Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fearless is....

Fearless is joining a dating website after years of being cajoled by friends and family.

Fearless is speaking out about difficulties with people and groups in positions of power or influence when you think there are people being manipulated, abused or neglected

Fearless is continuing to speak out against abuses of power despite intimidation, because you know it is right and you have a voice.

Fearless is standing firm in your convictions in the face of bullying, rejection and even eviction from your home and community.

Fearless is believing in the God of hope and redemption even when you begin to lose your faith in the humanity and love of the Church.

Fearless is choosing not to believe you an unworthy part of God’s family.

Fearless is being gripped by the depths of grief- be it for a loved one or a situation- yet still choosing to wake up each day and take a new breath.

Fearless is moving alone to a suburb that has a notorious reputation.

Fearless is finally finishing a BA after six and a half years, despite multiple life-changing events and struggles.

Fearless is having a go at a job you have dreamed about doing, but have no idea if you can.

Fearless is purchasing your first tent and going camping for a whole weekend at a musical festival… when you have an aversion to mess and dirt and disorder. (and Fearless are the long-suffering friends who go camping with such a weirdo!)

Fearless is walking with a dear friend through their darkest valleys, no matter what.

is praying when all logic and reason says give up.

Fearless is being willing to say "I was wrong, I’m sorry and I love you".

Fearless is being humble in a world that demands ego.

Fearless is knowing when to speak up and when to quiet down to listen.

Fearless is seeing hope and possibility in the next moment.

Fearless is choosing to believe in yourself when all you’ve ever felt is unlovable.

Fearless is choosing to love. Period.

A year ago I decided that I my resolution for 2013 was one word: Fearless.

I had a vague notion of pushing myself to be less trapped by fear in making decisions in my life. I had no idea that 2013 would become a fight. A struggle. A giant lesson in remaining fearless in the face of injustice, rejection, tragedy and the constant barrage of what life sometimes throws at you.

At the end of 2013, and in my weary state, I want to claim these lessons I have learnt about being fearless.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post about beauty seen, heard or discovered 
This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright

This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like the stars bright, brighter
This is Not the End by Gungor (Copyright 2011)
I've been watching from afar as the community I grew up in has been battered by devastation. Fire came quickly with no warning, tearing apart peoples homes and memories. Hundreds are living with a real and present danger of even further destruction. The sun is glowing orangey-red in a haze of smoke. The long weeks of bushfire season still lay ahead.

I watch as friends, families, communities bear together. I hear stories of immense generosity, of care, of the hospitality of all the saints. 

This is not the end.

I sit with a friend in the deepest of pain. Life does not go to plan. No amount of empathy can alleviate the agony.

We sit. Tears. Silence. Quiet words of encouragement. Overwhelming anxiety. Hugs. More silence. More tears.

Pain and injustice and betrayal comes in threes and fours and fives it seems.

This is not the end, this is not the end of us.

It seems I can never stop questioning the whys and whens and how will we survive.

But because this is not the end....

We will shine like the stars bright, brighter.

Thank you God.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Words for Wednesday

"The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there....

....I walk out; I see something, some event that would otherwise have been utterly missed and lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell....

....Something pummels us, something barely sheathed. Power broods and lights. We're played on like a pipe; our breath is not our own."

- Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974; pages 10,14,15)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post of beauty seen, heard or discovered

The last few months have mostly felt like random glimpses of colour in a great big grey cloud. It has been a rather disorientating experience. I'm no stranger to darkness and grey. I know the path of struggle and hope quite well. But the most recent confluence of circumstances have rocked me to the core of my being- my sense of self, my place in this world, my faith in humanity.

So I went to the beach for a few days this week. Because the beach is my escape, the place I know I can breathe and find peace and gather just a little more strength to keep going. I am immeasurably blessed with dear friends and mentors who not only love me and care for me, but who own a beautiful little caravan a few hundred metres from a South Coast beach.

Afternoon walks on the beach in the winter sun are quite magical really. I found a large piece of driftwood and sat down to think and pray awhile. I was marvelling at the beautiful colours all around me.... thanking God for afternoons like this that remind me of beauty and hope and His presence. And then I looked up to see this....  


Only a tiny grey cloud above a big colourful beach. 

Beauty and hope.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post of beauty seen, heard or discovered

Once again, darkness and struggle make it difficult to see beauty.

When I am struggling to sleep there are certain tunes that soothe and help me to fall asleep.... Jon Foreman's Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring EP's are my current favourites. This week I have played "The Cure For The Pain" (from the Fall EP) countless times....

