brain farts, Life in youth ministry, Uncategorized

Incomplete

incomplete

Does the word ‘incomplete‘ stress anybody else out? Leaving tasks or jobs or assignments only half-done, or slightly attempted? This is something that really irks me – really pushes my limits. Even if it’s just the laundry – bringing in the dry stuff, but not going the next step and actually folding and putting it away. Bringing it in is only half the job. It’s incomplete. Blegh.

The last few weeks have been filled with assignments, readings, power-points and even some oral presentations as I squelch my way through an intensive Certificate IV. I worked my rear end off in the first 2 weeks to stay up to speed with everyone in my class who was able to attend face-to-face sessions whilst I was not. I submitted stuff, I worked into the wee hours and I bailed on things like vacuuming and doing the dishes.

This meant my house felt incomplete. It meant my weeks felt unfinished because I hadn’t done what I usually do.

Then I got – by the grace of God – to the final sections of this course (which has been a struggle at the best of times) and realised there’s a possibility I may not complete it due to some of the final requirements. So my house is back to being completed on a weekly basis, but now my assignments and my course may go incomplete.

Anyone else feeling that tension? Urgh. The very thought that I worked so hard for something that might now actually not eventuate brings on the tears and the panic and the guilt. The ‘incompletness’ of it makes me feel like I was never going to be good enough to finish it in the fist place, so why did I try? Why did I try something new?

During my latest episode of stress induced guilt and tears (or was it guilt induced tears and stress…?) over it all, this memory flashed into my mind:

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A lovely friend had this made up for my birthday. It’s one-of-a-kind. Hand-made. Unique to me and created for who she knows I am. And you know what? I got a little perspective. I am not this course – complete or incomplete. I am not the vacuuming – done or not done. I am not the washing or the folding or the dishes or the gardening…I’m actually none of the things that I put such incredible pressure on myself to have complete.

I’m the sort of person who gets lost, pretty quick, in the concept that my feelings or my actions or even my thoughts or what someone says about me is what I am.

God’s Word says the opposite though – there’s so much more to who I am in Christ than what I can complete. I am actually enough already, regardless of whether the washing gets done today or not.

And I am enough already regardless of whether I get a full course completion or not. Who am I performing in the course for anyway…? God? Me? The facilitator? My boss? At the end of the day, the skills and knowledge that I learned along the way aren’t forgotten because I may or may not get a piece of paper at the end. The people I met and the conversations I had during that time aren’t nothing. Every experience I have is worth it because I learnt something and it was were I was meant to be at that time…so complete or not, I guess what I’m learning now is that the outcome doesn’t define my worth or competence.

Completing the course doesn’t define my abilities and role as a student or an employee and completing the dishes or the laundry doesn’t define my abilities and role as a mother and wife either…I. Am. Enough.

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baby J

We laugh but it’s true

  
So I thought instead of keeping all the ‘lol’ slash ‘face palm’ moments to myself, I’d share some! Here are some of my experiences and musings from our baby journey so far…legit. 😉

• you’re actually getting out of the house! *high five* you change out of your size-too-large leggings and sicked-on tshirt and you think your outfit is on point…only to realise that yes, you STILL have baby sick on you in places you didn’t realise you’d held your baby in clothes you’ve only just put on…

• your baby is an absolute angel for your friends and relatives, but the second you’re alone together and one-on-one, she transforms into the single loudest human being ever

• pushing a pram uphill makes you feel like you’re on The Biggest Loser and Michelle Bridges is screaming at you…from within the pram 

• I wasn’t guna be one of ‘those’ weird parents, but yep – I tasted breast milk

• a baby farting with absolutely no shame or understanding of what’s just happened can actually be the funniest thing ever

• the ability to spend long enough in the shower to wash your hair is like receiving an Oscar – you just wanna stand there, holding that shampoo bottle and thanking everyone who made it happen

• there’s no such thing as breakfast, lunch and dinner anymore – they’re all now lovingly referred to as ‘babyisasleepruntothekitchen

• you’d better make sure you have a huge house and some kind of industrial sized shed when you have a baby, coz for small things they come with a big pile of crap…prams, change tables, bouncers, clothes clothes and more clothes; nappies, oodles of wipes, toys, wraps, blankets; carriers, car seats, ‘accessories’ (what the heck? Is my baby a Nokia 3315 that needs a glittery dingle-dangle and multiple cover choices with do-it-yourself sticker art?), sun shades, wind protectors and rain coats (oh yes we’re all about shoving that baby out into nature…), oh and did I mention nappies?

• forcing mini-baby-friendships on your baby is really fun NOW but I have no doubt I’ll probably cop it in 18 years when she’s whining to me about her embarrassing naked bath photos with this forced-friend…like mother like daughter

• finding an empty pram park at the supermarket is like finding the lost world of Atlantis…

• ‘one size fits all’ only works with baby clothes if you’re dressing a cabbage patch doll…

(Image courtesy of pinterest)

baby J

I have just met you…

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(Courtesy of Pinterest)

It’s been 6 weeks since our team grew by one – SIX WEEKS! I can distinctly remember 6 weeks before she was born – I was well and truly over being pregnant. 1000% done with that period, that ‘waiting game’…and now we’re 12 weeks on from THERE! I can’t tell you how the days go by…it’s not as if we actually do a great deal, realistically…the first few weeks were purely feeding, nappy changes, sleeping, burping and learning that anything more than about 5 hours in a row of sleep is a rare gem! 😉 But as the days have rolled on, we have gotten to know our little teamster – some of her likes, her patterns and her little quirks and in the last couple of weeks, we’ve even seen that gorgeous little grin get bigger and brighter!

