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where is hope?

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It was 2 am on a cold August morning when my phone beeped back in the day of Nokia 3310’s and to blog was to be a renegade. I rolled over in my four poster bed, picked up my phone and saw a message from one of our youth group members. “Amanda, we need help. One of our friends has overdosed at a party”.

I jumped out of bed, called my flatmate out of his slumber and asked whether he would come with me to a party close by, in case it was dangerous. In our tracksuits, we ran to my Sigma and drove a few short minutes to the out of control party. As I arrived, with my flatmate waiting in the car, I saw this young fifteen-year-old being wheeled out of this party by paramedics and sent my flatmate home so I could jump in with this young hurting soul.

The look on her Mothers face when she walked into the hospital cubicle at 4 am on a Sunday morning, was of sheer terror. She didn’t have any words that could describe the immensity of the journey that they were about to walk on.

They walked out over a decade a journey of hope.

It was 5.45 pm on a Sunday evening, that I sat on the cold floor of our church toilet trying to convince a young woman that she was precious and wanted. Her ramblings about not wanting to live her life and her sheer devastation at the quality of the future she imagined, was far from the jumping pool of teenagers who were at the front of the stage demanding that the band begin their set list.

I sat on that floor for a good thirty minutes, before I could convince her out of the protection of that toilet cave and as I walked down the corridor into a thriving church celebration, the look in her parent’s eyes of utter despair marked me.

They journeyed with her over a devastating decade of hope.

It was 3 pm in the afternoon, on an unsuspecting Tuesday afternoon, that I sat in the car park of our local cafe strip with one of my married friends. She whispered to me, over our flat whites that she was contemplating having an affair. This was the beginning of an unravelling of deep discouragement that sent her fleeing back into her husband’s arms. It was far from pretty, it was ugly and raw but she walked out slowly a decade of seeking hope for her marriage.

Year after year I have watched and witnessed stories of hope unravel in ways that we never expected. Messy stories. Moments misunderstood. Confusion. Mistakes. Unsure realities and opportunities of recovery.

Often I hear many people speak from this proverb that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I also have also been guilty of short-changing this proverb.

However, the second stanza of this verse says this…

“But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

I’ve been discouraged lately about the discourse around Christianity in our society and culture. I am often discouraged by the way that religion is used as a weapon to control and manipulate. Lately, I have been deeply questioning even the role of the church in the future of our world. Questions unanswered around relevance and hatred. Confusion about finances and application. Deep musing around the poor and impoverished.

But the one word I come back to is the fulfilment of a life lived with hope. When I remember stories of messy people finding hope in the most devastating circumstances, I am reminded once again the power of community and how powerful transformation is with hope.

Transformed lives, by authentic community and counsel.

Transformed families, by the promise of what is to come.

Transformed futures, by a message that transcends generations and cultural trends.

Transformed opportunities, by growth and perspective.

If your heart aches from hope deferred, let me encourage you to discover stories of hope where transformation has radically deepened the impact of lives lived sown.

Tell me your stories of hope, My weary heart is needing some reminders that in the end, hope will lead to a tree of life and fulfilment.

Amanda

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Where is peace?

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Across my life, there is something quite implausible that I have been searching for. I’m not motivated by money, I have always been content with much and also with little. Maybe it was the way my Mum raised us, whenever there was a need she went about and solved the answer? Maybe it has been my obsession with people more than things? Maybe it is a gift that has been graciously given but money doesn’t motivate me.

There is a question though that has plagued me. One that is more important than titles, success and accolades to me.

I have been searching my whole life to find peace.

The question I often ask myself is this…

“Where is peace?”

In this bizarre world, where people become influencers and have platforms to millions of people, without really earning their hero status. We have elevated people who live with chaos and consumerism rather than those who are ruled by wisdom and peace.

I believe that peace is the fruit of a life lived sown. I believe peace is a presence that cuts between the problem and the answer. I believe peace is so much more than a laying down of ammunition, it is an indescribable knowing that we are made from but dust.

I have heard many a guru say that peace is found in an empty place, an oasis created in our minds, drawing us towards ecstasy and fulfilment but I have found peace to be far from empty.

Peace for me is found in moments when it does not make sense but I know that tomorrow will be better.

Peace for me is trusting that although fear reigns in our world, that the old will pass away and the beauty of the transformed is awaiting release.

Peace is a presence that cannot be manufactured or contained.

