it’s a hard knock life. for all.

Life is hard. Learning to believe and accept this more deeply is one of the biggest lessons I have learned in the last twelve months or so.

There was literally a day last year when my husband and I were having a bit of a fight and as we chatted through the stuff that was going on, Adam challenged me on this belief I had that life was ‘supposed’ to be easy. For as long as I can remember I thought, spoke and acted as someone pursuing ease. Sure sometimes I did hard things, but I would always try to do what I could to make the hard thing as easy as possible.

On Tuesday last week I was sharing this lesson with one of the girls who I was at training with.

A few days later on Saturday I was fighting this lie all over again. I had to have this nasty boil on my back ‘lanced’ by the doctor in the morning and throughout the day as I tried to get chores and things done, I just felt so sorry for myself. For me, this is one of the major symptoms of the life is easy lie. Then I was tripping over things and bumping my head on other things and feeling a little more sorry for myself. So you get the idea, bandaged back, stubbed toe and a bruised head. And a whole lot of tears.

I have found there is only one reliable way to be lifted out of this – and it’s usually not where I turn first (silent tears, angry thoughts) or second (that tends to be Adam – who is super patient and comforting – but ultimately not the solution).

Adam now regularly asks me “Have you prayed?” when I tell him I’m feeling overpowered by lies and spiralling into self-pity. Even as I write this, I regret that I am not more faithful in taking my troubles to God first. Although I can’t dwell on a thought like this – or it will become another one of the accuser’s ammunition against me.

Spiritual attack is the everyday reality of a life of faith. I see this at work in our church, with key people seriously ill, in my precious friends as they battle against huge work pressures or constant sickness. God is teaching me that shying away from the fight is not His answer – He wants me – and all His people to fight. For through struggle comes growth.

And so I try to pray as often as I remember to for protection of me and my family, friends and church against the evil one and to remind myself that it is ok if I face trials…perhaps even a good sign – that I’m dangerous enough to be worth attacking.

God is faithful to those who pray…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

What an incredible promise.

Like little Annie the orphan sang, it is a hard knock life. And that’s ok. My life is nowhere near as hard as that of many others around the world…having perspective also helps!

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a little more myself every day

Last week was a bit out of the ordinary for me. Firstly, I was staying in Katoomba all week for training with International Teams, the organisation I work for. A week of communal living, learning, growing and laughing with some great people. More on that below…

letting go of control update…

Also, I haven’t been tracking the weather, at least not electronically anyway. Hooray! After I wrote my post last week I moved my beloved weather app from the front page of my iPhone to one of the folders on the back page, and I looked at it just once since then, this morning.

I still thought about the weather often – particularly since it was cool, rainy and misty most of the week. I loved it on Thursday when the sun came out! I was ok with not knowing the forecast at the start of each day – this is usually essential! Sometimes I even remembered to say Proverbs 3:5-6 in my head, and this was grounding. I think I’ll move the app back to the front page but try to limit my looking.

I found great freedom in recognising over and over again that I really don’t have any control over the weather and that I can get dressed in the morning and enjoy my day without this knowledge. Be a bit more ‘take as it comes’ in my approach. Next challenge: leave cupboard doors open while sleeping. One night down and a few to go. Just want to prove to myself it’s actually ok.

much to learn

This week was the most intense time of learning I have had since Law School. Our typical day consisted of a morning devotion followed by about 5 or 6 classroom sessions interspersed with meal breaks until about 9pm.

There’s a song I’ve known since I was a little girl in Sunday School. “The Butterfly Song.” And the key line in the song is “I just thank you Father for making me, me.” I struggle daily with fear of what others think of me. I think badly of myself because I don’t have the characteristics of others. I worry about what people think of this blog. I worry that I will be judged by what I wear, say, think and do. Am I thankful to my creator God for making me – me? It sure doesn’t look like it.

When I let anyone or anything else define me, or tell me what to believe about myself, I deny God (and get sad). I have noticed over the years that the more I trust who God says I am and His plans for me, the more relaxed, joyful and myself I will be. I long for more trust…and less control.

“I am not who others say I am, I am not who I say I am, I am who God says I am.” (Neil Anderson)

This quote from one of our sessions this week resonated with this ongoing struggle I have. It’s so freeing, so true and so full of hope. It is my prayer that one day this truth will become a belief in my heart, soul and mind.

One of the other sessions this week encouraged me to reflect on my values, aspirations for life, my strengths and weaknesses and the people who had impacted most on my life – and to identify why these things make me me.

I just made a start during the session – and found great freedom in tackling it as a “work in progress,” so it didn’t have to be perfect first time. I think that this is going to be a very grounding exercise and ‘tool’ to have. I’m planning to type up and keep a working document on my computer of these things – and every now and again I’ll come back to it and refine it. Has anyone else ever done this kind of thing? I hope it might be a useful reference for when I face dilemmas and decisions – to remember (and see in print) the values and beliefs that are important to me and also to be more intentional in my relationships.

