What does your faith look like?

Earlier this year I was at Hillsong for an annual women’s conference called Colour. Simply put: three days of an intense spiritual high in a room full of oestregen. One of my favourite things about Hillsong would have to be their passion when it comes to worship through music. There are literally thousands of women packed in the one room, all singing to the same God. It is the most incredible feeling being surrounded by so many others who share the same belief as you. But that isn’t what made me tear up while singing.
As the musicians were up on stage, beautiful music and voices filled the auditorium with women standing everywhere with their eyes shut and hands raised – completely and utterly engrossed in the moment and in love with their God. I glanced around, smiling and taking it all in. This is what Heaven will be like – the epitome of love, passion and happiness. Kind of like a jar full of skittles with all the green ones removed, but better. So. Much. Better.
As I continued to look around the room, my eyes were drawn to the women in the front row of the seated area next to the sound desk. It was reserved especially for those with a disability, namely the deaf women. There was a lady signing all the lyrics to the women so they could understand and sing along. My eyes immediately filled with tears as I watched them so passionate and enthusiastic about worshipping. It completely blew me away. I could hear the drums, the guitar, the keyboard, the synthesiser, the singers, the voices of the thousands of women – everything. But they could hear nothing. It made me wonder whether their disability was their catalyst for such passionate faith. So often we get distracted by all this artificial, ‘white noise’ constantly surrounding us that we lose focus of what it really means to love God or worse, we lose focus of God, period. A part of me felt terrible for enjoying the beautiful chorus of sounds I could hear so easily, sounds that they would never have the chance of experiencing. But then another part of me was filled with this overwhelming sense of joy, compassion and awe. They were proud of their faith and their faith was incredible. I want my faith to be like theirs – complete, unhidden and made manifest among others.  
I was on the train this afternoon making my way home from Uni and after three hours of back-to-back classes all finishing before midday the first thing I was looking forward to was sitting down on the train with some food and my headphones in – Uni students, ya feel me? It is a common pet-hate of all commuters – train, bus, plane, ferry, yacht, you name it – when you finally take a seat and get comfortable and all of a sudden what seems to be the only audible thing is a baby crying or a kid testing out the highest decibel he can reach without his core body temperature resulting in a physical combustion (not sure if that’s an actual thing). Well the latter, yeah that happened to me today. Usually in this situation I would preferably want said kid to wipe me out in his path of obliteration, but today was different (well, at least almost). I took my seat on the train and after about five minutes I heard this young boy, probably five years old, make his way down the stairs to my carriage and sit by the window providing commentary on everything that was happening outside to his Mum who was upstairs sitting down holding on to a stroller. 
“MUM LOOK THERE IS A FOOTPATH. DID YOU SEE THE BIG YELLOW, BLACK AND BLUE SIGN? MUMMMM, IS THAT OUR STATION? OH, IT’S NOT OUR STATION MUM, WE DIDN’T SLOW DOWN AT THAT ONE. WHEN IS OUR STATION?” This went on for a solid ten minutes, with thirty-second intervals if he was feeling generous. I turned up my music louder and tried to zone out before I seriously started considering testing out the train’s emergency stop system. A few more minutes passed when the little boy piped up again, but this time with something I could not help but smile at: 

“Yes bub?”
“I love you too darling.”
“I really really love you too.”

I looked around the carriage and every single person who had heard it had a small smile appear on their face. It made me think, what if our faith was like that? Complete, unhidden and made manifest among others. What if we weren’t ashamed to tell others how much we loved God? What if we were proud of our faith? 
Ask yourself, what does your faith look like? 
Keep smiling. x

Open doors.

Earlier this year one of my beautiful friends tagged me in a post on Instagram about a writing competition for a young women’s Christian magazine. I screenshot it and one afternoon while I was sitting in my room mindlessly flicking through my pictures, I came across the screenshot and decided to give it a go. Instead of asking ‘why?’ I asked ‘why not?’ What did I have to lose anyway?
Almost two months past and I still hadn’t received anything from the magazine. To be honest, I had forgotten about the competition altogether – I had other priorities such as Uni and work.
Well here’s where things start to get exciting. This morning I religiously checked my emails, dreading what new Uni readings I would have to annotate by next class. Little did I know that one email in particular was going to open new doors for me. I clicked on an email from a lady whom I had never met, nor heard of. In short, it was referring to a new magazine issue that was being published soon and how she was looking for articles relating to the theme. She finished by thanking the team and signing off with a few “x’s”. I selected the email and was about to press ‘delete’ when I stopped, re-read the email and thought, what are the chances of this being an accident?
I decided to reply to the stranger and asked her to confirm if I was meant to have received the email. She replied within minutes apologising for the confusion and informing me that she would love to have me on board the team of writers. This meant that I would have the ability to contribute to the MICI (Made In Christ’s Image) Magazine through my writing. In case you needed reassurance  – I said yes.
Inspiring people through my writing is something I have always dreamt of doing and slowly, but surely, it is finally becoming a reality. It’s amazing what can happen when you take chances, step outside your comfort zone and try new things. One open door can lead to so many wonderful new opportunities and experiences. So just take that first step. Be courageous. Try something different and be bold.
So before you select what could be a new opportunity to achieving your dreams and click ‘delete’, stop for a moment and think, what do you have to lose? Give it a go and just do it.
Keep smiling. x

No expectations

If there is something I have learnt this year, it’s this – live life with no expectations. I don’t know about you, but when I am looking forward to something I tend to picture how it will happen, what I will say, everything. I decide how I want things to fall in to place. I don’t know why; perhaps I feel so confident with the scenarios in my head that I disregard the major factor of ‘what if it doesn’t go the way I planned?’ I flip the coin, hoping for heads, but failing to recognise that there will always be the equal chance of tails.
I read an article by Mark Manson a few days ago titled “Heck yes or no” (okay, so the first word wasn’t actually ‘heck’, but for the sake of this post that’s what I’ll refer to it as). Manson introduces the law of “Heck yes or no” which can be applied to friendships, relationships – any decision-making as it suits your current needs. However, if the decision involves two people, they both must be saying ‘Heck yes’ to the decision in order for it to happen. He says, “If I’m not saying ‘Heck yes!’ to something, then I say no.” I found this a really interesting approach to making decisions about various situations in life. If you aren’t one-hundred percent committed to something, then why let it consume you?

My Nan said something to me the other day that really made me think twice about everything. She was telling me a story about one of her friends (keep in mind, this friend would be about seventy-something) and how she only ever sits in her home by herself watching television. She never goes out of her way to meet new people let alone look outside every once in a while. My Nan believes, “that’s not living, that’s existing.” I found this so powerful, particularly because my Nan is also seventy-something and I am only eighteen. If she believes that, then what am I doing with my life? We are only given one shot at it, so why not make the most of it and not just exist, but live?

So after lots of thinking, I’ve decided I am going to try my best to no longer create expectations in my head about things that are going to happen in my life. This doesn’t mean my life goals are going to be thrown away, but rather I am going to make the effort to take each day as it comes and be realistic about it too. I am going to take on the “Heck yes or no” approach to my decision-making in life and I don’t want to just exist, I want to live! I don’t want to let my life be consumed by ‘what if’s, because I have realised that if we live with no expectations of the people we know or meet, no expectations of the places we travel to and no expectations of situations happening in our life, it’s a win-win. We won’t be as disappointed if things don’t go our way, because there won’t be a prior agenda we were trying to achieve. And more often than not, you will find yourself surprised with the outcome, because you hadn’t already decided how it would work. Why try to control things that weren’t meant to be controlled? No expectations. No regrets. 

Keep smiling. x