Sunday, 29 May 2016

My Prayer

Stone skipping on Lake Kaniere, Hokitika

Dear God,

Today I'm turning 18. Although this is the age in which I am legally recognised as an adult in New Zealand, I don't feel much different. I know that you made me perfectly the way you wanted me to be. You were thinking of me when you created the world.
I may not feel different but today I'm legally an adult and I wanted to take the time to thank you for the 18 years you have given to me and commit to you the adult years of my life, whatever they may hold.

Thank you for placing me in such a loving family and shepherding me and guiding me as I grew up. Thank you for keeping me safe and secure. Thank you for letting me know how much you love me! Thank you for all the precious moments from my childhood. Thank you for each tear I've shed, for each smile, for each wonderful person you've crossed my path with. Thank you for each purpose you've held in the midst of my pain. Thank you for all the lessons you've taught me. Thank you for the grace you've given me. Thank you for the joy you've given me. Thank you for each moment, each opportunity, each happy year. Thank you for revealing yourself to me. Thank you for giving me a heart to get to know You better. Thank you for helping me get to know you better. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for working in my life, making me more like your Son. Thank you for all the goodness and mercy you have shown to me. I have been blessed overwhelmingly and Lord, I really am so incredibly grateful.

Father God, I commit to you the rest of my life. I give you my adult years. I pray that you would use me to bring joy to others, but mostly, to bring joy to you. I desire that through my life you are glorified. May my life be a sweet fragrance to you and a melody to your ears.

I give you my eyes. Lord, help me to see where you're working. Help me to be able to look through the brokenness in the world and see the beauty you have placed in it. Let me see people who I can bring your life and joy to. Show me where you want me to go. Show me your ways and teach me your paths. I pray that you would give me a vision for the future. Give me eyes that don't seek out selfish things for myself but opportunities where I can serve and be a blessing.

And Lord, I give you my hands. I pray that I wouldn't just see where I can serve, but that I would serve. Give me hands of a servant. Give me hands that are quick to bless others and be used for you. May everything my hands find to do be blessed and may I be a good and cheerful worker. May my hands never be slow to give what I have to where it is needed.

Take my feet, Lord. I pray that all of my life I would walk in the straight and narrow way, never turning to the right or to the left. May I follow you wholeheartedly and continuously, unwaveringly and steadily. May my feet be quick to go where you lead, and may I never shrink from fulfilling the plans you have for me!

Use my lips, Lord. May the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight. I pray that I would speak words of love, words of peace and words of joy and hope. That I would speak Your words out and that what I say would touch the hearts of the hearers. Take away all things I would speak that are not of you - cynicism, gossip, slander, rude talk, too much talk, anything that isn't pure. May I only ever speak to bring glory to your name.

Here are my ears, Lord. Oh God, I desire to listen to you and hear your voice. Speak to me. May my ears be ever open and ready to listen to your words and may I obey your voice. May I hear when others have needs, and please help me fill those needs.

I give you my heart. I put in your hands all my hopes and dreams for the future. Because I know that you have a perfect plan for my life and I want to follow that plan. Lord, love is complicated and I ask that you would bring people into my life at the right time. I pray that you would orchestrate everything. I give you permission to be in charge of this area of my life, as with all the other areas!

And take my mind. May I never believe lies from the evil one but may I always love truth and believe the truth. May I think about the things of you and never be excited about anything that is not pure or lovely. Would you give me discernment and wisdom, Lord. May I use my gifts and talents for your glory.

Lord Jesus, I trust you. I completely surrender my life afresh and especially this next stage of my life. May everything I do bring you joy!


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hello, my name is... Regret

Hello, my name is Regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget

- From 'Hello, my name is' by Matthew West

As Matthew West's song says, regrets are the whisper inside that won't let us forget. That won't leave us. That won't give up on constantly reminding us of our failures.

Dictionary definition of regret
Regret: feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).

I think there isn't a single person in the world that doesn't have a regret about something. I have regrets. I often lie in bed and think back over the day and kick myself about things I did and things I failed to do! 

But the question is - are regrets healthy?

Because sure, it is good to make mistakes and learn from them. But isn't there a point where it becomes unhealthy to obsess over our mistakes and cringe over our actions? If so, where is that point?

As is always a good idea when we have questions like this, let's take it to Scripture.

2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

There is definitely a time and a place for godly grief and godly regret. If we sin, we should not continue in an unremorseful state of mind! Our sin should be properly regretted and confessed to the Lord. 

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But after that regretting and confessing - what then? Well, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness, as 1 John 1:9 says the Lord is faithful and just enough to do.

Psalm 51:8-9 “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.”