Peace is a person who whispers love and light into my dark places.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

There are seasons of great shaking and for my community, the last few months has been harrowing. Peace leads however in the darkest places and I believe that a covenant of peace has been made with humanity. That peace awaits its fulfilment and is aching to come and reign in all our hearts.

A peace that surpasses understanding, one that guards both our hearts and minds is awaiting.

One step closer.

Lay down that which hinders you.

Lean into the presence of Peace.

This is not the end, you’re gonna be okay.

Seek out peace.

It is waiting.

Amanda

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People Pleasers Anon

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Grab a cup of coffee, sit in a circle with me and together let’s repeat…

Hi, my name is Amanda (insert your fabulous name here) and I am a people pleaser.

One of my greatest weaknesses in life is that I care. I care so much, that my brain fogs over with the constant weight of responsibility to make everything in my world okay.

I often text people just to check in on them and when they don’t reply, I think that maybe I’m the one who has done something wrong. People around me behave badly, storm off from conversations and yet I find myself reeling wondering how I could have changed their response. People pleasing is my kryptonite and I am actively seeking change and freedom in this part of my life.

Just this morning, I made our bed and looked underneath my bedside table and realised that a plastic toy gun, that probably landed there mid-flight between my two children wrestling on our bed, has been there for a good two weeks. I can see the dust settling and the eyes rolling, yet for once in my life, I just don’t care anymore.

The non-violence crew, whose opinions are so very valid about our children not having toy guns.

The Marie Kondo fan girls, who think that the gun, because it hasn’t been touched lovingly in over two weeks, then it should be thrown away to the massive plastic rubbish pile.

The non- plastic groupies, who think that the gun should have been made with wood to draw my children away from their evil screens into the forest.

The tribe lists go on and on, then some more.

Tales of A Tuesday Morning

On Tuesday this week,  I sat with my daughter on the floor of her dance class. To tell you the honest, raw truth, even though I have been hashtagging #tuesdaysarefordancing , they have been far from jovial. This last Tuesday was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I sat trying to convince my two-year-old to listen to her teacher and she slapped me across my face.

I did what any self- respecting parent would do is sat her in the corner, in front of the whole class full of Mummy and Me experts and I wanted to crawl into a glass of wine for the rest of my life. I quietly asked my beautiful rule breaker to say sorry “For slapping Mummy’s face” and she refused.

So ever so embarrassingly I dragged her out of the class screaming and we drove the whole way home both crying. This is the second time this year that we have done this very thing.

Do you know what hurt me the most about this terrible part of my parenting week?

Was that I was more concerned about what the other Mums thought about me and the embarrassment that chilled right down to my toes. I was so embarrassed that all I wanted to do was pull out of that class and never, ever return.

Often my husband and I have to say to ourselves, she is only two. Two.

Not five, not three yet, two. And two-year-olds break the rules. It is like they are hardwired to piss you off!

I shared this last week on my social media pages and it went a little crazy.

How To Be A Mum in 2017:
Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil. (This is why we’re crazy.)
Bunmi Laditan

I am realising that one of the greatest difficulties of our social media age, is that we are overwhelmed by all the information that is bombarding us. We are overwhelmed trying too hard to do it all, be it all and keep everyone’s opinions at bay.

Then you add in people pleasing. The peace keepers. The empaths. Those who just want to keep everything okay and that is an important part of their emotional wellbeing and health.

We need wisdom and strength to be able to decipher what is information, what is people pleasing and what opinions we just need to let roll off our hearts and lives.

We need the wisdom to be able to say no when the people pleaser in us just wants to say yes to stop the awkward conversation.

We need the wisdom to stop ourselves from running after someone when they choose to remove themselves from your life.

We need wisdom and strength to reform our self-worth from what others say and do, to be able to sit comfortably in the discomfort of it all.

Wisdom,

Strength,

Peace,

and most of all self-discovery.

This is my prayer for us sitting in this circle today. That we continue to find strength in those broken parts of ourselves and that most of all, that we are kind to ourselves in the midst of the wrestle.

Big Love

Amanda

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Aunties rule the world

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There is something pretty special about an Aunty and their little followers.

My sister went away just last week for a few days and my little people felt the impact. It is like she walks in a room and everything fades away. With their beautiful nicknames that only a niece or nephew can get away with, the aurora of an Aunty is a super power in our today.

Whether the Aunty is by birth, choice or need, the fabric of our society is weaved by their hands. It’s the conversations they have, that we just can’t seem to say right. It is the respect they earn by just being one step removed. It is the power of their opinion, even when the parental theme is the same.

