live brave

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. – e.e. cummings

I’m sitting here, at my desk and the washing machine is whirring in the background.
The lights are on this morning because it’s overcast—a tiny taste of autumn that I know we won’t see much of until later in the month, it often stays hot all through March and into April here.
I’ve been scrolling through photos from last night’s intimate book launch.
Amanda and I gathered our respective circles, and we celebrated with pancakes and champagne. (You can get a copy of our little book here.)

And today I woke up in awe of humanity.
Some of our friends toasted to our braveness and vulnerability last night.
And it does take courage to produce, create and deliver something into the world—but when I was speaking to that circle last night I wanted to applaud them all for being brave too.
It takes courage to do a whole lot of things.

I was thinking about one of our friends who’s considering going back to University to study teaching—he’s done his fair share of brave, and this is another big leap.
I was thinking about a precious woman and her marriage that she’s been fighting for for years, making the brave decision to lay down the fight.
I was thinking about the courageous ones who are working on their own manuscripts, facing their own past to bring healing into the world with their words.
I was thinking about the ones who wake up in darkness, and struggle to shift it throughout their day, but they soldier on, bravely, for their families.
Then there’s the woman who’s embarked on her own business, invested every penny and worked around the clock—it doesn’t look like it’s taken much, but she’s given it everything she has and I salute her too.
I was thinking about the ones who have bravely laid down their own dreams, sacrificed or delayed their plans, for someone else in this season.
There is so much brave in the world.
There are so many who have walked night seasons, who know struggle and pain and continue to get up and embrace the fresh mercies of a new day.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that some faith traditions acknowledge as the beginning of the ancient Lent season. A period of repentance, and fasting, and recognising our deep and always-failing humanity, and waiting expectantly for Hope to arrive.
Alicia Britt Chole, in my favourite Lenten devotional 40 Days of Decrease, says in Day 1:
I invite you to consider Lent as less of a project and more of a sojourn. A sojourn is a “temporary stay at a place.” And a “stay” is about presence, not productivity.

Regardless of whether you acknowledge Lent or not, I think ‘Embracing Slow’ is always a good idea.
Presence over productivity.

Going against the grain is never comfortable, but comfortable doesn’t require bravery.
Are you purposing to slow over this season?

xx

embracing slow: a journey of unhurried grace

What does it mean to embrace slow, in a world that glorifies busy?
How do you stop and fill your hurried soul, in the midst of the demands and pressures of all the responsibility that you carry?
I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus held the key, when he spoke to Martha.
She was a woman just like you and I—concerned with outward appearance, laying awake at 2am wondering how she could tick everything off her to-do list, and resenting anyone who wasn’t hustling as hard as she was.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.” Luke 10:38-42 TPT


Making a practice of stopping and sitting at His feet is the key.
How often do you sit down attentively to the Master?
To stop and still, and hear his voice, refusing to be pulled in every direction?
To listen to your breaths. To brew your tea leaves and wait until the flavours steep into the hot water.
To pull up a yoga mat and practice.
All of it is practice; the hearing, the stilling, the daily discipline.

This is the heart of a devotional book that Amanda Viviers and I have written and compiled together.
We’re releasing it in time for Lent, so that in the lead up to Easter we can intentionally slow together—but it can be read and used at any time of year.
We’ve left space for you to reflect and scribble. We’ve added Bible verses for you to go and explore.
It’s a beautiful compilation of stories and thoughts on slowing down in our every day, and we are praying that it helps lift the eyes and still the hearts of every reader that goes on the Embracing Slow journey.

So, keep your eyes on our socials for the release date and links to our online shops.

I’m so excited.

xx

ink on paper: having and holding real photos

It’s a funny thing, this technological world we live in today.
How mostly our insides are lived on the outside, so they don’t resemble insides very much anymore.
The public sphere trumps all of the spheres and we’re bombarded with the pressure of identity creation, and content production.
All this, swirling around in my thoughts for months doesn’t have a lot to do with todays post, or it has everything to do with it. (And I am quite aware of the irony that all those swirling inner thoughts are shared out here, in the public sphere!)

Last year I spent months cleaning up my iPhone’s camera roll. I haven’t had a new phone in about five years, so it was full – full of blurred shots I should have deleted, screenshots of recipes I’d never tried and just a whole bunch of junk really. So every now and then I’d sit down and delete a few hundred, keeping only the good ones. It took ages, just going through slowly whenever I had a minute or two.

