Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Inciting Incidents

The inciting incident for life change is almost always heartbreak- something becomes broken beyond repair, too heavy to carry; in the words of the recovery movement, unmanageable. (Shauna Niequist Present over Perfect)

So much of my heart has broken in recent years. I am not sure when it started. Maybe it was after the first time in high school, earlier? Maybe later. In the big and the little incidents that have pulled parts of my heart away that I have held close, held dear, held too tightly. In the last four years or so, it has been broken and broken and broken in different little and bigger ways. Either self-inflicted as I have studied counselling and pulled myself apart to allow myself to be put together again, or when friends and loved ones have exercised their free will to choose, or to leave, and in some cases my heart has broken as I have been the leaver, or the one to allow things to stop, or lie broken.

In the last year I had reached a point again where I had thought life was going to change again. It was exciting, hope-filled and going in a certain direction, and yup, I was happy to head that way with my whole life. And then it didn’t. Badly, Sadly. Broken heartedly. And then you pick yourself up yet again and take a new look at what was and is and one hopes to come.

I am learning that life is one of constant laying down, of releasing and holding with open hands. It’s offering what is, not what we think it should look like or want it to look like- all those expectations that we place upon ourselves, others, and vice versa. And it might look empty and isolate, but it also creates space for picking up our best and the best in others, and to allow ourselves to live an authentic life that allows us all to be whoever we are truly created to be. It’s messy and doesn’t make the best use of our time. It may not look magazine perfect, but it’s our present and our life. Our people and our hope. I am learning to be ok with laying expectations down, hopes and dreams and being ok with what is, and giving space for what is to come. There are so many opportunities and possibilities as a result and in laying some things down which look perfectly good- just not good for me, it gives space to what is better, is a more natural fit- it gives space for the impossible!

Life is currently in the middle of impossible- a space I never, ever thought would be possible in a million years. In this way or on my own and yet it’s an impossible situation that is right in the middle of happening! It’s exciting, hopeful, looks different to what I thought life would be like, but looks real, and spacious and hope-filled. I don’t know what it will all look like or how it will turn out, or how big the changes will be. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be limiting the ‘change’ to one area of life when actually it’s much deeper, broader and far reaching. And that’s ok with me! It’s in God’s good hands! And in the steady breaking open, it’s allowing the new in and bringing life in a whole new way. I know it will break and break and break, but that’s not where it finishes- that’s the start. It’s in the healing and repair and rebuilding that new life comes, and the seasons continue.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Giving pause to the new season

My favourite place to work in is at a café. I am sitting in a random café in the middle of the eastern suburbs somewhere, in a café which is a part of  a strip of shops in the middle of suburbia. There’s a couple of cafés, a butcher, bike shop, newsagents, dentist, you get the drift. There was a mum and her two little kids here, and they have just headed across to the butcher. It’s a slow Tuesday morning and 

I am glad to have a glimpse of life here as I pause before heading on my way. Buses here are fun… it’s all bus transport here, which isn’t something I am particularly familiar with, so often involves stopping in the middle of nowhere to change busses… or walk… which is what I have chosen today. I like that it gives a moment to pause, to look around and take in a  different view of one I am not necessarily a part of, though there are elements that I would love in my life, but that’s another story. 

Following on from that thought of all the talk and finding a place for what I have to say…. Perhaps it looks different to what I think it might look, and it will be find to find the new voice. In a space of time where a new season approaches, I want to rush in, but know that this time, it’s time to wait, to pause, to trust and trust and trust, especially when the doubt, questions about what disaster might strike, so my challenge is to look for the good, the opportunity, to be immensely glad for what is, and what has been, and what is happening now that will have an impact on what’s to come. It’s in good hands, and will always be in good hands.

