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Christmas Devotional: Peace Upon The Earth

The word peace in its rawest form means a world free of disturbance and tranquillity. The application of this word upon our earth means an age free of war. The human race has a thread throughout the beginning of time where we long for peace.

The quiet moment where we see communities working together for the “better good” of the whole rather than the advancement of the individual.

This Christmas more than ever I think we all long for good news. I don’t know about you and your house, but each and every time I turn on the news as my family settles in for the evening I regret it. The overwhelming needs found in our communities sometimes disable me.

Just recently I was sitting out to lunch with a new friend, who is a business owner in my local town. She said to me “I’d like to give back this Christmas”. I have stock that I often sell and all my stock runs low at this time of the year, but this year I want to give it away to those who don’t have much”. Over social media, we chatted about options and then we came together again to hatch a plan. Last week I went to go and pick up what I thought would be a couple of boxes of beautiful handmade products, to walk away with hundreds, upon hundreds of little gifts for people in our community.

I called our local refuge, who opens their doors three days a week for those who are needing shelter and safety, to see whether they would like to give them out to their guests. Then I also found a house of hope, that takes in young pregnant women and we gave boxes to them. Then we bought hundreds of them to a campaign that is supporting families in our community who are victims of domestic violence and are at risk.

One small conversation, that has flowed into the hearts and lives of many different families in our community. Peace is no longer decreed by the Kings of our land and leaders in far off places. Peace is waged by everyday people in the community reaching out their hands and giving from what is within it.

Proverbs 31: 20 says it this way

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I know the war of peace is waged in the hands of the unseen, when we reach out and hold hands with a stranger, letting them know that we see their unrest.

I know the strategy of victory is employed when everyday housewives and check out operators smile, with a word of encouragement.

I know that greatness is found in the most humble of places and when we acknowledge the difficulty of those in dark seasons we surge forward the plight of peace upon our earth.

Christmas awakens the heart of generosity in humankind. When we celebrate one another, sharing homemade biscuits with our neighbours and extend our hearts to those in need, the battle is taken just one step towards a greater tomorrow.

My prayer this Christmas is that we would magnify the simple acts of generosity across our society more than the consumerism that seeps into our hearts. That we together would see kindness and the little moments to encourage another as the purest gold of our generation. Together may we thread our societies with the fabric of solidarity and unity. Together may we make a difference like no other generation. To be known as a people of generosity, acceptance and love. Together may we wage war against indifference and apathy. Together may we wage peace.

In the name of Jesus

Amen

Day 6: Peace Upon The Earth

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Ten ways to help feel less anxious this year

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finding peace

This morning I lined up at the uniform shop, with my list rattling around my head. I had been thinking about this day for quite a while, hoping and praying that I didn’t forget. Over and over in my mind, I have been subconsciously checking off everything on the list of what Max needs for school. Is his shoe regulation? Is his hair too long, short, styled or inbetween?

The pressure of a new school or a new class or meeting a new set of people can often create discomfort whether you are an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in the middle.

In the middle of last year after three operations in a short space of time, I woke from anesthetic in the midst of a panic attack. The cycle of reoccurrence with this health issue impacted me greatly last year. Little moments of anxiety have been laying dormant close to the surface and I have been on a journey of discovery around anxiety and its ways.

In an ideal world, I would watch a movie by myself, sleep for three days and restart my emotional health. As the Mum of two people, owner of businesses and wife I don’t have this luxury. Here are some ways that I have been creating space to feel less anxious over the last year.

TEN WAYS TO HELP FEEL LESS ANXIOUS THIS YEAR

Acknowledge the feeling and don’t try to ignore it.

Anxiety manifests in everyone in different ways. For me personally, I know I am feeling anxious, when I have a soft awareness of tightening in my chest. For no reason, with really no pattern or trigger, I can feel this grey shadow start to rise in my chest. It is like I can’t get enough air, into my lungs and I am breathing shallower. I am realising that one of the greatest ways to feel less anxious, is to actually admit that I am feeling anxious. Revolutionary hey. When I acknowledge the feeling and don’t try to ignore it, especially to those closest to me, I am one big step towards it fading away. Admitting that you need a break, that you need help or you just need a listening ear is the greatest step towards relief.

Find resolve in something simple.

Only recently I have found one of the hardest parts of parenthood is the relentlessness of the season. I personally feel most peaceful, when I have a sense of resolve. The more out of place things feel, the more unsure I am of my responsibilities, boundaries and opportunities, the more anxious I feel. Being anxious is not just a feeling for the shy and unsure. The confident, those with a great sense of purpose and those in leadership positions feel anxious often. What helps me find a sense of peace and rest is finding resolve in something, anything, not necessarily what is the cause of the anxious feelings. By writing a list, answering emails, making dinner, decluttering a room, ringing someone and generally just taking the time to bring resolve to something, anything can help me breath deeper again.

Reading and repeating positive verses.

Philippians 4: 6-7 says this;

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I absolutely love this verse, it might even be one of my all time favourites. When I read this verse and I repeat this quote, it helps me reframe emotionally what is happening in the moment. A lot of people say that we need to empty our minds, but I believe when we fill our minds with good thoughts, it is a much more satisfying and long lasting space for growth and change. This scripture also goes on to talk about meditation and how we fill our minds. “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Reading and repeating positive verses and quotes reframe anxiety and bring the most amazing shift.

