We continue: a non New Year

I’ve always been a lover of fresh starts:
The first coffee of a day full of promise, a new library book, the empty pages of a pristine journal, any Monday – that magical day of the week where a new me begins.
Then there’s the threshold of a shiny new year.
This year though, I’ve no patience for platitudes espousing the charm of the New Year; this sudden turning of the calendar that will somehow fill me with enough motivation to spend the next 365 days fixing, overhauling, primping and becoming.

Maybe it’s just that the lightness of these new years sentiments are too cliché for the heaviness that runs beneath my skin. Beneath our collective skin.

So this year, I’m showing up without grandeur.
Instead of a day to start over, to begin again, I’ll just carry on.
In all of the tiny, quiet ways that matter the most.

Let’s see what happens when we remember that mercies are new every morning.
What would happen if, instead of relying on a fleeting sparkle at midnight (as romantic as that sounds!) we continued in our small steps forward, creating ripples in the future we can’t yet see.

What if we don’t need permission from the pages of a calendar to keep moving toward goodness.
What if we grabbed hold of the mercies that are a heartbeat away?
What if we didn’t need to start afresh, but to simply continue.
What could our year look like if we just continued to show up in all of the unassuming ways that really matter?

I think it’s always been the quiet places within us that beg for our attention, amidst the world’s hustle, its harshness, its hurt.
What if we continued to show up, and kept going, carried on?
What if we didn’t break stride in our journey toward freedom, and resumed the good work of healing the wounds below our skin – facing them and bringing them into places of Light.
What if we just carried on, holding tight and trusting in the God who is writing a greater narrative across our lives. Even when things don’t make sense in the moment. Even in the wrestle.
And then we continue.
Continue to hope, to hold fast, to show up in tiny miraculous ways;
a breath of prayer,
a word of kindness,
a held tongue,
a brave no,
a patient surrender. Again.
Continue, again.

Not in a grandiose approach, but in the daily surrender, and the everyday ordinary.
In the curling up on the old worn couch, in serving my family in all of the daily mundane holy ways. I’ll show up in a run by the river and in the snatched prayer of a taxi-mum, and the late night whispers of encouragement over my husband. I’ll continue the welcome home to messy community around our dining table and the lunchbreak phone calls to the trusted friend, and the neighbourhood bike rides with my daughters.
I’ll keep praying, running, reading, writing, loving, serving, bringing. Walking toward goodness.
Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s not Monday, or January.

So, today, on the first day of a new year, I begin simply by carrying on.

xx




Go ahead: a word for 2020

Every morning since about October, I’ve been getting up early, propping up my pillows and reaching for my Bible and my journal. I’m not going to lie, some mornings I scroll Facebook more than I read (until today, when I deleted the app from my phone!), or I scribble down all those morning words and not read at all.
When I finally finished the book of Job in my One Year Bible reading app (that I’ve been working through for almost two years now) and hit Proverbs, it completely held my attention. I haven’t missed a day.
Okay God, I’m listening.
Wisdom, personified as Lady Wisdom has my imagination on overdrive!
Imagine, Lady Wisdom, dancing across eternity, before the beginning of time, watching as God “hung the tapestry of the heavens and stretched out the horizon of the earth” she was there, “close to the Creator’s side as his master artist.”*
Wisdom, I’m pursuing you this year.

So, yesterday morning was no different. I heard my husband up and about and busy getting ready for work. I rolled and stretched as I heard him turn the coffee machine on, and then I blearily sat to prop up my pillows for the first time this year. I was ready to write a 2020 manifesto of sorts, ready to write the vision and make it plain, ready to put some goals and ideas on paper.

Opening my Bible to Proverbs Chapter 16 I was wonderstruck.

“Go ahead and make all the plans you want, but its the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps…
Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself.
Then every plan you make will succeed.” **

Do you ever just know when something or someone is telling you something?
Like, when something you were oblivious to before suddenly becomes something you see everywhere?

The timing of this verse was divinely orchestrated coincidence—a confirmation of His voice.
The reminder I needed that was as simple as the PUSH sign on a heavy glass door. Approaching the door your eyes are darting all around to find the way, so you don’t look like an idiot in front of people when you get to the door and pull instead of push. You find the little sign as you get there and glide right through with relief.