God's glory in the flowers of the field.

I have been refreshed anew at the beautiful glory of God. I had times of quiet stillness before God. So rare in my normal routine. A photo of a field of tulips helped to bring this home. Now I want to spend time with God in the silence for even just a few minutes every week, every day. He is always there with me …. the question is, will I allow the silence?

music and my heart for justice

the week

A Tropical Cyclone in Queensland and a heatwave here. My love of summer has been somewhat diminished by this crazy week.  Right now I’m loving the relief brought by the evening breeze.

This week is my sixth postaweek2011 post. Yay! I’m trying to stick to my goal with loose rules about what counts as a ‘week.’

live music show #1: sufjan

We had the blessing of seeing two great musicians in two nights last Friday/Saturday. The first was Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House. A great last minute decision to take some cheap tickets offered by a friend (spontaneous decisions to change my plans for the evening are not my forte, but I am learning to embrace them!). Sufjan is a very talented, rather eccentric performer – but I confess I spent about half the time watching the backing vocalists as they sang, danced, played percussion instruments and other bits n pieces. I also loved that a giant net of balloons, small and large was let down in the last song. They used to do this at the Family Concerts my parents took us to at the Opera House when we were kids and as they bounced about the audience and the stage, it brought back fond memories.

live music show #2 – brooke

Brooke Fraser - Live in Sydney

I bought the tickets months ago. I’ve listened to her albums over and over…and over again. This show was much anticipated and did not disappoint. Brooke Fraser‘s songs are rich with stories of life and love, loss and hope. And you can appreciate them through your iphone headphones, but the words and melodies have a whole new depth when she sings them live.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the title track of her latest album Flags. But this song brought me to tears on Saturday and it’s hard to put into words why. I think the song paints a picture of our broken world – of injustice to the vulnerable and innocent. This is the part that got me:

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I’m sure

Oh what a beautiful day it will be when the broken world is redeemed. I look forward to this day so much, but for now on this earth and in light of my faith, I can’t ignore injustice. It tugs at my heart like nothing else. I hate it. I hate it happening to people close to me in small things and I hate it happening to people I don’t know in big ways. I can’t let my life ‘blow about like a flag on the land,’ as Brooke says in this song. I want to stand up and make a difference with my life count.

During the song I sensed God answering a dilemma I’ve been struggling over for a couple of weeks. I’m still praying about it, so you’ll have to read one of my future posts to find out more.

But for now…

“Open your mouth and sing out your song, life is short as the day is long.”

(‘Here’s to you’ by Brooke Fraser)

Will you sing out your song too?

summer holiday blessings.

Summer is my favourite time of year, and I deeply treasure spending time with my friends and husband. So a summer holiday by the beach with Adam and a bunch of friends pretty much equals living the dream.

We just spent an exceptional week away with five other couples in a quiet little holiday town near Coffs Harbour. Our abode was a quirky house with a stunning view on a headland.

With all of us staying in the one place, people have asked me “Are you all still friends?” The answer…a resounding yes! (phew!)

Most of us girls are experienced at holidays but bringing the husbands along was a first. We loved watching them bond over…simpsons quotes, beer, soccer games, coffee and fishing expeditions!

Just thought i’d share my top ten holiday highlights…

  1. waking up to the sound and sight of the beach
  2. taking crazy photos (especially on the tree washed up on the beach from the floods!)
  3. playing beach frisbee (brought back memories of my Ultimate Frisbee days)
  4. watching the full moon over the ocean
  5. standing up on my surfboard a few times
  6. playing Cluedo
  7. sitting out on the headland watching the boys fish and chatting
  8. daily zooper doopers, wine and coffee
  9. a very long swim in the ocean with the whole crew as the sun was setting and cheering everyone on as they tried surfing
  10. falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore
holiday highlights

It truly was a blessing of a week. Thanks God! I feel so thankful for the opportunity to relax in the sunshine with such great people.

A few post holiday reflections…

I am now slowly shaking off the holiday brain (one day back at work then Australia Day today!) and reflecting and praying about the year ahead. Who to spend time with? How to use my time in a way that honours God? How to get to work on time more consistently?(!!) Where will my work take me this year? What steps will I take in the direction of my heart’s desires this year?

Trusting God’s plans for the future is something I struggle with most days, even though I know in my head that it’s the best way. I can’t control the future so why worry about it…easier written than believed in my heart. Do others struggle with this? I would love to include you in my prayers as I seek to rest more and more in God’s plans.