Drinking water.

I have found anxiety can be directly correlated this year with how much coffee I have consumed. After coffee number two, it is like a beacon that shines brightly saying “warning, warning, warning caffeine overload.” Unfortunately, though I don’t always listen to my body. Beverages with caffeine can increase anxiety. Replacing soda, tea, and coffee with water is a good place to start. It is important to limit the consumption of caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol. All of these liquids cause dehydration because it takes the body, even more, water to remove it from your body. As simple as increasing our water intake can help us feel less anxious.

Replacing coffee with tea.

Coffee is one of my greatest loves. I am a coffee connoisseur. I am learning though that one really good coffee a day and herbal tea is a much greater decision. For all the reasons above but also to reframe where I get my energy and motivation from. If you buy a great tea, the difference in taste is huge. If you are looking for a brand to try Seven Seas Tea is my absolute favourite.

Teaching myself to slow down.

I grew up in a family that didn’t really know how to rest. We had play down, we had working hard for others down but rest, yeah not so much. It has taken me most of my adult life to reframe busyness as being successful and being focussed on what is important. Lately, I have been listening to Erin Loechner’s latest book Chasing Slow and I relate so much to her theories about life. Chasing Slow, reframing what I say yes to and sitting comfortably with the discomfort of not achieving. Each and every time I slow my pace down, anxiety comes to say hello, but I am learning to say goodbye to it as well. I have been listening to this book via Audible as an audio book and that in itself has been teaching me to slow down as well.

Framing my spaces.

Over the last few months, I have really been loving discovering the simple beauty of the sense of smell. Through essential oils, I have been reframing stress, fatigue and the spaces that I exist in, encouraging deep breathing. You will often find me now diffusing a peace blend of essential oils and often I am surprised by how much joy oils have been bringing me. Deep breaths, clearer spaces and a calming environment that helps me move forward.

Short chats with friends.

My friends and I have been promoting a new rhythm in our friendships, that we chat on the phone more than we text. Messaging back and forward makes me feel quite stressed. I never know when the conversation is finished and whether I have answered someone properly and whether we have brought resolve to our conversation. I have been having more short chats with friends and this has helped me feel heard and helps me feel like I have been able to talk out some of my thoughts as well.

The healing power of the ocean.

I worked so much of my career inside offices and cafes, so I didn’t realise that normal people spent a lot of time outdoors. Walking kids to school, swimming in the ocean and generally just seeing the sun. A few years ago, when I retreated down south in the midst of near burnout, I was swimming at a beautiful beach and I heard these words. There is healing power in the ocean. This experience marked me so much, that I went home and wrote those words and I realised I had run away from the ocean because I had some really difficult memories there. Each and every day since I have been drawing myself towards the ocean. When I swim and dunk my head under, it is like I am resetting my soul to receive more from the new day. The ocean in its expanse and beauty, has the capacity to make us feel small and alive, all in the same breath.

Distracting my sleep time routine.

Scrolling through social media is one of the worst ways to try and develop a good sleep routine. Anxiety was reframed pretty much immediately when I limited how I fell asleep and woke up each day. Laying in bed scrolling on my phone is a terrible way to get our minds ready for deep and restorative sleep. Now I charge my phone away from my bed in our lounge room and I have a rule that I need to have a conversation with a human in the flesh before I have a conversation with someone online. It has been revolutionary. For stress, for relaxation, and for sleep. Deeply breathing in my sleeping space and falling asleep with peace and purpose.

I hope these little thoughts have helped someone out in my internet space.

What ways do you combat anxiety in your everyday?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Amanda Marie.

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How to find serenity

Beach, Seaweed.
Beach, Seaweed.
Beach, Seaweed, Sand, Shoalwater Bay.

If I was completely honest with you (yes, really), the last few weeks have carried with them many highs and lows. There has been no real reason for them, but I have been delving deeply into places, that are often swept under the carpet so that I can move forward into the new.

The dark night of the soul, is not something to be ashamed of I believe when we embrace it and learn from it we are able to step into our purpose with clarity.

Tonight as I was reflecting on some of the emotions that have bombarded me, I was reminded of a simple prayer that I told someone to pray everyday when they were going through a similar time.

I think it is now my turn.

This is the prayer that was made famous by Mother Teresa and I thought I would start a new series from it, going through it verse by verse, day by day. Its wisdom for my today is so timely.

It was written in the early 1900’s by Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

To accept the things I cannot change…

Often the things I worry about the most are actually the things I cannot change.

I cannot change someones beliefs.

I cannot change the way someone feels about me.

I cannot go back and change a situation.

I cannot make someone include me when they don’t want to.

I can’t change the past.

I can’t take back words that have been spoken.

This is life.

The things that plague me, are often those thing that my thoughts and worries will never change.

What I can do though is ask God to grant me the serenity (the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness.) to accept these things.

To accept them.

To accept people.

To accept the past.

To accept words that have been spoken.

To accept that some people don’t see me.

To accept that there are days that my motive will be misunderstood.

To accept.

When we finally face those things in our days, that battle and wear us down, saying I cannot change these things and I will accept them.

I will not dwell on them.

I will forgive them.

I will look forward into the future.

I am thinking the days that I rely on God for these small victories, they will be fine days indeed.

These are the days I am bringing into my tomorrow.

Want to join me?

Let’s pray this prayer together each morning of this series through September.

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