Pathways in the Wilderness… New Things for 2017…

So this is something new for this year, Thankful Thursday.  It may not be every week, but according to the list it will be at least once a month, and it is something I am looking forward to doing.

Learning to be satisfied and content with who I am, what I have and where I am at, is something that I have struggled with.  Sometimes this dissatisfaction has been helpful, as it has pushed me to change things, try things or even improve myself… but sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding of my life compared to the highlight reels that I look at daily on social media.

I have often thought about having a break from Facebook, Instagram and twitter, however, there are lots of things I really like about all of these platforms, but I have to constantly remind myself, that I am only looking at what people want me to see, the sections of their lives that they have chosen to include.  That I am not seeing everything, and often not the bad bits, but rather, if it isn’t a ‘highlight’ it’s still just the bits they haven chosen to share, often things they wish they could change or do differently in an attempt to get some motivation to change, or some accountability.

So, to combat this in my own life (but probably make things worse for someone else as I add more to the highlight reel, sorry, but see above)  I have decided this year to get better at practicing gratitude.  That means being thankful for the things I have, the people in my life, and that stage of life that I am in.  Sometime it will even mean looking for the good when life isn’t as rosy or easy as well as I would like, or think it should be.  Stopping to see the good things God is doing in my life even when I have to work a little harder to bring them into focus.

So this is the first one… a Thankful Thursday…  and to be honest right now I am just thankful to be feeling pretty good.  I am definitely not where I thought I would be when I was planning January 2017 last year, but where I am is ok.  For the last couple of weeks my Facebook memories and Timehop app have been flooding my phone with memories of our adventures to Europe and New Zealand and for the first time in a long time I am feeling ok about not having a holiday planned.  It’s been really nice to be able to reminisce without getting jealous of my summers past, and to actually just take a minute to appreciate how lucky we were to have had those experiences.  It’s also the first summer for a long time that I haven’t been bitterly jealous of my friends on school holidays.  Although it has probably helped that I have only just returned to work after 3months, I think that for the first time in a long time I am ok with my current lot in life.

This summer I have been able to look back on all of the things we have done and smile.  I am so thankful for the things we did, the places we saw, the people we met and the fun we had.  I am also really thankful to be having a ‘proper’ Australian summer for the first time in 3 years… where it is hot and the beach is wonderful and inviting.  I am thankful for the time I have had to get some little projects done, to clean out the house and to just rest and be restored.  I am thankful for the fresh start that 2017 has been, even if it has just been a mental one.  I am thankful that God promises new things… Over the past couple of months some Old Testament verses have really stuck out and popped up regularly, so I am thankful that I can claim them for my year ahead… here is what I am holding on to…

 “I am about to do something new.   See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

“The kindness of the Lord has not ended, his mercies are not spent” Lamentations 3:22

”This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I am really excited and thankful in advance for new things, pathways in the wilderness and rivers in wasteland… new mercies and kindness and the encouragement to be strong, bold and courageous, because I am not alone.

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2016 – Photos, Lessons and Thankfulness

Ok so today is the last day of 2016 and I can’t tell you how ready I am for 2017.  It’s not that 2016 has been all bad, it hasn’t.  There is a part of me that will actually miss the things and events of 2016, but I am ready for something new.  Ready to start again.  2016 has held lots of my best and most treasured moments, our travels around the world, new friends, old friends and meeting and holding my baby boy for the first time.  But the second half of 2016 has also been my hardest time to date, saying goodbye to Josh way too soon and learning to live in world where he was and now isn’t.

Much of 2016 was unexpected, but through all of this I have grown.  I have learnt more about myself, who I am, who I want to be, and where I need to make changes.  More about my family and friends, just how important they are, and how much they love Dave and I through both good and bad.  And more about what is important in life, how much trust I have in Jesus and that even though I may not see the whole picture I can trust that this is part of something much bigger than me.  That this year has been and will be way more important that I will understand for a long time.  I have learnt to hold on to the things that I know are true and good and to hope and celebrate joy in really really crappy places.  I know that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

Looking forward to 2017 I must “be strong and courageous! I must not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” (Joshua 1:9, NLT with my paraphrase).  God has this covered, he has Dave and I covered in his love, in his grace and in his mercy.  His love brings joy and peace beyond understanding and circumstance.  We have good things ahead and my hope is that we will see some of these in 2017. 

Usually at this time of year I would right a blog looking back at the year through the photos taken on my iPhone which I am still going to do, only this year instead of writing a highlight of each month, I am going to write about the things I am thankful for.  On most occasions these are also the highlights, but practicing my gratitude and highlighting the blessings brings me a lot more joy than just telling you that something was good.  It’s also better for my brain. So this is what 2016 looked like through the eyes of my iPhone with my gratitude lens on.

January…

I am thankful for:
•  Travel, exploring Europe and having my mind opened to more of the world with the best travel buddy I could have ever asked for, Dave.
•  Meeting new friends.
•  Polka bands and spoons in Austria.
•  Exploring London, Paris and Disneyland with my best friend.

February…

I am thankful for:
•  Warm weather and food with friends old and new.
•  Parkrun and it’s ability to engage my fomo so I actually exercise.

March…

I am thankful for:
•  More food and sharing it with more people – this seems to be a theme of my life.
•  Inverloch and the opportunity that it gives me to step back and slow down.
•  Beautiful cards from Happy Mail that I have been able to share.
• Learning about snapchat filters and the fun they have brought… even though I still haven’t quite conquered snapchat.

