close-up image of girl holding yellow flower

5 Things You Need to Start Doing Before It’s Too Late

“Life is fragile.”
“You only live once.”
“No regrets.”

You’ve heard it all before, right? But have you really stopped to actually mull over these powerful words that have become so blatantly cliche?

Within the last couple of months, I have watched the news reporting about a 19-year-old learner driver who was killed in a car accident beside her father. I have found out about close family members or friends of mine, and even friends of friends that have been diagnosed with cancer. I have sat next to a friend who scrolled through Facebook to read that a person they know has had a tragic accident and at only 15 years old, died suddenly.

So when we start to reflect on these sorts of stories we hear, the cliches start to echo a hard truth to swallow. That life is incredibly fragile. It becomes something even harder to digest when circumstances happen to loved ones and people that we know.

My boyfriend and a close friend of ours were talking about this recently and it left me really shaken up for the rest of the night. I sat in bed thinking all about this concept of one day leaving those around us and sometimes, it unfortunately happens without any warning.

Something that I have realised in this process is that I want to make five intentional changes in my life moving forward:

1. Hug people tighter

I’m not saying hold on an extra few seconds at your work Christmas party as you say thank you to your boss (because that’s weird). I’m talking about those closest to you. Your partner. Your kids. Your extended family. Your friends.

Don’t be embarrassed about group hugs (tip: if everyone looks the same direction, it’s not as awkward). Give a little squeeze when you embrace people. Hug them tighter. Hold on a little longer. When your sister goes to pull away, tell her, “nope, I’m not done yet”.

2. Say the ‘L’ word more

Stop being so hesitant about telling someone you love them. I believe it is the most beautiful and powerful thing you can do. It’s often the extended family and friends that we don’t really bother saying the ‘L’ word to. I’m saying, do it.

When you’re saying goodbye to your friend that you caught up for breakfast with, shout a little ‘love ya’ as you hug them goodbye. Send a random text throughout the day to your partner reminding them of how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Tell your grandma when you visit her next that you love her.

3. Pick up the phone

Often we don’t get to spend that much time seeing our family, but in a world where telephones have been used since 1876, there really is no excuse to keep in contact with them. And if they live overseas, don’t worry, social media has you covered!

But as great as emails, texts and checking on their Facebook status updates every once in a while is, physically picking up the phone to hear their voice and have a genuine catch-up is what really matters.

4. Never go to bed angry

I remember my boyfriend and I had an argument one day. It was over something really silly and it didn’t last very long at all. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the part where he made sure we were okay, that everything was sorted and we were on the same page before the day ended.

Life is too short to be holding grudges and losing sleep over something that can most likely be solved by communicating about it openly. Make sure you are happy with the last thing you said to someone before you say goodbye or leave. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life regretting how things ended.

5. Make an effort, always

Make an effort. Not sometimes. Not when you hear that your distant cousin is terminally ill. Not when you find out your friend from high school has only six months to live. But always. If they would mean a lot to you if they were gone, start making sure they know they mean a lot to you now.

This is easier said than done, of course. Sometimes we lose touch with people and other times, we just aren’t that close to a person in the first place, but their situation has tugged on your heart and you are left sending them positive thoughts and prayers.

Often, we are thinking about those people and care about them a heck of a lot, we just don’t have the time to actually tell them. But perhaps we need to start prioritising our lives better.

Trust me, I get it. I have been there and I still do all of that. But something I am challenging myself with lately is to not only start recognising the relationships I have with people in my life, but appreciating them also. Being intentional about our relationships with others and actively seeking opportunities to share that with them is so important.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until it is too late. Go tell someone you love them. Go give someone a squeeze. Go ring your grandma.

Keep smiling. x

recommit

Last week I witnessed a friend of mine taking a stand in front of a group of people at a worship service. He stood up in front of everyone and poured his entire heart out. He was not only struggling, but finding that life was just throwing way too much at him to handle. There wasn’t enough time to let God in and he wanted to recommit to God in front of everyone and asked for us all to pray for him. 
I found myself tearing up as I heard him speak. Only moments before, I had mentioned how he always looks so happy, always with a huge smile plastered across his face. Little did I know what was really going on beneath the surface. I felt a wave of emotions all at once. I had assumed that this guy had his life together, that he was content and happy with his current position. I was so, so wrong.
In one of my earlier blog posts The House with the Pretty Garden I wrote how “people are like houses; the ones with the neat and pretty gardens are often a mess inside”. Everyone is fighting their own battle. Life might not be the same for you or me, but one thing remains the same – as soon as you think you have it all together, life just gives a little smirk and thinks ‘haha just kidding’.
Once I got home that night, I was in bed and turned to Psalm 46. In short, this is what it says:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…God is within [him/her], [he/she] will not fall; God will help [him/her] at break of day…be still and know that I am God”.

Whether you have already committed to God or if you are struggling with your relationship with him, I encourage you to wholeheartedly recommit not just today, but everyday. Everyone may be facing something different, but everyone is facing something, so just remember that you are not alone. God’s light will always prevail over the darkness that the devil is shadowing you with.
Keep smiling. x

Flying high.

I was sitting at the park by myself the other day (I have friends, I swear). I was about to open up a book to read but was distracted by a little girl laughing. I watched her as she ran as fast as she could to allow her kite to rise off the ground. Once she had reached top speed the kite started to lift itself into the air. A short time later she began to get tired from running and her run turned into a jog, which quickly converted into a walk then a complete stop. Meanwhile, the kite was losing all its motivation to stay off the grass.

Just before the girl collapsed to the ground exhausted, an older boy, who I assumed was her brother, came to her rescue and collected the kite in his hands. He began running at full speed and with a face full of determination, it was clear that he wasn’t giving up anytime soon. The little girl looked at her brother smiling and found the energy to get up and run along behind him. 
If someone was to ask me what I did at the park that day, they probably would think I am a total creep watching children play. All I know is that those kids taught me a lesson. There are things that are challenging me in life at the moment and sometimes it feels like flying my kite is getting tiring and honestly, it is exhausting. Constantly running to keep it in the air can be difficult and just when we lose all momentum and start to fall behind, our kite begins to drop. The best part is that right before we collapse and feel like we will never get back up again, God comes along and picks up the kite in His hands. He holds onto it and never lets go, running full speed and not losing sight of where we need to be.

So if all you get from this is that maybe watching little kids at the park isn’t all that weird, that’s okay (unless you are a middle-aged man, then that’s not okay). The point is, maybe we can learn something from other people and their actions. Trying to keep your kite off the ground gets difficult sometimes, but we need to remember that just before we give up and it falls, God is there to fly our kite for us and He never lets go. We just have to get on our feet again and run with Him, because when it comes to flying kites, He is the expert.

Keep smiling. x