Then I backed them all up, moved them off onto my external hard drive.
Which felt like a feat in itself, but now what?
Five years worth of photos sitting inside a little rectangular piece of metal.

Printing.
I’m a big fan of print anything. Books, magazines, photos—they’re all better in their non glossy, tangible, dog-earable form. I wrote this article a couple of years ago, about printing photo books, which, to be honest I haven’t really done a whole heap more of. Other than calendars for the grandparents every year, I haven’t printed much at all.

Until I realised that all those memories were going to be stuck in the dark and bottomless land of the digital unless I did something about it – and made it easier for myself to do continue to do that something again and again.
That something was a photo book, which should hit my letterbox soon, and I can’t wait!
It’s full of 2018’s best memories, both from my real camera and from my iPhone.

And I’m developing a system, where I archive all my photos, iPhone included, into a folder to make it easier to print the coming year’s photos into a book. I’m also trying to name them instead of leaving them generic, so that I can find what I’m looking for on a whim.

Then, I decided that wasn’t good enough, that I need to start printing and framing for my walls.
So I started with two.
I’ve never really been that person that has family photos on the walls, but I would like to try to be at least a little bit like her.
So I found a disc with my wedding photos, found the one photo of all of them that I actually like (they are actually all horrible, I hate them!) edited it so that it was in black and white, and sent that one and a photo from our holiday off to Fred Snow for printing.

OH MY GOODNESS.
My prints are stunning. The texture is so beautiful I was hesitant to hide them behind the frames.
But frame them I did—thank you Ikea—and they have made me so, so happy. The biggest is from our recent trip north, and the spot we climbed down and snorkelled, the five of us all together in this secluded bay at Sandy Cape. And as we climbed out we’d spotted a sea lion who’d come to see what all the fuss was about!

They’re sitting alongside a beautiful print of the ocean at Gracetown by my crazy-talented bestie. Then there’s an original watercolour that was painted especially for me by an incredibly talented artist I’m thankful to know – it came with a timely word of prophecy that I’ll never forget. The framed print of sunset at Cottesloe has the Indiana in the background, which was our wedding venue – it was a gift from my parents for our first wedding anniversary. And my inky words—reminding me that this little two-man team I’m in is the greatest in the world.

Now, it feels a little bit more like home, a little bit more like us.

All of that to say: lets take photos to capture memories, not just for the sole purpose of sharing them online. Print them, frame them—share them—let your memories escape your phone camera roll.

xx

create beyond fear

Toward the end of last year I’d found time to journal more often.
My love for writing was returning, after losing it in the midst of two years of slogging out essays, assignments and news articles.
The ease of sharing with the world, however, wasn’t returning with it.
I felt again, stuck and stupid.
I’d wrestle with my longing to write and share, ultimately concluding that there was already too much white noise in these online spaces, that there’s no room for my voice, and that others can articulate ideas so much better so why bother, and who even cares.
If I’m honest, I’ll tell you I still have to shush those lies almost on the daily.
I’m much kinder to others: wholeheartedly believing that they have a story to tell, that there is room at the table for them.
It’s about time I spoke just as kindly to myself, and stopped allowing seeds to doubt to grow.

The ten-year-challenge roaming the internet (where you post side by side images of you ten years ago and now) remind me of just how far I’ve come.
Despite that, I feel seventeen and thirty all at once; I know there are parts of me that have grown—parts that are sure, carefree and unconcerned about the thoughts of others—and parts that still want to be seen by the cool kids.

I think being brave with our lives is extraordinary. And extraordinarily terrifying.
Not just for those of us who dare to take up space in an online world of perfectly curated Instagram feeds, but for those who walk out hard days, hard marriages, difficult decisions and every day life, and just keep showing up. On the daily.

And being brave with our lives means that people like me—the quiet ones, the wall flowers, the background ninjas—we have to stop waiting for permission to be granted like some great golden gift bestowed by someone at the very head of the hierarchy. (You loud, audacious, party people don’t have to wait for permission either!)
We don’t need anyone’s permission to be wholly, uncompromisingly ourselves.
I love these verses from Romans 12:

If your grace-gift is serving, then thrive in serving others well. If you have the grace-gift of teaching, then be actively teaching and training others. If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others. If you have the grace-gift of giving to meet the needs of others, then may you prosper in your generosity without any fanfare. If you have the gift of leadership, be passionate about your leadership. And if you have the gift of showing compassion, then flourish in your cheerful display of compassion.
Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another, and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous.”

