brain farts, Uncategorized

Dear me…

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Dear Me,
I’m future you! Fancy that. I want to tell you a few things that these years have shown me and taught me…they won’t change you in the past, but they can help you as the years roll on.

You are beautiful. You already are. You actually always were and it bums me out that you never accepted that. Your clothing size – doesn’t matter. Your university qualifications – not where you find your worth. Your job – not what makes you who you are. Having said all that, I want you to know that being a mother also doesn’t define you…you will love your new role as Little E’s mum and you will learn crazy-amounts about yourself, your husband, your family and your friendships…but it doesn’t make you who you are.

Dear past-me…enjoy life where you are because this version of you and the things you’re doing won’t exist soon. God is shaping and changing you with each new experience. Learn to love the you that you are today and lean in to the changes and the challenges. Don’t try so hard to cling to the past, to the things that you used to know…they served you well and were important for a time, but God is leading you down paths that you can’t even imagine! Adventures await, and if you hold on too tightly, you’ll miss them.

Don’t get so caught up in people-pleasing, following the crowd, doing things you think people expect you to do and trying to fit in…future you knows that those things don’t matter! Future you knows that your time and heart will be too full of better things to worry about the trivial. Stand out! Stand out and stand up – be an example to the daughter who is watching you so intently.

Don’t compare your journey with those around you…there isn’t another you and there isn’t a story the same – so why bother? Focus on where God is taking you, your family, your world and go there! Look up, look forward…

Read more.
Watch less.
Cook more.
Walk more.
Try new things.
Say ‘I love you’ all the time.
Hug more.
High five more.
Laugh more and be silly more…what do you have to lose?

That saying ‘dance like no one is watching’…? Yeh, actually do that, would you? Dance with Little E because one day, she’ll probably ask you to drop her off a block from her friend’s house and give you a nod while her headphones are glued to her ears instead.

Past-me, I liked you. But future-you will be even better because of Who created you. Who you are comes from Someone greater, so you know it’s good! Past-me, I hope you know I appreciate what you did for future-me…you’ve helped me as the years have rolled on.

(image courtesy of pinterest)

baby J

‘Giving up’ isn’t giving up…

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Giving up isn’t the same as giving up.
Raised eyebrows? Hold up a second 🙂

I’m talking about transition, change or different directions when I say ‘giving up’ – the idea of releasing your grip on something in your life and ‘giving it up’ – surrendering your control over it – to an all-powerful God…and this is NOT the same as simply giving up.

‘Giving up’ – a verbal act of admitting defeat – yielding, relinquishing, renouncing…THIS kind ‘giving up’ isn’t what I’m talking about. When things change in life – whether it’s a positive change or not – sometimes giving something else up in order to embrace that change is necessary. Sometimes there are moments in our journey that are so essential to the pressing in of our God on our lives that giving something up in order to be more available to His calling is primary.

This doesn’t mean you ARE giving up – it doesn’t mean that dream is dead, that relationship is lost or that job is never going to be the same…it just means it might look different. It might be that your ‘giving it up’ actually re establishes it! It might look different but in His time, it might be stronger, yield more fruit or be more enjoyable and had you NOT given it up when you were asked, you might never have discovered that!

My encouragement for you is that you seriously consider ‘giving up’ whatever it may be to a loving God & waiting patiently to see the outcomes…they may not come straight away and they may look different, but He works all things together FOR GOOD.

I am learning this all firsthand and whole-heartedly with the latest member of our family unit – hubby and I welcomed team member #3 on the weekend and with little hands and lion’s eyes, she is such a sweet edition already! But with a new baby, change is 100% inevitable and 100% not always comfortable. Relationships have to change, commitments have to change, work has to change, priorities have to change and sleep habits have to change 😝

But with each new moment we spend with her, we see God’s handiwork and His fingerprint intricately woven into every fibre of her little being and the ‘giving up’ doesn’t feel like such a big deal when the gain is so much deeper.

Yes there are hard moments of missing the old days, but if I’m not flexible in life with the responsibilities God gives me, why would He ever give me more later?

