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