*new blog series*

Week fifty two – ‘(*Fin)’

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Feels like you’re miles from here,
in other towns with lesser names.
Where the unholy ghost doesn’t tell
Mary or William exactly what they want to hear.
You remember the house on Ridge Road
told you and the Devil to both just leave me alone.
If this is salvation, I can show you the trembling.
You’ll just have to trust me. I’m scared.

I am the patron saint of lost causes.
Aren’t we all to you just near lost causes?
Aren’t we all to you just lost

Tommy, you left behind
something that will mean everything right before you die.
What if you gained the whole world?
You’ve already lost four little souls from your life.
Widows and orphans aren’t hard to find.
They’re home missing daddy who’s saving the abandoned tonight.
Wish your drinking would hurry and kill you.
Sympathy’s better than having to tell you the truth.

That you are the patron saint of lost causes.
All you are to them is now a lost cause.
All you are to them is now, causes.

Billy, don’t you understand?
Timothy stood as long as he could and now
you made his faith disappear.
More like a magician and less like a man of the cloth.
We’re not questioning God.
Just those he chose to carry on His cross.
We’re no better, you’ll see.
Just all of us, the lost causes.

Aren’t we all to you just lost causes?
Are we all to you lost?
Lost causes
So all we are to you,
Is all we are, is all we are
All we are is all we are

[Choir:]
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you? (Lost causes, all we are is all we are)
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you? (To you, lost…)

Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?
Patron Saint, are we all lost like you?

Take what you will, what you will
And leave. Could you kill, could you kill me
If the world was on fire
and nothing was left but hope or desire
And take all that I could bring forth, is this hell
Or am I on the floor over-desperate?
Hold hands streaming of blood again?
And then take full weight of me
Guard my dreams, figure this out,
It’s me on my own. Helpless, hurting, hell
Will you stay strong as you promised?
Cause I’m stranded and bare.
Meanness is washed up in all that I am
is God. Take this and all,
Then grace takes me to a place
Of the father you never had
Ripping and breaking and tearing apart
This is not heaven
This is my hell.

One of my absolute favourites by Anberlin

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…and it saddens my heart that along with this being my final blog post in this blog series, Anberlin have their final Australian tour in a couple of months. I thought a brief spiel about my love affair with their music would be fitting for my final blog post in this 52 Week Blog Series I started last year.

Initially, I began it as a way of expressing thoughts, feelings, learnings and the like from my studies – but it evolved into much more and I’m truly grateful to any of you who have read one of my posts 🙂 it’s a true thrill to think I’m reaching so many of you across the globe!

I’ve written a previous blog about an Anberlin that you can revisit here – but these are some fresh thoughts in light of their new album that arrived on my doorstep yesterday and their fast-approaching final Australian tour…

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I first heard the unique and beautiful sounds of Anberlin when I was in the backseat of my friend’s car. Her brother turned the music over to an Anberlin song (which would soon become my favourite of their songs – ‘Paperthin Hymn’)…and from then on, I was smitten. My friend was already an avid fan – I’d now call her the biggest fan I know – and I’ll forever be grateful to her for introducing me to this music. You know who you are! 😉

Anberlin have so many different sounds wrapped up in their various albums that often times I find one song acting as an anthem for a certain situation and the next song acting as a backing track for a completely different situation. There are stories, emotions, truths and beautiful pictures conjured up by each song on every one of their albums, that it’s hard to listen to any album and not be drawn into the lyrics.

On top of this, Stephen’s voice matched with the raw talent of the other band members is just electrifying – I’m often swept away in my own imagination when I listen…and I know I might sound like a dreamer or a bit too obsessed, but when I truly appreciate someone else’s musical talent, it just adds a really magical feel to what I’m listening to.

So as I wrap up this blog series, I also wrap up a tradition of seeing my favourite band live on stage. It’s been a terrific journey, but all things come to an end at some point…I just hope that at these final gigs, my friend packs herself enough tissues so that she can still see them. One. Last. Time.

(Pictures courtesy of Pinterest)

*new blog series*

Week fifty one – ‘ditch the schedule’

I’m a stickler for time. I live my life by the clock, by the timetable, by the calendar. I love schedules – I thoroughly enjoy the sense of order they bring to my world and the rush of peace I get when the things in my schedule are ticked off.

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Can you relate? Do you like having order in your plans and your plans running to order? Do you like things done in a consistent manner – ticking them off, one by one at the appropriate time? I sure do. And there is nothing wrong with this of course…unless the schedule I’m running to complete and stick to impedes upon my relationship with those around me.

I saw this in vivid colour on Sunday. If I haven’t mentioned it already, I co-facilitate a discipleship/fellowship group for young women in their first years out of high school. This year, we’ve been meeting about once a month to reconnect, pray and go through a Louie Giglio series – Boy meets Girl – that you can look up here. This week we would have been at session 3…but after such an extended break, we all found ourselves sharing stories from the past few weeks with one another and genuinely getting know more of each other’s heart beat.