So be encouraged! Know that He knows what He is doing and don’t be afraid to give up once in a while!

baby J

More lessons from the bump

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I use ‘bump’ loosely…when in reality it’s like an oversized basketball concreted to my front! 😉

Anyway, this music legend just about sums up where I am right now in terms of welcoming Baby J into this outside world super soon…it’s the overarching feeling I have that on a general day, outweighs the nerves and the unknowns.

So I thought in light of these flutters of excitement intermingled with jolts of nervousness and anticipation, I’d share a few more lessons I’ve been learning with the bump 🙂

#1 – Flip flops are my friend. I am quite literally down to a pair of flip flops as the only shoes that fit and given that we’re still in winter here, that’s not ncessarily ideal…! My feet are so swollen by the end of each day it’s a wonder I can actually walk! 😉 I’d heard about swollen feet and ankles in pregnancy, but until you experience it for yourself it’s a bit of an enigma!

#2 – I’m ok with strech marks…seriously! It took nearly this whole time for me to see any evidence of these and to be honest, I’d been hanging out for them! I wanted to see that Baby J was growing and therefore my skin was streching. This said to me that Baby J was a size that he/she should be and was doing what he/she should be doing in there. These are my stripes. These are the stripes that I’ve earned during this period and it’s pretty amazing that the human body is able to strech out this much to house a small other human!

#3 – Pregnancy books are b-o-r-i-n-g! I thought I’d enjoy reading them – I thought I’d like to soak up the knowledge and highlight and sticky-note and fold down pages…but in all honesty, I find them to be a real bore! And it’s no particular author or book – it’s just kind of the topic and structure of them in general…don’t get me wrong, the information is important and useful but man it’s a slog for me to get through a chapter or two!

#4 – Swimming is the beeeest! Well, I already knew I loved swimming – I’d swim every day if I had the chance – but swimming while pregnant is awesome! I’m weightless. I’m mobile. I’m flexible. I’m comfortable. I can float on my back and swim on my front and my skin isn’t itchy! It’s ridiculously refreshing and calming and oh man I can’t rave about it enough! Haha swim swim swim…! 😀

#5 – Pickles…I love them. Now, I’ve read the stories about pregnant women wanting ice-cream with pickles at like, 3am – but it wasn’t until I felt like a toasted cheese sandwich with sliced pickles that I realised the gravity of this precious vegetable. They’re sweet. They’re sour. They’re delicious…not with ice-cream, but BOY are they good with melted cheese on toast! If I were to order a cheeseburger right now, I’d ask for extra pickles. If I need a midnight snack tonight, I know what I’ll be having. I’f I need an afternoon snack, I know what it’ll be. It’s not a ‘craving’ per se, but it sure is what my toasty machine sees a lot of these days…! hehe

But I think the most important thing I’ve been learning is #6 – God’s timing is sovereign. 100% – in every situation – in every life stage, His timing over-rules my own, despite how brilliant I think I am 😉 This isn’t always easy to comprehend or even accept…a lot of the time, I don’t even really consider that God truly knows what He is doing, I just sort of take it for granted. I whinge, I complain, I get annoyed at what God is doing…but in reality, He has me exactly where I should be and sometimes it takes a great whack to the system for me to realise it fully. But when I do, I’m thankful for His timing. I’m thankful for His patience and I’m thankful for His ongoing love.

I’m sure I could list so much more than I’ve been learning during this part of my life, but I’ll leave some sleeping dogs where they lie…!

What are you learning?

baby J

What I’m learning…

  
Being pregnant is tough.

Ok, ok…it’s not as tough as a lot of other things in this world, but it sure isn’t a walk in the park (though I went for one of those yesterday). There are so many moments where I just wish I could throw in the towel, sit down in the middle of the floor and drink a glass of wine with some soft cheese on crackers. Then of course, I wouldn’t be about to receive one of the greatest gifts I think I’ll ever have the pleasure of unwrapping. So, while I wait this nine months out, trying desperately to keep it together and cling to the promises of my Creator, what have I been learning? 

1. I can’t do everything I used to do. Even when I COULD see my feet still, I was so sick I was barely able to get from the lounge to the bathroom and back again. Now that the sickness has mostly passed (praise the lord!) the aches and pains and swelling and bloating and stiffness has kicked in and my abilities are once again hindered. I can’t run – I can barely walk quickly! I can’t bend in the middle. I can’t sit for a long time, I can’t stand for a long time. I can’t lie on my back and I struggle to get up from the floor. Sounds delightful doesn’t it? But in these limitations, I am – slowly – learning that if I can slow down and accept help NOW I can slow down and accept help when Baby J is here. I can relish the time with our little one because my need for speed and urgency won’t exist as it has in the past. I can smile and say thank you from a genuine place in my soul for the meals cooked and the babysitting offered.