If your grace-gift is dance, then may you dance with wild abandon.
If your grace-gift is writing, then may you scribe the poetry of heaven.
If your grace-gift is music, then may you hear a new song and sing a new tune.
If your grace-gift is food, then may you delight in the kitchen, and be surrounded at the dinner table.

Whatever it is you have, you can bring. We are all called to push boundaries, to pioneer new days, and to come to take our place at the table, or on the dance floor, or behind our computer screens and offer our gifts without apology.

This year I’ll be writing without apology.
Without comparison, without wondering if anyone’s even reading.
Writing because of my need to write, and because my love of words is stronger than my need to impress or captivate.
Because I’m brave enough to come and offer what I have.

May you offer your grace-gift to the world too, there is room for all of us.

xx

just rest

Our gingerbread houses were a little bit crooked but piled high with all the good stuff.
We cast votes on the strongest gingerbread house, or the most liveable, or the tastiest, or the most creative.
Today, on Christmas Eve we’ve cracked them open, breaking off pieces to eat.
Our lead-up-to-Christmas traditions are done and dusted today, the advent calendar is finished and the anticipation for Christmas day is almost over.

We broke out the Christmas tree early this year, mid-November, and the kids berated us a week later for making it feel close to Christmas when actually it was too far away.
I tried to explain that the anticipation of something is often better than the reality.

Yes, our Christmas day will be filled with family time and good food and presents (because lets be honest that’s what they’re really anticipating) – but the lead up to Christmas is so much better.
It’s a daily reminder that something good is coming. In expectation of the greatest gift, we walk out our days in wonder of this season – full of drives around streets with Christmas lights, baking, playing our favourite carols and choosing the perfect gift for our favourite people.

I have the same expectation of 2019 – and the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is how to walk in wonder in the midst of the not yet. To be grateful for the days we have now, to find joy in what I hold in my hand in this moment, and to see the good in what’s right in front of me. I know there are gifts coming, there are answered prayers coming, but I’m learning not to let that knowing, that expectation, steal joy from my every day.

What I’m believing and hoping for will one day come.
But right now, I can be content in what I already have, without having to acknowledge the missing or the broken.
It is the simplest mindset shift, but one that has brought so much rest.

Rest in the anticipation.
Rest in a good God, who doesn’t hold out on us.
Rest in gratitude for the right here, right now.
Rest from striving, from the hustle, from the doing-in-order-to-gain.

I’ll be reminding myself in 2019.
It’s okay, it’s all going to be okay.
Just rest.

Merry Christmas.

xx

the broken, the unseen

Yesterday, I posted a photo on Instagram that, when I checked in again later, had received more likes than any of my recent posts.
It was a happy photo taken weeks ago, of me with a perfect fringe and a hot cup of tea in my manicured hands. And my caption was all good news! Because I had good news and I did really just want to share it with the world.

In that moment, I was grateful. So grateful that I’d received word that I was eligible to graduate university (see?! Good news!). Grateful that my kids nailed this year at school, and kind of awestruck that I’d just been given the gift of an amazing woman’s first book – she signed me as her editor!

I’m not downplaying any of that news – but later, after I snapped at one of my kids, with a cold that I’ve not been able to shake for almost two weeks and is e x h a u s t i n g while wearing my dirty active wear and my frizzy fringe pinned back I felt this twinge of guilt.
I’d just shared this incredible highlight on my Instagram – but it in no way encompassed a complete picture of my life. It can’t – I’m so aware that it can’t.

It was a reminder again, that what we see online is like looking through a keyhole. We see only what we can through a tiny window, but there are other rooms in there completely invisible to us. Other struggles. Ugliness. There are uneven edges on the shortbread, messy and imperfect (but completely adorable) salt dough ornaments that are far from Pinterest-worthy.

Most of the time these rooms, these spaces in our lives aren’t kept as secrets, but they’re kept private. Visible only to the ones who come through the door and sit in those spaces with us.

