changing my room around, not a mjor change but moving a few things around to try and get better use of the space I have been given. I pulled out my towel rack and laundry basket and carefully swept out the space they were in. I was certain that I cleaned the area, that I had removed all traces of dirt before placing my mirror into the space. During this menial task it dawned on me that I don't put the same care and detail into myself.

Seriously just now I stood back and carefully examined the space where the towel rack had been, I carefully thought through what would work in that space, I surveyed the area, moved the mirror ever so slightly to the right to ensure that it was in the exact spot where it would make my life easier. I realised that I don't do that with me and I wonder if my life would be different if I did.

If I took the time to clear out the space in my mind where my past relationships sit, instead of filling the space by moving onto the next date, what would that look like? If I took the time to rid myself of some of the old wounds, if I opened them up and dug out all of the hurt and the pain, allowed myself to really feel it and in the process cleaned out the space around my heart, would it make my heart easier to get to? Would it make it easier to use? Would the communication channel between my heart and my mind be a little clearer perhaps making it easier for them to be on the same page? And if the space was clear would I be more careful of what I allowed into it?

And what if I took some time to clear my mind of some of the junk. What if I went way into the back of my mind and cleared out some of the old thoughts that sit back there and rear their ugly heads at the most inconvenient time... Would that make the new thoughts easier to access? You see right now my mind is this big old pile of mess with all the new thoughts being piled on top of the old thoughts so that everytime something happens I am sifting through the pile of old and new thoughts trying to pull out the new thoughts and occassionally grabbing an old thought instead.

What would my life look life if my mind was clear of the old thoughts, the destructive self-hate thoughts that stir up ugly emotions? Would I see my life more clearly? If the information I needed to make a decision was easier to access would my decisions be simplier to make? Would I know me better? Would I trust me more? Would the path that has been laid out for me be easier to follow? Would I have more space for more new thoughts :O

What if I sat back and looked really clearly at everything that is in my heart and my mind? What if I looked at these two spaces that I have been given and worked out the best way to use that space? What if I loved me enough to take a moment to sit down and clear out all of the old stuff, if I felt all of the pain long enough to remove it from my life? I know that I can't take it away like it never happened but what if I gave it away because it doesn't work in the here and now. You know like we do with a pair of really cute shoes that hurt our toes, the shoe itself can be given away so that you don't accidently wear it one night and wake up the next day with sore toes. It doesn't change the fact that you once wore the shoe or that when you wore the shoe it hurt your toe or that you really did love the shoe and thought it was really cute and wanted it not to hurt you but it does stop you from wearing the shoe again.

So maybe I could do that with the junk that's in my heart and mind, maybe before I go rushing to fill them I could take some time to clean them out and give away the stuff that doesn't quite fit anymore.. maybe just maybe I could take the time to clear some space in me.

I pray that we take as much pride in ourselves as we do in our homes and really take the time to look at our hearts and minds carefully examining all the stuff that's in them and when we do that we will have the courage to clear out some of the junk and give it to God.

Friday, November 19, 2010

blogging through the insecurity

Ok so I am blogging this on the basis that you as my friends will respect the fact that I am keeping the person I am blogging about to myself and that you won't ask 500 questions trying to figure out who I am writing about because it is not the who that is important here, it is the me and the crazy, insecure irrational thoughts that the thought of dating brings to the surface. Oh & I am not asking for dating advice here either.

So there is a man in my world that I think I wish to get to know. He is in my world but not a part of it. I have previously noticed him notice me and lately I have been noticing him more and more. This week we had our usual interaction nothing miraculous, nothing special just a few words exchanged. Anyway I get home tonight confused and being a total girl (the over-analyse who said what, did I notice, play by play freezing the interaction or lack there of) and it dawned on me that when it comes to love I don't think I am worth very much. I found myself (much to my surprise) looking at him with big dopey eyes all excited to learn what he had to offer, wanting him to notice me, to interact with me, wanting to find out more about him. Seeing him as this intriguing, exciting person that I wanted to get to know but at the same time I realised that I felt really small and I realised that the idea of interacting with someone on this level makes me feel really insecure.

In the past I have not loved the men in my world well. I loved one of two ways - deeply fake and misguided or from behind a wall. I either moulded myself ever so slightly into a version of me because I didn't know myself and then I loved the version of the person that I choose to see or I sat behind a wall and loved out of the tiny boarder of the space around my heart. So basically I didn't love, not from a real place and I am not confident that I could love either of those ways anymore even if I wanted to (for the record I don't want to). I guess what I'm trying to say is I have no confidence in my ability to love a man and right now I know that I couldn't even fall into my old habits and that freaks me out.

I mean I live from a place of me now, a place that I didn't even know existed before and this year God has opened up my heart and showed me how to use it and yes I am loving the people in my world, I get that but in my head that is different to loving a man, one man.

Then there is the whole thought of allowing someone in, of being vulnerable and exposed. The thought of "opening myself up" is quickly followed by the thought "to the possibility of being hurt". I'm sure that that thought is not rational. I'm sure that other people think of allowing someone to get to know them and building a life together is really beautiful and precious and amazing but to me it strikes fear into my heart and the anticipation of pain. I'd imagine that this is the feeling that a small possum gets when they see the bright light of a car coming towards them as they cross the road, they turn and look and see the bright light, there eyes pop out of their head and they know in an instant that if they don't get out of the way right now BAM! they will become road kill. Wow reading that back makes me think that perhaps I need therapy but I'm serious that is honestly how I feel.

I could blame it on bad boyfriends (and believe me that would be valid, my choice in boyfriends has always resulted in me becoming the road kill I convince myself that I am destined to become) but if I did then I would be neglecting the me in those relations. I would be neglecting that statement, I would be neglecting the fact that I made those choices because that was what I felt like I deserved which I think brings me back to now. I think that when I think of dating I think of the person/s I used to be and not me now. I don't see the person I am or what I have to offer so when someone comes along who I want to get to know I feel like they wouldn't want to get to know me because I didn't want to get to know the person I was so why would they.

I don't see myself as the woman I have become, I don't see the loving heart I have been taught to use, I don't see the passion and purpose that I have in my life, I don't see the things I have to offer. I see the mistakes and the pain of my past and it makes me insecure..

You know it's absolutely extraordinary to me, for the first time in my life I like who I am, I know without a doubt that in this moment I am exactly where I am supposed to be, my life has purpose and I know where I am going and yet still inside there is this piece of me that doesn't think I am worth the love of a man.

That statement is hard to write but in my head there is a voice that tells me it is true, in my heart I know it is a lie. I guess I need to align my head with my heart, I need to take a really good look at myself and allow the realisation that it doesn't matter what I do or don't do or what I have or haven't done because here in the silence in no make-up doing nothing I am worthy of love. Love is a gift from God and all I need to do is receive it.

This week my prayer is to know that my worth is not determined by my past but by God and he paid a high price for me, to know that I am not only worthy of love but that I am already loved beyond measure and to allow my heart to receive the love that God is trying to bring into my world. Big prayer, thankfully my God is a big God xx

Monday, November 15, 2010

I had a dream

So the other night I had a dream, not one of those Martin Luther "I have a dream" for my life to change humanity moments but one of those regular dreams that we all have. The kinds where you are asleep and dreaming of strange stuff happening like giant cats in pants chasing you. It was a normal dream but not a normal dream, it was a dream where I woke up different. It was like the path of madness that my dream took me through was my life to date and as I scurried along the maze of confusion something shifted. I guess what I'm trying to say is I think my dream changed my life.

I woke up from the dream at 5am (surprisingly ok with being up at 5am on a Sunday) and felt the urge to write down my weird and wonderful dream and as I wrote of the things that I saw and did in my dream it was as if pieces of my life were put together and I was given a better understanding of my journey so far. There was something magical about seeing my decisions out of the context of my real life, represented in bright colours and contrasts of good and evil, something that made me see them as if I was looking at a children's storybook as opposed to tragic events in my life. Seeing them that way gave me a new perspective.. I guess it allowed me to see them for what they were, places on the journey, lands that I lived in and it allowed me to stop getting stuck in the places and defining myself by the experiences. I guess it set me free from my past and allowed me to forgive myself for the choices I had made because now I see how those choices fit together and how they have led me to here.