I'm not sure why it always goes downhill
Why broken cisterns never could stay filled
I've spent ten years singing gravity away
But the water keeps on falling from the sky

And here tonight while the stars are blacking out
With every hope and dream I've ever had in doubt
I've spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes

And heaven knows, heaven knows
I tried to find a cure for the pain
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do
It would be a lie to run away

So blood is fire pulsing through our veins
We're either riders or fools behind the reigns
I've spent ten years trying to sing it all away
But the water keeps on falling from my tries

And heaven knows, heaven knows
I tried to find a cure for the pain
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do
It would be a lie to run away
A lie to run, it would be a lie
It would be a lie to run away

It keeps on falling (x4)
Water keeps on falling from my eyes

And heaven knows, heaven knows
I tried to find a cure for the pain
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do
It would be a lie to run away
It would be a lie to run away
It would be a lie to run away
(The Cure For The Pain copyright Jon Foreman)
Maybe this song doesn't seem particularly encouraging to you, but one thing I have learnt this week: the time comes, some days, when the cure for the pain is to run right on into it.

In a number of ways over the past week, I have been gently reminded that facing pain and disappointment is what allows us to move beyond it.

The present pain might be... well, painful. But I've heard the promise that beauty rises from ashes, so I'm not going to run away.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Words for Wednesday

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post of beauty seen, heard or discovered
This little postcard (artwork by Jordan Hamlin) has been stuck to my bedside lamp since it came with my copy of Sandra McCracken's In Feast or Fallow hymns album three years ago. The whole album, and in particular this lyric, has seen me through two of the darkest times.
And I've been playing it again this week. Even when I don't feel like I will endure or feel the hope of Christ, this song- and the piece of card I see first thing every morning- reminds me.
In the harvest feast ot the fallow ground,
My certain hope is in Jesus found
My lot, my cup, my portion sure
Whatever comes we shall endure
Whatever comes we shall endure
words & music copyright Sandra McCracken
You can find out more about Sandra McCracken's beautiful work at sandramccracken.com

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Song in minor key

Life is like a song in minor key:
unresolved moments, seemingly discordant
achingly beautiful.
Hints of deeper, darker
awakening in notes
you least expect.
Sadness turns to joy
as each note reveals the whole.
There is beauty in the dark notes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Words for Wednesday

Into the land of the living
Black bleeds orange into blue
I am coming to life,
Light is breaking through

I can hear the bells in the city
Across the ancient shore
I am ready to fight
Let down the scarlet cord

It's time to shed this masquerade

You cannot love in moderation
Dancing with a dead man's bones
Lay your soul
On the threshing floor

Between the walls of the river,
Shoulders bare the sacred stones
We made it alive
We are not alone

Kiss the ground
And change your name

You cannot love in moderation
You're dancing with a dead man's bones
Lay your soul
On the threshing floor

I heard the distant battle drum
The mockingbird spoke in tongues
Longing for the day to come
I set my face, forsook my fears
I saw the city through my tears
The darkness soon will disappear
And be swallowed by the sun

I am coming home
I am coming home
I am coming home
I am coming home... 

Copyright Matthew Perryman Jones
title track from the album Land of the Living

Check out MPJ's music at mpjmusic.com
or iTunes

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post about beauty seen, heard or discovered

A young girl/woman from Sierra Leone stands before a room of a (predominately) white, privileged crowd and speaks of trying to overcome the scars of her past life in this new land. Of being given space and words through the wonderful work of Sydney Story Factory. This brave young woman moves me to tears as she shares a poem entitled, 'Home, away from home' and speaks of the hope she has in the power of words to free her from the demons of the past. 

Sitting across from a friend talking about life and religion and belief and sexuality and church and friendship and things in between. Knowing that while we share a common painful present, we share faith and hope and thirst for knowledge in so much more.

Listening to a political hero speak with astonishing grace and dignity about the depressing state of local and global politics. About the need for each and every individual to be a brave voice of peace and activism in a world obsessed with greed. And then showing us how it is done by living the example.

A educator, musician and conductor describes the intricate power and beauty of bringing a work of art to life. "And if no one comes to see it, it really doesn't matter. I followed the vision I was given"

Listening and singing along to old favourite hymns. Transported to memories of Grandma and Dad singing and teaching me the words. Words I still know in my heart today.

A week with many moments of beauty.... If I keep my soul open to see.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The year of living... Jealously?!

