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

'Amazing Grace' by Elaine Fraser

I always felt a bit geeky telling people that when I grew up I wanted to be a writer.
But over the last few years I’ve stepped out of my own circles of friendship and found myself amongst those who are writers. Storytellers, introverts, and those who find inspiration in the written word - just like me.
One such writer-friend is Elaine Fraser. Elaine is a fellow Kin Women blogger, full-time writer and author. She is about to release another novel Amazing Grace, and was kind enough to send me a copy to review.

The story follows Grace, and I loved her the minute I became privy to her thoughts. She’s unsure - of who she is, who God is, and if she’s worthy of love. Grace’s biggest struggle is her sexuality. She feels “too gay to be straight, and too straight to be gay” and her biggest fear is not being accepted, regardless of what she decides about who she might love.

Maybe it’s because I know Elaine, or it’s her talent at stringing words together - or both - but this soft literary voice gently asks the big questions, and tackles the real issues facing teenagers without being confronting or pretending there are any easy answers. In fact, one of the things I love the most about the book is that it doesn’t give any answers. Elaine refuses to reduce anything to mere black and white and instead weaves through the reality of our humanity - the messy struggles, the colour of our lives and the complexity of our inner voice is unveiled through Grace’s journey.

As a Christian, it further cemented my core belief that everyone is worthy of love and acceptance from God and from others. That on this side of heaven there is both brokenness and beauty, shades of grey and vivid colour and that we can embrace every ounce of it all, without judgement.

Elaine has written a beautiful and thought-provoking novel, aimed at young adults - I devoured it in less than 24 hours! The official launch date is 12 October, you can find it here http://www.elainefraser.co/bookstore/amazing-grace-beautiful-lives-series-book-three/

 

xx

journal | great & abundant gain

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This morning I blearily rolled over to flick off my alarm. 
It's getting lighter in the mornings now, the birds are louder. Eden slept soundly beside me and Ginger cat-sensed I was awake and repositioned himself near my chest, walking in a circle before he wrapped his tail around his curled up body and purred loudly.


Lately I've gotten into the old habit of scrolling Facebook as I wake up. 
Actually in the last week there's been a few bad habits I've picked up again - watching Netflix mid-week, which was always something I'd saved especially for Friday or Saturday nights. Sugar. Mini Mars and Snickers with my nightly cups of tea.
How easy it is to slide down the steep slope of indulgence. 

I blame our winter bugs for my lack of motivation - I lost my voice and was constantly tired, coughing and lacking in energy. I did what I needed to survive, which included a lot of Gilmore Girls and even more sugar. 

But, never being one to thwart self-discipline (at least not for long!) I indulged my last on Saturday. We spent the afternoon wandering the markets in Fremantle in search of a hot cinnamon donut, so that I could say goodbye to sugar again in style. 
And when we got home I pushed open the windows, loaded the washing machine and wrote out the meal plan. Determined to shake off the apathy and put my front foot to good use.

So today when I was bleary-eyed, instead of flicking off the alarm and dozing again I fought that luxury, (with thoughts of a long lie in on Saturday morning to look forward to!). And then I read these words and they were my bread for the day:
 
[And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain.*

Being content in the place we are is the greatest gift. 
Being able to seek beauty and grow godliness, even in moments of trial or sickness or when things aren't going your way creates this depth of knowing that we have inward sufficiency regardless of the season - in physical sickness, or in seasons of abundance. 

That in all circumstances I've learned the secret of being content - and it's not chasing all the stuff or all the achievements. It's resting in the knowing I already have everything I need in Him, and He's in me. 

xx

* 1 Timothy 6:6

taking stock

It was almost instantaneous, the arrival of spring with the 1st of September. Days are suddenly warmer, and slightly longer too. We went for a little walk after school last week and picked these yellow beauties that had sprung up what seemed like overnight.
The welcome sunshine has me stretching and unfolding from my hibernation, and little sparks of creativity have been flickering in my mind again.
Today, with a view of the garden and the littlest one home with a cough that matches my own, I'm taking stock of this new season.