If you are an Aunty, your super power is potent. You have sway, you have permission and you are so desperately needed.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, I hope those villages are layered with Aunties, Uncles, Friends, Grandparents, Ouma’s, Oupa’s, Nans and Poppy’s.

I have been an Aunty to many a little person and big ones too, even when they were not birthed from my immediate family. To sit and listen to a teenager whose questions are so deep that they are layered with doubt. To walk alongside a family whose heart is aching from divorce. To step up to the plate when a Dad refuses to prioritise his responsibility. The Uncles, The Aunts and those who are one step removed make the greatest difference.

Tonight at family night one of those littles who calls me Aunty, (not by birth) said this. “Aunt Manda, you know that drink you were talking about? (Tumeric Night Milk) Do you think that it would heal my arm?” The story is this, the Mumma’s were all talking about Tumeric over dinner and quietly while I was washing the dishes a little later, he leant in to tell me his story.

I replied, “Not sure mate, what happened?”

He replied, “Someone hit me really hard and my arm hurts so much and I was wondering if it would help.”

My heart melted. He was listening to our conversation, but actually, he just wanted someone to listen to him. He isn’t a small child, he is a teenager. A little man coming out of his awkward child phase. And he needed an Aunty to tell his story and ask whether he was going to be okay.

The flip side of this story is this…

Today I really wanted to quit, resign and give up the Mum card. I had had enough. From toilet training, to leaves from my precious fiddle leaf fig being ripped off. Screaming, sand throwing, a lost shoe, refusal to eat food, food crushed into my new rug, the list goes on and on. I needed an Aunty today.

Someone to come alongside and tell me it is going to be okay.

We all need someone. We all need to know that the unspoken worry in our heart, the hurt leaning into our chest, that problem at work…

We need an Aunty no matter how old we are. We need to know it is going to be okay and tomorrow is another day.

Are you an Aunty to someone?

Could you say yes to being an Aunty and mentoring someone just a little younger than you?

Do you have the time, to stop and listen, even whilst doing the dishes?

This is the fabric that our hurting world needs.

Aunties, Uncles, Friends and Humans who just take the time to say are you okay?

And even when it is not to make a cup of hot chocolate and listen.

Speak again tomorrow

Amanda

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Teary Ballerina’s and learning to change the way I think. Again.

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Tiny Ballerina | Liberty ninth of Feb | twenty sixteen.

If there is one scripture that I have cliched, wrapped in gladwrap and handed out with ease, it is Philippians 4: 8…

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

It is seriously my go to favourite.

The last two weeks, I have had to tell and re-tell the wisdom of these simple words to myself over and over.

One could say twenty sixteen has not gotten off to the best start here in our household. From all of my great expectations, I have been struggling to find my peace in the midst of a swell that has been rising. I feel like I have been in a strong ocean current and every time I have gained my breath and landed my sight on the shoreline, I have been dunked again.

When life is treating you like a spin cycle on a washing machine, what can you do?

How do you hold on, when the cycle hits full speed?

I have remembered and I have counselled, get back to your basics and refresh your internal world. My thoughts rage against a peaceful life and these last few weeks have been no different.

Another version of this scripture says it this way;

Keep your minds thinking about whatever is true, whatever is respected, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever can be loved, and whatever is well thought of. If there is anything good and worth giving thanks for, think about these things.”

My little ballerina has struggled so much the last two weeks, sleeping, clinging, screaming and crying. She has not handled the transition of big brother waltzing off to school. It was Max that I was worried about but his comment on the second day as we entered the school gates was “No photos and you can go now” showed me that he was handling the transition just fine. It was my teary ballerina that I left in his wake, that had me scrambling as a Mumma Bear.

Yesterday I found myself thinking, I just need to give everything up, I cant do this, this is my fault. You know the guilt driven dialogue well. One of the greatest silencers of our voice, is negative words that do everything they can to stop the dreamer from rising. The words we speak over ourselves can either be the greatest elixir of inspiration or the most devastating of mute button.

We are often silenced mostly in our dream realms from the words we speak to and over ourselves.

Our inner dialogue is the most profound anticipators of our future. The more we tell ourselves we can’t, the less likely we are to actually have a go. The more we tell ourselves we can and reframe who is in control of our future, the more success will follow us.

Our dream battles are often won and lost in the tenure of our thoughts.

Here I am today telling myself…

Whatever is lovely, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure.

I am going to think about these things.

This is my meditation for today.

How about you?

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