A few days ago a dear and talented friend told me about her current plans post graduation this year. I was taken by surprise- it is a gutsy and bold move that she's thinking on. One which will take her on many adventures.

And I started to get a bit sad (or cranky, I'm not really sure).

Part of the conversation went something like this:
Me: Why does everyone have to make all these big plans and leave me in boring old Sydney.
Friend: Sorry, but I like change.
Me: I HATE change. I run full tilt in the opposite direction from anything remotely change-like.
Later, I was thinking about my reaction and current penchant for self-pity about my situation (30, single, still no BA, negligible savings and a too-vague plan about becoming a writer).

The epiphany: I'm jealous!

Not of this specific friend, I wouldn't dare attempt what she is thinking of doing. But if I'm honest, the sadness I get when hearing about friends adventures, accomplishments, travels etc is just a little bit of jealousy. (Just for the record, I am also happy for and proud of my friends!)

I've been struggling with and thinking a lot lately about the zig-zaggy pattern of my young adult life. The disappointment I feel. The comparisons I continually make between my own twenties and that of friends taking more logical, straightforward paths. So many of my plans were waylaid by illness, crisis' and pains.

That's a lot of time thinking and a not a lot of time living!

And it doesn't really fit in with my word for 2013: fearless.
When I chose that word in January I knew what I was getting myself in for. I knew my fear and the way it can numb me to the point of inaction. And yet the first few months of this year have been so unsettling and difficult that being or doing something new (or brave) has seemed impossible.

And this thought reminded of something Sarah Bessey, one of my favourite bloggers, said on facebook earlier this year:
Yes, I have some hard work to do when it comes to achieving my goals, overcoming my tendencies to fear and accepting my own story. But Sarah challenges me to be mindful of the present, and to be present.

Which also reminds me of a Sara Groves song (what a surprise!), I Just Showed Up For My Own Life:
I was in love with an idea
Preoccupied with how a life should appear
Spending my time at the surface repairing the holes in the shiny veneer

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I'm standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright
Copyright Sara Groves & Joel Hanson from the album Add to the Beauty
In order to 'work' at being fearless, I must first show up. I must seek, in this day, to love and show grace, to find beauty in the everyday and be mindful.

So, the cure for my jealousy.... Live my own life! Not particularly profound, I know. But an important lesson I'll probably be learning everyday for quite a while.

It is already looking a bit brighter.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post about beauty seen, heard or discovered

Rob Bell is a genius.

If I had to name one writer/thinker/pastor that has had the most influence on my adult faith, it's Bell. Each of his books have played a pivotal role in shaping my theology and practice, encouraging me and challenging me beyond myself.

His latest book What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne 2013) is, so far, no different.

Bell is not only a thinker and theology, but he is good, creative writer. He has a way with words. This week I have been deeply moved by his thoughts on the depths and limits of language...
"So when we talk about God,
we're talking about our brushes with the spirit,
our awareness of the reverence humming within us,
our sense of the nearness,
and the farness,
that which we know,
and that which is unknown,
that which we can talk about,
and that which eludes the grasp of our words,
that which is crystal-clear
and that which is more mysterious than ever.

And sometimes language helps,
and sometime language fails....

....For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt are not opposite. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it's alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren't opposites; they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners....

....conviction and humility, like faith and doubt, are not opposites; they're dance partners. It's possible to hold your faith with open hands, living with great conviction and yet at the same time humbly admitting that your knowledge and perspective will always be limited.

Do you believe the exact same things you did in the exact same way you did five years ago? Probably not....

....I believe that this is one of the most urgent questions people are asking at this time about the very nature of faith: Can conviction and humility coexist as the dance partners we need them to be?

I say yes, they can. I have seen it up close, and it's possible. It requires that we pay as much attention to how we are talking as to what we are talking about, and it requires us to leave the paradox as it is, the tension unresolved, holding our convictions with humility." (excerpt from pages 91-95)
If you want to know about more on what the books about, watch this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Words for Wednesday

“Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
Annie Dillard from Pilgrim At Tinker Creek

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A weekly (sometimes) post of beauty seen, heard or discovered

The past week was a very dark one for me- the darkest in quite a while. The last few months have been difficult and it has been hard to find beauty... much less write about it. But this weekend, I was desperate. I needed something to give me some hope. All my usual standbys- prayer, exercise, reaching out to friends, music- had so far not made much of a dent into the dark cloud.