So yes the more I think of it, the more certain I am, I had a dream and that dream has changed my life.

I pray that we can each take a step back from ourselves, to stop getting stuck in our choices and allowing them to define us. I pray we take a moment to examine our lives as if we were children and our lives were a storybook, maybe then we could see the journey and not the mistakes xx

Friday, November 12, 2010

A word on Sydney

I realised this morning how much I miss this space, this place to write & express myself. Lately I have not made time to curl up here and share my heart with you in part that has been because I have been away and with going away comes the catch up that happens the week you get back. In part it is because I have been journalling away privately. I tend to hide away & privately process when a shift happens that I don't understand, I think that was what happened while I was in Sydney.

Those who know me well have watched me struggle with the love/hate relationship I have with Sydney on and off for the last year. Like a woman just out of an emotionally abusive relationship who doesn't quite know what to do with the love she once had, in one moment I would spit vile hate-filled words about the place and who I became there, who I allowed it to make me be vowing never to return. And in the next breath I would fondly remember the good times, the moments of pure joy and love would pulse through my body urging me to return. I was a woman confused not wanting to return to the person I was but still loving the place. Over the weekend I think the love/hate relationship settled into one of old love.

You see a shift happened over the weekend and I realised that it wasn't Sydney that I had the hate feelings for it was the person I was when I was in Sydney and the life I got caught up in and chose to live. Without a doubt Sydney provided the perfect platform for that, it is an excessive city so for an excessive personality like me the opportunities for excess were taken. There was the excessive working, excessive drinking, excessive dancing, excessive dating, excessive going out, it became my lifestyle to the point where I was so sucked in that I didn't know how to be anyone except that excessive person when I was there. I am restless by nature and living in an area of the city where peace is accomplished through doing destruction prevailed and I completely burnt out and broke down.

You see I am a doer and when you "do" in order to find yourself what you actually do is lose yourself in stuff, in work, in people and then you wake up one day and realise that you don't know who you are anymore and that you are in so deep that you can't find yourself in this place. For me, finding me meant leaving the city, coming home to a place and people that knew me when I didn't, walking away from the toxic lifestyle and the toxic people. For a long time I thought that because I hated who I had become there that I hated the place but last weekend was different.

Last weekend I walked the streets I used to love to hate, I ate in the places I used to eat, I stood on train platforms where I once cried tears of despair, crying out to God for a solution to the madness that had become my life but this time I didn't get lost in the city. This time I was me and I flowed through my weekend, like a comfy old pair of jeans I slide into the city. It was warm, cosy, comforting, it was peaceful, it was home and I realise now that it will always be home. It might have been the place where I lost myself but it was also the place where I found God and the courage to walk a life of purpose and for that reason I will always love Sydney. Like the thought of an old love, a smile will cross my face when I think of it and I will give thanks for my other home.

Loving yourself

What is it about us that makes it so difficult to love ourselves? Is it the teasing in primary school that so often turns into relentless bullying in high school? Is it the years of comparison to friends, popular people and the air brushed perfection we see in magazines? Is it a culture that rewards those who harm themselves in order to achieve success - the workaholics who spend so much time at work that they become their work who having no time for anything else live on a dangerous cocktail of stress/lack of sleep & fall asleep after too much red wine or the fame obsessed stars who torture their bodies with lack of food and too much exercise pumping themselves with botox and who knows what else constantly searching for perfection.. Is it the role models that we parade in front of our children? We tell them you can do anything but we don't even believe it about ourselves.

How do you tell you 13 year old daughter to love her body when you hate your own? How do you show her how to respect herself and not let a boy pressure her into doing something she doesn't feel like doing when you are constantly allowing the world around you to dictate what you do? How do you convince her to love and trust herself when you don't love and trust yourself? And when did you stop loving and trusting yourself?

I was thinking about it this morning trying to work out when I stopped loving myself, stopped trusting myself and why.. I think it was a slow process, something that happened over many years and I think it happened because I let what other people said about me stick, I think it was because I based my opinions of me on other people but why? Why did I do that? Was it because I never fit in at school or because my family was poor and I was raised to believe that I could pull myself out of the cycle of poverty with hard work, with effort or was it the bad boyfriend choices, the ones that took my spirit in their hands, slowing wrapping their fingers around it one finger at a time, softly at first but then getting tighter and tighter until all the love I had for myself was squeezed out and my spirit was left empty and dry and in desperate need of love, of their love.. Was it the hurtful choices I made after those relationships?

I'm sure it was all of those things and many, many more but I'm not even sure that "why" it happened is even the right question to be asking. Shouldn't I be asking myself what now? I guess it's time to start loving and trusting myself. So the most important question is how? How do I love myself and not in the do something nice for myself today way (that is a start but it's not the answer). I guess I'm asking how do I love myself in the silence of my room on a cold night when there is no-one to talk to and nothing to do? How do I love myself in a room full of people when there are one million things to do? How do I love myself in the face of temptation? How do I love myself in the boredom of the ordinary? How do I love myself in the excitement of the extraordinary? How do I cultivate an unmoving core of love deep inside around which I can build my life, a love that will guide my choices and help me to trust what's in my heart?

I'm not sure I have the answer to any of those questions and I'm not sure I ever will but for me it starts by accepting the love of God and of others. Of allowing love into my life, not the love of someone who will use it to manipulate and destroy but the real love you know like the love of my girlfriends, my family, my world, maybe seeing what they see in me to love. Most importantly I think it's important to shift my perception of love and what it means to be worthy of love.

Love is not a prize that is given as a reward for something, it's not a prize for the prettiest/smartest/strongest and it's not a treat used to train someone into behaving like you want them to behave. Love is a gift to be given freely to anyone and everyone, it is not something you earn or work for but something that is your God given right! As I grow in faith and learn more about God and the love he has for the world the more I realise is the biggest reason I have a problem with loving myself is the fact that for the most part I have no idea what love is. If I could change my perception and really grab hold of the fact that I don't earn love, the fact that I simply give and accept it then maybe it would be easier to love.   

So my prayer today is for understanding, understanding of what it means to give and receive love and then once that understanding comes I'd like to practice cultivating it within me xx

Monday, November 1, 2010

I feel alive

I feel alive today, alive and happy. I'm not sure if it was the beach on the weekend, the lunch with my family, the 3 church services I went to, the writing, the afternoon nap or the salsa dancing we did (I have a feeling it was the salsa but that is a whole other post), regardless of the reason I feel alive today and it's awesome. In hindsight I guess I was kind to myself on the weekend. There was no pressure to do, no mass planning, no running from here to there. The weekend was full but it was full in that spontaneous "let's go to the beach tomorrow", "wanna see a movie later", "how about we meet for lunch", "I feel like a nap", kind of way. It was liberating. I said yes and no based not on pre-arranged plans but based on what I felt like doing. That sounds really selfish but the result of it was the exact opposite.

I found that the moments I spent with people were quality moments. I didn't feel like I was in one place while my brain was in another, I felt present, alert and a little more responsive. I guess by listening to my body and my spirit I restored myself and even though I did the same amount of stuff that I would normally do, there wasn't that silent exhaustion that I feel when I do, do, do bubbling under the surface. Most importantly I woke up this morning full of life and that feeling has stayed with me all day. I love it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

the place where nothing else matters

Do you have a place where nothing else matters? A place that you can go to anywhere, anytime, with anyone and as soon as you get there, as soon as your feet touch the ground your world disappears and nothing else matters.. A place where you don't think or try or do but just be.. A place where when you leave you are a little bit healthier and a little more whole.. I have that place, for me it's a certain stretch of beach where I can take my dog. I guess most people would go there with their dogs and just see a beach but for me it is something more, for me it is special, almost sacred, it is a place where my soul feels at home.

