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day 20: when women form a gang


As we drove for hour upon hour yesterday, up rocking cliff faces and around bumpy corners, dust filled my eyes and it made me question why I am actually here?

The Land Drover bumped, the children celebrating a version of trick or treat held us captive with ropes across the road and Rural Nepal had us captivated.

From drop toilets, to dal with the locals, watching children playing on the roadside and mountains fading across our horizon, every part of our senses were assaulted.

Rural Nepal you have my heart broken and mended in one sentance.

We spent a part of our day yesterday with a self help group of women, who have formed a bank. Together they put in a small amount of money each month and then they loan it back from the group to start businesses.

They told us about the voice they had found together as a collective and it clarified so much about what I want to live my life for.

I also sat and listened to the most beautiful woman who talked to us about her agriculture business and as she sat chatting away, excited about her new possibilities, I looked and saw she had fixed her broken thong, with a piece of string and it broke me.

The image of this thong has not left my thoughts all through the night. Women helping women, people helping people but the complexity of the difficulty is just so vast.

You see the people of Nepal, were in a stage of development before the earthquake hit ten months ago, but to listen to story after story of family who have lost loved ones, whose lively hood has been destroyed, whose houses are cracked and broken.

To sit and listen to women telling their stories, to sit and watch them form gangs to support each other in the midst of their challenge is so deeply convicting.

In the midst of our conversations, we asked them “As women, what is your greatest challenge?”

We sat their with western eyes, watching the decay, the rubbish, the clothes that are ripped, the children roaming free and we see challenge after challenge.

Yet these beautiful women had a chat amoungst their small group, nattering away like a cafe full of young Mums.

They replied; “We have no challenges, we are so deeply grateful.”

My heart heaved and my mind swirlled, I see the challenge, I see the problems, I see your difficulty. Yet they chose to see the blessing, the potential.

They were overwhelmed with gratitude.

So each time I am overhwhelmed by my lack of clothes, my want of the latest fashion trend, my concerns over decor and daily chores, I want to remember the fierce little gang of women I spent the day with yesterday.

I want the image of her broken, fixed bright pink thongs, covered in dust and sheer hard work to never to leave my mind.

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Day 21: accepting your today



Lately I have been asking myself the question;

What is God doing in my today?

I am a dreamer who spends a lot of time in the future, but more and more I have been changing my focus from tomorrow, to today.

A strategy I have relied upon to help me with my stress in the moment, is by planning and preparing for my tomorrow.

I didn’t realise until a few short years ago that spending all my time trying to control the outcome of tomorrow, was a form of escapism that I used in my everyday.

I feel pain right now, so what can I do to control my tomorrow so this never happens again.

I feel like I have dissapointed someone and let them down, how can I change this so it never happens again.

I feel overwhelmed with the out of controlledness of this situation, so how can I plan safety so this never happens again.

Have you ever felt like this?

Have you lived in the perpetual cycle of keeping yourself safe, that you miss what is actually happening in your today?

As we have walked and talked, listened and learned from people who are less than nine months short of two major earthquakes, where they lost thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of homes, I am shocked by the immediateness of the need and the tenacity of a people living in the fear of what could happen tomorrow.

They are focussing on their today.

Last night we went to a resteraunt, where we were told the story that in the immediate hours following the earthquakes, they cooked, hundreds and hundreds of meals and made sure their neighbours were fed.

Today as we drove home from church, we watched a line of three hundred or more, cars and motor bikes lining up for fuel that costs more than six dollars a litre, for hour upon hour. What absolutely shocked me was the locals who were picking us up and driving us to places, wasting their precious resource on us.

We sat in a beautiful humble church this morning, with four passionately breathtaking women who sung their hearts out, under a open sky, with the roof of their building unfinished and half built after the earthquake, that they sat singing outside through the raining night in the hours after the disaster that took their homes.

Every single one of them are basking in their today. They are making a difference with the little they have, helping another despite their circumstance.

“The question asked is not, ‘What should be happening in my life?’ but ‘What is happening in my life?’ The present moment, the present set of circumstances, the present relationships in our lives—this is where God lives. This is where God meets us and gives us life.” ALICE FRYLING

I love these questions from Alice Fryling, instead of focusing on our circumstances and all the problems we have in our today, why not shift our perspective and by accepting our today?

I believe God is always up to something, it is us that needs to refocus on the present.

Day 21: I am fasting my need to know everything about my tomorrow and to start accepting my today.

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Day 22; smokes and mirrors, saying goodbye to religion


Say the right thing, do what is right, forgive and forget and keep the peace.

We have all experienced seasons and time when we have struggled in an environment to bring forth our true self.

What if they see the cracks and the dysfunctions?

What if she dislikes and unfriends me?

What if we will never be the same again because they know?

Stepping into the vulnerability of travel to unknown places with people you have only met briefly is always the most difficult of days.

All the smokes and mirrors, filters and editing of our lives become the raw cut of days spent travelling with a group to uncomfortable places. When we step out and do things we have never done before, then we are sure to be confronted with our own weakness.

Heavy late night snoring, squeezing yourself into spaces that were not designed for humans and luggage to inhabit, unpaid taxes, taxi drivers ripping you off, the list unravels.

Short overseas trips like the one we are on have the capacity to completely undo every part of us, that comfortably survived on our flat white, air conditioned existence.

And this is the exact reason why I stepped onto this plane.

To be provoked.
To be unravelled.
To find the pieces of religion that have stitched up my insides and made me believe that I am somewhat worthy of acknowledgment.

