One little word (or not so little, as the case may be)

love

It’s such a seemingly small word, when you look at it.

Four letters.

One syllable.

Used everyday, in so many different contexts.

But love?

Is anything but small.

It is the cornerstone of life.

It is hard work, and messy, and gut-wrenching, and leaves us lying bleeding and weeping and wishing we’d never known what it is to love someone.

It is beautiful, and strong, and wonder and breathtaking, and teaches us what it is to exist in the sphere of life at large.

Paul tells us that until we are face-to-face with the One who loves completely, we are to trust, and hope and love.

And that the greatest of these, the biggest, the most important thing is love.

I wrote about love for The Nester’s 31 Days writing challenge, focusing on love-as-it-is-meant-to-be in 1 Corinthians 13.  It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t a subject that could be explored and wrapped up neatly in 31 blog posts – how could it be, when love is something that takes a lifetime to learn about, by living it real?  And that we won’t fully understand until we are in the presence of Jesus, He who is love defined?

I’m 37.5 years old, and I feel like I’ve barely even skimmed the surface when it comes to knowing about love.  I’ve had many hard lessons in the realities of love – I would even go so far as to say the brutalities of love – but I am also living the breathtaking wonder of love Every. Single. Day.  Even though I don’t understand it.  Even though I resist it.  Even though I feel like I’m not worthy of it.

This is why love is my word for 2014.  I want to know more.

I want to know more how to fully love the people I do life with, to love as if my life depended on it.

I want to know what it is to embrace the love God has for me, the love that I hold at arm’s length.

I want to know what it is to love as Jesus does.

I want to truly live by loving God with all my heart, mind and soul.

I want to better love myself (my body, my soul, my mind) as Christ loves me.

I want to love extravagantly and without fear.

I want to know love as God created it, not love as the world has taught me.

No biggie.

Just one little word.

That has the power to change a life.

At least, I’m believing that it will change mine.

So tell me, how can this one little word change your life?  Do you think learning about (and living) love-for-real could change the fabric of your reality?  What do you know of live in your life lived-so-far?

I have much to learn, and if there’s one thing I know about this world, I cannot do that on my own.  I would love for you to join me on this journey, and learn the lessons that Love has for us.  Please leave a comment, or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.  If I haven’t already, I’m so looking forward to meeting you 🙂

 

 

 

 

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The year I blinked and nearly missed it

So for most of 2013, my life felt like this:

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via 

It was a year that can be best described as messy – it was neither the best or worst year of my life (although the best thing that could have happened, did happen), but it was a year of constantly having to deal with something, in all areas of my life.  Health, work, kids, family, house, finances – I was constantly putting out fires or trying to avert disaster or cleaning up the mess when things did fall apart.  It felt like I was on a carnival ride, going around and around at full speed, and I couldn’t get off.

By the time I finished work for the year a couple of weeks ago, all I wanted to do was hide away from the world and pretend it didn’t exist.  Just for a little while.  Just enough time to breathe, re-set and restore.  But as we all know, life doesn’t work like that, and that’s when I knew that the key to living well wasn’t trying to avoid the chaos, but to find the peace amongst it.

This is a new concept for me – not one that is unfamiliar, as these are the words Paul wrote about learning to live with peace within any circumstances.  What’s new for me is actually living that out in my life, which is pretty much a 180 degree turn from my usual state of being.

With that in mind, I looked back over 2013 and found the beauty that I knew was there, that I couldn’t see at the time.  So in the blogging tradition of one year ticking over to another, here are my highlights of the year that was.

What I learned in 2013:

1. I am actually an introvert.  This was a HUGE revelation for me, and explained so much about my personality.  I never would have said that about myself, and I’m sure that the vast majority of people who know me would agree. But after taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, resulting in an INFJ type, discovering that I’m an introvert with extrovert elements to my personality made *so* much sense.