Making : big batches of lunches on a Monday to last the week
Cooking : chicken noodle soup for dinner, because coughs and colds
Drinking : 5 Senses Crompton Road coffee
Reading: Intercessory Prayer - its changing the way I pray
Deciding: what to buy Daniel for his birthday
Enjoying: opening windows and letting the fresh spring air in
Waiting: for the big two to ride home from school
Liking: the discipline of writing again
Loving: printing photobooks and holding photos in my hands.
Pondering: the best way to create baby albums for the kids
Listening: to Amie sing to herself quietly
Considering: investing in some essential oils
Buying: nothing - we're saving all our pennies for a Bali trip next month
Watching: Suits on Netflix, it's our new fave
Hoping: this cough doesn't last much longer so that I can run again soon
Cringing: at the state of my laundry cupboard
Needing: to get a batch of kombucha going again
Smelling: eucalyptus in the oil burner - antiviral and antibacterial, winning
Wearing: Nike's... never thought I'd be that mum but, it's often sneakers these days
Noticing: seasonal changes
Knowing: I need to value my time and use it wisely
Thinking: about what to have for afternoon tea
Admiring: my 10 year old - he's such a champion of a kid
Getting: on top of the laundry pile
Disliking: winter bugs, colds and coughs
Opening: another photo book that came in the mail today!
Giggling: because Laughter is this month's Kin Women theme and I can't wait to share my story
Feeling: a little bit under the weather
Helping: with homework, and home reading and hair
Slicing: green apples, at least one a day
Celebrating: my husbands birthday, and then our 11th wedding anniversary!
Forgetting: sooo many things every day
Embracing: the mess, so that I can take time out to write

What are you noticing, thinking, wearing, reading?

xx

life stories | birth: baby Hudson

This time last week my phone and I were inseparable. I was waiting for the text that would tell me that my gorgeous friend Steph had gone into labour, the call to tell me to come with my camera. After her waters broke at 1am Saturday morning, I knew things would be moving along but I didn't get the text until 5pm Saturday. "Back at the Birthing Centre and I'm 6cm and midwife thinks it's all going to happen fairly quickly so head on over..."
It was drizzly with rain as I pulled out of my driveway and as I prayed quietly for peace, for a safe delivery, for God's presence to be with me, tangible, I looked up and saw the most intense rainbow peel itself across the sky. If I wasn't in such a hurry I would have stopped to capture it and it's promise. I knew it was for Nath and Steph, and the baby boy she was about to bring into the world.

The only births I've experienced are my own. I'll admit I was nervous. Not for my sake but for Steph's. I didn't want to be in the way, I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable with my giant 35mm lens snapping away. I didn't want to feel like I was intruding on those intimate moments. 

Those worries disappeared as I arrived around 6pm. Greeted by Carly the most gorgeous, warm midwife and her offer of coffee, I was instantly made to feel welcome. The lights were dimmed, the worship music was a continuation of what had been playing in my car, and the oil diffuser bubbled away in the corner misting a blend that I'm sure added to the incredible feeling of calm and peace in the birthing suite. Between contractions Nath and Steph chatted easily, the room was warm, and the anticipation evident.

What amazed me was how well Steph seemed to know her body. How seemingly easily and soundlessly she focused on breathing through her contractions, and how she knew when it was time to enter the bath. I could tell the contractions were intensifying but I didn't realise just how close she was to giving birth until the gentle encouragement from the midwife started coming, and all of a sudden he was crowning. Nath held his wife's arms and she rocked, focused and intent, quiet and calm. And then, as she panted and pushed for what felt like just a few short minutes, at 7:52pm she birthed her beautiful baby boy and the midwife helped him up and out of the water.

Relief and wonder filled the room. I was in awe of Steph's quiet determination and the beauty of the way life had been brought into the world. 

