Celebrate!

What can you be thankful for this year? What happened and what did you learn? I have been contemplating this the last week as I reflect on the year and begin to be expectant for the next.

Personally, it was a challenging year but there was so much good that came from it. I penned this down in my journal recently and made a list of what I learnt this year.. It made me see just how much I had grown through it all and allowed me to celebrate, even the smallest of wins.

I think we need to get better at celebrating. Slow down the pace a bit hey. Instead of rushing here and there and trying to fit in as much as you can and stressing about the can’t or the lack of, give yourself a moment to just breathe and give thanks. Give thanks that you have a job, that you have air in your lungs, that being stuck in traffic means you have a car, or a messy house means you have a home to live in (or messy housemates jks Laura & Kate),  waiting in a looong line (self-inflicted-because-of-that-last-minute-Christmas-shopping/sales-that-you-can’t-miss) means you have money! Ha!

“Haste makes waste” (A.Voskamp).

We are actually missing so much in a moment.

I have been reading an incredible book lately “One Thousand Gifts”- Ann Voskamp. It has changed my perspective on day to day life, and the mundane and I have began to see so much beauty in my own life. Today alone at work amongst the busyness of cleaning and making coffee, I took a moment and was thankful for warm familiar faces (regular customers that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know), I was thankful for work friends who could laugh and still be positive in moments of high stress hospitality, and then coming home to a clean house (thanks Kate) was a lovely little reward at the end of a long day. It’s so simple. Give thanks.

I often say to myself these days..”Michelle, what can you be thankful for in this moment?”

It is a learned thing to be grateful.

That is good news!! We can all learn to have thankful hearts.


Before 2016 rolls over, take a moment to think about what was great and what was not so great and yet through it all what you learnt. Celebrate! Life is about living and you gotta take the good with the bad and keep moving on.

‘Every time you feel in God’s creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let yourself be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: “O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!’ – Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain.

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Appreciation

It all looks different. Seasons make things look different. An appreciation appears for something we may not have appreciated before. A food we may never have tasted, a place we may never have explored, a friendship we may never have pursued, a book we may never have read, a joy we may never have experienced.
Seasons have a way of awakening; the mind to attend, the heart to affect, the eye to gaze.
It may have always been there, but now it looks different. Every season has its moments and those moments hold an appreciation for life. You might be looking, but not seeing.

The summer time brings news of a full day of activities. As the sun rises, so do we and the fun does not stop until the sun goes down. And even then those warm summer nights call for a night under the stars. In winter, we are mesmerised by bonfires, we have our fill of marshmallows and hot teas and embrace any sight of the sun. And the spring and autumn and so on. Seasons are different for every living thing and no matter what part of the world we are in or what chapter of life we may be up to, the single thread of hope remains the same and the call to be thankful and appreciate, brings freedom and joy like never before.

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Constant

You are an ever green tree;
Whose leaves don’t change, flowers don’t fall, colour doesn’t fade.

You stand upright;
Branches don’t bend, droop or break.

It does not matter the time of year,
Nor the time of day;
Seasons will not affect your condition.
You are the same.


A sure hope,
A steadfast source of life,
You will always sustain.

In light of…

While we go to sleep in our clean beds tonight,
there are people on the street fighting for their life.
Some are alone, some have others by their side.
So instead of asleep, we need to be on our knees;
praying for whatever it may be,
reprieve, release, to be set free.

Free from chains, free from oppression.
We are free to bear fruit from life’s lessons.

Ignorance is not bliss, and if we don’t care for people then something’s gone amiss.

The media might shape our views on certain events,
but at the end of the day, it’s what we action, it’s what we represent.

We can argue and give our piece of mind, but if all we do is talking and talking,
Then what’s another conversation, puffed up pride, no please start walking!

Word’s will be forgotten tomorrow amongst the waves of life’s oceans.
But better still remember you have been chosen;
you have a purpose. So live life on purpose.
Be purposeful. Assess your values. If you have breath in your lungs you are loved. So go out and love people.
Love them back to life. Love them whoever they may be. The petrol guy, the shop owner, the passenger on the train.

It doesn’t matter. That is grace.

___

Flora and Fauna

God desires for me to grow upwards. For my branches to reach out.
Sky high. Towards him.

The trees that have grown wide and high are the ones that captivate.

What a sight the tree that stands strong.
It takes plant. Roots deep. Immovable.