This month after I got some bad news, my friend arrived at my house with wine and chocolate. She told me she was ‘dropping in’ – but she lives almost an hour away! Yet she drove all the way to sit in one of those rooms, invisible to the public, but completely accessible to her.
About a week later, she patiently witnessed a little tantrum I had with tears and all, hugged me big and loves me still. Another space that was too sacred to be presented to the world.

All that to say that not all of my life is my highlight reel.
BUT I am learning not to dwell and focus on what is missing and what is broken.

The other day I read this verse in Micah that says,
The breaker [the Messiah, who opens the way] shall go up before them [liberating them]. They will break out, pass through the gate and go out; so their King goes on before them, the Lord at their head.*

I sat, feeling in my bones that brokenness is the way to breakthrough.
Sometimes what’s difficult in our lives is exactly what’s needed to break through, to bust out, and to liberate us.

There is much, much in my life that is not right.
There is so much that I’m hoping for, so many anxieties that I’m trying to lay down, so much of what’s ahead is unknown.
But I hold on to the hope that I’ll be liberated from the things that feel binding,
break out knowing a King goes before me,
and I trust that it’s all going to be okay.

And while I wait, I’ll celebrate every victory.

xx

the worst habit in the world

I recognised recently this thing that I do that needs to stop.
It’s called self-deprecating and I didn’t really even know I’d been doing it.

See, I finished university last Thursday.
Like, completely and utterly finished the double degree I’ve been working at finishing circa 2013.
My friends and my husband and my kids have watched me dedicate myself to finishing, watched me complete my final two years full time, watched me juggle study with family, with ministry, with life.
And they’re proud. Because I am surrounded by friends who get proud when their friends achieve things. They’re so proud.
In all the congratulatory messages and love and gifts (seriously, gifts, I have amazing friends!), I’ve shown gratitude. And yes, there was part of me that was relieved and proud.
However the one stand-out thought that just kept rising above the others was, yeah but so what?
I don’t even have a job yet.

Hang on a second.

After few days it dawned on me.
I’d just achieved something.
Actually achieved something measurable, and tangible.
I finished a university degree, with a double major, full time, while raising children and being married and living life… yet all I could see was what’s missing, what’s lacking and what’s broken in my world.

There was something wrong with my perspective.

And upon reflecting these last few days I’ve realised that it’s this self-deprecating thing that I do, that I’ve always done, is because in my mind nothing ever measures up to the standard I have, or compares with what someone else is doing. Always the thought, yeah it’s okay, but have you seen what they’ve achieved?! Have you seen how amazing their life is?

So I decided to take a different look.
I looked at my life as if it was someone else’s for a moment, and I saw it so differently…

Wow. She just finished university, and she walked that journey with so much grace and courage and determination. She didn’t quit when it got hard, and she persevered and managed her time like a freakin’ boss!
Not only that, but you know, she’s been leading the women’s ministry at her church as a volunteer for four years. She hasn’t made excuses for her lack of qualification, or skills, she just let her passion to see women living their best life drive her to run events, and expand vision, and shared her heart for Jesus.
Did you know she even preached the Sunday sermon back to back at both morning services at church on Mother’s Day? What you might not know is that in between services she cried and didn’t want to get back up there again, in front of the entire congregation, but she pulled up her big girl undies and did it anyway!

Did you know that she’s been editing books for people on the side this year?
Not only that but she just last month was approached to edit an amazing book and is getting paid to do it?!

Not only that, but she’s grown so much in her photography that she’s shot FIVE weddings this year! As in, been asked to be the photographer. I’m not even kidding.

That girl, the one I’ve just written about.
She’s actually pretty incredible.

She’s freaking out about the next season, she’s wondering where God is in it all, she’s still hoping and waiting for the right job (but, when you see her, please tell her to calm her farm, she’s only been finished uni for 5 days).
But she needs to stop playing down her accomplishments and start owning all she is, and all she’s becoming.

I think we all do.
There will always be that which is missing, or lacking, or broken.

The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters! *

We need to be standing on tiptoe – maybe that’s what it takes to be able to see the good, or the achievements amidst what is hard, or stretching. But do it, stand on tiptoe; to see your own growth, achievements, met-goals, and also to cheer on the people in your circle.
Watch them be unveiled, and celebrate their successes, even while you wait for your own.

xx

* Romans 8:19