For those who know me, they’ll atest to the fact that I’ve not ever really been a clucky person…a friend handed me her new baby once and I remember thinking “well…what now? what do you do with it now?” So it’s been such a random experience with my own new baby because – and wait for it now – I just literally met her and I already can’t really picture our family without her! In the words of Doug from ‘Up’

“I have just met you and I love you!”

There’s a deepness to that love that extends beyond the fact that she might be screaming in my ear at 3am…or pooping all over her onesie that I just changed her into…or clawing at my face with her needle-like fingernails…there’s a love that comes from somewhere else, somewhere bigger and greater than I am, that overrides any of the anxious or depressed or overwhelmed feelings I have.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from smooth sailing! I still struggle to truly distinguish between her different cries and teaching her to self-settle isn’t as straight-forward as books led me to believe. Breastfeeding is a b*%$# sometimes and the photos I saw in blogs or articles of ethereal women whipping the boob out with a placid little bub sucking away, now just make me laugh! I still haven’t got the whole nappy-change-new-onesie routine down and yes, it’s hard to remember to have tummy time AND read to her AND play with her AND go outside AND feed AND sleep AND burp AND everything else all the books and advice are telling you that you MUST MUST do in a day…!

BUT -> 6 weeks ago our lives changed dramatically and we are both still in awe of how this little person – complete with her own DNA, thoughts, emotions and personality – has weaved her way into our hearts! The fact that those gangly arms and legs, thick head of dark hair and sweet little smile was inside me not that long ago continues to blow my mind! 😉

Every day is filled with new or different experiences – new milestones or new challenges, but at the end of each day when we’re all climbing into our respective beds and bassinets, there’s not really any other way we’d have it!

baby J

Screaming

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She screams, I scream, we all scream…but there’s no ice cream involved. It might be 2:45am, it might be 11:15am or it might be 7pm – the time doesn’t matter, she’s hungry or hot or cold or has a wet nappy and she NEEDS our attention and she needs it NOW!

Adjusting to life with a little one is like nothing else. You can read all the books, all the blogs; watch all the clips, pin all the pins & have thousands of conversations…and still, nothing truly makes you feel ‘ready’ for caring for 110% of another human being’s needs.

So much has to change now that duckie is in our world – everything from when we eat and sleep to when we can go out of the house or even simply check the mailbox. Neither of us was oblivious to these huge shifts, but of course when reality is actually upon you it still feels surreal.

This week, there were two major stand-outs in my adjustment to our new journey:

1) I have a long way to travel in developing my patience. If I can’t fix her needs, I get frustrated too quickly. If I can’t stop the cries or settle her down, my initial reaction is to pull the plug and pass her over to my other half who (somehow!) has endless patience and a repertoire of songs to sing as he works out what she’s trying to tell us. Thank you God for that man – he keeps me sane, helps me breath & is somewhat of a baby-whisperer!

2) I have to learn how to be a different kind of friend. I can’t hold the friendships I have in the same way as I did before. My priority has to be my family unit & the daughter who relies on us for everything. This means that yes, catch-ups will be different, attending events will be different & generally being ‘around’ will be different. However, instead of wallowing in this shift & feeling guilty, remembering that change is the only constant in our lives is important. If friendships were strong before duckie arrived, they’ll be different – but they’ll be strong with her addition to them too.

There are moments when I feel like throwing in the towel, but if I can pause…take a breath…and look at her little hands and lion’s eyes, I can know that God wouldn’t bring us TO this if He wasn’t going to walk with us THROUGH it too.

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!

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…)

brain farts

New things

It’s Autumn here in Australia. That means the end of the year is fast approaching! But before we get there, we have term 4 to get through – we have the last quarter of the year to venture into and see what it holds.

For those of you who have been reading my pieces for the last little while, you’ll know that I am super close to completing a TESOL Grad. Dip – and I mean SUPER close! I literally have one paper to write and submit and I am DONE! (Providing I pass everything – graduation looms in April next year) I got through an amazing placement, handed in multiple lesson plans and reflections and slogged my way through book reviews and bibliographies to get to this point. So in this last part of 2014, I have some new adventures on my plate – things a little more out of the comfort zone than what I’m used to.

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From now unti Christmas, there are a few things coming up that are totally new for me – and I am freaking out just a little bit! I have been given the chance to take on some substitute teaching through the college where I did my placement!! What a crazy-amazing honour! I was truly touched and felt so blessed to be given this chance – it also felt really lovely to be acknowledged as a promising educator in my field of study! So, day after tomorrow – I tackle my FIRST EVER CLASS on my own! Eeep! Nervous is an understatement!

Also this term, I’ve been given the privilege of speaking at one of our Friday night youth gatherings!! Our series this term is ‘Core Strength’ – focusing on developing and maintaining our spiritual disciplines…and I’m speaking on Silence and Solitude, something I truly believe is important for everyone to put into practice, even if you’re an extrovert! So I’m nervous about that too – I’ve never spoken in front of a big group of people before – let alone for a specific amount of time and to teenagers! 😀

So I think as 2014 slowly dims down and 2015 creeps into the limelight with each new day, fresh adventures are a good thing. It’s good for me to try my hand at new and different things, even if they scare the heebie jeebies out of me! God is streching me, developing my skills and honing my passions with each step and while He never promised to give us only what we can handle, He did promise to give us the right tools and equip us in the right way for what lies ahead.

What new things are you experiencing?