I don't know how to explain it but there is something special that happens when my toes touch the sand and my foot softly sinks into the warmth.. one foot and then the other, with each step my life melts away. The sun beats down on my freshly sunscreened skin as I walk towards the water, my senses are engaged by the sudden chill of the waves on my calves and all I can think of is this moment, this beautiful, precious moment. Simple, sweet and satisfying. Perhaps this is heaven, I see and feel God everywhere. I am calmer and clearer here in this moment than I am anywhere else. Boof looks up at me expectantly and we break into a run, sand, water, sand, water occasionally we stop to talk to a dog or an owner, sometimes we walk but mostly we run. I love it here. I love every second, every breath I take feels like my first breath and as the air floats down into my lunges I realise that I am alive, that I am here and that this is my life and that I am happy.

I realise that my happiness is really very simple and that I choose to make it complicated. I realise that taking time out to restore my soul and clear my mind is really very simple and something that I need to make more time for. I realise that most things I worry about don't actually matter and that perhaps I need to spend less time being a grown-up and more time being a little kid. I think that I get so busy living my life and taking every opportunity that sometimes I forget how important it is to escape to my little spot on the beach, to leave my world behind and to just be.

Tonight my prayer is a prayer of thanks. Thanks to God for the places he gives us where we can truly be, for the special moments where we can reconnect with him and our purpose. Tonight I thank God for my little spot on the beach :D

Why do we make it about us?

I have a dear friend who is in a bit of a tough spot and I happened to mention to a mutual friend (without letting them know what was going on) that we needed to keep an eye on this particular friend because she needed a little extra love and support at the moment. The response I got from the mutual friend was definitely full of concern and love but it also contained something else.. it contained an "I". "Why hadn't I noticed?" I could see the pain and guilt wash over my friends face and settle as they realised that they hadn't noticed. I could see the sense of failure setting in.. That sense of my friend needed me and I wasn't there. I knew the feeling well because I had been noticing that something was wrong with our friend but she wasn't ready to talk and I had felt that pang of not being able to do anything.

It wasn't until I got home that something stirred inside me and the words "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU" screamed through my body. I realised in that moment it wasn't about me or my guilt or my friend and their guilt, it was about our friend who was hurting. It was about loving her through her pain, about being there for her, it wasn't about us at all. It wasn't about whether we had noticed or not noticed, it wasn't about what we had or hadn't done, it wasn't about us finding a solution, it was purely about her and her needs and it was amazing to me that we had made it at least a little about us. It wasn't that we didn't love her or care for her, we did and do but we did also make it about us.. I think that that is extraordinary and it makes me wonder how often do I do this? How often do I make things that aren't about me, about me?? How often do I get in the way?

Clearly it's not the first time I've done this and I don't think it will be the last and I am not the only one who's done this because my friend doing it was what highlighted to me the fact that I had done it but I would like to do it less in the future. I would like to recognise the me in my reaction more quickly, I would like to understand that I am not the solution to my friend's problems and that it doesn't matter when they told me or if they told me.. all that matters is that I love them. That if and when they feel ready to talk I listen to them, to their need and let it be about them.

I pray that this week as we go through our life we take the time to let things be about someone/something other than us. That for a few days we put aside our need to make things about us and just listen to the people in our world, to just love them selflessly xx

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I choose

I feel like I have just come off the back of two challenging days at work, you know the kind where you wonder why on earth you choose this particular career.. in reality it's not bad at all, I actually like my job, most days I love it but today for some reason was hard and now I'm home but feeling a bit blah. In 7 mins I have to leave my house to go and facilitate at evening college. 10 or so eager students are going to be looking to me to guide and make sense of their ideas and blah is not something that I want to give them, they deserve something more from me.

Right now I sit here with a choice, I can choose to wallow in the blah, maybe let it become sadness which will eventually become frustration, I can fight my evening and hold tightly onto this negative space or I can choose something else. I can choose to celebrate the fact that my friend got a job today, that I made space to write not once but twice, that I have the privilege to facilitate a class that I really believe in. I can chose to be excited about my evening, to allow the anticipation of the rich conversations to be had to simmer in my mind until I smile and excitement bubbles softly into my face causing me to smile.. Tonight I get to choose and I choose to find the joy in my day :D

hmm.. space to be Mary

My life has been somewhat crazy since I last blogged on this page, nothing particularly notable or fascinating just very, very full and any writing I have done has been in my journal or other private media. I have spent my weeks having quality time with my family or catching up with old friends or making new friends or taking on exciting projects (the kind that make you pinch yourself). I guess I have just been busy doing that normal living thing we do, the rushing from here to there, joking, laughing, eating and generally enjoying life. My weeks have been great, I have loved every activity and every person that I have shared them with!! I was going along excited/happy/content but then the other day I woke up grumpy for no reason..

Well I guess there was reason.. my house looked like a bomb had exploded, I couldn't remember the last time I had cooked myself something that my body would enjoy eating, the big comfy armchair that I curl up in with a book, my journal or laptop had disappeared under a mammoth pile of clothes - each piece thrown casually on top of the other as I rushed to get ready between the markets and lunch or between coffee and the movies or between.. But worst of all, I couldn't remember the last time I was still. I couldn't remember the last time I had sat and listened to my soul, the last time I had had a peaceful conversation with God. Don't get me wrong I was praying - but it was on the phone to a girlfriend or in the car on the way to or from somewhere or in the shower. I was writing - but again it was on the bus or during a 10 min pocket of time between one activity and the next. Everything I was doing was rushed, multi tasked and involved doing, doing, doing, doing and more doing :s

Need to read Tozer for Theology well how about I download the audio book and listen while I fold washing and discover whether there is still in fact a chair under that pile of clothes. Need to bake muffins for work well I can listen to a sermon while baking and while they are in the oven, I'll wash up oh and hand wash a dress or two and... It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous but I was getting everything done and that's all that matters isn't it??

Then the other night after a long day at work I was listening to a sermon on the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) while cooking dinner, washing up and texting my girlfriends (yep all that at once don't ask me how I actually heard anything that was preached because that in itself is a miracle). Mark Driscoll was talking about how our culture is all about the Martha, we are about doing, doing and more doing and that we need to ensure that we take time out to just be, to just sit and rest at the feet of Jesus. We need to ensure that we have time to be like Mary..

Something in me clicked and I realised where my grumpiness came from, it wasn't what I had been doing or even the fact that my house looked like a bomb, I was grumpy because I had been so focused on the doing that I had forgotten to just be. I had forgotten the importance of taking some quiet time out for me and because I hadn't taken time for me I was exhausted and each of the things that I loved had become another thing to do on my list. I can honestly say that at the beginning of this week I was looking down a week that looked very similar to last week (and I loved last week, it was awesome!!) but instead of looking forward to all of the things I loved, I was looking at a list of things to do and it scared me.

The things that fill up my week, the things that filled up last week, they are not things to do, they are things that I love, things that make me me! And the people I will see this week, they aren't something to be checked off a list, they are people that I love, people I am blessed to do life with! People I want to give my time and energy to, people I want to get to know! So this morning in a bid to rectify this "doing" mentality and to get some perspective.. I cleared some space, not much just 5 mins in the middle of getting ready just for me and that led to some good writing on the bus and then I slowly sailed into the day and now I am just flowing through it. It's amazing to me that 5 mins to stop and just be at the beginning of my day has allowed me to be present all day.

I pray that as we race towards Christmas and the busiest time of year, we take some time out each day for ourselves, time to be so that we can love and appreciate the blessings we have and give ourselves fully to each and every person and activity xoxo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dreams don't have an expiry date

Last night I was at my connect group, every other Tuesday this group of beautiful and amazing women in the various ages and stages of life get together to talk God and do life. We talk about anything and everything and in a real way. The honesty, rawness and genuine love that happens when our misfit little group gets together is quite extraordinary and such a privilege to be a part of. Anyway last night the topic of dreams and opportunities came up with one of the women feeling like she had missed a few opportunities that she now felt she should have taken (something I'm sure we have all felt) and had a feeling that the opportunity may be coming around again. It got me thinking a little about dreams and opportunities and I started wondering whether dreams had an expiry date..

I don't think all dreams have an expiry date. Sure the surface dreams or seasonal dreams, like the one to marry the pop star you loved when you were 14 or the dream to own a certain car, those dreams have an expiry date. One that's usually brought on by wisdom or an understanding of yourself or the realisation that the pop star is the same age as your dad, no longer has hair and is all out creepy!

But the other type of dream, the kind that seems to be written on your soul, the ones that you can't shake no matter how hard you try, the ones that sneak up on you when you least expect it (you know the one's I mean); I don't believe that those dreams have an expiry date. I think that they live in your soul waiting for the perfect opportunity to rise up again and be worked into action and that it is not the dream that has an expiry date but our belief in the possibility of the dream coming true and our belief is merely our perception.

I think we need to stop looking at our dreams through the eyes of who we were when the opportunity first presented itself and instead need to start looking at our dreams with fresh eyes. We need to look at them with the possibility of who we are now, with what we have learnt and who we are on our way to becoming and maybe just maybe we might be able to believe in the possibility of our dreams coming true.. the possibility that maybe this is exactly the right time to start pursuing the dreams of your heart and who knows where is will lead you.. This morning I stumbled across this inspirational story about a woman who dared to believe that her dream could come true:

I pray that we will take some quiet time, to be still and allow the dreams of our hearts to speak to us and then when we remember them, I pray that we will (even if it's only for a moment) allow ourselves to look at those dreams through new eyes of possibility and let God do the rest xx

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sitting in silence

I am sitting in silence and it is something I rarely do. I live in a house with 2 other people and 2 dogs and I could blame the constant noise in my life on them because the man of our house likes to play PS2 loudly and watch movies so loud that the walls shake and our dogs have a particular dislike for the postman, possums and just about anyone who wants to walk past our home and voice this dislike by barking loudly.. But if I am honest the reason that I rarely sit in silence is because it makes me a little uncomfortable. You never quite know what you will find in the silence, how he will speak to you, the things that will be revealed about yourself and the things that you truly desire.. There is uncertainty in silence and I find that a little scary. You see it was in the silence that I discovered the depths of my love, in the moments where I stopped running and dared to listen to my heart. It was in the silence that my world changed.

In the moments of silence after Cambodia I discovered that I was terribly unhappy with my life in Sydney, it was there in the silence that the tears and despair set in. It was in the silence that I stood still and allowed all that was not ok to come to the surface and it was there in the silence that I fully met God. It was in those moments that I discovered his presence in my life, in me. It was there that I allowed him to speak to my spirit, to rise up hopes, dreams and desires and it was the conversations in the silence that followed that I allowed him to lead me home..

It was in those same moments of silence where I dared to look at myself in the mirror hating the person I saw, hating the person I had become and to start having real honest conversations with God about why. In the silence that followed that terrifying honesty, I made a decision to change. I realised in those moments that the person I had become was based a series of choices that I had made and that if I had chosen to become a person I hated then I could just as easily choose to become a person I liked or dare I say it.. loved. It was in the silence that I started the journey to here, to this moment and I guess right now the silence scares me because what if I was right? What if after years of self-destructive, self-hating behaviour I have made self-loving choices? What if I sit in this silence and examine my life and like or even love what I see? What if I look in the mirror and see my triumphs instead of my failure? What if I were to see someone I could respect? Can I do that? Can I be that honest? After years of hatred, can I love myself?

I am scared of that. I am scared of what it will mean. If I look at my life and the journey God has taken me on and I like what I see, it will change everything. It will change the way I speak to myself, the way I spend my time, energy and financial resources. It will change the way I look after my body, my mind and my spirit. If I were to love myself it would change the way I saw my life and the things that I did. Surely it would have to..

Maybe if I allowed God to show me how to love myself I wouldn't try so hard to prove to myself that I am worthy of his love. Maybe I would take the focus off me and what I deserve and see God in all of his magnificence. Maybe I would see and understand his sacrifice. Maybe I would see that it is him who makes me worthy, that it is by his grace that I am here and that through him I can do all things. Maybe I would accept his grace and blessing. Maybe I would allow the full glow of God's love and favour to shine in my world. Maybe I would stop resisting my life's purpose. Maybe he would actually be able to do all that he wants to do through me. Maybe just maybe I could stop resisting God.

I like noise because the silence scares me because it is in the silence that I can be still and when I am still I can hear his voice and the things that my heart desires. Right now in this moment of silence I can't escape God's presence, I can't drown out his voice, I can't focus my energy on ignoring the cries of my spirit. In the silence I can't ignore the fact that at some point I need to stop hating myself if I want to fulfill my life's purpose. It is in this silence that I must make a choice..

In this moment of stillness on this very ordinary Sunday night when the raging storms of the last few days have stopped and a fresh calmness has filled the air, I believe that heaven appears to be ready and waiting talk to us.. I pray that we will take this opportunity to sit in silence and allow the stillness, calm and peace of God to wash over us until he speaks to our spirits and when he speaks I pray that we will have the courage to listen and dare to believe xo

If I had a choice I would still love you

I don't think that we choose who we love. I think that love is a gift that is given by God and that we don't get a choice in who we actually love. We can pretend to not love who we love. We can take the hurt that they have inflicted and try to convince ourselves that it's not love. We can dislike the person they have grown to be or refuse to have them in our world but I don't think we actually get to choose who we love.

Sometimes I wish I got to choose. Sometimes I wish that I didn't love you, that I wouldn't love you anymore. Sometimes I try to stop myself from loving you and instead I fall in love with other things, with cities, with places, with friends, with all sorts of other things.. Sometimes I try to hate you, I take all of the things you've ever done and I look at them until they become who you are and I can't see you anymore. Sometimes I punish myself for loving you, I drink too much and feed my body hideous unhealthy things. Sometimes I just suppress the love and refuse to acknowledge it, I lock it away and hope that it stays there. Sometimes I try to distract myself, I throw myself into life, I move away, I work too hard, I invest in everyone and everything I can to try to forget you. Sometimes I run away chasing freedom from a feeling that hurts to much to feel. Sometimes I look at the choices you've made and I cry because despite the destruction I see in your world, despite the hatred you seem to have for yourself and the way you have decided to lock up your heart, despite this man that you have chosen to be I still love you.. and loving you is hard.

How do I love a man who won't let me? A man who doesn't love himself? On  the other hand how do I let go of something that I didn't pick up? Something that was placed in my hands? How do I chose to stop doing something that wasn't my choice in the first place? Can I even choose?

I have spent almost half of my life loving you and a third of that time trying/pretending not to love you.. and after all of these years I have discovered that it isn't a choice that I get to make. I can choose to walk away, I can choose to not have you in my life, I can choose not to call you or have any contact with you but no matter how much I try I cannot choose to not love you. Trying to not love you is exhausting and I am sick of fighting myself. So I accept it now I love you.

Do I like you? No, not right now. Is it easy to love you? No, not right now. But I didn't choose to love you, you were given to me and I was given to you and no matter how hard you make it I can't help but love you. No matter how much it hurts me to love you, I have to love you because it hurts me even more to not love you..

Sometimes I think that if I got to choose I would choose to stop loving you because it just seems like that would be easier but then I realise that I don't know how to not love you and if I am honest I don't want to know how. Loving you is a gift, a gift that was given to me and every time I try to give that gift up I feel like a piece of me has died because loving you is not a choice but part of my purpose.

