New days

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At the end of last year, I remember panicking at the thought of the new one starting. 
I wasn't ready. Nothing was right. Everything felt too overwhelming, too difficult and I was drowning. 
So I didn't reflect. I didn't set goals. I tried hard not to think about the year ahead. 
All I could really do was spent each moment willing my racing heart to slow down.
Trying to catch my breath.
I put some words up on my Letterfolk board that made some simple declarations; that I would read more books, write every day, run further, log off and choose grace. 
I think those words will serve me well for 2018 as well.

My beautiful friend Amanda dropped her latest book to me this morning.
She's brave, and faces her year head on, even if it's been shitty. Her book is all about how she retreats, sits down, and asks herself the hard questions. Her book is all about being intentional.
About our time and our focus and about our goals. It's got guided questions and lots of space for journaling and brainstorming. 

And part of me didn't want to even open it. Because reflecting is difficult. Especially if you've been doing a tough season, or you aren't where you wanted to be by now, or if you've tried the resolution thing before and failed. But honestly, this book is different. 

I'm determining to be brave because as the book is titled, I am believing and hoping that 2018 will be new days. New days for my family. New seasons of warmth and ease. 
Like tumbling in the whitewash but coming up through crystal clear water and taking that big deep breath on the surface.
I'm praying that 2018 needs will be like a big deep lung-filling, chest-expanding breath of fresh clean air.
And to help it to be so, I know I need to face what needs to be faced.
I know I need to reflect on the year that was so that I can start the next one facing the right direction.
I'll reflect on twenty seventeen with a fierce determination that I will learn from my mistakes, I'll let my failures compel me to try again and that I'll see, actually, that the difficulties I faced this year helped me to be stronger, fight harder and pray more than I ever have before. 

So if you need to reflect on the year, or be intentional about your goals for the year to come, why don't you grab a copy of Amanda's book? You can download the PDF version right from her website and print it off right now if you want to!

Join me in finishing the year brave.

xx

 

you do you

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Last week I had dinner with longtime besties. 
We've been doing dinners together for over a decade.
When I tell Daniel, "I've got a girls dinner this Friday night" he knows straight away which girls and asks who's turn it is to host. 
I wish we had a better name for them than 'girls dinners' but they are what they are, and they are wonderful.

We sat in front of a fire with mugs of mulled wine, and ate way too much baked feta and sourdough, and soup and apple crumble and vanilla ice-cream. I was so full it hurt and I lazed back in a big armchair that hugged me with its arms, holding onto my tea. 
Our conversations are easy. We've known each other for so long, everything we say is understood in context. 
One conversation though, flowed through my mulled-wine-softened brain without too much thought until the next day. We'd talked about comparison, and I was surprised that it wasn't just me.
We're all in different seasons both of motherhood, career and ministry. 
When I look at the lives of my friends I see success, and contentment.
When I look at mine it's hard not to see so far from where I need to be. 

When I look at them, and what they're doing with their lives I think You are enough. You are amazing. 
But when I look at mine I so frequently think not quite there yet. Try harder. Do more. Be different than what you are. Not good enough.

And I realised after our full-bellied conversation that it's the human condition.
Our fallen nature causes us to feel like we are not enough - and always assume the lives that other people are living are better, more fulfilling, more adventurous and much easier than ours. 

This semester it was hard not to feel a little pang of envy when I saw friends work on creative fun exploits, or make amazing career moves, or take their families overseas. I was running women's events at our church like a crazy person, and writing essays like mad. 
When I dwelled on what someone else was doing for too long, I started to resent what I had to do.
Which was nuts, because I happen to love running women's events and I am closet-nerd and I really love studying English Literature. So why was I starting to become discontent?!
Because I thought I'd be happier doing someone else, instead of doing me.
A phrase I've been pondering on though lately is this:

YOU DO YOU.

How do you do you?

It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, or what their life looks like, theirs is not your lane. 
You run in yours.

Cheer them on, and then shift your eyes to the front, put your head forward and work hard at what's in front of you.

When I made the effort to shift my thinking, my attitude changed. 
How deeply grateful I feel to lead our women's ministry!
How accomplished I feel that I'm diligent at uni, getting closer to my degree. 
How blessed we are to have almost paid off the credit card, even if it meant no holidays for a little while. 

And while I love social media, sometimes "doing me" means I need to stop scrolling for a little while so that I have enough headspace to realise that this life I live is actually a wonderful gift and one I don't want to waste by drowning in comparison. 

You do you sister. 

xx
 

 

journal | settle you down

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I can recognise when it's coming, now.  Almost like I can hear it's near-silent footsteps or pick up the familiar scent, or I'm aware of the almost imperceptible prickling under my skin. Overwhelm.

When it creeps in unnoticed, so too do the thoughts that don't belong there. The ones that point at the circumstances and smugly lift an eyebrow, don't even bother trying, you're not good enough. You can't do this.

I started to feel it too, a bit of the overwhelm, and wondered if indeed I could do all the things that seemingly stood, large and intimidating like mountains in front of me. I couldn't focus, I didn't even know where to begin, squirmed inwardly and outwardly too. 

But then my heart was stilled, reminded of the verse that says lead me to the rock that is higher than I. * 

I looked at the time, dropped what I was doing and made an appointment with Peace.
The beach was completely empty but for the seagulls and I could see so clearly to the islands over the stretch of incredible blue. And instead of allowing the overwhelm a place in my heart or the thoughts a place in my mind, I pounded the sand as I pounded out my prayers. Refusing to let feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy become bigger than my faith. 

It's amazing what happens when we lift our eyes. It's amazing what happens when we cast our cares. "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."**

Christ displaces worry. I know it doesn't make sense, but it's truth. And yes, the circumstances I pounded out prayers about were still there when I arrived back to the part of the beach where I started - but the overwhelm wasn't.
Because there's a peace the the mind can't understand that comes when you just lay it all before Him and let your heart settle down.

xx

* Psalm 61:2
** Philippians 4:6-7 The Message Paraphrase