2. Heartburn is a beast! I’ve had heartburn before – we all have, yes? These days I get it several times a day and it’s like a volcano erupting inside my throat! So far, the remedies I’ve tried haven’t worked all that well, though eating an apple helped settle it a little…if you have anything that has worked a treat, please do let me know!

3. My husband is my biggest supporter. It must be so surreal and odd to be having a baby – about to be a parent – but not actually physically a part of this time. He doesn’t really know what it feels like and I’m sure that must be hard…but I have come to know quite quickly that he is the biggest supporter of anything that I need or want during this time. He’s cooked random meals, done housework, booked appointments, come with with me to them, ordered books, tied my shoes, run me baths, brewed me tea and all kinds of other things! But amongst all these acts of love, he has prayed for me and whispered words of encouragement when my spirit has been low and my eyes misty with tears. He has always got a word of strength and a prayer to offer and this means the world to me, especially during this time.

4. I don’t actually mind people touching my stomach. I thought I would! I thought I’d hate it with a passionate fire and need one of those ‘hands off!’ tshirts to wear, but in all honesty, I don’t mind it. It makes me feel like that my friends and family can be a part of this and it shows me just how much Baby J will be loved….though don’t get me wrong, if a random stranger tries to do it, I might set aside my aches and pains and deliver some hefty karate chops! 😉

5. Don’t compare, don’t compare, don’t compare…”comparison is the thief of joy” and in this case, it’s very true for me. Sometimes, well-meaning comments from those around me or too long scrolling through mama-blog after mama-blog of pregnancy, birth and parenting experiences set my grey matter going – “am I supposed to be bigger like her? Am I supposed to be fitter like she is? Was I supposed to do that too? What if my baby isn’t like theirs?” The list goes on…comparison strangles my ability to relish the good moments, seek God in the tough moments and prepare in my own way for what lies ahead. Every woman, every pregnancy, every baby, every relationship is different and if I let the comparison set in, then I lose sight of my divinely created individuality and I discount my own experiences. 

These are just some of the bigger things that I am learning on this journey to parenthood, but by no means the end of the list! Each day comes with new trials, new triumphs and fresh chances to experience where God has called me to be in the now…what I’m learning the most though, through all my mini lessons, is that if I am trying to please the people around me rather than my God, I’m not living authentically. I’m not properly experiencing this time for myself. I’m not perfect, my pregnancy isn’t perfect and my child won’t be perfect either. But I’m learning that to be honest about how I feel, is to be real and to be real means that my ownership of this period of my life still remains.

What are you learning…?

  
(Images courtesy of Pinterest)

brain farts

Blogs, adventures, sailing & service

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Whose been on a cruise?
Hands up if you get seasick?
Ever travelled to a foreign land you never thought you’d get to?

I can tick off each of those, technically! For 3 months from 2010-2011 I spent time serving the Lord with other like-minded, passionate people onboard the Logos Hope ship. We sailed from through the Middle East, visiting cities and countries I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d see with my own eyes.

The Logos Hope is an incredible missions ship run through OM. It’s essentially a huge floating bookstore. They bring hope, healing and acts of service to places around the globe and some of my fondest memories are from my adventures onboard that floating home. You can read more about Logos Hope and OM here and discover the magic for yourself 🙂

A good friend of mine is embarking on her own adventure with OM in just a few short weeks. Se starts the amazing journey by heading to Africa before she boards the Logos Hope. If you’d like to read more about her travels, head over to her blog and say hi. Kathryn I’m sending you some readers hopefully 😉 I hope your trips are just out of this world, I can NOT wait to read about everything you get up to! God is up to some intense stuff!!!