We all have people that have been given to us, gifts for us to love but sometimes loving them is not easy, sometimes we wish we could give the gift away but that choice is not ours to make. It is easy to love the people in our lives that let us love them but the true nature of your heart is found in the way in which you love the people in your life that make it difficult for you to love them..

I pray this week that we have the wisdom to walk away from the relationships that hurt us while having the heart to keep loving (even if it's from afar) the people God has given us to love xox

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An incomplete puzzle

I feel like me life is currently a jigsaw puzzle and I am desperately trying to put it together so that I can see the picture. The problem is that I don't have all of the pieces to put the puzzle together and the pieces I do have, well I'm not sure that they go where I have placed them.. actually I'm not even sure that they go together at all! Yet I still try to put the puzzle together.

I try to force the pieces together, even the ones that don't quite fit, I turn them this way and that forcing a connection that doesn't exist, like a a five year old I squint down at the pieces, poking my tongue out in concentration. If I just turn this piece to the left or move this piece to the right.. surely they will join together and make something. I'm just not quite sure what!

Do you know that I don't even have the box to look at so I have no idea what the picture supposed to be. Yet I carry on.. I look harder using my mind to fill in the gaps, I dream up what the empty spaces between pieces look like. I step back and look at the picture. I chew on the inside of my cheek and scratch my head, it just doesn't look right.

Frustrated I search for more pieces or sometimes I am lucky and I stumble upon them but the interesting thing is that the more pieces I find, the more I realise that I have it all wrong. I realise that the picture I saw isn't the picture and the pieces that I forced together, well those pieces actually joined with different pieces and made up a completely different part of the bigger picture than what I had originally thought.

I think I have it all wrong, you see my problem is that I think I am the one who puts the pieces of my life together, that I am the one who places the pieces of the puzzle inside the frame creating the picture but I am not the creator of the puzzle that is my life so I don't get to put the pieces together at all. In fact I think I am more like the frame and backing, I am the thing upon which the pieces of my life are put.. the picture of my life has already been created and God is the one who is putting my jigsaw together.

My prayer is that I look at my incomplete puzzle and see it for what it is.. not a puzzle for me to put together but pieces of life for me to experience and enjoy. It doesn't matter if I can't see the picture because God will take all of the pieces and put them together, he will make the linkages, my prayer is that I will let him xo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little gift from an old friend

A dear friend just reminded me where I was this time last year and sent me this lovely poem with the words "THIS IS FOR YOU.///////"

Always pay attention to the dreams with in your heart,
Always have the faith to try or make a brand-new start…
I wish for you a world of joy, to share and pass along,
The gift of those who make you laugh and keep you going strong,
The knowledge that there’s meaning in the things you choose to do,
And the certainty you’re cared about for simply being you!

Today she gave me 2 gifts; the gift of reflection and progress and the gift of her heart..

I pray today that we will take the time to give someone the gift of our heart xo

One million places

My brain is in one million places today, part of it is already in Perth day-dreaming away, part of it is at home with my dog who whilst getting better is still sick and had a really bad sleep, part of it is wishing I was in bed asleep, part of me is thinking about the weird dreams I had last night, part of it is mentally packing, part creating a list of the things I need to do between now and tomorrow, part of it is making a list of everything I need to do at work, part of it is starting to process the work I need to do today. Argh! Today my brain is everywhere but right now I need it to be here in my office focusing solely on one task at a time..

If I look inward and focus on everything in front of me in the next 36 hours I will freak out but if I just put it all down and pick up one thing at a time then I think it will be manageable. Putting things down is not my strength I like to hold onto stuff, I'm used to stress and pressure and it motivates me in a sick/weird way but I've learnt that doing things that way, my way, that's the hard way.. holding onto it all, trying to do and think of everything at once; that's the heart racing, lump rising in throat, agitated way of getting everything done. It works but it also frustrates, aggravates and makes for an overall unpleasant day.

So it's time to say a quick prayer giving everything to God, exhale and then begin the mammoth tasks one bite at a time..

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I believe in a church

I believe in a church where the men and women of God arise to the challenge
A church where people don't just preach Jesus they live Jesus
A place where the word of God is preached in an authentic and practical way

I believe in a church where people don't just pray for solution but where people are the solution
A church where poverty, loneliness and illness are not problems but opportunities to serve
A place where people see a need and meet it

I believe in a church that lifts up the community
A church that steps out beyond it's walls and into the homes and lives of the people
A place where engaging in the community is a way of life not a chore

I believe in a church where families grow and children flourish under the love of the father
A church where family is about more than blood and lifelong bonds are developed
A place where people do life together

I believe in a church of real honest experience, where humanity lives
A church where the old take time to teach the young the lessons they have learnt
A place where the young take the time to honour and listen

I believe in a church of faith, of hope and of love
A church where inspiration and peace dwell
A place where love lives, where lives are changed and where dreams are built

I believe in the church, in my church and your church.. I believe that
A church as strong and mighty as the people in it who are willing to rise up to the call of God, it is
A place where miracles can happen, a place where you and I can be part of the solution if we just believe...

I believe in God's church, do you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

A little adjustment goes a long way

Ok so my journey is taking on a new dimension, health *cringe*. I am not healthy. I am not as unhealthy as I once was but I'm certainly not healthy. I was all good with trashing my body in whatever way I felt like and then I stumbled upon the realisation that my body is important, that what I put in and on my body matters. I decided that I liked me enough to treat myself better, to look after this body sooo for the last few months I have been making little adjustments to my life and I'm finding that these little adjustments go a long way..

Physically I feel better than I have in a long time. I have more energy, my skin is nicer to touch and nicer to look at. I feel nourished and alive. My head is clearer, I am more alert less blah and all because of simple changes in my diet like:
  1. replacing the white with brown;
  2. removing the sugar from my 5 bowls of black tea per day (knowing my love of tea some beautiful girlfriends got me a giant tea cup for my birthday) then slowly cutting down from 5 bowls of tea to 1 maybe 2 on a rough day and a little (normal) cup if any on weekends;
  3. waking up on Saturday mornings and heading to West End Markets for a lovely walk in the sun and top stock up on fruit and vegies;
  4. adding vegies to almost every meal I make from spaghetti to eggs on toast - in the last 2 weeks my food has had more vegies than anything else;
  5. choosing the organic option when I can - from eggs to flour to milk;
  6. eating fruit (for me this is something that I only started doing recently :s);
  7. cooking and baking so that I know what I'm eating;
  8. just thinking about what I'm putting in and not how it's going to make me feel right now but how I'm going to feel in 1 hr, 2 hrs etc.
Most people would read this and go "yeah of course you feel better" or "I know all of that" but for me this is part of my journey. It's about understanding my body and what works for it, not following some diet but trying different food combinations and seeing what works for me. For example I love carbs, carbs work for me but carbs with lots of farm fresh vegies works better. It's about making time to make the choices that mean I am looking after me and food is only part of the process, I am also taking steps to change what I put on my skin.

It all started with mineral make-up, it then moved to certified organic body moisturiser and most recently (today) certified organic deodorant (no more spraying aluminium right next to my breasts). I heard Holly Wagner say the other day that "if you can't eat it don't put it on your skin" (scary thought.. imagine eating your mascara or drinking your liquid foundation eww) but she has a point. How many of us stop long enough to think about what we put on our bodies and how much of what goes on our skin seeps in.

For me it's not about going through my house and throwing everything out and starting again but simply replacing products with smarter, healthier options. It's about education and manageable change. I am starting to investigate healthier option now so that when one product runs out I know what I'm replacing it with. For example I know the shampoo brand that I am going to buy in like 3 weeks when my shampoo runs out. I know it's organic, made in Australia (reduction in carbon footprint which is also important to me) and most importantly I know it does it's job and is nice on my hair because it's the same brand my hairdresser uses when I get my hair done. This is what I call a win, win, win change and it's easy :D
I guess what I'm realising is that we have options and that those options make a difference to us now, to our bodies in the future and to our planet. We are so lucky with the choices we have, organic products are in demand and are getting better every day and the information we need to make smart choices is at our fingertips so we are more informed than ever before.. it seems to me like now is the perfect time to start making little adjustments.

