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May: Essay- Coming Home

*Parts of this writing has sat in my website drafts for 3 years and 26 days. Sometimes writing needs time to find its full circle.

There has been a question that has changed my life over the last season. It is a very simple thought, with huge implications. Five words, that create clarity in a moment.

If you studied all the personality types, Gallup strength finder results and hung around me for a little while, you would quickly see my personality. I like things to end and I am pretty terrible at the in-between.

Finishing a project, ticking off my task list and closing my computer with satisfaction is the greatest part of my day. Yet we live in a time throughout the world when we all seem to be stuck in the corridor.

Over this season of so much change, have you found yourself scrambling to find the energy to finish simple things?

That’s not your fault, you are not a bad person, it’s the difficult part of the in-between. When I have found hope sliding and the option of giving up is so close, I stop and ask myself a simple question…

And it has brought so much relief.

One day sitting in a professional development class a facilitator asked the attendees to imagine a place where we feel most inspired. In my mind, I leapt across foreign places, remembering travel overseas. The cedars of Lebanon, the jungles of Northern Thailand, Libraries in London and the cafes on street corners in Paris.

These were memories that took my breath away and recalibrated my season in a moment. When I travel, I am always inspired. Then I softly smiled when my mind landed somewhere else. An unexpected place. Somewhere I spent many years running away from. Escaping, hustling, working harder and harder, just so I could run away again.

I began to imagine myself lying in my loungeroom on the floor. Tears dripped down my face as I realised the place that I now feel most inspired, is my own home. Surrounded by the simple things, I felt safe, that all the hard work I had been doing writing to heal, had changed things. It has taken years for me to come home to myself.

I spent many years searching out inspiration from far off places, hustling for a sense of inspiration and success.

Coming home to ourselves, means that we listen to the small still voice. That we are not graded by our Instagram feed or our external appearance. Coming home, means we are capable of rest and recovery. It means we don’t have to keep doing more and being more, to feel a sense of inspiration and grace.

You see I would keep doing more because I lived my life from a place of wanting to please others. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to do all the things, be in all the places and achieve beyond. Each achievement though, couldn’t escape this feeling though that I was not enough.

The question that has radically changed my life this year is this one;

Am I graced for this?

When I hustle for worthiness to finish a project that is overdue, with notifications shouting. I simply ask myself, do I have the grace for this today?

The definition of grace is the smoothness and elegance of movement. It also is defined through scripture as unwarranted mercy or favour. When I think of the season we have walked corporately there is a universal trauma, that has held us all captive in our homes.

In times when difficulty faces us all, many people would just push through to finish the task at hand but I am learning to look for the grace.

I come home to myself, by asking do I have the inspiration for this?

This question is not a cop-out, where I don’t face the hard stuff. It’s not about the everyday chores that help life tick over smoothly. It’s not about shrinking responsibility or not finishing what I have started.

It is about the passion projects, my writing, creativity, those things that require inspiration to be drawn out from the depths of who I am.

I’ve realised that for many years I have chased the approval of others, to finish work in a way that makes people proud of me. I have realised that I thought I could pray a little harder and if I could follow all the rules, then I would be enough.

Hustle.

Try Harder.

Do more.

Seek out inspiration from far off places.

Asking myself the question about grace is a moment where I honour the little person inside that is just longing to be enough.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

This is a place where we lay our burdens down and remember that imperfection sometimes is the greatest freedom, in living a life that is fully uncontained.

Growth in this season looks like letting go of things, letting people down, not answering text messages, recording radio scripts a month late and not being available to everyone that I have in previous seasons. For no other reason, then I am just not graced for it in this season.

I am unpacking the deep questions that have surfaced from watching my father pass away. I am learning and growing in a new role that has so many challenges and I am focusing on being present to my family in those moments in between.

Tell me below in the questions…

What are you graced for in this season?

Looking forward to hearing the stories of coming home to yourself.

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February Essay- Look Up.

We live in a world that is communicating more than ever before, yet we have more isolation and anxiety caused by disconnection.

Everybody communicates, yet few connect.

Empathy is one of the ways that we understand the language that we are communicating with one another. Yet we spend so much time with our heads looking down into our phones, seeking out the connection, we so deeply desire.

This month, our city went into lockdown for the second time across the last year. It was the first time however, that we were required to wear masks. Something stark happened to me as I encountered many people wearing masks each day. I was confounded by the beauty of humanity’s eyes.