2. Further to finding out my MBTI type, I also discovered the Enneagram personality types.  I am an absolute, clear cut No. 9 (The Peacemaker), and the one single gem I took from the description was the difficulty in making choices and decision,and expressing and opinion, because of the ability to see the advantages and disadvantages of any option, and both sides of any argument.  This has really helped me in being intentional about reducing the options and choices in my life, because the less choice, the easier it is for me to make a decision.

3. I can be perceived as quite negative, which is never my intention, it comes from seeing both sides of a situation and expressing what I think might be a more ‘realistic’ point of view. And/or somewhat fatalistic. Which is often negative.  I’ve realised that this comes from my life experience, and feeling like nearly every thing goes wrong for me, therefore if I’m prepared for that, it won’t be as bad.  Optimisim hasn’t been my strong suit in life.

4. I actually can achieve goals I set for myself.  I’ve written before about how setting and achieving goals has never been one of my strong points, and I set out to change that last year.  I completed my first Whole30 (despite the fact that it took me 4 goes to start and actually finish), and I trained for and finished a 6.8km local fun run.  And I ran the whole way, without stopping.  Those two achievements have changed my outlook on what I can do in my life, and I have big plans for 2014!!!

5. The Whole30 challenge really showed me how much what I eat affects my health.  Dairy is the cause of my constant headaches.  Wheat (and actually grains in general) and sugar are like fuel to a fire when it comes to joint pain.  Eating clean is the best treatment for my arthritis, and the fleeting pleasure from eating what isn’t good for me just isn’t worth it.

6. Getting up at 5:00AM is awesome.  If I don’t have my quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up, my day inevitably goes pear-shaped.

7. I actually like and need structure and routine to my day.  Not down-to-the-second scheduling, but an outline of intention, with the ability to be flexible.

8. The biggest lesson for 2013?  God’s promises are always, always, always fulfilled.  Nearly 8 years ago God asked me to pray for my marriage to be restored, and promised that He would make the way for that to happen, and in 2013, it did.  My ex-husband asked me if we could start over again, and the rest is becoming our new history.

Favourite reads of 2013:

1. My hands-down favourite book last year was Emily Freeman’sA Million Little Ways‘.  Her words speak life and beauty into the every-day of living, that everything we do is art and we live as artists with every breath.  Go get a copy TODAY.

2. I discovered Andy Andrews, with ‘The Traveller’s Gift‘ and ‘The Noticer‘.  Beautiful, life-affirming words of wisdom and direction in both books, weaved into wonderfully told stories of people living life.

3. As always, anything from Jennifer Chiaverini.  I first ‘met’ the Elm Creek Quilters 14 years ago, and I feel like they’re old friends.  Her foray into historical fiction with the wonderful ‘Mrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker‘ did not disappoint.

4. Gary Thomas’ ‘Every Body Matters‘ absolutely helped me change the way I see my body and my health, seeing myself from God’s perspective rather than my own.  On my ‘to read again’ list for 2014.

Favourite movies of 2013:

This one, I’ve actually struggled to remember what I watched last year.  I watched a lot of movies in 2013, but the one that has embedded itself into my memory is ‘The Impossible’, the amazing true story of a family separated in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and their mission to find each other again in the resulting chaos.  It is quite graphic in nature, but very much in context, and a beautiful story of determination and hope.

Favourite music of 2013:

1. I discovered Mumford and Sons at the end of 2012, and they very quickly became woven into the soundtrack of my life.  The words, the sound, their soul, I love every. single. thing about these guys, and the gift that they bring.

2. Bethel Music.  They fill me with their words of the love and hope of Christ.  What more can I say?

3. More Than RubiesChrista Wells and Nicole Witt.  Love, love, love.  Times infinity.

And I’m still loving JJ Heller, Tenth Avenue North, Jesus Culture, and basically anything else that makes my heart sing.