The first thing to come along was on Saturday night. I hired a DVD, made my scrumptious home-made chorizo, sweet potato and fetta pizza, and sat down with my mum to enjoy.

Liberal Arts was a surprisingly beautiful, funny and heartfelt movie. Its a coming of age story about coming of age... at any age. I was expecting a light romantic comedy, but it turned out to be a funny, heartfelt, profound and very deep story. Its about finding truth and beauty and reality in unlikely places; about embracing the season of your life, whatever that may be; about opening your eyes to the transcendent moments that happen every day, everywhere.

For example, there is a beautiful montage where the young college student Zibby has given the older graduate Jesse a mix of classical music to 'discover'. It's stunning and candid and hilarious.

The scene that spoke most deeply to me was a scene where Jesse is sitting in hospital with a young boy he befriended from college. Dean has just attempted suicide, but survived due to a phone call to Jesse at the last minute. (Note: the following is my paraphrase.) Jesse tells the young Dean that the horrid and dark place he is in will end and there will be a time when he will be able to appreciate the freedom and beauty of all that life has to offer each day. Dean asks in response if that is what is been like for Jesse since he left college? "Hell, No!" Jesse responds. But some days it has, and you learn to appreciate and see more clearly when the beauty comes along. I haven't really done the scene justice, but it is a beautiful, poignant reminder of grace and hope.

And then there are the random throwaway lines that stop you in your tracks like "Any place you don't leave is a prison".

Allison Janney (CJ Cregg from The West Wing) and Zac Efron also make brilliant and funny cameos.

You can watch the trailer here, but I don't think it really shows you just how beautiful this movie is. So go watch the whole thing!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Words for Wednesday

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach- waiting for a gift from the sea."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From The Sea (1955, pg 17)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post of beauty seen, heard or discovered

Some Sundays I can easily pinpoint a piece of beauty I wish to share with the world. Other Sundays, like today, I rack my brain trying to think of something valuable.

It is at the end of weeks like this one, when the weight of grief and anger and tiredness and change impede my ability to see, that it becomes even more important to play 'I Spy...'.

Today I am grateful for countless cups of tea in the autumnal Blue Mountains.

Today I am grateful for Skype and the technology that bridges the space and time between me and my dear sister-in-the-journey in Miami.

Today I am grateful for the chance to share Sunday morning breakfast with dear friends who I have shared life and home with, but have had to move away from this week.

Today I am grateful for mentors who cry with me and make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.

Today I am grateful for the afternoon sun on the back stairs where I can read a good book.

Speaking of which, I am very grateful today for this quote from Nichole Nordeman's Love Story, reflecting on the creation story:
"Every brushstroke and lyric and clay pot and arabesque and sonnet. Any moment, no matter how small, that seeks to reflect the Creator must travel this lonely predawn road. The Spirit must hover and hover over our deep darkness. That is, if it is to be called good." (Love Story pg. 2)
I have spied beauty. But I so often forget that beauty is found wading through the mess and darkness.

This might be one meaning of the cliched line 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'....

To spy beauty I must have eyes to see.

What are you grateful for today? What beauty have you spied?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

Iron Cove, Lilyfield
I found myself here early this morning... and most other mornings this week. There is something magical about sitting on a jetty with your feet dangling over the water. I'm not really a fan of being on boats or in the water that much, but sitting near water is like medicine for the soul. And finding somewhere within walking distance that I can escape to has been an immeasurable blessing the past few weeks.

I don't stop here for long, that would defeat the purpose of the early morning walk to use up the anxiety and adrenaline running rife in my body. But appreciating this sight is important as well. The moment of stillness, taking in the wide expanse of water and the early morning freshness, is as important as the exercise. It calms my soul in the same way getting the blood pumping through my body quietens the overwhelming stress in my body.

Movement and stillness. The two things that have made my week more liveable.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

A (sometimes) weekly post about beauty seen, heard or discovered...

I'm in the mood where I come all untied 
I'm in the mood to say shit that'll change people's minds 
I love you, I swear it, I would never lie 
But I fear for our lives and I fear your closed eyes

What will your legacy be? 
'War Sweater' from the album Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You...
I've loved this Wakey!Wakey! song for a long time, but I've been listening to it again this weekend especially.

I love the stunning strings and classical piano. I am always a sucker for a song in a minor key. The closet rebel in me loves the attitude of the lyrics and lines like 'I'm in the mood to say shit that'll change peoples lives'. I love the transparency. 

I love that this is a beautiful song calling out the un-beautiful in religion and belief.