I didn't stay long afterwards. I left them to their baby bubble, after Nath cut the cord, and Steph was tucked back into bed in their room. Two cups of teas brough in on a tray, and toast being made for the champion parents.
I left that room, warm and dim and full of peace and the beauty of new life.
What a privilege and a blessing it was to witness, to experience, to capture. 

 
xx

keep them forever: why I need to hold my photos

My grandmother's cupboard had a particular smell. Actually, her whole house did, but in the cupboard that nostalgic nanna-smell was strongest. This cupboard was one of the most exciting things about our visits. When I was little it contained brand new toys and Christmas presents that she'd "forgotten" about that would be given to us when we discovered them. When I was 15 I found her wedding dress and I thought it was so special being allowed to try it on. On one of my last real visits it was the boxes of photographs stashed in that cupboard that held me captive for hours. 

Black and white, or sepia-toned with rounded corners they documented the childhoods of my grandparents and my mum and her siblings. Holy Communions and 70's bikini's and various weddings and cousins and old fashioned cars and furniture. 

What about my kids? And grandchildren? Will they love my funny-smelling cupboard? What will they find in there? At this stage, not a lot of photos. And although their generation is the most micro-documented in history, will their childhoods be lost on old iPhones and computers, or will we rely on Instagram to scroll through and show them the highlight reel of their childhood? We have camera roll after camera roll full of photos, and computers full to the brim of all our digital images but what about pictures we can hold?
Ones we can sit and share with little people peeking over our shoulders and asking to see, and holding them close to their faces. Our kids love to look at photos, especially of themselves when they were babies or toddlers, or of their birthday cakes and blowing out candles. And though I'm documenting them well, I'm not keeping them well enough. 

So much of what we share online is our highlight reel. The crisp, perfect images carefully selected to compliment our Instagram feed (I'm guilty! Completely!) but what we fail to remember is that life is so much bigger, and more beautiful and more real than those perfect images. It's big and messy and beautiful and sometimes the shots that tell the best stories about us are the ones that are blurred or have the mountain of washing or the dirty socks strewn on the floor in the background. The real, day to day stuff that life is made of that my kids will want to remember, and show their own children one day. 

So I've made a promise to myself. To create tangible, holdable photos, and photobooks and albums. Not to let special moments [assemblies, merit certificates, tooth fairy visits, Easter hat parades, daddy cuddles] get lost in my camera roll.
To print photos that we can sit down with friends and share, over coffee, with eye contact. 
Ones that show the real, unstyled us that we'll want to remember in years to come.
Documenting well, keeping forever.

* Above photo book printed through Snapfish - the perfect Father's Day present for my dad, a book documenting our school holiday visit to Bridgetown

xx

 

when you feel like there's more

More and more I realise how fleeting time goes.
It both excites and petrifies me. 
Our baby is six and the endless sleepless nights and toddler wrangling feels like a lifetime ago. Was that even me, the mama with the tiny boy and the even littler girl and the bump who was soon to become this wild and sweet completion of our family? Was that me, who spent long days nursing and making playdoh and having Disney's Cars on replay?
It was me. It was the life I dreamed of, it is the life I dreamed of. So why then, does it not feel enough? Why do I feel like I'm standing on the precipice and I can't see any further?!

See, I don't think I dreamed far enough. Subconsciously the dreaming stopped after the children were born. I don't know what I saw for myself afterwards.
The mind-movie I rolled through in my head ended abruptly at motherhood.

So when the pregnancies finished and the days of nursing and mornings spent at the park were done and dusted, and my baby went happily off to school full-time this year I have never felt so rattled. I'm living the dream but there's so much more space around that dream to dream some more. To see bigger, and further. To dream for my family, and my kids.

Dreaming is seeing and what we see we can reach. I saw motherhood. I saw the kind of mother I would be, the kind of family I would have and I'm so grateful to God that it's here and I have it, and you know what? I've even kinda rocked at this motherhood thing. 
But there's so much more and a whole life to discover it.

Dear Me. It's not over. That's not all there is. 
As petrifiying as that may feel, and as narrow and rocky these paths are, on the journey to discovering all that God has for you - its the exhilarating adventure that you're called to. 