Graced with provision.

Energy from the sun. Nourishment from the rain. Nutrients from the earth.

Growing from the conditions it knows it needs most to survive.

A flourishing flower is one that looks not down to the ground but up to the sun.

Illuminated by the light, colour and texture come alive, fragrance liberated.

To live in the light is true freedom and its conditions lead only to one thing:

Life.

[Flourish // verb: grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favourable environment.] 

Poem // untitled

There are good things in this world;

pleasant to the body, pleasant to the mind.

They don’t last long.

Like a shooting star, they have their time, they have their peak.

Then fade away to nothingness.

But you.

You are a bright light;

Pleasant to the body, pleasant to the mind.

Constant.

Satisfying to the soul.

Permanent;

here to stay.

The wonder years…

People say your twenties are the best years of your life. It’s your prime..

I have found my twenties to be an interesting time… it’s your early twenties that are the best… still young to enjoy it but not old enough yet to have to worry about adult things. It’s when you reach your mid-twenties that I think life seems to get a bit more serious. Actually no, it’s when you’re in your mid-twenties-single-finished-a-degree-but not yet on your successful-career-path yet that things get serious. Or for a better word, distressing.. People who are in that place of a full-time career job or in a serious relationship are having the course of their mid-later twenties shaped/directed (there are some goals in sight.. maybe more success..heck even marriage I’m sure). For the rest of us (or in my situation)… life feels like it is in limbo. This is a journey I am currently on. I know there are always lessons in each of these seasons of our life. Sometimes (well most of the time) there is no formula. People can tell you their formula (because it’s worked for them you know).. but quite frankly there is no formula. Life happens and it happens how it does. I think the only thing I can take comfort from, is knowing God has a plan for my life. He has good plans for me.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God, he makes all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I guess you then could call that a formula.. but it isn’t really. The onus is on God and I have to trust him, for he is the one who wills and directs. He is the one calms the raging storms, he is the one who set the limit of the ocean shore, he is the beginning and the end.

I get told a lot to relax. And I’m finally starting to listen. When you learn to relax, you let go of control.

I guess that’s what surrender is all about.

Foundation

It was time to write again. The last four months have been the craziest out of the year so far…the most chaotic yet in order, the most trialling yet rewarding, the most uncertain yet encouraging.

The bible describes Jesus as a rock. But not just any type of rock…It’s a rock worth building a house upon. Can you imagine how heavy a house would be? Sounds silly- but for any builders- they would be out of their mind to build a house on a unstable foundation. Right? That just wouldn’t make sense. The house would only last so long. When we build a house- and especially when its your own house- you want that thing to last. It better withstand a bit of rain, a bit of wind. That house is going to raise a family, it’s going to nurture friendships, it’s going to be a place of safety and refuge after a long hard day’s work.

Matthew 7:24-27
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”


9 years ago I made the decision to begin to build life upon Jesus. To build upon: as in to find my worth in, to rely on, to seek love from, to find purpose in. Jesus. However somewhere along the way as it happens so often in life, like a piece of debris on an ocean shore… I began to drift from keeping the main thing, the main thing. This drift begins to take place, ever so subtly and it’s without the constant reminding and intentionality of bringing that piece of debris back into line, that it doesn’t drift again. God has reminded me (what grace I tell you!) in the last couple of months, the idols (things that I have put above God) that have taken up place in my life. It’s quite easy to highlight these idols- their the ones that give you the most grief when they don’t come through for you- you get angry and frustrated..depressed if you will.

Psalm 16:4
“The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply…”

These idols have sneakily become apart of that foundation. The foundations we build our lives upon dictate the course of that life.. (or house if you want to stick to that analogy). It might sound silly but I know there would be people who could relate. The constant striving, the constant achieving to the end of finding worth in these things- wow- I just don’t want to do that anymore.

And I don’t have to.

Salvation is found in Christ alone. I am saved by grace (unmerited favour from God).

Ephesians 2:4, 8-9
But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…”

God didn’t wait for us to get it together- his love for you and I was so ferocious and relentless that he sent Jesus to redeem mankind, because Jesus stood in our place and took the punishment for our sin.

What! Amazing grace.

That’s why it is amazing. These are some of the most incredible lyrics written by John Newton. So unbelievably refreshing.

