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

He Has Overcome

I’ve been trying to work out what has stopped me from blogging recently…  It’s well over due and other than regular life just being busy I am not really sure why I have been putting it off.

Part of me has just been enjoying life without writing it down, but at the same time I do love having it here to look back on… Part of me also wished I had written more about NZ when we got back and has been playing with the idea about still doing it… but I think maybe I need to just let it go and start again… maybe I can look at it again later…  Last year I actually came up with little schedule for how to keep on top of the blog, but I just never followed through… and here we are again… super behind and feeling a little bit lost about how to get it back, what the point of the whole thing is.

IMG_9583In fact it is usually about this time each year that this happens. I haven’t blogged for a bit and then Easter happens and people are using social media for spreading the good news and I feel like I want to join in, but then get caught up in all the things I haven’t blogged about and then just give up because it feels like a waste to just post about the fact that I bake hot cross buns and crossed them off the list and not about the significance of Easter.  But it is Easter and I feel like this is as good a place to start as any, because while bringing my blog back from the dead is nice and important perhaps to me… it’s not quite on par with the redemption of Easter and even though not many people may read this blog, those that do should know that Jesus loves them and died for them.

So because I can never quite do it justice, like a number of other times I have written about Easter I am going to let a song express my heart.  This song has had a way of sneaking back into my life over the past month or so and I love it more now then ever… This is why I sing, this is why I live… He has overcome.

IMG_9580The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
his perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

There’s No Place I’d Rather Be

This song has been on my heart, in my head and on repeat in the car… it’s so simple, but it really says what I am feeling right now… I want more, I want to be more on fire, I want to change the world, I want to love more, I want to give more, I want more of Him and less of me… and I don’t really want it to go any time soon… so it is a continual prayer over my life…

IMG_8284-0Set a fire down in my soul,
That I can’t contain, that I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God

There’s no place I would rather be,
There’s no place I would rather be
Than here in your love
Here in your love

Set a fire down in my soul,
That I can’t contain, that I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God