Favourite blogs of 2013:

I almost feel like i shouldn’t be writing this list, because I know I’ll leave someone off!  But my absolute favourite, never-miss-a-post list for 2013;

Yarn Harlot

The Art of Simple

Tsh Oxenreider

Chatting At The Sky

Jeff Goins

Nesting Place

Modern Mrs Darcy

A Holy Experience

Another Mother Runner

(in)Courage

zenhabits

Naptime Diaries

Tiny Twig Goes Out On A Limb

Young House Love

Bits & Pieces

Simple Marriage

Inspired to Action

The Handmade Home

Michael Hyatt

ytravel

Allison Vesterfelt

The Clothes Make The Girl

Nom Nom Paleo

Favourite place visited in 2013:

Without a doubt, hands-down winner is our trip to the Flinders Ranges earlier this year.  Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe the beauty of the Ranges, and despite two blown out tyres, a trip to a tiny local hospital after my shin collided with a rock and a day spent avoiding bees, it was one of my favourite holidays ever.

2013-04-14 16.18.07

2013-04-14 16.18.11

2013-04-16 12.05.36

2013-04-16 12.07.15

2013-04-16 18.06.29

2013-04-18 08.13.04

2013-04-18 11.07.40

(Side note: One of my 2014 goals??  Working on my photography (and editing) skills…..)

For now, that’s it.  2013 has been put away for what it was, a year of learning and growth and insight.  Despite it being a difficult period of life, it has set me up for an awesome 2014, which is going to be The Best Year Ever.

Tell me, what will you remember 2013 for?  Good? Not-so-good? Lessons?  Highs and lows?  Come and share in the comments.

*Linking to Anne’s link up over at Modern Mrs Darcy with my favourite reads for 2013.

Hello, 2014

via news.com.au

So this is pretty much how I feel about my life right now.

Even though my arthritis is currently flaring up after being under control for 18 months.

Even though my shower decided to shed its tiles and I’m now looking at having to re-tile and furnish my bathroom on a virtually zero budget.

Even though my once never-have-to-question-its-security job isn’t so rock solid at this point in time.

Even though I’m facing the year ahead with  a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds in every area of my life.

Even though I feel like I really have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

Somehow, this all doesn’t matter.  And if you know me, you know that’s a big deal for me to say, because historically, I’m not very good at not letting all the ‘stuff’ of life overwhelm me.

But now?  Now is time for all that to change.

This post I wrote after completing The Nester’s 31 Days writing challenge sums up how I’ve felt and lived much of my adult life, and I know I’m not alone.  So many of my friends and other women I live life with feel the weight of not enough, of the expectation to do more, be more, to be everything everyone expects them to be.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of this being the soundtrack of my life, and I’m not listening to it anymore.

No more listening to the voice in my head that says ‘You can’t/ it won’t work/ you always fail/ you’re never good enough’ and so on and so on.

No more expecting to fail.

No more believing that dreams are for other people.

No more being distracted by what I don’t have and think I need.

No more giving up because it’s too hard/uncomfortable/boring.

No more, so I can live more.

Jesus came so that I can life this life of mine as wholly and completely and full-to-bursting as I can.  And I intend to grab it with both hands and shake out every last drop.

Every year at this time I go through the process of setting goals and think ‘this time it will be different’, but time and time again I get to December 31 and think ‘well that didn’t end well.  Again’.  This year, I’m taking a different tack.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take the time to be intentional about my intentions for the year ahead.  Not resolutions, not simply setting goals, but really looking at the changes I want to make in my life and being intentional about implementing them.

This is new for me, and one thing I’ve learnt in 2013 is that having someone to journey with and be accountable to is really effective when it comes to staying on track.  So I’m asking you, you dear, wonderful readers who spend some of your precious time reading these words of mine, to join me in this journey.  I don’t know exactly how yet, or what this whole process will look like, but if I can encourage and cheer on anyone willing to walk with me, then it would be my pleasure to be able to do that.

I would love it if you’d drop into the comments and tell me what it is that would make 2014 different for you, things you want to change or achieve or how you would be encouraged along the way.

2014.  It’s going to be awesome.