He hides his face from our sins and blots out all our iniquities. Psalm 103:12 backs this up, going so far as to say that he has removed our transgressions (sins) from us as far as the east is from the west! That's a long way. 

God doesn't remember our sins. He takes them away and they don't count against us any more.

So what should we do?

Should we continue in our regret and annoyance at ourselves because of our sin?

You know what I think? I reckon that if God forgets our sin, maybe we should, too. 

I'm not saying that we can continue in our sin, forgetting the consequences and not learning from mistakes we have made. I'm saying that we should stop beating ourselves up about our past mistakes and just get on with our lives.

Philippians 3:13
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead...

There we go. The key of it all, I think. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I don't think that constantly looking behind us makes for a very good journey. If you look behind you all the time you won't see the potholes and pitfalls in front of you! No, you need to look in front of you and in the words of Paul, strain forward to what lies ahead. 

I think that the past can be an amazing teacher. We can learn so much from what has gone on in our past - and it can definitely be the catalyst for change in the future. 

But is heaps of regret helpful? 


Proverbs 15:13 “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.”

You can't change the past but you can change the future. 

So no matter what you've done in the past - sins you've committed, foolish errors you've made, mistakes you've made, wrong roads you've taken- there's really no point regretting it too much. The past is the past. What's done is done. 

Stop looking behind you and regretting what you've done. Learn from your mistakes- and move on.

May you be blessed abundantly!
What has the Lord been teaching you lately?
post signature

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

New Zealand, my home

Apart from three weeks and ten days of my life (three weeks in China and ten days across the ditch in Australia) I've lived all of my life in the country I call home, New Zealand.

New Zealand isn't a very big country at all. We boast of a relatively small population of 4.47 million.

It's a beautiful country. The sort of place that has scenery photographers win prizes for photographing. Scenery that never gets old no matter how many times you see it. Inhabitants that are really friendly and laid back and easygoing (barefeet in the supermarket, anyone?!). Native birds that can sing really beautifully (and eat the rubber off your car while it's parked in a ski field carpark- I'm looking at you, kea!). A tourist destination.

A lot of people in other parts of the world don't know much about New Zealand. Fair enough. I mean, we're only a tiny little collection of islands at the bottom of the planet! 

But I think you should know some things about New Zealand. Yes we're tiny but we've done some awesome things!! In my opinion anyway. :P Allow me to educate you on my homeland. 

Sir Peter Jackson (maker of the Lord of the Rings movies) is from our country.
Sir Ernest Rutherford (the first guy to split the atom) hailed from New Zealand.
We've produced lots of famous rugby players. Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Jonah Lomu and Sonny Bill Williams to name a couple. 
The pop singer Lorde is from New Zealand.
Sir Edmund Hillary (famously scaled Mt Everest) is from New Zealand.
Jean Batten, who flew from England to New Zealand in 1936 and broke a bunch of long distance flying records was from here.
New Zealand invented the pavlova.

I could go on and on.. but you probably don't want to read any more of those, do you? Okay, cool. Well, let's continue.

I'm going to teach you about basic New Zealand geography.

In the above map (click on it to zoom in if it's not big enough) the highlighted region is Wellington. Wellington is our capital. It's where the government has Parliament meetings (in a special building called the Beehive). 

The blue circle marks the city of Auckland. That's the largest city in our country with 1.377 million inhabitants. That's a large percentage of the population of our entire country. 

The red circle marks Christchurch. It's the biggest city in the South Island and also happens to be my home town. Here's another map that shows it a bit better.

I love the fact that I live in a city that bears the name of Jesus! :)

Alright, now you know a bit about the locations of our three biggest cities, it's time for something else.

People who live in New Zealand are known as Kiwis. This is because our national animal is the Kiwi bird. This is the Kiwi.

How cute is that?! :)

Kiwis are nocturnal (they only come out at night) and have a long beak. They are flightless birds (fun fact - our Air Force symbol is the Kiwi - a flightless bird! How ironic is that?!) and are quite small. If you want to find out more about them go here.

It's important not to confuse Kiwi people with Kiwi birds or Kiwifruit. This is kiwifruit, just in case you didn't know.

This lovely gentleman who I discovered on YouTube is going to teach you about some of the phrases we use. Now bear in mind that a lot of these are more commonly found up North (Auckland etc) - us South Islanders tend to speak a bit more Englishly. I think this is because most of the Maori (indigenous people) were from up North and their accents are more of the stereotypical Kiwi accents so they infilitrated the Kiwi accent! Whereas Christchurch was settled by the English and I reckon that the average Christchurch person doesn't speak like the guy in the video. Anyway. Just watch it for yourself.

Also we do not call lunch 'supper'. Lunch is 'lunch'. The evening meal is 'tea'.

