Posted in Faith, Friendship, Hope, overseas, travel, Uncategorized

The Great Annual Reflection.

After eight years, I still find myself getting all reflective on this day. When I left England, I knew the flights would be long, but what I didn’t know (and probably thankfully so,) was that the journey would continue long after my feet hit the ground. That those hours in the sky were nothing compared to the path my heart would take over the months & years that follows.

There’s so many things I wish I had known when I made the jump, although I’m equally thankful I didn’t know- for had I realized what the trip would cost, I may never have had the courage to do it.

For the sake of time, here’s a list of things nobody ever mentioned before I made the leap- or if they did, I didn’t listen. (So unusual for a Type A personality 21 year old, I know.)

1- Every simple task becomes just a little bit harder. Choosing a bag of chips (which are actually called crisps…) when you don’t know any of the brands, finding out where to get your car fixed, how fuel stations work, where to buy certain items…. everything just gets a little harder.

2- Point one is more exhausting than you expect.

3- Making real friends takes a long time. A really long time. It takes lots of small talk, lots of talking to people who you don’t click with, going to every social event you can just because you somehow have to find a way to meet people.

4- Point 3 is more exhausting than you expect. (Apparently I’m not as extroverted as I always assumed.)

5- All your assumptions about yourself & the world around you will be challenged, and you will feel every insecurity you have ever had come to the surface. At the same time.

6- Number five rocks your core more than it sounds it would, but creates a strength within you didn’t know you didn’t have until you had to find it.

7- You’ll never be totally sure where “home” is anymore. When I’m in NZ, England is “back home,” when I’m in England, NZ is “back home.”

8- You’re going to have the best times and greatest adventures. But you’re also going to be as low as you could ever think, and question why on earth you thought this was all a grand adventure.

9- Once you make great friends, they’re the absolute best friends you could hope for. They really & truly become family.

10- Number 9 doesn’t happen by magic- and usually you have to give more than you take for a long time.

11- Every culture has its challenges and its beauty. The challenge is to learn from both.

12- You may always question whether it was worth it to have your heart pulled in two directions, but you’ll always reach the conclusion that the depth you have in your life is worth it all.

13- You’ll always feel bad that you live so far from your family. You’ll wish you didn’t leave them, you’ll wish you were there on every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, holiday, birth, death and other significant events.

14- Anyone who says goodbyes get easier either lied or has never done it.

15- Smart phones make the world smaller, so get one.

I’m sure there’s a hundred other thoughts I’ve had over the years of things I wish I could tell my 21 year old self. Like “21 is really young to move to the ends of the earth, so don’t panic when you find it so hard it seems impossible- you’re practically still a child.” I always feel a great sense of wealth when I consider that I get the privilege to call two places home, and to love and be loved in both.

I could never have predicted just how bittersweet it is to have your heart span land and oceans, to always have the sense of loving where you are & wishing you could be in another place simultaneously. But I’m so thankful for the day I chose to spread my wings & trust in the One whose love truly spans it all.

 

Posted in Depression, Faith, food, Friendship, Hope, Uncategorized

Healing- It’s simple, right?

This is one of those blog posts that once upon a time I never thought I would write. And even writing it now seems a big deal. I’ve rewritten it a few times, re-thought how things are worded. And then realised that no words I could write could ever quite express what I want to say. So I’m posting it as it is, and I guess I just pray that it might help someone.

 

I love food.

Like today- I bought cakes. They were delicious. I pretty much think cakes are my love language. Or chips & dip maybe. I also really like carrot sticks and hummus, and nothing beats a medium-rare steak. Cheese & crackers are one of the best things ever, and I’m a firm believer that a cup of tea and a biscuit can help with most of our daily challenges.

You’re probably reading this thinking “Well, so what?! Why do I need to know about your eating habits, I get enough food photos on Instagram!”

But the reason this is so significant, is because it hasn’t always been that way. There were so many years of my life where food was something I would dread, something that caused so much anxiety in me that it made me unwell. I have vivid memories of going out to eat & only eating a few fries because food created such an anxiety in me that I just couldn’t eat it. I remember dreading every youth event, birthday gathering, dinner out…. Anything that mixed food with people. And eating at a new restaurant or cafe was so hard that I would worry about it for days, until I would finally get there & be so stressed out that I would just order fries…. Again. Basically, anything food related would cause anxiety. Annnnything.

Today on my way home, I put my music on shuffle. (Which, as a side note, is always slightly unpredictable because I have a LOT of children’s music on there…. Singing along to children’s music is only ever okay when you are in the presence of children. Anyway, back to the point…) On comes a song that took me back to that time of my life. And I suddenly realised “this is what healing feels like.”

Was I healed instantly? No.

Was I healed dramatically? No.

Was I healed in a meeting with thousands of people? No.

But am I living healed? Absolutely.

How do I know that? Because my life is SO. DRAMATICALLY. DIFFERENT. NOW.

In the past 7 years I’ve met more new people & been to more new food places than I have ever had to in my entire life. When people visit me from England, the first thing I think about it which food places I want to take them to. If I plan a meeting at work, I try to make that meeting over lunch because I enjoy eating with people, and what’s a meeting without food anyway?!

There’s so much I could say. There’s so much of that journey that is long and boring and uninteresting to the average person. There’s highs and lows, there’s tears and tantrums. There’s friends and stories and a million “talks” with God. There’s anxiety & depression, there’s sleepless nights & countless prayers.

But this is a story of a transformed mind & life.

It’s the story of God redeeming something.

I so passionately believe in this verse: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”(John 10:10.)

I live in no doubt that the enemy will steal anything he can get his hands on. But each day, I want to remind myself of the redemption of God- whether it’s through big things or little things. I’m so thankful that He loves me enough to want to see each part of my life redeemed. God never, ever, ever, designed me to live trapped in any kind of anxiety about anything! He designed me for freedom!

Sometimes healing looks like re-focussing your mind, re-training your emotions, and day by day taking a step. Every day. Sometimes healing is about learning more about yourself & God- and choosing to trust the process to Him. Sometimes healing comes as we take a step away from fear, and walk into the arms of God.

Ephesians 3 20

 

Posted in Faith, overseas, Uncategorized

To the ends of the earth

I remember when Hillsong United released a song entitled “To the ends of the earth.” I remember clearly as a teenager singing the line “Jesus I believe in you, and I would go, to the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth” and saying “Well God, I would go lots of places for you, but I’m not sure if I want to go to the ends of the earth. Or to India. I just don’t think I want to do that. Just being honest with you- I don’t know if I should really sing this song!”

15 years later- over 7 years living in New Zealand. If that isn’t the ends of the earth, I don’t know what is.

NZ world map

Isn’t it funny where the path leads you? The victories you didn’t know you would even fight, the places your journey leads, and the people you meet and love along the way. I could never have imagined my life would be like it is now, but I’m thankful for a God who saw greater in me than I could see in myself.

I wonder where the next 15 years will lead? Which songs now will form my next 15 years?

let us not become weary.png

 

 

Posted in Leadership, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Preaching To Myself.

I’ve had a break again from blogging. For some reason I seem to get really involved in blogging and then just need a break from writing. I guess sometimes I just need the space to think and process, and since getting sick a couple of years ago it’s harder to just discipline myself to write because if I’m well enough to write well, I tend to use that time to work. Or do chores. Or be with people. Or just kinda get on with life.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been able to re-connect with some of my root-beliefs about team, about kids, about life and about leadership. I’ve had the opportunity to review where I’m at as a leader, and go back to the core basics of what I do. It’s been refreshing. Very refreshing. I guess I get caught up sometimes in the day-to-day rather than really stop to assess where my energy is going. (I’m blabbering… Sorry.)

Here’s where my thoughts are at:

  1. Don’t lose the basics of what you want to achieve. Don’t get caught up in the latest ideas and fads and “shoulds” of life or ministry or leadership. Don’t let the big picture take away from the beauty of a moment.
  2. People are always what is important. Programmes should never, ever, ever replace walking alongside a person or taking the time to connect with them.
  3. Encourage, encourage, encourage.
  4. Only be critical if it can lead to change. If you can’t work on a solution, don’t talk about the problem.
  5. People won’t always understand your passion. Don’t waste time trying to convince them. Use your energy to be passionate and be great at what you do. Talk positively and passionately about what you love- don’t apologize for it. Those who are meant to get it will… And those people will be your greatest assets. Invest in those people and don’t get discouraged by others who don’t understand or encourage you.
  6. It’s all about transformation. If what you’re doing doesn’t lead to people growing and transforming- Don’t do it. Change it.
  7. Look for ways to honour others in ways that are meaningful to them.
  8. You only have limited time and energy. Plan your weeks well. Life is short- be wise about how you use it.
  9. Procrastination is dumb. You’re not dumb. So don’t procrastinate.
  10. Make that phone call you have been meaning to make. Write that card- and get it into the mailbox.
  11. Practice patience.
  12. When you’re discouraged, encourage yourself. Sometimes nobody else can do it for you- you have to find the courage within yourself and from your Father.
  13. Fight for what you believe in, and for the people you love and believe in.
  14. Looking after yourself and prioritizing yourself is not selfish- Jesus prioritized time with His Father too.
  15. Breathe deeply.
  16. Get outside more.
  17. Small and consistent steps get you further than one leap and a big fall. Keep making small and smart decisions- they will change your life if you let them.
  18. See the gold in others.
  19. Music is good for your soul- play it more and discover more of it.
  20. God never has, and never will, leave His throne. Keep that perspective in all things.
  21. Ask for help, guidance and input. People can say their own no- There’s no harm in asking.
  22. Learn something from everyone you meet.
  23. Hugs are good for you.
  24. Dance in the rain.
  25. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Run in your own lane- stop looking at everyone else’s race.
  26. Listen to what breaks your heart- then do something about it with reckless abandon.
  27. Investing into others has eternal influence. Don’t forget how important that is.
  28. Resting is excellent use of your time- so rest well.
  29. God loves you relentlessly. Every moment. Of Everyday.
  30. It’s all for love.
Posted in Depression, Faith, Friendship, Hope, Uncategorized

It’s Been Awhile..

Almost 6 years ago I moved to New Zealand, and faced probably the hardest couple of years of my life. I can barely recall much of what went on in that first year or two. Yes, I remember the odd thing, but it’s like those months just passed in a blur. The only way I can remember a lot of what I went through is because of journals and emails and vague memories. I don’t think I ever even realized at the time how close I got to things  going really bad. In hindsight, things were bad. They were really bad.

I remember the darkness that sometimes overwhelmed me. The loneliness that felt all consuming. The confusion of not fully understanding the culture & people that I was surrounded with, of the emotions I was feeling not making sense. The isolation from being so far away from home. The way that once I was out of my comfort zone every single one of my insecurities came pouring out to the surface. I remember just feeling so out of control of everything in my life. Every emotion I felt scared me, because it came like the fog in the night- silently and without warning. Like the morning fog, it totally consumed me. From nowhere.

But looking back on that time, the one thing I do remember is those friends who stayed. They didn’t leave when I was constantly emotional and irrational. They didn’t leave when I was messy. They didn’t leave when it got hard. They didn’t leave when I hit rock bottom. They didn’t leave when I cried and cried and couldn’t see beyond the horrendous sadness of that moment.

Today I read this on the TWLOHA blog. (Check it out here: http://twloha.com/blog/fight-for-you-too)

Here’s what I read:

“I will fight for you.
I will go to war for your life in the only way I know how.
I will step into the darkness of souls and search for stories of hope.
I will walk with you through the heavy times and be the first to celebrate the light.”

As I sit here today, I sit here with absolutely no doubt that without the people who fought, I wouldn’t be here. Without those people who said “I know right now this is hard, but tomorrow will be better.” and “I know you don’t feel this way right now, but you can trust me. I can see what you can’t see, and I know that there are better days. You can make it,” I wouldn’t have made it. The emotions and the fear would have taken over.

I am deeply thankful for those people who stayed when they wanted to leave, who saw the hope when I could see only darkness. And who now celebrate the light with me.

The dawn did come.

the night is darkest

Posted in Uncategorized

Strength Risers

I’ve been thinking this week about what keeps me strong and what makes me want to keep on keeping on. What is it everyday that makes this battle worth the effort? What is it that makes me go to work each day? 

This week has been particularly hard. And there have been a hundred times where I’ve wanted to quit, head home to England, and stop trying so hard to live the life that I have made for myself. Yesterday was a really hard day. Really hard. And honestly, giving up would have been the easiest thing to do. But what was it that stopped me just throwing it in? Honestly?

People. 

Deep down, I know that people matter.

Yesterday, I knew that I mattered. I saw others make sacrifices to help me. I saw busy people put aside their own to-do list to help me do mine. I saw a team come together quickly to make a project a success. I saw what it REALLY means to build our church.