Where is smoke lingering in your today that is hiding you from a opportunity in your tomorrow?

Where are you shining a mirror to deflect people away from the intentions that are hiding?

Today as I step into unknown places I am asking all those little religious quirks that are hiding in my deep places and marching them off to a distant shore.

So as much as I want to make myself sound better than I am and tell stories that provoke and alarm, today I am reminding myself to listen and lower.

To decrease and undo.

Day 22: I am unfurling my religious inklings and finding grace in the unknown.

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day 23: fasting apathy


As we land into Nepal today, with the plane food swirling in my stomach, I am overwhelmed with the pure thrill of the unknown. Stepping out of the ground hog day of novice Motherhood, fresh from the smog and chaos of Bangkok, disquieted by the old men leading young women into hotel rooms and inspired by everyday people immersing themselves for the sake of another.

Every single time I step from a plane onto a distant land, my heart aches, grows and stretches.

Every time I stand in a customs queue, behind a screaming toddler, watching throngs of humanity writhing I shrink in the vast magnitude of our difference.

Every time I walk in corridors of decay, rubbish and unclean unknown of developing nations I breathe perspective deep into my veins, my bones creak with the awakening of injustice.

Every time we step from our comfortable perched places, we eyeball the apathy in our lives and cant help but be deeply convicted.

As we have been sitting on this flight together, I asked one of my companions what her greatest concern is for the church in the next few years and her answer was apathy.

Compassion fatigue, luke warmness and attitudes that place us in comfortable resting positions. Then I grabbed my copy of 40 days of decrease by Alicia Britt Chloe, which I am reading and reflecting on here on my blog and her fast today is apathy. No co-incidence indeed.

apathy , n. /?æp???/ Freedom from, or insensibility to, suffering; hence, freedom from, or insensibility to, passion or feeling; passionless existence.

I think we become apathetic, because we become a people who are seeking comfort and satisfaction over purpose and clarity.

When was the last time you felt an emotion so deeply that you shocked yourself?

When was the last time you did something so out of your comfort zone that your legs quaked?

When was the last time shivers overwhelmed you?

Apathy describes an emotional disconnect from life in general and suffering in particular. In a society drowning in bad “news,” apathy can seem an attractive alternative to absorbing the insane amount of planetary pain that the Internet brings to our attention every waking moment. Alicia Britt Chloe

We live lives of over saturation of information, we live voyeuristic days watching, judging and stalking, rather than watching what if we stepped in the arena and awakening the sleeping giants like sympathy, sensitivity and concern?

What if we asked questions and listened to another’s story finding compassion and mercy waiting on the bridge of connected hope?

I think we become afraid of engaging because we have seen it all before, we’ve been to the conference, bought the t-shirt and came away the same person. I think we are so disillusioned by the magnitude of the worlds problems that even the thought of doing something small, our little offering, that it won’t make a difference. I think we are so afraid of stuffing it up, that we pull back before we even have the possibility of failing.

“Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can’t find words to capture your complex emotions. But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence.” HENRI NOUWEN

The truth is however that when we enter the arena, when we have a go and fail, when we contribute even something small, we have won the apathy war.

It is a plague taking over our world in epic proportion. It is a disease that can only be healed by action. Apathy has the capacity to ruin more lives than any potential loss we face by engaging in another’s story.

As I prepare right now to land into a country I have never visited before, to spend time with hill tribes of people who are still shaking in the wake of a recent earthquake, I am asking God just one thing.

Give me eyes to see.

Dear Lord,
Awaken in me.
Let apathetic places be ripped open.
Give me eyes to see.

Day 23: I want to fast apathy and awaken those bitter and broken places to believe again.

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day 25: self protection


Have you ever been in a conversation, when you know that you need to ask for help but haven’t?

Have you ever wanted to say hello and strike up a friendship, but walk away silenced?

We all self protect in different ways. Some of us get louder as a fighting mechanism. Some of us get quiet and shrink to the back of the room. Some of us manipulate and control, others of us check out and zone out.

Each and everyone of us, has different mechanisms that help us to protect ourselves when we feel vulnerable.

Writing, speaking, singing, painting, drawing, instagramming are all places where we can feel completely out of our comfort zone.

As I write this blog, it is totally my therapy and then when I press publish, all I want to do is run away and hide. This week a story tumbled out of me, that was quite a few years old. But the problem is it created quite an avalanche. It seems many people felt the sting of it’s content and it began a few heated debates on social media.

All I wanted to do was hide.

All I wanted to do was put my computer away and not write again.

It is funny, every one of us have different ways that we try to protect ourselves in our seasons of vulnerability. The truth is that not all self protection is unhealthy. It helps our hearts regulate, it comforts our weary soul just like my sons blue and blackened blanket. Self protection in the midst of a serious accident is a very normal reaction. However when we spiritually self protect, when we step back and build layers between our relationships so we feel safe, this is where we lose. We lose because we live guarded, we live removed, we live as a spectator in life rather than a participant.

It is an interesting question I am asking myself today from Alicia Britt Chloe’s Lent Devotional 40 days of decrease…

How am I spiritually self protecting myself from God?

Woah, what a question.

Do I feel safe with God?

Do I trust Him?

I am realising that my disappointments in God have created a chasm, where I believe He is good, I believe that He is God, but that he needs to be kept at a distance.

I am taking time this lent, to swim across that chasm and take time to reflect and draw close again.

To lean in.

Day 25: I am learning to notice when I am shrinking away from God, rather than trusting that He is good and He is safe.