So, while watching the world go by for a minute, I am glad for the space to look, observe the beauty, to dream and be immensely glad for what is. And glad for an opportunity to see things from a new lovely perspective.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Picking up the 'pen' again

So I am writing for the sake of starting to write again. As my fingers and thoughts and processes have stopped at the point of initial thoughts. My fingers have slowed to the point where work is enough, and processing to the point of documentation has been almost non-existent. It’s happened a lot over the years, and this blog has been going for a lot of years now. It starts and stops, mostly because of life and what’s happening, and while life might have direction and purpose for the most part, the blog doesn’t always have a place for it. A new place is emerging slowly and is starting to take shape. I am not entirely sure if it will be here or elsewhere- I suspect it won’t be here for the most part, but will take on an entirely different form and context- and possibly a new role to boot, just for the fun of it, because we all have time to take on something entirely new and different too…..!

Part of what starts my process is the new thoughts and ideas, but part of what stops me is the potential for judgement (Not critique), but also of finding my voice through the noise and of sharing something that adds to the conversation, rather than just…. Being yet another person ‘talking’ and not ‘listening’ is well, just noisy.

I have been thinking about what I have to contribute (while studiously ignoring the voices/persona’s who say I really can’t!), as well as considering my place, role and where I am going, and what I want to plant or invest in our community both local and global that is a positive contribution.

It’s a funny thing too, taking stock of your own resources. There’s what others might say- which may or may not be positive or true, and then there’s what you know, but also what you’re wanting to grow and develop within yourself, no matter where you are in life. New seasons come and go too, and as we journey them, there are the lessons we learn. About ourselves, others and our values and what, or where we want to invest into and grow.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Fear in action and choosing some alternatives...

Fear is a funny beast. It rears its head in unexpected and surprising ways. In some cases its in the unexpected situations, or you're in the middle of doing something or a season and something makes you stop for a moment and look around. You realise what you're standing in, or on and wow, it looks scary! In a season where some big things are going to change, I have been looking forward to the possibilities, the hope, the exciting things to come. Everything I am planning change for may happen, or it may not, but for some things, it's the biggest, riskiest changes ever, in many ways. I am trying hard to not count the days till they happen, but to savour what is, but as I realised this weekend, that's all dependant on what's to come being better than what is....

I have hopes for so many things in the season to come. Of the friendships to be strengthened, the new opportunities, the space and freedom it will hopefully bring.

I was on the phone last week with a friend, and following it was thinking about some of the places we went to in the conversation, and realised there's a bunch of things I am worried will happen there as a result of a few things that have been happening here (good things). And that's just one area of life. As I travelled through the weekend, having had that 'conversation' with myself, I started thinking about other areas where I am afraid or worried. What if the broken friendship is never going to be healed, ever, and this is it? What if all that's to come isn't all it's cracked up to be, and I end up more isolated rather than more connected? What if friendships go in different directions what what I hope for, or as I go on in life as a 'single' it will become less convenient to be included by others and vice versa, of being told 'you can't' rather than 'you can', of not being enough, The questions and fears kinda went on and on, and one fear has fed another, till I got to Sunday night and fitting in one last job before the end of the weekend. As I was doing it, the worship music went on and I realized I had a choice to fester on all the could, or might go wrong, or I could pray. I certainly didn't have the words, so am grateful for other ways of speaking to our Heavenly Dad, so that's what I did.

As I did, the picture of Peter walking on water came to mind. Picturing how that must have been, or having his eyes on Jesus, and focussed on him, the looking around and realising the enormity of his circumstances would have been pretty confronting, and yet, he was safe. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water'. He said 'come'. Matthew 14:28-29. So simple, that's all it took.

Later I was thinking about all the enormous things happening and to come and was reminded of the Israelites when they first looked at the promised land. They had the choice to look at what might go wrong, or at what Gods promises and plans were for them all. I have that same choice. And I can't choose now, today, this week, this month, this season. God is good, and has good plans for us, and while I am right in the thick of all that is going on, its so big, and pretty darn scary, but that's not the end of the story, and it's not really an option to turn back now, without pretty woeful results, so. Am choosing hope, choosing to believe God's goodness and even in his promises- the big and the little, will choose love, will choose that things will come good,  will choose to trust God and God in the changing circumstances.

God speaks to Joshua 1:7-9 saying, 'only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

I will choose that. Though I will probably need reminding every so often, even if it doesn't look like that on the outside:)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Talk in writing:)

I spoke at my church this morning. Apparently it will be podcast and you can listen to it at www.northridge.org.au, but for now for your reading pleasure, here you go:)

How has God transformed, brought change and freedom in my life?