I've been thinking about these things lately. The way we blind ourselves with stubbornness. The way our fear of difference alienates and divides. The capacity for all of us (even progressives!) to hold to belief with a fundamentalist fervor and arrogance. I long for the day when we, as Christians, as humans even, can keep our eyes and hearts open. A day when we are willing to question our own certainties and embrace others in their certainties. As Sara Groves says, "I've got layers of lies that I don't even know about yet" (Eyes Wide Open from Firelies and Songs.)

War Sweater reminds me that our legacy as believers (whatever that belief may be) should be that we lived with the humility and grace that knows we haven't figured it all out yet- not one of us! We all have something to learn. There should be no need for truth to be worn like a war sweater. 

P.S. There's also a nice acoustic version here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Words for Wednesday

  “When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry

(The beautiful and talented Sarah Bessey who reminded me of this wonderful quote last week...) 

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

Said a prayer with broken wings
Hoping to move toward greater things now
And face the fear

I started the year hoping, praying that I could be brave. I wanted to take risks and be more fearless. And I have spent most of the last few weeks struggling with chronic anxiety and panic attacks.

It's funny how things happen like that. The very moment we choose to face things head on, life comes hurtling towards us with even greater speed and energy.

So in the midst of wandering through anxiety and stress I've been playing and singing and humming this beautiful Elenowen song, Flying for the First Time. (You can get an awesome free download of their EP here.)
Led to the open flame
Barely escaped
Now I'll never be the same
When we get a taste of the freedom and abundance that God calls us to it is hard to resist.... even if it means facing our fears, dealing with our insecurities, letting go of being certain.

I pray that we can all be brave enough to fly for the first time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Words for Wednesday

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Aurora Leigh

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

a weekly (sometimes) post of beauty seen, heard or discovered
Have you seen the new film "Silver Linings Playbook"? If not then you should! It's the kind of story these I Spy Beauty... posts are all about. I finally saw it this week, and LOVED it.

It has a whole lot of heart.

How do you deal with a being 'crazy'? How do you find hope when all life throws at you seems to be chaos and junk?
"This is what I believe to be true. You have do everything you can and if you stay positive you have a shot at a silver lining"- Pat
It might sound like a bit of pop psychology, but the truth that I know is that there is beauty in this world... even in the chaos and pain and mess... you just have to keep your heart open and willing to see.

That's what this film is all about. But it also has poignant writing, real characters and great actors that deliver a real window into the hilarity, craziness, pain and beauty of living with mental illness. It reminds us all to keep our eyes open.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some poetry...

A friend suggested I share some of my poetry online. So here's two recent pieces I've written.

This started as a journal entry in which I needed to vent about my tiredness at waiting, but it turned into a poem.

One day…

I will have a BA
I will find someone to be my best friend
and have a family together
I will be able to spend less money, save more
and not let money control me
I will make friends without being guarded
I will not feel tired
I will love someone with everything I have
I will not be captive to fear
I will have energy to live with abandon
I will not need medication to feel sane
I will write a book
and share my heart with the world
I will not care what people think
I will love others without condition
I will learn to (sometimes) leave the messes
I will know without a doubt that I am loved
Until then…

We live in the in-betweens.

When I'm stressed or anxious or depressed sleep is the first thing to go. Night time is when I feel those things most intensely. We can run around all day trying to escape the struggles inside ourselves, but come darkness and there's nowhere to hide.

Close my eyes
Flick the switch
Let my mind run wild
The ache appears without warning
Breathe in
Breathe out
Shock settles into despair
I no longer know where the pain
Begins and ends.

Close my eyes
Flick the switch
Let the voices take control
Illusions and lies
Tell their stories
Until belief takes flight
I no longer know where truth
Begins and ends.

Close my eyes
Flick the switch
Darkness fills the night.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Yes, that is a Taylor Swift album/song. But no, that's not what I'm referring to.

Although come to think of it, I wouldn't mind being brave enough to "dance in a storm in my best dress - Fearless" (Taylor Swift, 'Fearless').


One word for 2013. My word for 2013.

I've realised recently how much I live in fear. Not that heightened senses, survival-instinct type fear, but rather an insidious, ingrained fear that dictates how I think and move in this world. A fear I hadn't realised pervaded so much of my thoughts and choices.

I don't deal well with change; I fear it.

I don't try new things very often. (Even rather pathetic 'new things' such as different food or different places to visit!)

I can't remember the last time I danced where anyone else could see me. For fear of... I'm not really sure what.