Go get 'em.

xo

 

journal | giant slaying

 

Something was said to me a couple of months ago that stuck.
"If you slay the giants in your life, your daughters won't have to."

It put a fight on the inside of me I haven't had before. Because as a mother, I want better for my kids than what I have. I want them to start from the top of my shoulders, not from the ground up. And if I can get taller, then they'll reach further.

So my girls, for you I'll fight. 

I'll slay timidity and insecurity because I don't want you to be held back by it - I want you to have a deep sense of knowing that you were planned and are purposed and a security in who you are and the limitless possibility God has placed on the inside of you.

I'll slay approval addiction because I never want you to hand over the role of your approval to anyone else. You'll walk without the need of approval or applause and you'll be free from the fear of what others might think.

I'll slay the need to find self-worth in achievements or accomplishment - you are more valuable than a piece of paper that holds a degree, you are more important than any role you could have, and you are more precious than what you do with your time. Your worth was complete the moment life was breathed into your soul.

I'll slay comparison because I want you to know that someone else's beauty or talent doesn't dim your own. There is room for you.

I'll slay the labels and the expectation society places on us as women, so that you'll never have to feel their weight or question their truth.

I'll slay the thoughts that the mirror spits out when it says too fat, too small, too crooked, too short, too different so that you appreciate the uniqueness of your body and place less emphasis on the exterior than you give to your heart. 

I'll slay the self-loathing and together we'll love people of every race, colour, gender, orientation, and background so you see the words love thy neighbour as yourself in action, and without excuse. The way you'll love yourself will transfer to those around you - open-handed, full of grace.

Because those giants I'm slaying are liars. And as I slay them, they're shrinking and you'll stand tall over them all and laugh with wild abandon. And I'll say of you, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."*

xx

*Proverbs 31:25

where are we going?

I get annoyed sometimes because I can't see the end.
If only I could see clearly the way life will pan out for us, I could focus on what really matters.
If only I could see the finished jigsaw instead of what now looks like an unfinished, abstract mess, then I wouldn't feel so unsettled and unsure. 
If only I could see clearly what God has put inside me to use, and to develop, and to sow then I wouldn't bury everything and hide away.

I'm Thomas. The doubting disciple.
The beautiful, comforting words of Jesus tells them* not to let their hearts be troubled, to trust Him. Everyone else seems okay with this. Except Thomas. I imagine these beautiful, comforting words lingered in his mind for a little bit. They sounded nice but then the pause. Logic and reality hit him like a train. Wait a second, what are you even talking about?! You can tell me not to be troubled all you like but I AM troubled! "No, we don't know, Lord" Thomas says, "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" I know how Thomas feels. 
"WHERE ARE WE GOING?!" I scream it in my mind. 
I demand it, frown, try to move away from the discomfort. NO WE DON'T KNOW, JESUS. 
I DON'T KNOW!

I don't know! I don't know where I'm going, I don't know specifically, what I need to be doing. I have no map, no timeline, no checklist. What if I'm going the wrong way? What if I make a choice and it's the wrong one?

But I think that's the point. The point of the faith that we're supposed to have for God to smile upon us. The faith that says, "I can't see the way, but I know Who the Way is."
And it's always the Who that is the most important.
And He is the one who promises peace regardless.
Regardless of how much we feel we're stepping out into nothingness - He'll catch us.
Regardless of how much we feel we're flailing on a path alone - we're not. 
We're left with the gift ofpeace of mind and heart. "And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."**

"I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught" ***

As frustrating as it is that I can't see the end, I can see Him. I can know Him. And instead of being berated for doubting He simply promises peace, even when I can't see the way, and when the path before me is dim. 

xx

* John 14
** John 14:27
*** Message Paraphrase

eats | apple crumble

The coldest days here are always July. 
Yesterday we spent the morning at a playground and the cold was biting my toes and nudging at my bones, despite wearing billions of layers. 
The cold put a stop to my idea of an afternoon run, and instead all I wanted was to curl up with something deliciously warm in my hands to ward off the ice. 
Apple crumble is traditionally made with a lot of sugar, but now that my palate has changed and I don't eat as much of the refined stuff anymore, I really love this version. It's warm and sweet, yet nourishing enough that I even ate it for breakfast this morning with a big dollop of greek yoghurt!
Perfect for a frosty morning, or an evening cosied up under a blanket. I made it in my Thermomix but it would be easy enough to make by stewing the apples on the stove, and crushing the nuts in a clean tea towel with a rolling pin. Enjoy!

