stop being comfortable

Once I graduated from high school, I stepped outside of that Christian bubble that I had been sheltered by all of my life. I started meeting people at Uni and work who didn’t know God and I was often the only one who did.  It took me a while to understand that this difference facilitated a space for powerful opportunities to take place.

I have realised over the last few years that knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him is important, but keeping it to yourself has very little impact. I have decided that this year, this is something that I want to change. I am a firm believer that neither your presence nor your absence within the church defines your relationship with God. Rather than solely focus on building and maintaining my current relationships, I want to actively and intentionally seek opportunities to create relationships with people that may not know God yet, so they too can find Jesus.

Personally, I find it easier to talk to strangers about my faith than to my close family or friends who do not share my beliefs. We tend to not only receive more judgement from those who we surround ourselves with on a regular basis, but we also value their opinions so much more. We have always been taught that ‘sharing is caring’, but how come we are so hesitant when it comes to sharing our faith?

I want to challenge myself this year to stop being satisfied with my current position; stop being comfortable. I want to challenge myself to reach beyond my comfort zone. It takes courage and a whole lot of faith, but if I can conquer that fear, then I am sure that amazing things can and will happen.

Keep smiling. x

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The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

Beyond the Surface: 5 Life Lessons from the Ocean

The ocean is a mysterious, yet intriguing part of nature that continuously surprises me with the analogies it presents. I have learnt a lot from the ocean by simply sitting and watching the waves touch the shore.

To be honest, if the ocean was a person, I think it would make a pretty good role model. If we applied these lessons to our everyday living, what would a life like that look like?

lesson 1: rejection builds character.

No matter how many times it gets pushed back and rejected, without fail it returns each time. A personality filled with persistence, courage, strength and resilience that stands up for its beliefs.

I see a life where we are not scared of rejection. A life where we are constantly trying and never giving up despite the challenges and the outcome. A life in which love is limitless. Where we aim to love others like we have been loved. To love our friends unconditionally, but also love those who have hurt us; to show love toward our enemies.

lesson 2: everyone is going through something.

Perhaps the calmness of the ocean’s surface tells its own beautiful story too. On a cloudless day filled with blue skies, the water reflects the serene atmosphere. However, beneath the surface, the invisible depths create a darkness that echoes a quiet, distant and lost place, almost forgotten.

I see a life where we don’t take things for face value. Where we stop judging others for their appearance, occupation, skin colour, level of education, income and background. Where we begin accepting others for who they are and embracing our differences, rather than faulting them. A life without competition or inequity, where we are all positioned on an equal and fair playing field, lacking pedestals in which human beings are placed above other human beings.

lesson 3: your feelings do not need to be justified.

Or maybe the rough waves that angrily beat against the shore. The clouds cover the sun, the darkness arrives and the storm hits in full force. The waves climb high while the wind creates a cooler atmosphere and the ocean insists it is left alone, before it eventually calms down once again.

I see a life where we are allowed to be upset. Where our feelings are not criticised and we don’t feel like we have to act a certain way. A life where we can be open, honest and transparent. Where we can feel hurt, upset, angry and frustrated and not feel bad about it. Where we can talk about our emotions openly, but also listen to others.

A life in which those who are struggling are given a voice, rather than silenced. Where we are not shut down for having an opinion, but given the opportunity to share those perspectives. A life where we can overcome challenges together, by listening and supporting one another.

lesson 4: stop seeking validation. you are enough.

What about the way the ocean remains beautiful no matter the situation. Whether you are sitting on the sand awe-struck by its beauty or whether you are chatting away with friends or reading a book, its beauty remains.

I see a life where beauty is not defined by the amount of likes on an Instagram photo or the social media following acquired. A life in which being quietly confident is seen to be beautiful, rather than the attention received from pride and arrogance. Where this quiet confidence trumps a loud, unapologetic ego.

lesson 5: let go of what is holding you back.

The incredible vastness of the ocean and the way it stretches further than the eye can see. The horizon and the way the sky never fails to kiss the ocean. The mystery of what lies beyond. There is something about the unknown that can be rather intimidating, yet captivating all at once.