So, a little about me. I have lived in London, Hong Kong and Sydney, so a bit of me is in all of those places. I now work with new migrants and help them to settle into life in Australia, which is challenging, rewarding and a lot of fun. I have been at Northridge for just over 6 years, but first started listening to the podcasts while I was in Hong Kong, way before that, after meeting Kath and Phil and talking to them about planning a trip to bring a team from here to Hong Kong for a few weeks.

I have been thinking and praying a lot about what has brought change, freedom, and transformation in my life and in all the brainstorming, and thoughts, it has come down to being based around God’s word, the written and the prophetic in our lives.

If you know about the 5 love languages, there’s acts of service, physical touch, gifts, quality time and words of affirmation, I fall firmly in the quality time category. All the love languages have their place and I hugely value all of them, but quality time is where it’s all at for me. So, quality time with God and close friends is pretty vital in my life. 

One of the things I love about our Heavenly Father is that he made us for relationship. From the beginning, he commands us to Love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind, with the second being love our neighbors as ourselves. Life is lived from a place of love and community, living, working, doing life together- God, others, us. Quality time with Jesus will often involve a long train trip to and from work, lots of worship music, listening to podcasts, reading books and journaling. Occasionally there’s the lovely treat of having a chat with someone else about what they, or I am learning, which I also love.

Life is meant to be lived in relationship and community. It’s unique, rarely goes to plan but is rich, diverse and our lives are all the better for learning to live together in community, wherever we are at. I find I learn so much from hearing the stories of others, and seeing how God has worked in and through them, or show’s himself to others or calls out the gold he has placed in their lives for his glory.

One of the many things I love about our faith is that it’s living and active. Hebrews 4:11 says that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thought s and intentions of the heart. 

I love that God still speaks today through the miraculous, through signs, wonders, healings, and speaking to us individually and collectively. I am immensely grateful for the impact that has had on me throughout my life as a Christian. One area that has particularly impacted me has been through the prophetic, whether it’s words, pictures, actual drawn pictures, impressions, you name it. I love the encouragement they bring, the comfort when things are really tough or a confirmation of what’s to come. Whether they seem specifically personal, or more general, they remind me that I am known, loved, that I am not part of a crowd to God. Sometimes they can fall by the wayside, but there are ones that I hold on to for dear life and bring a life of their own to me. Often they point out who I am to God and remind me of how He sees me rather than how I might see me, how I am feeling, or what the circumstances are around me. Often if I want to fall into a heap, or lose my cool over something, those words encourage me to something better, of who God has made me to be, rather than my fallen humanness. 

I love receiving prophetic words, whether those words of knowledge, wisdom, pictures, you name it because whether they fit or don’t, they always, always point me back Jesus. Whether they sit well and make sense or don’t they are always (well, have been in my experience, thankfully) have been encouraging and graciously given. Even if I haven’t understood the word someone has given, I have been able to take it away and ponder it and let it sit and marinade for a while. Time and experience, digging into the Bible will bring clarity and direction, and I can always ask God about it and keep coming back to it.

I was thinking about some of the words that I have been given in recent time that have stood out and brought huge encouragement and motivated me to keep going back to God no matter what. 

Several years ago now a friend turned around to me at church and announced that she had a picture for me. It was out of the blue and wonderfully, she wrote it down for me and I have been able to go back, and go back, and go back to it. She said that she had felt God say: 

I know the plans I have for you.
I have not forgotten.
Plans to give you a hope and a future.

I then had a picture of a big oil rig, massive drill thing and it felt like it was a picture of how God wanted you to drill down into his goodness, deeply anchoring you and increasing your faith.

A reminder to not give up. And also that He was the power behind the drilling too. So you can press into Him and trust him for the rest.

Don’t be distracted by the circumstance  but hold tightly to the truth that HE IS GOOD. 

Also, she is no fool who puts her faith in a mighty king. Don’t be afraid to believe and look foolish in the worlds eyes.

This word and picture has been one that has encouraged me and reminded me of who and whose I am and who God is, and he is trustworthy, he is good, no matter what’s going on in my life and wherever I am at, I can go back to him. 
I was at a conference last year, I think, and as they shared prophetic words, they encouraged us that if they heard a word and it fit us and our circumstances, we could receive it for ourselves, so if this fit for you, feel free to receive it too as an encouragement from your heavenly Father.

Two other situations where the prophetic has had a significant impact on me include a couple of experiences. Just over a year ago, I went to America and had the privilege to have some prophetic prayer ministry at Bethel Church and the International House of Prayer. The words were recorded, so we could go back and listen to them as many times as we like, so they are on my trusty phone. These were from people who had no idea who I was or where I had come from and while they were immensely encouraging at the time, also were a bit strange, and I wasn’t quite sure how they sat with me. Listening to them in the months later, I have a much better understanding of what God was saying and am so encouraged by God’s perspective being so much beyond my own.

More recently, some big personal changes happened in my life which were surprising and unexpected. They were really hard but in God’s wonderful way, he started speaking. First a friend sent an email, then another had a word, someone sent a text out of the blue and another called me. In and of themselves, each were lovely and encouraging words and pictures, but together, wow, God is amazing! The themes were similar, the timing was extraordinary, and together they were such an immense blessing. They kept me going where I wanted to give up and reminded me that God sees me and has made me a certain way for a reason and I can trust him in me.

They encourage me to not lose my cool as much as I would like to when things don’t go as I thought they were going, or should be going, or I would like them to be going….

Equally too, I love it when God gives me a word or a picture for someone else. I would love to get more because I know what an immense encouragement they have been for me, and I would love to be a part of God blessing others in that way. I am so grateful that individually and as a church we are exploring that more. It’s such a treat to me to get a word or picture for others, because I receive the gift of learning something new and special about that person that I might not normally have known, and I am reminded of how God sees them. I probably didn’t know that before, but what if we looked around at each other and saw each other how God sees and loves us all. How would that change how we thought, felt acted, responded to people and situations? I have been caught out more than once and so love seeing a glimpse of what God has made us all to be.

1 Corinthians 14:3 says that it is for strengthening, encouragement and comfort, and we can go back to God’s word and weight it up accordingly. It’s meant to be done in love and from a place of love.

So for me, I will keep digging deep into God’s goodness, for myself and for others, and will keep learning about how God speaks to us today. I look forward to seeing my understanding continuing to grow and seeing how a word or impression can bless others.  It’s a learning, humbling processes but so rewarding to see others blessed and see the life changing impact it can have to see God working in and through us. 2 Corinthians 4 that we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us, that we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

There’s so much than we see or understand and we are part of a much bigger story that’s of God’s love and compassion for his people. I don’t understand as much about God, myself and others as I would like to, but that’s ok- it keeps me learning, humble and curious and keen to know more of all that God has in store for us.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Telling our Stories


I am writing a talk for church at the moment which has got me thinking about pretty much everything in and around the topic related to it. There’s a lot of brainstorming and praying, a bit of attempted chatting to anyone close by who might be open to listening and helpful feedback. I need a couple of weeks just to sit and dream, write and document all the things that are to come this year, or might be able to come. So many possibilities and opportunities. Last year was a real year in practically processing what do I want and where am I going in my life, in a way that I have never had to before. It was hard, heartbreaking in new breaking ways that cracked and broke me in ways that had never been broken before, but also it seems I have been put back together in a whole new way that I never would have imagined. It’s just the beginning, but there’s lots of hope and I have a whole lot of new faith and trust in how God has made me, God and those around me to see life with a fresh perspective. I am immeasurably grateful. 


So. While I continue to have endless questions, not enough time, headspace, few answers, or well, other opportunities that I am thoroughly enjoying doing, this year has started with some of my favourites and I am hopeful, and open handed with how God will shape the year. It’s going be fun.