We were created as human beings to connect with one another, and our ability to make meaning from these connections is what sets us apart from other animals. Humans synchronise with one another when we are in proximity to one another, especially when we look into one another’s eyes.

We were created to transmit emotions with one another on a physiological level; this is the immersive experience of humanity. We are hardwired to connect; through the transmission of electrochemical information that we get from one another when we engage in each other’s personal space.

When the brain couples together with another brain, we connect with each other and empathy is enacted. Communication is not just the art of speaking, writing or feeling; it is the capacity to be able to transfer ideas and emotions to another human being through connection.

How connected do you feel currently?

One of the most effective ways that a human being can connect is through eye-to-eye contact. When we meet face-to-face, the change that happens within our capacity too not only understands but to move towards the person who is speaking with empathy. This is the capacity to communicate and connect.

3.4 Billion people currently use Social Media platforms daily to communicate with each other. That is more than half of the world’s population. Social Media is any online space or technology that creates social power through communication. Culturally as we have increased our online connectivity exponentially and studies have proven over the last 50 years that the rate of disconnection socially has been significant.

Studies have also shown an increase in interpersonal distrust, a decrease in unified public opinion and a drastic impact on levels of family connectedness. Social Media is a powerful tool for communication, but it is impacting the way that we as a society, connect.

Language requires social connection so that one can be understood. We cannot just communicate and think that the people who are reading, listening or observing our behaviour are connecting with empathy so that they can interact with us. Communication is more about the interaction than it is just the expression of words.

When was the last time you got lost in the eyes of another?

Verbal communication and non-verbal communication are essential elements of the connection process. Written communication on Social Media platforms removes the emotional connection to the expression and therefore compromises the level of connection for the consumer.

The empathetic connection needs to be a two-way engagement rather than a one way broadcast. This is the capacity to be able to be understood and to understand.

As I reflect on the month of February here in my little seaside town of Rockingham, I am reminded of the importance of listening to those closest to me and looking directly in their eyes. Laying down my phone, asking questions and allowing connection to be the importance of my presence.

What have you been learning over the last month?

Will you join me, in the endeavour to look up and intentionally listen with every part of my being to those who are in my company. This may just be the greatest legacy we will ever live.




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My Annual Christmas Movie Challenge

Christmas Movie Lists

Each year I create my Annual Christmas Movie Challenge and this year I am ready more than ever! This year I am just creating a family version, but at the bottom of the list, I will list my Mum recommendations as well.

(please check the ratings and the cultural practices that are important to your family.)

FAMILY CHRISTMAS MOVIE LIST

  1. Polar Express
  2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  3. The Littlest Reindeer
  4. Fred Claus
  5. A Christmas Prince
  6. Arthur Christmas
  7. Angela’s Christmas Wish/ Trolls Holiday
  8. Christmas Break-in
  9. Holiday Home Makeover
  10. Klaus
  11. 48 Christmas Wishes
  12. Alien Xmas
  13. Broken Sleigh
  14. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  15. Unaccompanied Minors
  16. Holiday Classics
  17. The Grinch (2018)
  18. The Knight Before Christmas
  19. Shrek the Halls
  20. Spirit Riding Free
  21. Christmas Chronicles
  22. Christmas Chronicles 2
  23. Jingle Jangle
  24. The Star

THE GROWN UPS NETFLIX CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGE

  1. Dash and Lily
  2. Holidate
  3. A Christmas Prince
  4. A Christmas Prince The Royal Wedding
  5. A Christmas Prince The Royal Baby
  6. Hometown Holiday
  7. The Holiday Calendar
  8. A Very Country Christmas
  9. The Holiday
  10. My Christmas Inn
  11. Holiday Rush
  12. Operation Christmas Drop
  13. A Cinderella Story Christmas Wish
  14. Christmas Inheritance
  15. Four Christmas’
  16. Christmas Catch
  17. Santa Girl
  18. Holiday in the Wild
  19. Let it Snow
  20. The Princess Switch
  21. The Princess Switched Again
  22. New Years Eve
  23. The Star
  24. Jingle Jangle

RANDOM FAVOURITES

  1. Last Christmas ( Prime Video)
  2. Elf
  3. The Santa Clause 1, 2, 3 (Prime Video)
  4. The Nutcracker and the four realms (Disney)
  5. Love Actually
  6. Lethal Weapon
  7. National Lampoons Vacation
  8. Mariah Carey All I Want for Christmas (Prime Video)
  9. While You Were Sleeping
  10. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (Disney)
  11. Home Alone
  12. Die Hard
  13. Muppets Christmas Carol
  14. Christmas Eve
  15. Christmas with the Kranks
  16. Deck The Halls
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His word is firm

“What you say goes God and stays as permanent as the heavens.”