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(Photos are actually mine!)

brain farts

It’s Christmas! 🎄

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Christmas 2k14 has been today and gone tonight…it was a day filled with good food and awesome family!

but did I once consider the real meaning, reason and purpose for today’s festivities? I don’t think so. Not nearly enough. Isaiah 9:6 is my verse for today and I only read it once. There is so much depth and gravity to that verse – to all verses really – and the only thing I really thought about today was that someone seemed to get a better gift than me. Crap. That really is not a good enough effort, especially considering the weight that today holds.

Isaiah 9:6 Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.

What do all these words mean when they’re read in context and through the filter of the Holy Spirit and God’s true breath? God gave His creation the strongest and greatest ‘glue’ to fix what had been broken. He loved what He had made so ridiculously much that He sent a part of a himself to earth in a tiny, screaming baby so that we would always have the opportunity to be in real relationship with the One who truly loves and knows us the most. What greater love could there be?! God wanted so much for each of us to find solace and life in His arms that He became physical and real to show us how and why.

THAT’S what today is about. The true love of an incredible Creator and His woman-born Son who came to reach out and simply love as we need it most.

Happy Christmas, it is indeed because ‘hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born…

Blessings.

Life in youth ministry

Collision and Kaleidoscope

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Today marks a year in youth ministry. Four school terms. Two semesters. One Easter Camp. One Fourth of July shindig. One Murder Mystery Dinner. Countless Bible engagement nights. Four small group activities. Two state Baptist gatherings. One AWESOME leadership team.

It’s been a year of souring highs – Friday nights where you leave elated, on fire & with more energy than you had after two coffees at lunch…but also of crushing lows, leaving you wondering ‘am I actually where I’m meant to be?’ I’ve served alongside some incredibly inspiring people whose hearts for the Lord will continue to astound me and it’s been my privilege to learn from those who have been in the field longer than myself too, watching them work, mingle and love the youth that God brings to our church family.

Reflecting on an insanely outstanding hear, there are a few things that I have learnt along the way that I hope will stay with me and be a part of next year’s youth ministry journey…

1) I’m not good at small talk. I get flustered. I don’t really know where to start & I get tongue tied…but even in my inability to communicate sometimes I found that this year, a lot of the best conversations I had stemmed from my persistence with small talk. I fought back. I ignored my desire to run the other way, and instead engaged in conversation with top-notch leaders, friends and youth kids. Sometimes I ask God for deeper conversations with people and He gives me opportunities to foster this through small talk.

2) Power really is a drug…better keep that one in check! There’s a fine line between tripping out on power and just being a good and efficient leader sometimes and I’d hate to think that I enjoyed being in charge so much that I spun out of control. Being aware of my abilities and limitations as a leader should never be tossed aside in favour of a prestigious title or tight reins on fellow workers.

3) It really IS all about the kids. End of the day – I wouldn’t HAVE a job if they weren’t around. Everything we prep during the week, everything we plan and execute and buy and set up and pray over and organise and dream is all a waste if it isn’t with the kids in mind. God has placed us each in this ministry field to LOVE and SERVE them, and if we’re merely planning events that mean they’re out of their parents hair for one night or they aren’t at home playing Xbox or surfing the web, then we’ve missed the point. They, as young people with incredible potential and who are crazy-loved by their Creator, are the reason we do what we do. Not the ‘tick the box’ mentality or the fun we have (though that’s a real bonus!) or how good it might all look on a resume…the eternal nature of what we do with and for these kids is the big reason. God in their lives is what it’s about.

4) Pray. I forget this. I get wrapped up in tasks, in lists, in making sure things are ready to go when the time is right that prayer seems like just ‘something else’ I’d better do. But if I STARTED all of that – all of my to-do lists – with prayer, it might actually feel less like a chore and more like a kick-off. If I started everything I have to organise off with prayer, then everything that I had to organise might not feel like such a chore either…and my heart realigns with point 3) above – why God has got me doing what I’m doing and who it’s all about.

I’m sure there are a bunch of other lessons I learnt this year, but at the moment as I think back over this past year in what I can safely say has been just an amazing journey filled with God’s timely blessings, these are the most standout tonight. The year has been a collision of ideas, movements, desires, trials and adventures. It’s been a kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences – from uni to youth ministry to friends and family. There are tidbits to be picked up and cherished in every adventure and every journey, and I’m thankful for everyone that I experienced 2014 with and every lesson that God has gently brought me to and through…

2015, what do you hold…?

(Image courtesy of Pinterest…)