Sugar-free easy Apple Crumble
Serves approx 5
 

Ingredients
Filling:
8 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into eighths
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon water

Crumble topping:
1 cup oats
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup almonds or other nuts of choice
2 tablespoons rice malt or maple syrup
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Stew the apples with the cinnamon and water either on the stovetop on low, stirring occasionally or in the Thermomix at 100 degrees/reverse/sp 1 for about 13 minutes.
Place stewed apple evenly on the bottom of a small oven-proof dish. Pre-heat your oven to 160*C.

Blend all crumble ingredients in a blender or Thermomix for 6 seconds on a medium speed, being careful to only combine the ingredients and chop the nuts slightly - you want the crumble to still be crumbly, not completely blended together.

Layer the crumble over the top of the apple and sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on the top before placing it into the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the top becomes golden and crisp. Serve with pouring cream, or yoghurt if you're like me and you want some for breakfast!

xx

life stories | isaac & missie

Their business is coffee.
He grinds and tamps and extracts the perfect honey-coloured liquid. The milk is frothed until it's thick and silky and he pours back and fourth until the delicate art forms on the top. It truly is the best coffee I've ever had. And I'm lucky enough to drink it every Sunday. 
Their espresso bar is set up just beyond the doors of our church. 
Music plays as a background to the grinding and the tapping and the chatting. 
It's not just the coffee with these two though. 
It's the jovial joking from behind the coffee machine, and the warm greetings.
It's not just the knowing what type of coffee you're ordering (flat white, double shot, no sugar thanks) but the knowing who you are, how your family is.
They love people with their coffee, and their genuine grins. And they love each other.
It's obvious. It's not a showy over-the-top loving that needs to be announced in a Facebook post. It's the earthy and real everyday loving and serving that I see. The working-alongside, giving-my-best type love. 
And we watched her little belly grow bit by bit, week by week as she wrote our name on pretty paper coffee cups. We saw the anticipation and the delight growing as she did. 

And then he arrived and now they're three. 
And lucky me took my camera and spent a little hour chatting and capturing his three-week-old perfection, and the newness of life and the evolution of family. I reminisced with her my own squishy-newborn sleep-deprived days and the wonder and the worry of it all. 
But can you see the God-peace in the photos? Because it was there. This tangible peace and awe of the miracle of family and the blessing of a baby. 

xo

where have you been?

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I've been reading 17th Century literature by James Joyce and Laurence Sterne and Nathaniel Hawthorne. 
I've been writing essays and sitting exams.
I've been cooking nourishing foods and still trying to save on our weekly budget by not buying takeaway. 
I've been organising taxes and paperwork and payslips for my husband's business; printing business cards and making plans and dreaming big. 
I've been watching Netflix and rediscovering crochet and enjoying knitted throws keeping me cosy on cold winter nights. 
I've been planning women's gatherings, and hanging with creative tribes, and taking photos of newborns and speaking at mama's groups about the crazy ride that is toddlerhood.
We've taught the kiddos the card game 'Spoons' and spent every evening for over a week competitively playing and laughing.
We've holidayed down south, drank daily coffees or the occasional chai tea, opened our home, loved on our family and splashed in muddy puddles. 
I've sat and had tea with my kiddo's great grandmother and listened to her stories of Scotland and her generation. We've written our family tree and she's helped to trace us back to the early 1800's. 
I've run towards sunsets, with the wind in my face. I've scribbled pages in journals, laid in the sunshine, tended my herb garden and held print magazines with my name in them. 
I've pushed comfort zones, retreated back into them.
I've been steady and faithful and then mental.
I've read and prayed and retreated and the world kept turning and whirring and churning. 