This verse was that for me. I knew there was a way for 2020, I just hadn’t worked it out just yet.
Until I read those verses, that sign. I can walk through the doors now and know I’m not going to get it wrong.
I’m not going to be embarrassed before the eyes of anyone watching me, because I know the way now.

Before you do anything.
Before you make a move.
Before you speak.
Before you accept.
Before you plan.
Before you give up.
Before your best yes.
Before you rise, move, sign, write, abandon, begin, decide…

Put your trust in God.

So, I’m going ahead in 2020.
I’m going to make all the plans, but I won’t be putting my trust in myself—I don’t even know which way to open a glass door, why would I put trust in myself?
I’m going to trust in the One who goes before me, who knows all the things, and who causes my plans to succeed.

xx

* (Read Proverbs 8 in The Passion Translation!)
** Proverbs 16:1,3 TPT

journal | end of year reflections

It’s the time of year where I start looking forward to a new beginning. Reflecting on the old and ready to usher in the new, the fresh, the clear and the promising. Something in me wrestles to not let another year go by without taking steps towards the things I’ve put on hold. 
This year in particular has been very full.
Bustling and busy, I studied full time in the first semester and I spent a lot of time juggling this with ministry, and family.
Chewing over this year though, I realised I have been letting my yesses to some good things prevent me from being able to say yes to the best things.* The things on my heart. The things that will take guts and intention, planning and hard work.
Because this: good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.** I need to do the hard work part.
I can plan, and write lists and draw mind-maps like a boss. But I am not so good at the doing. 
I’m great at dreaming and envisioning.
But my steps are slow and my mind overthinks and my perfectionist self hesitates in case what is produced is not good enough.
I am not great at shitty first drafts. ***
I am not great at putting it out there if it’s flawed.
I am not great at keeping myself accountable. 
I get discouraged quickly.
Apathy is all too familiar… and is the absolute enemy to the life I know I’m called to live.
Full and bustling and bursting, yes. Yet settled and still and resting in grace.

Maybe I have to hustle to fill in the gaps. Hustle to avoid procrastination… and then the rest comes in the real doing, the graced doing. Maybe there’s a hustle to get to the grace?

And this time of year I’m pressing in to work it out. 
Waiting for the answers to the unanswered questions. 
Believing for completion of the untied ends and frayed edges.
Hoping to finish strong, but still feeling weak and needy and unsure.

For now, I’ll write more lists, and scribble more dreams with the hope that He writes on my heart, and breathes in His purpose.
Because the new year is beckoning, just like He is.

xx

* John C. Maxwell
** Proverbs 21:5
*** Anne Lamott
 

[If you are wanting to do some real retreating + reflecting I’d strongly encourage you to download Amanda Viviers’ New Year Vision Book – it’s free!]

start with just today

 

Yesterday I folded those itchy plastic branches into their box, and tied it up tight, for next year.
I found the floor in the girls bedroom. 
We found places for new treasures to belong and I carried a garbage bag for those things that aren’t so loved anymore. I filled it up and took it outside before any of us could hesitate.
Because my mind has been swirling with words like
simplify
declutter
minimal

Because I don’t want a life full of stuff but to live out an existence full of experiences.*
Because I know that when I exist in a minimalist-like interior, my own inner life has real breathing space that can explode with possibility and creativity. 
I know it’s not possible to live always in that zone; there will often be dishes in the sink and toys on the floor, but as much as I can I want to have a fresh and clear heart and head.
And living in a space that doesn’t feel stuffed to the brim of things I keep simply because I might want to use them someday actually gives me the ability to be truly present right here.

I’ve been asking myself just what it is that steals my focus, and clutter is one of the thieves. 
What else can I tweak to bring about more peace to my days? 
I gave up on resolutions. But tiny baby steps in the right direction? I can do those. 
I started running in November 2013, and I kept running. Not daily, but regularly.
I ran my way through last year, and managed to reach a 5km goal I’d set.
Not in leaps and bounds and amazing achievements, but in quiet consistency. 

I can do quiet consistent baby steps towards a more minimal home, more purposeful days, a fitter body and a less distracted me.
I won’t let the new year remind me of the accumulation of years I’ve failed, or how long it’s taken me to get here. It’s a reminder of a fresh start, a celebration of life, and anticipation of the goodness the next twelve months will bring.

Lets tiptoe tiny baby steps, they’re so very achievable. I’ll start with just today.

xx

* and also because I just can’t handle mess. I try and fail. Let’s just make it easier all ’round huh?