Initially, I was keeping track of time so that I could draw the conversation to a close and we could start the DVD study session…but as the talk flowed, the laughter came and the genuine sharing got a bit deeper, I watched those minutes tick over into hours and by the time it got to our usual end for the gatherings, we’d not even hit the play button. In fact, I’d turned the laptop off.

There was so much in the hearts and minds of these young women, that right then in that moment – I was so glad we ditched the schedule. I was so glad that I got to hear about a recent camp two of them were on, about new job opportunities for another, about the beginnings of the semester ahead for yet another…we played two get-to-know you games that made us think about ourselves and share with those around us. We spoke of prayer points (or as my phone charmingly likes to autocorrect it – ‘prayer ponies’!) and praise points and we able to hear one another out.

I realised on Sunday that sometimes it is good to ditch that schedule, that programme, that plan and just BE. If I’d been a stickler and shut the conversation down to do the study, I wouldn’t know so much more about each one of those who were present, and I wouldn’t still feel such a sense of community today. Sometimes it is definitely worth it to ditch that schedule and simply see what flows organically, see what happens naturally …you might be pleasantly surprised by what God reveals in that moment 🙂

(photo courtesy of Pinterest)

*new blog series*

Week fifty – ‘a recent discovery’

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Those who know me well, know that I am not a big baby person. I don’t much care for the strange alien-look that newborns have…the spit up that 3 month olds deliver…the constant nappy changes…the early mornings associated with crying…the clingyness of the tiny human…the inability to communicate with a little person who has no words……among other things…..

And I am acutely aware I sound like a truly horrible human being right now with a dark heart!

Don’t get me wrong, I see the flaws with how I see babies…I’m not totally unfeeling! However, I’ve just never been into cuddling them or making ‘mooshy’ noises at them in gaga speak……………………..

Until now.

A discovery has been made – a wall inside my heart has begun to crumble and light is filtering into a well-hidden area of my soul. God is at work, softening what I have hardened over the years and boy is He doing a good job! Something is starting to give – albeit, slowly – and I’m discovering… I don’t mind babies so much.

I think I can pinpoint the start of God’s transformation of my heart too. A good friend of mine recently had a baby and seeing her and her husband with the little fella just makes me smile…and when the little fella smiles at me there’s a flicker of desire deep inside that God is fanning. They have been an amazing example of first-time parents…and have such encouraging words to share, that I can’t help but step back from my ‘anti-baby’ former self and scrutinise this new ‘maybe-I-want-kids-soon’ person 🙂

So there you have it. A pretty big confession on my part; a pretty big discovery has been made and while I am in no way fully ‘there’ yet – the road is laid out already, God is there, my hubby is there, friends and family are there and if kids is something that lies ahead for us…I’ll know that God was at work in the now to get me to the there.

Is your heart hardened against something? Is God softening it?

*new blog series*

Week forty eight & forty nine – ‘seasons’

Shawn McDonald has a brilliant song called ‘Time‘ – these are the lyrics…

There is a time to laugh
And a time to cry
And there is a time to accept
And a time to deny

There is a time to be strong
And a time to be weak
And there is a time to listen
And a time we must speak

For everything there’s a reason
For everything there’s a rhyme
For everything there’s a season
For everything there’s a time

For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time
For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time

And there is a time to say hello
And a time to wave goodbye
And there is a time when that we are born
And a time we must die

And there is a time to build up
And a time to tear it down
There is a time to be lost
And a time to be found

Everything there’s a reason
For everything there’s a rhyme
For everything there’s a season
For everything there’s a time

For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time
For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time

One without the other
Is like a king without his kingdom
Everything works together
It all coincides

For everything there’s a reason
For everything there’s a rhyme
For everything there’s a season
For everything there’s a time

For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time
For everything, everything
Everything there’s a time

Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

There is a time for every activity under heaven…

So what’s the rush? Why is everyone in a hurry? Why do we feel the need to do everything now? Everybody is in different seasons of life, so how can we compare our journey with that of another? How can we say ‘man I’m so behind the times! I should be doing this or that like those people’ when we have our own journeys to live? How can we say ‘you should be at this stage of life now and have all of that sorted by now’ to those around us when our story is completely different to theirs? Everybody is at a different stage of life – in a different season of life – and God is leading each one according to His own timing.