Psalm 119: 89 (the message)

The recent days have shaken me a little. If I was really honest I would admit they have me questioning a lot.

What is true?

Who can I trust?

What voices am I listening too?

I’ve heard God’s name used many times in recent days, with many polarising comparisons.

“God said this…”

“God has declared that…”

However, the God I read about and have come to intimately know doesn’t change His mind and also doesn’t propel or project his beliefs onto another. His truth never goes out of fashion.

Somedays, in those wobbly moments, I wonder “maybe he does change his mind”. Those days when I double guess what I have sensed and heard. Those are the times when I wonder whether I have misrepresented his truth and character.

Politics and platforms shouting at me, saying He supports this, He is that. And I have to come away and remind myself of what the gospel actually embodies. Truth, character, honesty, accountability and the list goes on.

You see I have come to learn, the way we represent the character of God in our writings, prophecy’s and declarations, needs weight and measure. We live in a moment in history, with many platforms, influence and undertakings with many ways to express our views.

As I wander through the late-night aisles, of Instagram and Facebook, I am reminded of the strength of our own projections. Those moments, when we all have an agenda and that becomes the strength of the voice of our advocacy.

Accountability and feedback, bring the weight and measure, to quick proclamations that have become in vogue of late. There is always another side to a story, there is another way and I believe when we represent the voice of someone else, we must take the time, to truly reckon with the consequence.

MEASURES OF ACCOUNTABILITY

  1. Give friends permission to speak freely into our lives and beliefs. Lately, I wrote on the whiteboard in my office, in big black texta, “FEEDBACK IS NOT PERSONAL”. I think sometimes the walls we put up to protect us from feedback, is the greatest set back to true freedom. Being able to listen and apply the wisdom that surrounds you, gives great context to the things we cannot see in our own lives.
  2. Listen to voices that you disagree with. Are you surrounding yourself with all the same voices, people and belief systems? That could be a big problem in truly sitting with empathy to learn from others.
  3. Read widely. As you read thoughts and inspirations that are counter to your own worldview, your muscle for understanding grows.
  4. Reference your beliefs by scripture. The anchor that holds us taut lasts way beyond our own generation and its musing.

I have been writing each week across 2020, from the one Psalm 119, recently I haven’t been publishing those writings here, because I was a little hesitant from all the shouting going on online.

The greatest lesson I have learnt from this Psalm written so long ago is the enduring nature of God’s word. I have been reminded that His word is permanent. His word is faithful. His word is unfailing. And even though it feels like across this year, that everything has changed, one thing I know that is true, is that

His word, His character and His truth will always endure. Beyond campaigns, beyond failure and beyond the circumstances of the year of so much challenge. His word is firm!

“What you say goes God and it stays as permanent as the heavens.”

Psalm 119: 89

At the end of every year, I publish a personal retreat booklet and this year’s offering is ready to launch really soon on December 1st.

Click here to find out more: Reflect; End of Year Journaling Questions.

“This is not a book, it’s an experience”

What are you doing to reflect on 2020 this year? Join me in setting time to reflect for more insight this December.

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Week five: seek intimacy

What does the word intimacy mean to you?

This weeks devotional is all about intimacy. Watch the video above to talk through how to seek intimacy with Christ in your everyday.  Our world has changed significantly this week. And the timing of this video is not lost on me. God is very kind and gracious.

In today’s video, I chat about my friend Jodie McCarthy who is publishing a short podcast each day across Easter, starting Holy Thursday and Finishing Easter Monday. To get an audio message filled with poetry and life each day sign up here: EASTER PODCAST

Even in seasons, when the road does not look clear. Moments where we see dimly and we don’t understand what is happening.

Reply to this blog in the comments to let me know how you are going?

One way I have been serving my community here online is by showing up each weekday on zoom to hold space and encourage anyone who needs connection. Tomorrow I launch a free online retreat for 5 days and you are invited.

NOW: 5-day creative online retreat on zoom starts tomorrow at 9.30 am Perth time.

Each day this week I have been hosting a zoom call to encourage, pray and support anyone in the community. This week we are working through Dear Creative Self come and join the free mentoring group here.