I pray that this week we take a moment to look in our pantries and bathroom cupboards and see if there are any little adjustments we can make to invest in a healthier future for our bodies and our planet :)

** for the sake of full disclosure I feel I should tell you that shortly after pressing "publish post" I purchased a bar of chocolate from the vending machine. I did resist the urge to make a cup of tea to drink with my chocolate and I will eat the chocolate over the next day or so but nevertheless I am currently allowing a small piece of dairy milk to dissolve into my tongue.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A quiet moment of perfection

I love today. I am not entirely sure why because it's 7.45am and I had a really bad nights sleep but it doesn't seem to matter because for some reason I love today. Maybe it was the quiet moment I stole this morning. I got off the bus at Southbank and walked over the bridge into the city. On that walk I fell a little bit in love with today.. I am sure that there is something different about the air today. It tasted different, it was lighter, fresher and easier to breathe. I can still feel it lingering in my body as I sit in my stale air conditioned office. The air seems to be softly swimming around my body and its lovely.. I can still feel the crispness of the gentle wind that kissed my face as I walked down the mall, it was that perfect spring wind.. you know the kind, it only happens after a few days of rain, it's not the cold harsh winter wind but the fresh wind of spring that seems to signify life after the rain. I allowed that gently life to kiss my body awake this morning, if I close my eyes I can almost feel it's touch.. Heaven. There was even a softness to the sky this morning, it was gentle, surreal as I walked towards my office.. perhaps it was because the sun had not quite made it through the clouds and had illuminated the sky a magical pale blue/grey. Beautiful. Truly beautiful. Hmm the peaceful serenity of a quick morning walk on a perfect spring day, does it get any better than this?

I pray that I can take this feeling and let it shape my day so that I don't get lost in the world as I go about doing the stuff that must be done but that I instead dwell in the peace of my quiet time xo

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Sister

My sister is my best friend. She has been my best friend since she was born. I was at the hospital when she arrived and we've been somewhat inseparable ever since. She has that place in my heart that can only be occupied by a sister. Sometimes I love her so much that I think my heart will burst with joy, other times I love her so much I want to shake her until she sees sense but no matter what I love her completely. She is one of my favourite people to spend time with and one of the few people that I can do anything with and still have fun. She knows me, sometimes better than I know myself and I trust her with my life. I know without a doubt that she would do anything for me if it meant that I would be spared from pain and I would do anything for her. She is my inspiration.

From the moment I set eyes on the wrinkly little creature with her big brown eyes, her head of dark hair and her tiny little face, I knew that my life would be forever changed. I knew that no longer was I Melinda the only child, I was now a big sister. Being a big sister has shaped my life, it has made me a better person.

At five and a half I knew that my life would be better because of this little girl and at 27 I know that to be true. For almost 22 years I have had this beautiful little girl watch my every move, I am her example, the person she watches to determine what to do and what not to do and that has driven me.

Sometimes it has driven me made like when we were playing barbies when at 8 and I discovered the joys of having a little sister who wanted to play with every doll I touched. At 8 I couldn't appreciate that she just wanted to be like me because she loved me, instead the madness of not being able to play with my favourite doll eventually this drove me to play with the crap barbie first because she would demand to play with whatever I had picked up first and if I played with the crap barbie first she would play with the crap barbie all day (clearly I was not nice at 8). It also drove me mad when I at 13 thought I was too cool to play with her anymore and I just wanted to be with my friends. At that time I discovered the joy of having a little sister who wanted to sit in my room with me and my friends while we read magazines and talked about boys only to have her later tell my mum everything we spoke about (oh the horror!). I have a million stories of how she drove me mad.

But amongst all the madness I never stopped loving her and I remember wanting her to know that she could do anything, that the only limitation was her mind. The only way I knew to teach her to do anything was to live it myself, so I did. I said yes to everything that looked fun, to everything that you were supposed to want. As a teenager I did drama and debating and art and all sorts of stuff. As a young adult I went out and got a career, I dragged her along travelling, I dragged her out to foreign films, to the theatre, to nice restaurants. I went out and achieved as much as I could to show her that she could do anything. That it didn't matter where we came from or what we didn't have, that we could do anything.

Then at 26 I showed her that it was ok to fall apart, that sometimes when we make the wrong decision it's ok to make a new one and she showed me that no matter what I do do or what I don't do she loves me just the same. In that moment in my life where I realised that I didn't like the person I had become, that I didn't like the example that I set for her, she showed me that she loved me even when I couldn't love myself.

I wish I could love me the same way that she loves me. I am now 27 and after almost 22 years my sister still believes I can do anything and when I allow the love she has for me to drive me, I almost believe that she is right. She has shaped and encouraged my faith, she has shaped the way that I love and the way that I live my life. My little sister is my best friend and being her sister is the greatest privilege of my life.

Old wounds need healing

You think that by now I would realise that God knows best. That by now I would be used to him taking my deepest thoughts, raising them to the surface (through all the hurt and pain that I had piled over top in order to bury them so deep) and helping me examine them. You would think that by now I would not be surprised when he dredges up old wounds in a bid to help me understand the wound so that he can heal it. It's something that he does so regularly that you would think by now I would get it but I don't.

I am still surprised by the things that get raised to the surface, things that I thought I had dealt with, things that I thought I was ok with but then when he shows them to me I realise that I am not ok. When I examine these moments in the light of his presence, when we look together at the decision that was made in response to the situation and the way that decisions has shaped my life, in that moment I am undone. When I look at my reaction and the way it has shaped my world, the way it has invited pain into my life.. I am amazed. Life happens and I get that but I find myself continually learning that the choices I have made when life happens those choices define me. They define the way I feel about myself, the way I feel about others, the way I feel about my past, the way I feel about my future, the way I feel about love.

As I walk on this journey with God and he shows me these choices I continue to be amazed at how a small decision that I made, sometimes as a child, has so dramatically defined my life. How I have taken those decisions and built on them, never questioning, always building and sometimes I discover that I have piled so much on top of it that I don't even remember what the first decision looks like.

I think this is something that we all do and I wonder if we took the time to examine the beliefs we hold as true, if we took a moment to look at them to question where they came from, to see how they had shaped our lives.. I wonder how many of them would still be true. I wonder how many of them we would keep? I wonder how many of them we would change? I wonder if we would feel differently about ourselves and our capacity to give and receive love?

I pray that this week we take a moment to allow God to step in and bring to the surface defining moments in our lives and that in that moment we allow him to show us how that moment has shaped and changed us, to allow him to heal us xx

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The freedom of forgiveness

We hear a lot about the need to forgive, about how forgiveness is not about the other person but about you and how when you forgive someone it frees something in you. I had heard this many times from people, books, TV shows, sermons, I practised forgiving others in the past and I had been forgiven. But this morning I learnt about forgiveness at a new level, this morning I not only forgave an old friend but I owned my actions and asked for her forgiveness then I forgave myself.

When we argue in our relationships, particularly our friendships, it can be very easy to point the finger, to get defensive and walk away. It can be easy to justify with comments like "this season of friendship is done", "we aren't in the same stage anymore, we've grown apart", "I'm giving and not receiving" and some of those comments are true and sometimes we really are told to walk away but sometimes we are asked to heal the wound.. 

Sometimes we are asked to own our actions and say sorry for them. Sometimes we need to take a moment to realise that we have used our words and actions to hurt just as much as we've been hurt. To realise that we were being selfish or defensive or spoilt. Sometimes we were just not thinking. Sometimes we were taking our day out on our friends and if they had found us on any other day the comment that started the fight would have rolled off our backs, forgotten before the end of the conversation. Sometimes we realise that the reason we reacted so strongly is because we weren't honest about our actual needs and feelings, because we didn't actually address the little thing that has been bothering us continually for 2 weeks.. Sometimes when we look at our actions we realise that we were just as much to blame..