And today I found a spot in the winter sunshine to write. To come back here. 

But it's not all about here, you know? There are so many other places we can be.

Where have you been?

xx
 

humble

I'm learning.

To put my phone down. And when I fail, to just put it down again. 
To study even when it's the last thing I feel like doing. 
That it only takes 5 minutes to wash the dishes and have a clean sink.
To let go of worry - it changes nothing, and adds no money to the bank.
That legacy is important. That nothing lasts for ever. That life is valuable. 
That when I change my shutter speed, cool things can happen. 
To use my slow cooker to roast a chicken, and then use it again to make broth.
That 5:30am is the most valuable time of my day - the still, the quiet.
That when I fail to get up at 5:30am it's okay.
To prioritise the important things, and hold the rest (blogging, social media) lightly.

Stay humble. 

xx

the voice of wisdom

It's that time of year again. 
Semester has started, and I am feeling the stretch.
The uncomfortable, brink-of-overwhelm stretch.
Every year I add a little bit more to my load, and every year I second-guess the decision that I'd made the year before.
I begin to doubt whether I can carry the load, doubt whether I've chosen the right thing, doubt my ability, doubt my intelligence - basically doubt anything there is floating around my mind that can possibly be doubted!

The difference is that this year I've recognised the pattern.
Oh hey doubt. You were here last year. You're not going to last long. 

I know that the beginning of semester is overwhelming. And now I also know how to knuckle down and do what needs to be done. That in 14 weeks it'll be done and dusted and I can reward myself with as many Greys Anatomy episodes as I want, ha! 

For now though, the book of Proverbs has plenty of wise words:
Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. 
If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. 
If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.*


So what's this wisdom that will multiply my days?
Good routine, less procrastination (read: social media), time spent planning, organisation. 
When I am dedicated to doing what needs to be done, I rest easy at night knowing I've used my days wisely and they have essentially been multiplied. Those days when you feel like you've achieved a week's worth of work? I guarantee you, wisdom was involved. 
Psalm 90:12 says we need to number our days, to gain a heart of wisdom - not to be frightened that our days are numbered, but to really truly make every day count. 

"Wisdom will tell you when to pursue and conquer and when to simply stand your ground. It will clarify what is worth fighting for and what is not worth the fight. Wisdom is never rushed or forced into a corner. It is knowledge applied at the right time, in the right way with the right motive" - Claude Carrello 

So that thing you feel like you can't do? Ask for and apply wisdom. See it from a different angle. Hold on for just a little bit longer. The doubt will fade and wisdom will come. 

xx

* Proverbs 9:11-12

 

get me out

Daniel is up for work early. Like, it's-still-dark early.
Sometimes I hear the coffee beans grinding and it brings me out of my dreaming state, sometimes I hear nothing until the faint sound of the garage door, and his ute reversing out. 
The best mornings are when my alarm wakes me and he's already gone and I'd slept through it all. 
Today though, I was already awake. Felt like I'd never slept, although I'm sure I had dozed restlessly throughout the night, half-asleep and anxious.
When sleep still wouldn't come I quietly pulled the blinds so I could curl up and watch the black sky lighten; it's cloudy. It will rain today. Trying not to worry about how tired I'd feel later. 
Trying not to worry about everything. 

I'm not a worrier, usually. But it's those times I'm not quite awake enough to fight them, that they come. The anxieties and the embarrassments, the reminders of failures and the overwhelming urge to sink and keep sinking. I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough.
I squeeze my face shut, and it's hot and red and my heart hurts. Failure.

Then as the sky turns from black to grey, clarity comes slowly. I felt vulnerable, I didn't bring perfection to a situation, and the same old narrative starts again. The one entitled, "You aren't good enough." The pattern becomes clearer and then it's easier to change my thoughts. I force them to be kind, which feels almost impossible. But I remind myself what's true. 
You are IN the arena. You showed up, despite your fear. You're being brave with your life.

"And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can't have both." (Thanks Brene


I layed in bed and just let myself feel the discomfort. Maybe there was another cringe or two of vulnerability but then this:
"[loyal, faithful, committed] walks in step with God; his path blazed by God who delights in very detail. If he stumbles, he's not down for long; God has a grip on his hand."*

God delights in every detail. Full knowing we'll fail, that we won't be perfect (if I was I'd have no need of Him) that we'll feel disappointed in ourselves. But in the war between daring and comfort, daring has to win - stepping out is the only way in to a life that is vibrant and wholehearted - faith not fear is what pleases Him.
And as the sun made the sky pink I told myself, "yes disappointment is painful and embarrassment is almost worse... but neither have to last long." 

And instead of screaming, 'get me out!'; the arena is too hard, too tough, too painful... I'll stay standing. Because today is brand new, and so is the grace that I so desperately need.

xx

Psalm 37:23-24

saturday | coloured cookies

baking kids-6.jpg

Today I have the sniffles. 
Yesterday afternoon I knew I was fighting something, so I whizzed up a smoothie full of carrots, ginger, tumeric, an orange and some supergreens. By the evening my nose was running and I was counting the hours till bedtime - I toddled myself off to bed not long after the kiddos lights were out.
Today I'm feeling worn out. Apple cider vinegar and James Joyce have been my companions and I even managed a nap.
Thankfully the smalls have been content to just be home after a big week, and happy to stay in pjs most of the day - until this afternoon when boredom struck.
Please can we make something? Please can we bake something?
So make and bake we did. Or they did, while I drank a tea and supervised vaguely.

The dough (found here) was quick to whip up, and we chose tiny shapes mostly because they'd bake faster and also because they'll last longer - a few in each lunchbox is the perfect little treat.
The girls found these food colouring pens in the baking box and begged me to let them colour their tiny cookies - why not?! Such a great idea, and it kept them occupied for so long. I think it'll make their recess a little bit fun this week! 

Now the tiny cookies are in the freezer, the kitchen is clean and I'm about to hop into my pjs again. Happy Saturday!

xx

I've started a board on Pinterest here specifically for school lunches - I'm looking for yummy, low sugar/fructose snacks and treats. My pinning to making ratio is surprisingly high.
 

 

a new rhythm

I've been a stay at home mum for 10 years.
February 2006 I was preparing to finish up my office administration role, with four weeks of pregnancy to go. Those days were filled with what feels similar again now - a sense of excitement and expectancy, anticipation. But if I looked closer then like I do now, I know there was underlying fear - I wondered if I was cut out to be a mother. Whether I could give birth, or breastfeed or nurture the tiny human that was growing inside me. I had a million expectations, yet I had no way of truly knowing what it would look like or feel like or be like. 

10 years later it ends. My days have completely changed.
I feel a sense of loss and sadness for time I can't re-live, but there is peace in knowing that I've sown what I could in the time that I had.
And motherhood is far from over, it's just taken on a different shape - they can feed and dress themselves, but feeding their minds and spirits, and clothing their hearts is a precious role that still belongs to me.

And last week it was scorchingly hot, and I'd missed them, and I kept them home.
We fell in salty sea, and ate ice-cream and came home to hibernate indoors. 
And the next day I needed them to be at school but I both love, and hate the space and the quiet when they're gone. 
I've lost some measure to my days, and too many seem too quiet. 
But the truth is that I've been so used to rushing, that I have to re-learn how to slow down. 
I have to learn a new routine in these unfamiliar days and it's not dependant on snack-times or play times - and the only interruption to my productivity is myself.
I have no way of being able to tell what this season will look like, or feel like, or be like, and I still doubt my ability to walk through it with purpose and intention - but that is my word for the year. Intention.

To be intentional with my time; my saying yes and my saying no.
Intentional about what I invest my heart into, and what relationships will warrant my attention. 
Intentional about what I read, intentional in self-care, intentional in eating and exercise, study and service. 

So, here's to finding a new rhythm, hearing a new song, discovering a new way.

xx

focus & energy

Focus.