Amazing Grace

John Newton (1725-1807)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall profess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace

What an incredible freedom. It is from this incredible foundation of grace alone in Christ alone, that I can build my life regardless of my failures and shortcomings.

Things in our lives are always shifting and changing…it’s good- but building your identity on something that is shifting & changing brings an instability. However the one unchanging thing that has been the same yesterday and forever is the unshifting and relentless love of God.

Psalm 18 is so epic (in referencing the story found in 2 Samuel 22: “David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”)

He said .. (And you can just imagine him declaring this with a shout!)

Psalm 18:2, 31

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my saviour; …

For who is God, but the Lord And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.

With David I say, I love you O Lord my rock.

This needs to happen more..

Sometimes those spontaneous text messages from friends make for the best day! This was the result from a little getting out of the house and exploring with my friend and creative videographer Madie (from Mad Rose Films). I took some snaps and Madz did some filming.. enjoy!

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Shift

Jess Foley 08

Migraines aren’t the nicest experience nor are they when they come from stress-related-circumstances. Trying to get your head around a situation whilst a throbbing ache in your head is quite the situation I have found myself in lately. And after realising what the stress came from I have been able to change the way I have thought about/gone about my week.

We get stressed for all different reasons, situations, circumstances. Maybe it’s a health issue, work-realted, family-related, friendship-related, or just something plain silly that we shouldn’t be stressing about. Now I’m not saying if you stress you have a problem, I think it is quite normal for us to be stressed (we do put a lot of pressure on ourselves.. I know I do) I think it’s more staying in a place of constant stress. You know what that does- it robs you of your present enjoyment. I had a conversation with a friend recently and we were discussing my recent trip overseas.. (It’s crazy that I have nearly been back for the time I was away).. and so she asked why should she travel if it just goes so quick and then its over and just becomes a bunch of memories? (Obviously there are very rich meanings as to why we do things like travel but the point was life happens then it is just a memory).. We came to the conclusion that life is to be enjoyed.

I think combating stress is found in a perspective-shift.

This week I started a second part-time job. Ok, so… two part-time jobs and running a business… pretty sure I found the root of my migraines. Alright, before you start getting all crazy on me, I’ve thought long and hard about this decision. And I’ve come up with some conclusions and reasons as to why (here is a little insight into my world):

Last year was my first year out of Uni and my goodness it felt good to just enjoy the year, try new things and to just have time to grow and establish certain things in my life. It was great but this year, is my year to be intentional. I decided this towards the end of last year. Quite a few friends of mine and I have chosen a word that we would want/hope for this year. Mine was ‘intentional’. A few of the many things I wanted to be intentional about this year was, my friendships, my time and my money- and so it happened that I was offered a second job- literally an answer to prayer.

My migraines have plainly come from how I’ve been thinking. I’ve been stressing my self out thinking there is too much to do- lies. Today is my permanent day off I’ve set in place. It is my recharge day. My day to catch up with friends, read, and to stop and appreciate the quiet moments. Clearly I get time to myself amongst my working week. I also have had to remind myself my goodness how GRATEFUL I am to have a job(s). Gratitude to God really for all that he has given to me.

A standard weekday for me looks like this: Get up early. Drive to work. Park. Walk to work. Work.. ha. Finish. Walk back to my car. Drive home. Have lunch. Photography Work. Dinner. Maybe more work. Bed. And then I do it all again most days.

The moment I finish work stressful thoughts flood my mind of getting home to get as much photo work done as I can. I have had to remind myself that not getting all these little jobs done doesn’t mean my business is going to fall apart. It is going to get done so just chill out Michelle. Start your day right. Be grateful you see the incredibly beautiful sunrise most mornings. FOCUS on your part-time job- APPRECIATE the people you get to interact with on a daily basis, finish your shift WELL. Enjoy your walk ALONG THE BEACH to your car (because I work literally in front of it). BREATHE in the salty air. ENJOY the 20 minute drive home (whilst a little sweaty because the sun is hot on your skin- but you can feel WOW, and what the heck you have a car). Once home RELAX, unwind. Do some photo work at your pace and be grateful that you have a business AND you still get to do what you LOVE. Wow.

Can honestly say, that this week has been incredibly enjoyable. And in those moments when those feelings of stress begin to rear its ugly head I take a couple of slow, deep breaths and remind myself that God is in control of my life.

What a difference gratitude makes.