It’s something I have been learning a lot about recently – that the season I am in right now is O.K with me. I don’t need to be in a rush. I don’t need to do what everybody else is doing. I don’t need to copy those around me just to ‘fit it’ because God has my path perfectly laid out for me. 🙂

This verse has been a bit of a rock for me recently…

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A steadfast verse that delivers truth and peace and strength straight to my very core. So when you’re feeling pressured to be, do, say, act or look like everyone else – remember that there is a time for everything and God has your path perfectly in turn with His timing…

*new blog series*

Week forty seven – ‘1 year’

I figured it was time for an actual study update, seeing as that was the whole reason for this new blog series!
So as of about a week or so ago – I AM DONE FOR THE SEMESTER! Which also makes it a year since I began this TESOL adventure! How time flies 🙂

Next semester I have 2 subjects to go and then I can graduate with an actual teaching qualification – something I actually might want to use this time! 🙂 The final 2 things to get through don’t involve lectures – 1 is a reading subject and 1 is a placement in a teaching environment…so I’m super nervous, but they should be good experiences nonetheless and then I’ll be all DONE! High 5

I know we’re not quite at the week 52 mark of this blog series, but it’s been a year since i stepped out of fulltime work and into this study opportunity and I have learnt a few things that I wanted to share on here…

  1. I’m not an A+ student, and I do sometimes get sad when I don’t do quite as well on an assignment as I had hoped I would, but I have learnt how to be much more gracious with receiving feedback and constructive criticism in an effort to better future pieces of work.
  2. I thoroughly dislike reading when it’s not on a topic I’m interested in – and when I say ‘thoroughly’, I mean I’d rather bite down on an onion and chomp away than read another lengthy article about something I have a -0 care factor of.
  3. I actually can work well in a library setting. I was always afraid that in that sort of environment, I’d get distracted and annoyed, but I went a couple of times this last semester and found myself being rather productive!
  4. I truly appreciate the maturity and freedom that comes with post-grad study. There is so much benefit to being at this level of education because there is a lot less teacher-student hierarchy and more relationship and openness.
  5. Studying parttime has been a dream! There was a lot less stress involved, I had a lot more time to devote to the subjects that I was actually focussing on and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of work required. I could deliver my best.
  6. This is where God wants me to be. As much as the season of study can be a truly tedious slog sometimes – especially because my husband and I are both studying – this is the season of life God has placed us in and called us to flourish and be present in. This is where we are at this time in our lives and…

I. Am. Ok. With. That.

So there you have it! A basic update of where I’m at having been in this stage of study for a year so far…future posts to come, especially as I’m not at week 52 yet – but thanks for staying tuned! May you feel God’s peace as you embrace your place today – the season you are in right now is where you are called to be right now, just like me!

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest, but I feel it sums up my study experiences! Coffee and tea and laptops and books…)

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*new blog series*

Week forty six – ‘joyful noise’

I like singing…particularly when no one else is around to hear me! I’m quite sure that if people were to actually listen to me, ears would bleed…my other half disagreed, but he’s biased 🙂

Anyway, another thing I like doing is joining in with corporate worship in song at church. As much as I’m sure I can’t actually sing like Beyoncé or Hayley Williams, I definitely like adding my ‘joyful noise’ to such an amazing sounding collective song…often times I’m blown away by how the congregation sounds together – it’s beautiful.

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So this Sunday just gone, we were in the middle of some songs during our evening church service when I noticed a young girl with a disability. Nothing out of the ordinary, necessarily – but what really caught me was her participation in the singing. She wasn’t singing the words as they appeared on the screen and she wasn’t in tune. But what she was doing was definitely making a joyful noise to The Lord! With hands raised and head back, she was belting out worship to the One who loves her just as she is and it was the most moving thing I’d seen in a while. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. And I admired her true abandon, as she stood there praising the name of our amazing Creator.

That girl inspired me. She inspired me to throw aside what had held me back in the past about my singing. In that moment, I no longer was afraid of what other people thought of my voice because to God’s ears – my song was just as beautiful as that young girl’s and just as worthy as that of the worship leader.

Be encouraged today to make joyful noise unto The Lord because it’s all pleasing to His ears when it’s for His name and from the heart…

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[Photos courtesy of Pinterest…of course!]

Shout to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with joy; come before him with singing. Know that the LORD is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends. Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving and into his courtyards with songs of praise. Thank him and praise his name. The LORD is good. His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on. (Psalms 100:1-5 NCV)

*new blog series*

Week forty five – ‘no sunglasses’

There’s something about sitting still and listening to the silence. I haven’t done this for a long time. So when we were given the space to just be with God, not necessarily speaking but just being at the young adult’s retreat, it was a fresh experience.

I walked down the road and found a spot to sit. This was my view:

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In the sitting, I suddenly became aware of my surroundings. Magpies warbled. Something was rustling in the undergrowth. Tiny flies were flitting around my head. Ants were scurrying about in the dirt. The air was crisp and new. Bugs scampered around my shoes. The sun ducked in and out of clouds. A dog barked. The smell of freshly cut grass wafted on the breeze.

The moment I was spending in the quiet and stillness of the day couldn’t be captured by an Instagram photo or a status update. There was something REAL in that moment, something that brought a tear to my eye as I thanked God for slowing me down so I could actually appreciate where I was.

I’ll be the first to admit I often live life with sunglasses on – I see things with only shadowed perception and my peripherals are compromised…but in that moment of sitting by the side of the road, at the top of a hill in the middle of a Saturday, I was reminded if the intricate wonder of creation & my place in it.