Sometimes it's important to take a moment to appreciate the "I" and "me", the "what I need", the "what I'm not getting" part of the conversation because sometimes when we do that we realise that we are asking or worse expecting the other person to give us something that they can't give. Sometimes we seek something from them that we actually need to get from somewhere else and then we realise that we have been unfair.. Sometimes we realise that in fact their words were true and that we need to make a change and that our reaction was extreme because our precious egos were offended, because we don't want to accept what we know is true..  Sometimes the "I" and "me" gets in the way of truth and love and growth. Sometimes we need to put down the "I" and "me" and instead focus on the "us".. Sometimes that means saying "I'm sorry". Not "I'm sorry but you", just "I'm sorry".

I think owning our actions, emotions and needs is important in all situations but particularly in our arguments. Owning these things doesn't mean that you dismiss the hurt and pain or that you allow people to walk all over you but it means recognising what is you, looking at what's left and then basing your reactions on the actual situation. Sometimes you are not going to like the version of yourself you see.. It is really easy to feel guilty and like a bad person (particularly when you realise that a massive chunk of the argument was you :s) and it's tempting to take all of the blame and to go from beating the other person up to beating yourself up but that's not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is about forgiving everyone including you. You can't change the past and who you were but you can change the present and who you are and you can change who you will be in the future. Today I have learnt that forgiveness is a complete circle and that once you have owned your actions and emotions and forgiven the other person it is really important to complete the forgiveness process by forgiving yourself.

I pray that we will search our hearts for those people and moments that need forgiveness, in your mind they may not be big moments but they sure do weigh a lot and when you take a moment to forgive one of those moments completely then you will be lighter, happier and a little more whole xx

Friday, September 17, 2010

Choices that energise

This morning I am excited, I have just finalised my trip to Perth! I will have 5 full glorious days in the city for the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends, actually she is more like my sister than my friend. I am excited for her, for our friendship, for the wedding itself but also for me. I feel like I have lived 3 years already this year and it is only September so it will be really nice to take 5 days to escape and just relax..

If I am honest I feel like I have spent this year growing into me, I've been working on my spirit and removing all the toxic stuff and I feel strong again. Strong in who I am and ready to give back. I think this Perth trip will be the bridge between finding my feet in who I am and living that out. Does that make sense? I feel like so far this year I've been very self focused, the time and energy I have been investing has been into me, my healing, my family, my home, my friendships, my passions, being at home in a new but old city and now I feel like I am ready to give back. To invest in others, to contribute to my community and to move forward with my purpose.

I'm not saying that I have my life together or that I'm going to stop working on me or my relationships but more that I feel like I have been stretched and that those things are flowing quite naturally so now I have space and capacity to take on more. I also feel like I know me enough that I can make wise choices about what to take on. I know what energises me, I know what ignites my spirit and where my passion lies which means I know what to pick up, what to say no to and what to put down (I don't always make choices that reflect that knowledge but I'm working on it). I think as people we have amazing capacity and potential and that if we chose wisely most of us could do more than what we do. I think the problem is not how much we try to fit into our lives but what we try to fit. We try to fit things because we "should" not because we feel a "need' in our spirit. When we choose to fill our lives with things that speak to our spirit we have time and energy and it sparks up a different life inside.

I feel like this is a lesson I am in the process of learning. When I look back over the last 7 weeks, my world somewhat fell apart at the exact same time as I decided to facilitate at evening college. Now generally it would be wise when facing such a season to put down things rather than pick something new up but I'm just not cut that way so that's not what I did. Facilitating was something I was excited about doing and after the first night I knew that it was exactly what I needed in this season.

It didn't matter what had gone on in my week or my day or how tired I was when I was because as soon as I was in that room leading my small group I was alive! Being there fed me and it sparked a spirit for life that flowed over and into other areas of my life. I got stuff done when I got home at 9.30 pm, I slept better, I felt peaceful and energised, I looked forward to Wednesday. In spite of everything going on in the rest of my world or the fact that I was giving my time and energy and bearing my soul to the people in that room I was still being me and it was the breath of life I needed. The experience has inspired me to try to choose like that more often. I want to try to choose to put down and say no to the stuff that drains and to pick up the stuff that breeds life.

As we approach the spring/summer season of bbq's, Christmas parties and end of year celebrations, I pray that we can take a moment to listen to our spirit and to put down the things we should do and pick up the things we need to do xo

Thursday, September 16, 2010

time to shake it off

Lately I find myself struggling with my age. Not the number so much as the season of life in which I fit or more particularly the seasons in which I don't fit. I guess I noticed this strange season that I appear to be in the other day as I was getting ready to go to the youth at church and debating whether or not I was too old to go. I wasn't number wise too old as they had recently increased the age limit from 25ish to 30ish but I felt too old. The increase in the age limit was a recognition that the definite line between young adult and adult was not the same as it used to be, people are living at home longer and marrying older, travelling more.. there was a recognition of the need to cater for those who had passed the mid-twenty deadline but who hadn't yet entered the next phase of life. People like me, I guess. Anyway as I was looking in my wardrobe disregarding things that were too young and feeling like a nanna I began to wonder about the choices I had made in my life to date and how those choices had aged or not aged me.

My career choice has definitely made me feel older than I am. I think it's partly to do with the level of responsibility I was given at such a young age plus the culture of legal profession. Career wise I have been a full-fee billing grown-up, running and attending client meetings, managing my own files and delegating with all the budget/billing pressure for years. My work life is so serious, so adult and sometimes I think I get caught up in that and take it home, I wear the heaviness and responsibility all the time. I am pretty sure I choose to live that way (wow that's a frightening and depressing thought!).

I'm not saying that I didn't get to be young (or that I don't have moments like that now) or that I didn't party and be stupid when I was young but I think early on in my career I had to put on this mask of being all serious grown-up and together for bosses and clients and then it became a habit and now I'm not sure how to take it off :s I don't want to keep wearing that heaviness and responsibility I want to take it off! I want to be my age, not older, not younger but my age. This confusing no season age not a young adult awkwardly working out how to be comfortable in my own skin but not settled with the husband/house/kids/minivan. I want to have fun and go to youth and be smart without being destructive. I want to jump around in the dark to music that was too loud and just enjoy being free but still have my quiet time with a cup of tea and a good book before bed. I want to enjoy the benefit of wisdom with the freedom of my youthful lifestyle so it's time to shake it off, to get rid of the heaviness and responsibility. Time to just be me and enjoy this season!

I pray that this spring we shake it off, that we shed the heaviness and responsibility of winter and allow ourselves the freedom to live x

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jesus is ________ .

Quick Post: this morning as I checked twitter I saw an awesome tweet from Pastor Judah Smith (Lead Pastor at The City Church in Seattle) about an initiative his church is running called "Jesus is ________." The initiatives website really got me thinking about who and what Jesus is to me. It also allowed me to see who and what Jesus is to other people and to agree or disagree with their comments, interesting stuff. You can check it out at

I pray today as we muddle through hump day we will take a moment to think about who Jesus is to us and to allow the love a stranger feels for Jesus to inspire us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

She called me a mighty woman of God

Last night, after debating with myself about whether or not I, at the ripe old age of 27, was too old to go youth/young adults gathering at church (which in itself is a whole other post) I found myself standing on the deck eating too much sugar while mingling with new friends having a lovely time. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the adorable girls that is in my evening college group. At some point we made our way with our respective friends to the same place; where there are hugs, greetings and the usual commotion that happens when a group of girls get together. Then in the middle of the introductions and hello's my adorable young friend proudly introduces me to another one of her friends as "A mighty woman of God".. in my head the music stops, the voices around me fade into silence and the ground under my feet spins as the words "mighty woman of God" echo in my head... those words are still echoing in my head today and I don't quite know what to do with them..

I feel honoured that she thinks of me that way and it is the most amazing complement that anyone has ever given me, I mean my girlfriends and I talk about becoming mighty women of God but to actually be called one is weird, awesome and lovely but weird. I guess am shocked because I see myself stumbling along this faith journey making mistakes but taking steps to try to learn and grow and walk with God, I see a girl learning to be a woman of God but I don't see a mighty woman of God. The idea of being called one sits awkwardly in my spirit.

Obviously this label doesn't change who I am and I know that we should not define ourselves by labels, particularly labels that others have placed on us but that doesn't change the fact that those four words are out there describing me and for some reason they don't feel comfortable attached to me. I'm curious by that and by my reaction.

I feel like I did when I was little and I would wear my mum's high heels and stumble down the hallway, they didn't quite fit but I so desperately wanted to wear them and walk confidently in them. Trying on the label "mighty woman of God" feels like I'm trying on something that is not me right now, something that I might one day grow into, something in the future, something far away. It feels like it belongs to someone else but now here it is and it is attached to me and.. what now?

I am confused. Does this mean that I am closer to becoming the kind of woman I want to be or dare I say it that in some respects I am her? Does this change the way I see myself when I look into the mirror? Does it change some of the not so nice labels I use for myself? Does it encourage me to live my life better? But most importantly why do I find it so difficult to accept that someone in my world thinks of me like this?  Why is it so hard for me to believe that perhaps I am living in a way that inspires someone else? I find inspiration from simple, everyday things and from most of the people in my life so why wouldn't I be able to inspire someone else.

I guess my prayer for this post is a selfish one, I pray that I find peace with this label, that I wear it for a few days and that I use it to encourage me to step up and into being this "mighty woman of God". For those of you struggling to see yourselves through the eyes of the people that love you, I pray that you will take a day to try on the nice things they say about you and to see if you can get comfortable in being the person that they love xx

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I am wrong - learning to challenge the lies I tell myself

Generally I would call myself a confident person. Overall I like myself, I live a life that I am happy with and I make decisions based on the information I have on hand. Yep if you asked me last week I would say that I am confident but then something happened that made me realise I wasn't so confident after all..

So earlier this week I found myself in a not so pleasant situation which was very similar to a not so pleasant situation I was in last year (you know those moments when you do something not quite right and are supposed to learn a lesson but then you don't learn the lesson and 12 months later you find yourself in the same place re-learning the lesson you should have learnt the first time) and in despair I rang one of my girlfriends to freak out. I babbled on and on with the "Oh my gosh how did this happen/I'm doing it all again/I see it so clearly now" stuff that one says when they find themselves in such a situation when I muttered the words "I am wrong", along with something along the lines of "I was wrong then and I'm wrong now". My very wise friend stopped me mid babble and said "Wait what did you say?", to which I replied "I am wrong again" and then she said that life changing word "Why?".

What followed was a massive discussion during which I had the realisation that 12 or so months ago at the end of a messy situation I had announced to myself that I was wrong and had been wrong all along and that other people in my life had been right. What I didn't realise at the time was the impact that that announcement "I am wrong" would weave it's way into my spirit and dictate the way I lived my life for some time..

In this moment if I am honest with myself and look back over that the last 12 or so months, I can pinpoint a number of decisions that I have made from the starting point of "I am wrong". I can see myself people pleasing and asking opinions of others when I know what I should do. I can see myself second guessing what I know in my heart. I find it extraordinary that something I said to myself in the heat of the moment could change so dramatically the way I felt about myself and my life but from little decisions to big ones I can see how those three words have shaped my life. 

The irony of the entire situation is that I wasn't wrong at all, the decision I made at the time was exactly the decision I needed to make and that the choices I made leading up to that decision (which were based on trusting myself and not what others were saying), those choices were exactly the right choices for both me and my partner at the time. So this life changing self-talk of "I am wrong" which changed the course of my life was said in the heat of the moment about a situation where I wasn't wrong at all!

Ever since we had the discussion I have been very conscious about examining the things that I say both out loud and in my head and whenever that "I am wrong" thought underlines something I am making a conscious effort to question it. The frequency of how much I have had to challenge myself this week has shown me just how deeply that innocent comment has shaped my life and it hasn't stopped there.

I then had the pleasure of facilitating a small group for the evening college at my church last night (as I do every Wednesday night) and the topic we were discussing was the strongholds of our minds. The very first question challenged us to write down the negative thoughts we have about ourselves and then examine and challenge these thoughts. As we discussed and worked through some of the negative thoughts we had about ourselves as a group last night, I realised how many of us have said harmless little comments to ourselves which have then shaped our lives.

My prayer for us is that this week is that we listen to ourselves, we pay attention to the way we speak to ourselves and about ourselves keeping an eye out for the innocent little lies that we tell ourselves. When we discover those lies I pray that we look at where they came from, recognise them for what they are and replace them with truths about who we really are. Much love xo

Developing Faith - a whole new world

I love to travel! I love to visit new places, to explore new cultures. There is something so magical about being away from home, I don't know if it's the lack of responsibility or the fact that no-one knows anything about you or the freedom I feel when I am in another part of the world.. whatever it is, I love it! I can honestly say that there is not a country that I would not visit (provided of course that such travel was relatively safe) so I jumped at Cambodia. I had never been to the third world and it really was a whole new world and in it I discovered a whole new me.

Cambodia is an amazing country but it is also vastly different from Australia, I think Cambodia was the first time in my life where I had no choice but to trust God. I mean I had no choice. From the time we woke up and got on a bus that wouldn't be allowed on the road in Australia for our trek out to the rural village where people didn't speak English along roads made of dirt with pot holes the size of ponds spattered along it to the time that my head hit the pillow at night, every moment of every day required a whole new measure of faith. Daily decisions like trusting that I could be of use on a building site, trusting that I could learn how to lay a brick (FYI I can) or make a brick from mud or carry buckets of water in 35 degree heat. Trusting that the food I ate would nourish my body and not result in me being in bed for 3 days. Learning that dirt is not a defined term but actually has to do with your surroundings (Praise God for hand sanitiser). Trusting that it was safe to travel with this Tuk Tuk driver or to get onto this Moto or walk down this street. All those things that we do to function and live became an exercise in faith and in trusting God. But it wasn't just these daily physical things that required faith it was my mental and emotional well being.

Trusting that I could sit with a little orphan boy on my lap who is the same age as my nephew and is just an ordinary 3 year old who likes hand puppets and balls but who happens to have the HIV virus which resulted in him being abandoned by his whole community. To run around with water bombs and play with him and not burst into tears, to wish more than anything that you could bring him home and give him the kind of childhood that all little kids should have.. it required an emotional strength that I just don't have and I had to trust God for that strength.

I had trust him for the strength to watch and listen as a beautiful little girl who was about 6 and her sister are delivered to the orphanage because her parents separated and remarried new people and neither of them had space in their new families for this precious little girl and her baby sister. To watch her stand quietly in a corner not quite sure why she is there or how long she will be there for too nervous to play with the other kids but trying to be strong and protective of her baby sister. To sit there while your heart breaks into a million little pieces for all of these children because the only thing you can give is your love and time and that is limited by the fact that you are in the country for a limited time.

To have faith that God is raising up good men and women like Mr Leng and his wife all over the world to run safe, happy orphanages where these children can go and be loved. To know that all of these beautiful precious children are not forgotten, that everyday ordinary people are entering their lives and meeting their needs from buying a big bag of rice to raising funds to build another room for the kids to sleep in. To know that God is using you and that the few hours you spend with them makes a difference changes your life and then once it is changed you have no choice but to remain changed.

For me Cambodia changed my life, it changed the way I saw my God, the way I relied on him.. But the most important thing Cambodia gave me was faith that if I let him God will use me to change the world, maybe not the whole world but the world of one or two people and that realisation has changed me forever...

I pray that this week as we go about our lives, we take some time to ask God to show us how he wants to use us to change someones world and that we would then have the courage to be the change xx