I tell people that I have no desire to travel. But really I do, it's just too scary to think about doing it alone.

I fear any large gathering of people - be it party or wedding or conference - for fear of not having anyone to talk to or anything interesting to say.

The list could go on....

I'm sure others share some of these fears… or maybe I am simply ‘bat crap crazy’ as Penny from The Big Bang Theory would say! Some fears I could explain away by saying I like routine and find comfort in consistency- there’s nothing wrong with that! And other fears I could say were legitimate self-preservation techniques for a chronically anxious person. But really, I don’t like living a life dictated by fear! I know that there are so many experiences I miss out on because of this subtle fear.

So at the beginning of January when most of the world are making resolutions, I joined a group of bloggers and others who are choosing something different: One Word. As the website says
“One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.”

Each day in 2013 - whatever I’m dealing with or making decisions about- I want to make conscious choices, brave choices. I want to bravely act where previously I might not have even tried.

I want to be fearless, knowing that my God is in all things. And that God longs for abundant life in and through me... out into the world.

Like last year (and others) I want to resolve at the beginning of 2013 to…. LIVE.

But I want to live fearlessly…. more bravely and intentionally than ever before.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Words for Wednesday

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke Letters to a Young Poet

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

a weekly (sometimes) post of beauty seen, heard or discovered
"We are pressed but not crushed, perplexed but don't despair
We are persecuted but not abandoned
We are no longer slaves, we are daughters and sons
And when we are weak, we are very strong
And neither death, nor life, nor present, nor future, nor depth, nor height
Can keep us from the love of Christ"
from The Word by Sara Groves
It's been one of THOSE weeks. And by that I mean a very, very sucky (for want of profanity) one.
And the beauty is, that while your friends are also having sucky weeks, somehow you can manage to encourage one another.

On a road trip Sunday afternoon my two friends and I began to talk about our current struggles. And about the things we have been finding comfort in. One friend reminded me of this beautiful bridge from Sara Groves’ song The Word. Such a strong statement of hope and faith and courage!
I pointed to 2 Corinthians 4 (part of the inspiration of the lyrics.) This passage has been such a big part of my faith journey… always an encouragement. It is a reminder of the essence of the gospel- brokenness and redemption. As we barrelled along the freeway, my friend read the whole chapter aloud to us….
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.....
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 (TNIV)
I have been reminded in the last few days of the capacity of pain and conflict and struggle to draw us closer to each other and closer to God. It is in the very brokenness we so struggle with that God meets us most fully.

If we give ourselves over to the work of God in our lives, whether it be through pain or blessing, we are transformed. We overcome. We can become beautiful. What hope!
“We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (MSG, emphasis mine)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

a weekly (sometimes) post of beauty seen, heard or discovered

I've been a John Butler fan for quite a while.... but I'd never heard of this song until Friday night.
At a local church music night a young guitarist played 'Ocean' and I was blown away. I got totally lost in the music. After an overwhelming day and week, I forgot about my exhaustion. I forgot about the aches and pains in my body and soul.
It is always a gift to get lost in someone's talent.... to witness beauty in the making.
It's a long track... but seriously, you'll be mesmerised by the insanely talented John Butler!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Words for Wednesday

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
from Wild Geese by Mary Oliver (in Dream Work, 1986)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Spy Beauty...

It has been an unsettling start to 2013 for me- drama filled, confusing and unsettling. But last weekend I spent a few days on the South Coast with my two dear friends and mentors. Spending time with my 'safe' people and sitting on the sand started to centre me again. The sand and waves always calm and restore me.

I sat on the beach thinking about my word for 2013: Fearless (more about that soon). I feel like I chose the very word that is going to be the biggest challenge. But God knows exactly the best place to speak to me.... As the salt air blew around me, through me, clearing away some of the confusion and distractions, He began to speak to my fearful nature....
Just like the waves pounding in, unsettling the sandy sea floor underneath, the events of life roll in, unsettling my inmost being….. Tossing and turning it before it re-settles in different formations. On and on the waves roll constantly shaping me, refining and re-defining me. It doesn't feel like a monotonous or hopeless cycle, but a work beauty. I am being tossed and turned in a process. I must be willing to transform and move, to be and  be created into something different and more beautiful.
I love the way a stormy beach cleanses. The roar of the waves blocking out other sounds, the wind so strong it blows through, washing you.

I might still feel unsettled, sometimes fearful, and unsure. But a couple of days at the beach does wonders for the soul!