April…

I am thankful for:
•  The outback and red dirt and the feeling that I get when I am standing surrounded by it.  By the incredible landscapes and history our home holds.
•  Camping, hiking and exploring new and beautiful places with Dave’s family and how much closer I feel to them after having these experiences.
•  Getting over my fear of bugs, I don’t know how, but I do know it happened in April and now they don’t bother me… at all, it’s really nice.
•  Birthdays and the wonderful excuse they are to catch up with people and eat delicious treats… see I told you it was a theme.

May…

I am thankful for:
•  School and the community that it is, for the wonderful and talented kids, for our trip to Mt Gambier and watching them perform in the Lion King.
•  5 years with Davo as married couple.  Marriage just keeps getting better and better and it is still the best decision that I have ever made, to say yes to him and to get married.

June…

I am thankful for:
•  Finding out we were pregnant, even if I wasn’t quite ready.
•  For work and the fun things I get to do, talks, presentations, adventures and be creative.
•  Bram and Jean and the impact they had on Box Hill Salvos, but also on Dave and I.  Their wisdom, humility and enthusiasm is something that I greatly value.  For Bram and I’s competitive parkrun spirit and his encouragement of my running.

July…

I am thankful for:
•  Anti-nausea medication and the difference it makes.
•  The generosity of friends and the wonderful and relaxing weekend in the city it provided for Dave and I.
•  Catch ups with new, but great friends.
•  The joy of sharing good news with family.  For how excited they were and how much they loved Josh, even before we new he was Josh.

August…

I am thankful for:
•  Sharing my pregnancy with one of my best mates and having an endless supply of food at our shared desk.
•  Scans and how incredibly detailed they are, for seeing Josh move around and starting to get to know who he was.
•  The joy of sharing our news of Joshua with our wider group of friends and family and the amount of love that was poured out.
•  More sunny days as winter started to disappear.

September…

I am thankful for:
•  Cleaning things out and making way, decluttering and letting go.
•  Our Babymoon to Lakes Entrance and time spent with just Dave.
•  The incredible example my grandparents are in their marriage, 60years strong and still so in love.
•  Tiny baby clothes and toys.
•  Another scan and the detail in which we were able to see our perfect baby growing.
•  Turkish Delight milksakes and pink donuts.

October…

I am thankful for:
•  Dust and Jess and the exciting news that our Baby was getting a cousin.
•  Spending time with friends for the grand final, birthdays and mario party.
•  Holding Josh and being about to spend 3 heartbreaking days with him, for how perfectly he was made and how beautiful he was.
•  Watching Dave with Josh and falling even more in love with him as he became a father to our tiny boy.
•  Being able to sing, kiss and cuddle my precious little one.
•  Friends and family that stood in the gap for us as we grieved, for food and gifts that filled our house and for love that was poured out so abundantly.

November…

I am thankful for:
•  Learning to breathe again.
•  Sunny days to spend out on the deck and catching up with family.
•  Gingerbread, Christmas Trees and the Christmas Movie Marathon voting system.
•  Our photo wall and being able to put our whole family up there.
•  Singing to celebrate on of my old teachers at school and the impact he had on our musical lives and just singing in a choir again.
•  Heartfelt and their gift of beautiful photos of Joshua

December…

I am thankful for:
•  Polaroid photos.
•  Having Kirsten home for a couple of weeks and getting to hang out with here.
•  Crafting and blogging and having time to due some fun projects.
•  Perfectly wrapped Christmas gifts.
•  Christmastime – meals, celebrations and time spent with those most important to us.
•  Joshua’s tiny hand prints on our tree.
•  More time on the deck.
•  Summer, heat and our new air conditioners.
•  Time to reflect.

There has been so much to be thankful for and really this is just a snap shot.   Despite the pain and turmoil of moments, 2016 has been pretty good, really good actually, but I am still looking forward to 2017 with the hope of even more joy.  I will be strong and courageous, and I will trust that there is good because I love God and he loves me and will be with me whatever 2017 holds.

Grace to Grace

Over the last couple of weeks God has been reminding me how perfect His plan is. I have been reminded how detailed He is and how much more He has prepared for us. I have been reminded that Christ didn’t just die so that we could have a happy/normal life, attend church and repeat, but so that we could actually live, live with power, purpose and a whole heap of supernatural glory.  That I am called to carry His glory where ever I go, and that even my shadow can bring him more glory than I can really comprehend.

I have been reminded that regardless of all this, while I am still human, there is gap between Him and me that has been filled by Jesus… regardless of how big or small… and I have been reminded, that Jesus didn’t just love us, which He does… but that He knew there was more to come, something that we can not yet see, something worth keeping and saving us for… something we can all have because of His grace.

So this Easter I am not just thankful that Christ died for me, although I am thankful for that.  I am thankful because grace is more than just afterlife salvation, it is 100% salvation now, restoration to who we are in Him, strong, powerful children of God, living in the wonder of his Grace. That for God, we were worth the sacrifice of Christ… even though we might not feel worth. Let me leave you with the lyrics of a song Hillsong released this Easter that puts some of these thoughts of mine, much more eloquently.

IMG_1480If love endured that ancient cross
How precious is my Saviour’s blood
The beauty of heaven wrapped in my shame
The image of love upon death’s frame

If having my heart was worth the pain
What joy could You see beyond the grave
If love found my soul worth dying for

How wonderful, How glorious
My Saviour’s scars, Victorious
My chains are gone
My debt is paid
From death to life
And grace to grace

If heaven now owns that vacant tomb
How great is the hope that lives in You
The passion that tore through hell like a rose
The promise that rolled back death and its stone

If freedom is worth the life You raised
Where is my sin, where is my shame
If love paid it all to have my heart

How wonderful, How glorious
My Saviour’s scars, Victorious
My chains are gone
My debt is paid
From death to life
And grace to grace

When I see that cross I see freedom
When I see that grave I’ll see Jesus
And from death to life I will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace