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 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 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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Three wishes: what would they be?

If you had three wishes, what would they be? Would they have been different when you were younger? Do you think they will change as you get older? How about when you were around 11 years old? What would they have been?

My 11 year old’s teacher asked this question of them recently at school. It then went around the class with each student responding with what their three wishes would be.

When she was telling me about it, I really did not expect what she said next. “Apart from me and two others, everyone said they wanted an unlimited amount of money.” One child even followed this up by saying it was what he wanted because then he would be happy.

I was staggered. And deeply saddened. What on earth are we, as parents, teaching our children?

This school has a fairly high percentage of white collar parents, so it’s not a case of underprivileged children wanting money because of a real need. And even having said that, I wonder what the answer to that question would be from a different socio-economic demographic – quite possibly it would be these kids who would demonstrate a better understanding of what brings satisfaction and happiness in life.

When I was 11, I think my answer would have been something along the lines of 1) a new Barbie doll 2) another pet 3) that my brother would disappear, or at the very least leave me alone!

Yet, the majority of these children said money was on the top of their list and that if they had money, they had no need of the other two wishes. What a terrible insight into this future generation.

Do these children have this view on money because their parents emphasise the need for more and more money? Or is it the media, constantly telling us that we need the latest of everything? Or is it social media, which gives a first hand insight into other’s lives and ‘all they have’ compared to us? It’s most likely a combination of all three but I would be willing to bet that how their parents view money would weigh as the most influential.

Kids pick up on everything we do, say and show – even when we don’t realise it and especially when we don’t want them to!

Do you constantly say you don’t have enough money? Do you show how much you value money by working extra hours on the job and spending less time at home? Do you have to have what your friends have and throw a two year old tantrum if you don’t get it?

As parents or care-givers, we need to be checking ourselves. We are still the loudest voice in their world and it very much matters what we say.

Have you ever heard of someone on their deathbed saying they wish they’d made more money? What they do say is they wish they’d spent more time with family; valued the friendships they’d had; and enjoyed life.

Let’s not wait until it’s too late to realise what our ‘wishes’ should be and let’s help our children recognise the right things to value, now rather than later or not at all.

Support

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Friis Photography

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Friis Photography

Just the other day, as my husband was preparing to cook tea, and, being the amazing wife that I am, I offered to help.

No thanks, was his response. I replied, Are you sure? I have nothing else to do.

He then said, Um, you never have ‘nothing to do’ – GO AND WRITE.

So, as I went and switched on my laptop, poured the obligatory ‘writing’ glass of wine, and settled myself at my little desk, I said a prayer of thankfulness for the amount of support that surrounds me.

I am fully aware of so many people who are chasing their dreams on their own, either physically or emotionally.  These people have my utmost respect. It’s hard enough following your dreams when you have a whole team behind you, let alone when you have no one in your corner.

I don’t always have the courage, the motivation or the confidence to keep working at my dreams but what I lack, my husband gives me. And if he is busy with his own life, one of my super great children will remind me to write, or say something that gives me what I need to keep putting fingers to keys.

We need people barracking for us from the sidelines. We need people who can see the finish line, even if our view of it is obstructed by other runners on the track. We need people who know when we need to talk through all our insecurities about our project, and when we just need a stern talking to and a firm push in the right direction.

Essentially, we need people around us who won’t give up and who won’t let us give up…oh and maybe one who cooks tea while you do it too 😉

Feeling ‘bah humbug’ this Christmas?

You probably know by now that I love Christmas. I love the rush, the entertaining, the present wrapping, the buzz in the air. I love it all.

My husband, though, being not so keen on the rush and busyness of the season, was lamenting it’s excess and the fact that most of the time, the reason for the season is not even mentioned.

It’s true, isn’t it? Christmas in the western world is a time of excess. We spend too much, eat too much, drink too much, and the whole point of Christmas gets lost along the way, if it’s even remembered at all. It can be hard to see how any of what we currently do at Christmas time has any relationship to what happened in that stable over 2000 years ago.

So, how do we get around that if we want to remember the real reason we celebrate it but not boycott the whole event?

I’m not sure what the answer is for each individual but here’s how I look at it.

When we rush around looking for that perfect gift for a loved one, we are honouring the gift humanity was given on the first Christmas.

When we worry if there is enough food or that the meat is overcooked, we are demonstrating we care about the people we are feeding and want to give them the best there is.

When we make up another bed on the lounge room floor, we are opening our home and showing love to others – something that the person who was born at Christmas talked a bit about.

When we don’t sit down all day because we are on our feet ensuring everyone has enough drinks and food, we are serving others – another thing that the same person talked a bit about.

When we go on a mad cleaning frenzy in preparation for our guests, we are really saying that their comfort and giving them pleasant surroundings is important to us.

We can find the real meaning of Christmas in everything we do if we look at it a different way. It’s all honouring the greatest gift giver of all.

For those who feel bothered by the over-commercialism, the tinsel, the secular emphasis on a fat man in a red suit, try shifting your focus and instead of grumbling and lamenting the lack of acknowledgement of the real reason for the season, embrace the festivities.

What better way to say thank you for the ultimate gift we were given than loving, serving, laughing and thoroughly enjoying ourselves?

Clearing out and the space it leaves

If you read the last post, you’ll remember that I cleared out the spare room and it’s now my space to write and ponder the universe in.

While in the middle of the changing around, my youngest daughter poked her head in the doorway and asked what I was doing and with a ‘huh’ left after I told her the answer.

A little while later, when it was all set up, she came back and this is how the conversation went.

Her: “Oh! This room is cool!”

Me: “Yep. I’m pretty happy with it.”

Her: “When I wake up early or any other time, and you’re not in here, can I come in here?”

Me: “No.”

Her: “Why not?!?!”

Me: “Because it’s my space and I set it all up.”

Her: “That is totally unfair. [and said as she walked off] When I’m an adult, I’m going to have MY own space and no-one will be allowed in!”

I chuckled to myself, thinking, ‘Well, you have a whole room to yourself right now!’

I told my husband later and he immediately saw the parallel with life.

Sometimes, we see what other people have in their lives and want what they have. What we don’t always see is the hard work, the rearranging, the sweat, the decisions, the effort of moving things around. We just see a great room and we want to move in.

And sometimes we can see it midway and not see it’s potential. It’s only after we see it complete that we think it’s worth anything.

It’s easy to look at others and be jealous of their ‘special spaces’ and wonder why they can have that and we can’t. All the while, we miss the point that if we too put in the same amount of effort, we could have what they have. It may look different, rearranged in it’s own unique pattern but it will be ours and it will be special.

And we will have the satisfaction of knowing we did it ourselves and that’s it was our hard work that gave us what we have. Isn’t that far better than walking into something already finished?