I did it!

Yesterday, I took my last photo for the Grateful 2016 book 🙂

The book is so full it won’t close. And it’s representative of the year which has been full to overflowing too! And as I flick through it’s pages, with dodgy polaroids, crossed out words and often indecipherable hand writing, I truly am grateful for 2016. It hasn’t been the easiest one, by far. It has challenged me, caused me to look at myself with stark honesty and it has shown me that, aside from God, I really am capable of nothing. He has sustained, comforted and been by my side through the adventure of this year.

And as I look down the barrel of 2017, there are things on the horizon that scare me, things that I know will bring me joy and plenty of ‘normal’ life in-between. Perfect 🙂

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Remember me?

Gosh, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I was here! I’m going to blame uni for the absence….that and some big changes for us work wise 🙂

Yesterday I sat my first and final exam for my first semester at uni *cue big sigh of relief. Whilst it has taken up my spare time, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m already looking forward to March when I’ll do another two subjects.

Now that I have a little bit more time, I thought I’d get back into posting my Grateful Book entries every day. And check out the book now! It won’t even close, it’s that full 🙂14804937_10211000219778283_1388735858_n

So stay tuned for another post tonight with today’s gratefulness 🙂

Day 85-87

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Grateful.

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:44

Grateful.

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull. Here they crucified him… John 19:17,18

Grateful.

…Jesus said, It is finished. With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

Grateful.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

Grateful.

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Day 7 – the cool breeze

After a hot and humid day, the cool afternoon breeze that played over my skin as I watered the veggies was like a song from heaven. 

Obviously, it’s pretty hard to get a photo of the breeze. With a Polaroid camera. In the late afternoon. So this one will have to do. I do like the gradient blue of the sky though ☺️

 

Day 5 – my girl’s heart

Today I am grateful for my 12 year old’s serving heart. All Most of the time, she is only too pleased to help. Just yesterday, she cleaned and tidied the kitchen till it sparkled, without being asked.

And today, while I was working and she wandered into the office, bored, I flippantly said that she could write the week’s menu and shopping list if she needed something to do. The next time she came in, she was holding a completed menu and asking what ingredients were needed for the meals she’d planned out.

She thrives on being organised (she didn’t get that from me) and absolutely loves being given a job to do and finishing it. Today, while I was feeling annoyed at being back at my desk, her generosity and willingness to help with something that she knew I needed to have done lifted my spirits and brightened my day.

She’s a treasure 🙂

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Day 4 – the sweet, sweet rain

We’ve had unseasonably cool (ish) weather for this time of year and we are definitely not complaining. Today was mainly overcast with some lovely, welcomed rain falling this afternoon. I don’t know many people who don’t love the rain; it’s biggest drawback for me is that it makes me want to snuggle up on the couch with a book or a movie and drink copious amounts of tea, coffee and wine instead of doing my work 🙂

It was nice not to have to water our little veggie patch today and instead watch it almost instantly turn a shade greener. And I’m especially grateful for all the rain that is falling on our drought stricken areas of late. Our farmers certainly deserve some kindness from our earth and it’s weather right now.

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Day 3 – that man o’ mine

(Disclaimer: this is the first but it won’t be the last, mushy post about my husband. I incur his wrath every time I write about him but hey, I like to live on the wild side.)

Today, as most days, I woke up to the question “And how’s the most beautiful woman in the world this morning?” Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder that’s for sure! But it was the question that followed shortly after that really made me grateful for him today because it had the word ‘bacon’ in it. Yep, a lazy Sunday brunch cooked for me was definitely welcomed today 🙂

Later, we decided to go for a quick drink, or ‘pint’ as I now like to say after my England trip. After visiting four places that were closed, yes, you read that right, we found a nice corner table in a pub and had a paddle of beer each, nicely complemented by some sweet potato chips.

This man is someone who frequently tops my grateful list 🙂

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This Christmas season

My daughter was curious after hearing a teacher say they have a different ‘theme and colour’ for Christmas every year. We don’t do this in our home, so the concept was entirely new to her and she wasn’t sure what it meant. Once I explained that it involved getting new decorations each year, she said, “So you don’t use the same ones each year? I don’t like that at all. Getting out the old Christmas decorations is like opening a box of memories every year.” Ah, yes, I’ve definitely passed on my sentimentality gene!

Memories are slippery things and we often need a prompt to set our minds off wandering the past, don’t we? When I was in England recently with my dad and sister, I heard so many stories I hadn’t heard before from my dad simply because there were other people prompting incidents and activities from his childhood or teenage years. And it was wonderful. One of my uncle’s in particular, having been in the Navy for a lot of his working life, has many, many stories and it just took a word or line of conversation to trigger his memory about a particular (usually hilarious!) thing that happened.

Memories are great because they remind us who we are and they remind us of those we’ve travelled life with. They are a two edged sword though, aren’t they? Some memories that are triggered bring a wave of sadness, of remorse, or of regret.

In light of the recent happenings in Europe and other countries where lives have been senselessly lost, this Christmas will be hard for so many people, with memories both intensely painful and achingly sweet.