 

holding on to hope

As I read news broadcasts and see photos and videos about the flooding in Queensland, I’m reminded both that life is precious and this world is a broken place. It is hard to comprehend that much water, that much devastation to lives and families, happening in my own country.

And today I have also been thinking of Haiti. It’s one year today since the earthquake. Though there are stories of hope and survival which have come out of this very poor country at its darkest hour, I have read news reports today that life remains dangerous, many people are still suffering and homeless and rebuilding is slow.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be there. But a few months ago we met Joel and Rachel when they were looking for a church and thought ours in Redfern might be local to where they hoped to live. This amazing couple have helped us get some kind of idea.  Joel and Rachel were working as missionaries in Haiti and were two of only a few people in their building to survive the quake. They lost almost everything except their lives. They left Haiti soon after the quake for medical treatment etc and sensed God moving them on from there – ultimately to Sydney. Today Joel posted a song on their blog which paints a picture of what it was like.

As we have shared meals and life together over the past few months, I have gotten this deep sense that God has purposed this friendship. Joel and Adam share a unique passion for creative expression and Rachel and I share a heart for justice for the poor and oppressed.

I’m so thankful that God was watching over them and that we have the honour of being their friends. In their courage, passion, wisdom and strength, they inspire me. I’m praying for them today – how hard to reflect on something so harrowing and life-changing one year on.

In times like these – as floods and earthquakes devastate the physical world and human life – that I am struck again by what really matters in life. For me that’s people – family, friends, the lost, the poor and oppressed.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

I want to hold on to hope because I know Jesus will be ultimately victorious and that a day will come when the turmoil of this earth will end.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

hanging out with rachel and joel in Balmain

 

 

a new year!

sydney fireworks!

A new year. New hopes. New adventures to be had. New challenges to face.

I’m not really a new years resolution kind of girl.

Although in the back of my mind there are thoughts like…this year I’ll… do more exercise, spend more time with my family, read my bible more often, be a better friend… As I reflect on these things I see that while all very good things to aspire to, they are very immeasurable goals. More than what? More than in 2010? Knowing me I’ll probably feel like I’ve failed at these things by next Wednesday because I tend to think alot in terms of “I should…[fill in the blank with some kind of regret].”

This brings me back to something I have written about in a couple of posts about living from the heart and pursuing that which makes you truly come alive. I have realised lately that while I have been seeking to encourage Adam and others in the desires of their heart, I have been ignoring my own.

One thing I have done to help Adam is to schedule in time in our calendar for him to work on his EP and then try to ‘defend’ that time when other also good things come up. It is easy to support Adam in making his EP.  I believe in him and I think he’s capable and that it is a worthwhile pursuit in line with his passion to make music. And besides I love him and want to see him doing that which makes him come alive.

Believing in myself however, is so much harder. I don’t default to belief in my own capability – I default to thinking up a million reasons why I might fail or it might not be the perfect thing to pursue. I forget God’s promise that when I trust Him and not my own understanding, He will give me the desires of my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I also get sucked into believing that dangerous lie that life should be easy and hard work is to be avoided. Believing this lie is poisonous to living from the heart. It leads to a pursuit of comfort, ease and pleasure and constant disappointment – because the truth is, life is hard.

“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.”

(Bruce Cockburn, ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time,’ quoted in Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge).

And so I must, we must, embrace the fight, the battle, the hard work. Annoying but true. Especially if I want to live a better, brighter story with my life.

While I don’t have a huge amount of clarity about the desires on my heart, here are a couple of little things that Adam teased out of me last night which I want to pursue (but to date have found reasons not to do so);

  1. I have been eager to play a role in helping our church do Missions for some time now.
  2. I want to apply to be volunteer at the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (I filled out the form a month ago and then filed it away in the ‘too hard’ pile, because I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to do it).

We prayed about them and I have now written them down here, so the plan is that I am going to take the first step towards pursuing them! First step with #1 is to get contact details for our church’s link missionaries & perhaps write down my missions ideas for church. And first step for #2 is to write a covering letter and update my CV, and then submit them with the form.

I don’t expect it will be easy, but just as I am still learning every day, hard work is ok. I’ll update you on my progress soon.

New Year’s PS: We were blessed to celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 in Bellevue Hill at our friends’ apartment. Here’s a pic of us all down at Redleaf Beach waiting for the fireworks! Amazing!

happy new year - bellevue hill style!

 

post a week in 2011

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting now.  I’ll be posting on this blog (at least) once a week for all of 2011. Yikes!

I know it won’t be easy, but I hope it might be fun and inspiring. I’m planning to make use of The DailyPost (a blog dedicated to this challenge). And there’s a WordPress community of other bloggers with similar goals, where the idea is to help and encourage each other with this challenge.

If you read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes as I attempt at least 52 posts this year!