I see a life where we are excited about the future and the potential for new opportunities, instead of dwelling on the past and not rising above heartache and challenges. Where the unknown is epitomised by the ability to grow as an individual, rather than a scary hurdle we would prefer not to face.

So if the ocean was a person, would you want to be its friend? Me too.

Keep smiling. x

Powerlines

I just got back from a week away serving the small community of Nyngan. Saying it was amazing would be an understatement. It was life-changing. I was able to strengthen not only my relationship with the kids there and those within the STORMco team, but also with God. There were times during the trip where I felt drained of energy and found it challenging to wake up the next morning with a smile on my face. I found that praying gave me bursts of strength and energy that I didn’t know still existed.

A lot goes through your mind when you are travelling on a bus for nine hours. You get a lot of time to stop and think about everything. On our way home on Saturday I was able to reflect on my week away in Nyngan. I realised how much of an impact I made on the children there. Even though all I did was spend two hours a day with them for four days playing tip, throwing a ball, piggy-backing and holding their hand, I had made them happy. One girl asked me if I could stay in Nyngan forever with them and didn’t understand why I had to leave. We had been the hands and feet of Jesus through our actions. Through our service we had shown them God’s unconditional love that He has for every single one of them. We weren’t paid to go over to Nyngan. Instead we gave up our free time during the holidays to go to the middle of nowhere for a week, but seeing the smiles light up their little town was priceless.

Another thing that I realised was that our faith in God is like powerlines. The powerlines stretch out long distances finding a connection where they can reach their power supply. The telegraph poles help the powerlines in reaching the supply and spreading the electricity where it is needed. Our Christian journey and faith in God is similar to this. We are constantly searching for that supply of energy, strength and power that we need to continually grow. God is like the telegraph poles that help us stay off the ground and keep on going. We rely on Him to give us the stability we need in order to maintain positivity and faith in Him.

Once we get to the cross of the telegraph pole, God allows us to continue on our journey, but He is always there supplying us with the strength we need. We have the opportunity to share that with other people wherever we find a need that we can fill. This Easter, I encourage you to remember that God died on the cross for every single one of us, despite what you are going through now or what you have already been through. He loves us no matter what and even through the storms and blackouts we experience in life, He still stands. When we connect together as powerlines and fix ourselves to His never ending supply, we can be the change and light up an entire city.

Keep smiling. x

The light of the world

“Every time you look at the stars, it’s like opening a door. You could be anyone, anywhere. You could be yourself at any moment in your life. You open that door and you realise you are the same person under the same stars. Camping out in the backyard with your best friend, eleven years old. Sixteen, driving alone, stopping at the edge of the city, looking up at the same stars. Walking a wooded path, riding a rowboat, staring out the back window of a car, you’re eleven again. Out here where the world begins and ends, it’s like nothing ever stops happening.”

This quote made me realise something. I realised that we are looking at the same moon, the same stars and the same galaxy that visits other people all around the world. I know you’re probably thinking, “Um, thanks Captain Obvious!” but this time I really thought about it; and not just for five seconds. It is so difficult to fathom how incredibly huge our world is. There are so many people and not one of us is the same as another. Not even identical twins are the same. My fingerprint is different and unique to your fingerprint and I don’t know about you, but that does my head in. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and not one person leaves the same kind of inked-swirl on a page as I do. It blows my mind.

Next time when you are outside looking at the moon and the stars, remember that we share that same moon with every other person in the world. The same moon as those in Africa for example, that are starving and trying to fight poverty. Put yourselves in their shoes perhaps, because let’s face the facts: if you have food in your fridge, clothes that you can wear, a roof over your head and a place you can sleep tonight, you are richer than 75% of the world. Doesn’t that make you feel so blessed, yet so sad. When you look at the moon next, I encourage you to recognise the blessings you have. Recognise the fact that just because you simply have some money saved up in the bank, a few coloured notes in your wallet and some spare change lying on your bedroom floor, you are in the top 8% of the world’s wealthiest people. Thank God for these things you and I take for granted every day and pray that His love and light will overcome the darkness that is evident in other parts of the world; darkness that does not only exist at night.

14 “You are the light of the world.<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others,<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”> that they may see your good deeds<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”> and glorify<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”> your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Keep smiling. x