And it will be hard for people we know, our neighbours and our friends who have been touched by loss and grief this year or years gone by. We need to remember that each person we meet has wounds; some that are fresh and real, some that have scarred and healed but are still very much felt.

Let’s treat each other with gentleness and kindness as we rush about cooking, cleaning, buying and wrapping presents. Let’s aim at having some empathy for those we come into contact with, remembering that a smile can hide a world of pain. And if you’re the one who is suffering loss at this time, if this Christmas is especially hard because of who won’t be there, treat yourself with kindness too. Give yourself the same space and understanding as you would a friend.

Each Christmas when we celebrate and spend time together, we’re not only making new memories, we’re consolidating the old ones and engendering a greater sense of fellowship as family and friends; a greater connection to each other as all being innately human.

This Christmas season, let’s be mindful of those whose memories are difficult to manage and help make some good memories for them in the midst of their pain.

One or many

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Last night on the Gold Coast, a 16 year old lost his life to fatal stab wounds.

On the same night, the terror attacks on Paris. Many lives lost and the complete (and certainly justified) outrage and horror that then ensued on social media was inescapable. Meanwhile, a teenage boy is murdered and there is no noise.

The pain of loss knows no circumstances. The loss of one among many or the loss of one only is the same for those who mourn them. Grief, such an intimate and acutely personal reality, is not lessened because of a collective majority. Grief is grief. Loss is loss.

Those who love the 16 year old from the Gold Coast are right now going through the same anguish as those who’ve lost loved ones in Paris.

There’s been such an outpouring of support for France – declarations on social media about not hating Muslims, changing profile pictures to reflect the French flag. What does any of that really do?

It was the same after the Syrian refugee crisis. So much ‘love’ on social media. “We’ll accept them!” was the cry. Yet many in our own countries, cities, suburbs, remained homeless, unfed and unnoticed, despite our fervent proclamations of generosity and goodwill to our fellow man.

Instead of thinking so ‘big’, how about we start thinking ‘small’. Personally, I can do nothing that will actually alleviate the pain of those in France. But I can take flowers round to the elderly lady who recently lost her husband of 60 years and sit and listen to her memories. I can pick up groceries and have a coffee with the friend who’s recovering from a miscarriage. I can listen to the heartache of the loss of a marriage. I can stop and buy a homeless person a meal. I can buy hygiene products for women on the streets. I can support the mother standing by her child in court. I can visit a lonely neighbour. I can do a million and one things right here.

It’s easy to change your profile picture, to write a status update of support. Harder to get our hands dirty, stand alongside people and quite literally feel their pain with them.

It’s time we stopped being conscious of what our online presence looks like and start focussing on the very people we are surrounded by every day. We need to change our thinking, not our profile picture. The pain of that family at the Gold Coast is the same pain felt in France. The distress of the Syrian refugees is the same as the mother in Brisbane with nowhere for her children to sleep at night.

We are capable of so much more than simply showing virtual support. Let’s start showing it.

Father’s Day thanks

Recently, it was the 60th anniversary of my parent’s first date. They were 15 and 16 years old and went to the cinema to see Carousel. To celebrate the occasion, my father surprised my mother with flowers, her favourite chocolates and a DVD of the movie, which they spent the afternoon enjoying together.

I was blessed to grow up enfolded in this 60 year love affair. One of my memories is of my father buying my mother an orchid flower every week for what seemed years. My mother, home cook extraordinaire, was constantly cooking his favourite everything. They never miss an opportunity to hold hands or say something wonderful about the other. I never once, to this day, have heard one of them say something degrading about the other, regardless of whether the other one was out of earshot or not.

I learnt a lot about myself as a woman and what it meant to be a wife and mother from my father. It might seem strange that I didn’t say mother there but here’s the thing – from my father I learnt my intrinsic worth and value by watching how he treated my mother. From my mother I learnt many other things but what to expect from a man, how I deserve to be treated and valued was taught by my father. He taught me that mothering was of huge importance by appreciating all my mother did in the home. He never saw her role as ‘less than’ simply because she didn’t go out to work. He never questioned ‘what she did all day’ or diminish the countless, often thankless, jobs she did to keep the household with five children just nine years apart, running smoothly. My father taught me that I could be and do anything – that gender was no barrier.

We learn so much from our fathers. And more often, we learn the things that aren’t directly said or done to us. My father never sat me down and told me how much he loved my mother or how much he appreciated her, he didn’t need to. I could see it and feel it.

Like I said, I know I had what many would describe as an idyllic childhood, although it wasn’t perfect, it was wonderful. And I know that many, many people don’t have the childhood I had; sadly, many fathers are less than ideal and some cause much more harm than good. And because of this, we often downplay the importance of fathers or father-figures in society.

So this is a shout-out to all the great fathers out there this Father’s Day. To the fathers who didn’t have great fathers to model on but are turning it around for the next generation, to the fathers who value their wives and mothers, to the fathers who are teaching their girls to fish and play soccer and letting their sons ‘do their hair’ or supporting them in the arts. To all the fathers out there who are just doing a damn fine job of doing the best they can.

You are important. You are teaching your children more than you will ever realise. And one day, they will thank you.

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Dad, for my past, my present and my future – thank you. Love you longtime x