As I have been brainstorming for the talk, something we have been asked specifically to share is stories. But stories of ourselves, well, for me anyway, always involve others and aren’t lived in isolation. There’s usually someone else involved. In my work confidentiality is a big thing. We are asked to protect identities and ensure that the people we are caring for are indeed cared for and respected in their journey wherever they are at. Previous study set the tone as well, so I am quite careful where I use my training, inside and outside of work. My story then, seems to disappear into how it bumps up against the lives and stories of others, so mine becomes more about theirs, when push comes to shove. So, I am having fun discovering stories that I can share that would be helpful both here and as I share in the talk I am giving. Learning what that might look like is a new thing, and funny to see how some things are helping with that process. For example, at our home group, it is now the norm to have an icebreaker- a fun question that everyone needs to answer. I can usually find something to share, but it’s not till about halfway through the night when I remember a truly good answer. The most recent was ‘what was your most awkward moment?’ I came up with one, but it wasn’t till halfway through the evening when I remembered one of my most awkward moments, almost of my life had happened earlier last year. Talk about blocking it out! Fortunately God stories don’t really have the same parameters in many ways (some ways, but not all!), and God is gentle and gracious in how he cares for us and lives our stories in and through us.


So I know what I am going to talk about, and am slowing digging up some moments from life that will hopefully be helpful to all who hear. And will see what this year starts to look like in all it’s people, stories and goodness.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Being ok with not being ok with it.

I am in the mood for some good news stories right now. They aren’t too hard to find for the most part, but it would be so nice to hit some real goals sometimes. I know there is the general happy, all is well and generally swimming along nicely kinda thing, but  I am in the mood for seeing some dreams come through, answers to prayer, happily ever after’s, perfect job opportunities, businesses flourishing, answers to questions, to prayers, the over and above lavishness of a Heavenly Dad who loves us all so!

I am quietly trying to get through a quiet implosion right now. Trying to avoid the explosion and drama, the extra mess on top of the current mess that only I can then clean up. It’s a slow deep breathing process, full of long hard looks at all the good things going on, the decisions I can make, to make things better, for now, and the future, a good outcome for all, for a finishing well of chapters.

Trying to come to terms with the understanding that while others might be ok with a certain situation- I . AM. NOT. And… that’s ok! There is generally the sense that ‘they ‘ are fine with something and feel it’s ok and therefore I should to, when in actual fact, I’m not. I can put up with stuff for a while, but in the end, I have a choice to make and so do they. I suppose this comes up in all kinds of situations- living arrangements, relationships, communities, work, you name it. Often I get the impression that we are supposed to put up with something just because we have already, and should go on, or because it doesn’t bother others in the way it does to me. Something I am learning slowly is that in all areas of life, I have to answer for what happens with it, for the energy expended, and how I get through it in a way that’s not with a negative outcome. I often get reminded that while Jesus got mad, he didn’t sin. And that looks different in different situations. What it might look like to one person may look completely different to others, but I can only account for myself, the choices I make and do the right thing by everyone inasmuch as I can.

I appreciate that we are all different. There’s moments (yes, lots!!) when I wish we saw the same way, did things the same way,  valued things (and people) the same way, but in the end we don’t. We are all created unique, and in the image of our creator.  In His infinite wisdom he chose us to be unique and to live in community.  It’s not perfect by any means, but we are all the richer for it. And our living in community will change with the seasons and times. We are always growing and changing in some way. Something I am finding I am having to learn is to be ok with myself not being ok with a situation. Often I feel that we should be able to make the best of each situation, or work through something to the desired outcome, but that’s not always the way it will be. Being just one of the people in a relationship, or community, there’s only so much sway each of us carry. It’s not a failure or defeat to acknowledge it’s time to walk away from something, no matter how much we would like it to be something else so we can stay.

We can always only do what we can and sometimes that means doing something different with our time and energy, with ourselves. I don’t think I like the bits of myself that don’t stay till the positive outcome, result or happily every after. Walking away feels negative. But maybe it’s positive too, even though, in the moment, it doesn’t feel like it. That while I value things like faithfulness, perseverance, love, in the end not everyone gets equal access to our lives, and others make their own choices too that I, in turn have to live with, even as they live with mine.
Sometimes in the stepping out, we discover more of God in us, and through us with those around us, in a whole new and delightful way…

And yes, those good news stories. Bring them on in all their messy gloriousness!