Today I heard something that was a little bit profound. 
I mulled it over in my mind all day.
It made me realise again the importance of what's going on on the inside. 
It was this:

Where focus goes, energy flows.

What am I letting capture my focus? Because I'll be leaking energy there. 
Is it negative? Is it helpful? Is it productive? Or is it keeping me tied up and stuck?

I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish creatively this year.
I've already been given such amazing opportunities, but if I continue to focus on what everyone else is doing and try to draw inspiration from the wrong places, I'll waste the energy I need to pursue what is set aside for me to accomplish - and also lose the authenticity of what I am writing/saying/photographing. 

The more I thought about this today, the truer I felt it. Focus = energy. 
Even if it's subconscious. 
What I am focusing on sets my mood. My mood affects everyone in my household.
If I just shift my focus, my mood shifts too - negatively or positively.
"Make a conscious effort to fill your mind with good, pure, wholesome, and lovely thoughts."*

Did you know that thoughts release chemicals in the brain? Chemicals released in your brain have an effect on your body. Making a conscious effort to fill my mind with that which is good will actually have a positive effect on my body also - my energy won't be leaking out of the wrong places...
And, maybe like Dr Seuss says, those good thoughts will shine out of my face like sunbeams.

xx

* Philippians 4:8

 

back to school - I made it

I have been nesting. Wild, scrubbing-the-bathroom-to-within-an-inch-of-it's-life type nesting. 
Only I'm not pregnant. With a baby.
But upon careful consideration, I think what I am pregnant with is expectation. And the knowledge that a new season is about to be birthed in my life.
I knew this day would come but I never anticipated just how bitterly sweet it would feel.
My baby girl embarks on her primary school journey tomorrow, and every day she will march to school with her siblings, widen her knowledge of the world around her, and deepen her mark upon it. 
And with every march in her light-up Frozen shoes (for which her mama did forgo her desired and much more stylish pair, to the delight of that little and very determined pair of feet) I am simultaneously proud, anxious and exhilarated.

I made it, mamas.
To that little dancing light at the end of what sometimes was a very dark tunnel.
I made it through sleepless nights, milk-soaked bras and puddles of wee in embarrassing places when they toilet trained. I lugged around giant nappy bags, and squeezed wide load prams through small spaces. I learned the knack of car-seat buckling, toddler wrangling and veggie coercing. I've sat through more episodes of Play School, Thomas the Tank, and Peppa Pig than I care to imagine. I knew the isolation and the loneliness of those new-mama days, and loved the park dates and play dates and playgroups and mothers groups as I began to find my tribe.
I loved the afternoon naps, and the baby learning-words, toddling babes and watching the wonder of the world through their eyes.
Oh I loved the exhaustingly hard slog of it all, and I'll miss it more as time goes on and the sweet memories outweigh the bitter. 
And walking into this new season I leave no regrets. 
I mothered the way I knew how, I tried my absolute best, I showed up every day and loved those tiny babies into the adorable kiddos they are now.
And I'll keep loving them... and walk away from the school gate doing a happy dance tomorrow.
She's ready, I'm ready.
Lets do this new thing.

xx  

 

whooooo are you?

bridgetown 2016 jan-8.jpg

We went to watch The Lion King at the theatre this week. 
And then we watched the movie last night.
Remember the part after Nala returns and Simba is all confused about who he is?
Rafiki confronts him with "The question is: whooooooo are you?", and Simba doesn't know.
After a little reminding though, Simba of course runs back to Pride Rock and asserts himself as king.

Last week I signed my very first paid writing contract. 
I'll be a regular paid contributor for a website who approached me and asked me to write for them. A freelance writer and photographer.

I've been a writer for a long time. On the inside. 
The last six months has had me voicing these titles. Starting with bravely printing some business cards. Writer/Photographer they boldly declare.
And all this voicing has had me running closer to the actual being
I have started to see who I am, and success has no choice but to follow.

Who are you? 
When you start to understand who you are, it's much easier to see where you need to go.

xx

Also, click over to Kin Women to see my first post of twenty sixteen... I'm a writer there too, you know.