It takes a family. A family that every day I am thankful for. 

So what is it day after day that motivates me?

It’s the people around me, and the passion and calling I have for God’s people. Is it always easy? No. But does that fact give me an excuse to do nothing? Not at all.

God’s word clearly states in Matthew 28 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It doesn’t say “Go when you feel like it” or “Go when you feel 100% healthy” or “Go when all your friends go” or even “Go if you have time.” It clearly says- GO. 

At the end of the day, “if you want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t want to do something you’ll find an excuse.” John Rohn. (Not sure who he is, but he sounds like a wise kinda guy…!). For me, doing nothing isn’t an option. But doing everything isn’t possible either. So here’s some top “strength-riser’ tips for today: 

– Surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging- who let you cry on a bad day, but don’t let you have a pity party. Pity parties and wallowing for extended periods of time aren’t helpful for anyone! 

– Let other people help. (Preaching to myself here… Ugh.) 

– Get proper rest and go to bed early. 

– Fill your mind with truth. When the lies in your head sound loud make the truth sound louder. 

– Do more of what makes you happy. Sit in the sunshine, walk on the beach, laugh often. Do things that are hilarious just because they’re funny. Hang out with people who make you laugh. It’s good for your health. 

– Eat & drink the best you can for your health. 

– Drink tea. It helps with most situations. 

frustrated

 

Posted in Fibromyalgia, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Technology- Both a blessing & a curse?

For awhile now I’ve been considering how much I am thankful for technology. I have family quite literally on the other side of the world, and friends in many different countries, and I feel blessed that it is so easy to feel connected with them. I remember as a child my Grandma in England calling her sister who lives in the USA, and it costing heaps of money- and the delay was terrible! Today I can call my parents or siblings for free, and there is barely a delay at all. I text my friends & family most days, and again, it costs nothing!

Today, I have sat on my lazy boy sending emails, doing research, downloading music and books, and sourcing our next kids curriculum. I’ve text friends, listened and watched podcasts and testimonies online, and watched a movie I recorded weeks ago on Sky. My life, without technology, would be very different. As would yours I imagine!

When I’m at home having ‘recovery days’ or ‘preparation of energy’ days or  ‘sick days,’ it’s so great to be able to remain connected to others. I love being able to text friends and see what everyone is up to from their Facebook pages or Instagram feeds. I love being able to celebrate with people and support others through the online connections I have. I love being able to admin a group online for those in NZ with CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia- that despite my limitations, I can still gain and give support to others through this group. Without my phone/iPad/laptop, I know I would feel more isolated than I do. I would feel less inspired and less informed. I love technology.

On the flip side of my love for technology, I do think it is something to be smart about. It’s all too tempting to compare your life with everyone else’s, and to feel more isolated when you see the things you feel you are missing out on. It’s amazing what bothers you when you feel fatigued and unwell. It’s all too tempting when you’re not feeling up to doing much to just lie aimlessly scrolling through the internet, rather than choosing more positive and inspiring things to do.

Let me give you an example.

This morning, I woke up feeling really quite unwell. I did what I do every morning, and grabbed my phone and checked my messages, Facebook, Instagram. Half an hour later, I had a decision to make- Keep scrolling aimlessly, or do something a little more inspiring. I knew I wasn’t ready to move just yet- since our conference I’ve needed to go a little more gentle on myself. So I grabbed my iPad and decided to watch some testimonies from Bethel whilst my body was waking up. Within another half an hour, my mind was in a happier place, and I felt more ready to face the day. So I got up.

I wonder, would I have been ready to face the day if I had simply continued scrolling aimlessly? No.

Technology gives us options. It gives us choices. It gives us opportunities. But just like anything in life, we have to choose wisely what we do with those options. Whilst often the easiest option is to just aimlessly kill time, we are missing out on encouragement & inspiration when we waste time on those things. It is SO easy to waste half a day doing nothing helpful online. But it’s also just as simple to click on a podcast, a book, a video, an article, that inspire and encourage or inform us.

More than ever, since being unwell, I’m learning to make better choices. I’m learning, each day, how to make the technology that I have work for me. I don’t want to use it for anything that doesn’t add value to my life!

What choices can you make today to use the technology you have to inspire or encourage you?

 

 

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