*Changes topic*
I have some American friends and they confuse me with their terms for baked goods. Especially scones, biscuits and muffins. Let me inform you about the correct terms for these baked goods.
These are scones.
A scone is a single-serving cake or quick bread. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and are baked on sheet pans. (Definition kindly provided by Wikipedia). They are also AMAZING with jam and cream.

These are biscuits. In New Zealand we don't really do 'cookies'. Biscuits are flat (often hard-ish - although soft biscuits like shortbread definitely exist) sweet baked goods. 

These are muffins. Blueberry muffins to be exact. Muffins are very similar to cupcakes. They are often savoury although you can definitely make sweet muffins. They wouldn't normally be iced (the New Zealand term for frosting is icing) although sometimes you find like glazes or something on muffins. Muffins are amazing. Especially hot out of the oven. Mmm.

So there you go!! Your basic guide to lots of random New Zealand things.
New Zealand is an awesome place. I've travelled over most of the South Island and a bit of the North Island and I can inform you that it's a beautiful place with friendly people. If you come, make sure you travel south to Christchurch!

Sweet as. ;)
post signature
PS. A massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful Mum who is a year older tomorrow! Have an amazing birthday and an incredible year. :) I love you.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


- People referring to inside jokes between the two of you when there are others in the conversation. I mean, it's fun and all that, but it makes me feel bad for the other people who don't have the faintest idea what we're talking about! Inside jokes are best kept inside.
- Brushing your teeth absentmindedly and continuing brushing your teeth for a rather long time until you realise that you could have stopped ages ago.
- Collecting chestnuts. Involves getting the chestnuts out of their extremely prickly cases which means you spend ten minutes after the expedition fishing prickles out of your fingers with tweezers.

----------------------------Interlude to chat about chestnuts------------------------------
Actually, did you know that lots of people don't know much about chestnuts?  Allow me to educate you. There are two main kinds of chestnuts (at least, in New Zealand) that I know of. Horse chestnuts (do NOT try to eat them!!) and edible (sweet) chestnuts. These are horse chestnuts.

See the sparse prickles and the colour of the case? The chestnuts themselves (the brown things) aren't too different from edible chestnuts, so it's best to use the cases to discern them.

These are edible chestnuts on the tree.

See the vast quantity of the prickles and the case colour? The cases are quite different from the horse chestnut cases.
If you want to eat them, do not try to eat them raw! Remove the brown chestnuts from their prickly cases with much caution, then boil or roast them. If you roast them make sure you score them with a knife before putting them in the oven otherwise they'll explode. Once they've been boiled or roasted you can peel the brown skin off to reveal the white flesh inside. :)

--------------------Chestnut chat ends and awkward things continue------------------

- Wondering why your bobby pin won't go into your hair - and discovering that's likely to be because you are trying to put it in backwards (the closed end of a bobby pin doesn't grab onto your hair, people).
- Biking home after a long shift at work against a 35km/hr headwind. Not fun.

- Playing Hide and Seek with Jacob. It's actually a really fun game!! I shouldn't let so much time pass by before I play it again. :) It was hilarious.
- Chocolate eclairs
- Eating roasted chestnuts. Those things are amazing. After all the work of collecting them it's nice to have something to reward your efforts.
- Meditating on a verse for a while and then opening up your blog reader and discovering a friend posted a blog post on the verse you'd been thinking about. Really cool!
- Finding out the car is free so you can go to something you really want to go to. (A few of us share a vehicle).
- Great chats about life and the Bible etc in Bible study groups.
- Cream in hot drinks
- Treehouses and baby bunnies and sunrises and sunsets and barefeet in long grass and rainbows reaching down from heaven to touch earth and dew on flowers and friends to spend time with and standing on top of hills in really strong wind and just feeling the wind go right through you... and finding round smooth pebbles that skip on water really well and sparkly glittery die cuts that are just really cute and meatloaf and wow, I could go on forever.

Have you eaten chestnuts before?
Do you have a random story from this week?
What is your favourite dessert/pudding?
post signature

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Infinity Dream Award

Sometimes I get tagged in a blog award or tag and I'm like.. hmm... those are interesting questions and the tag looks interesting... so I take part. This situation is one of those that I have just described for you. I was recently tagged by Hannah for the Infinity Dream Award! Thank you so much Hannah for tagging me! :) Here it is-

1. Thank the blogger who tagged you.
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Tag 11 bloggers and give them 11 new questions to answer.

Let us begin! Here are the 11 facts about myself -

1. I played the harp for a few years
2. My favourite quote/saying would have to be "The glass is half full and the other half was delicious".
3. I've been in a car accident once - when we were in China, on a Chinese motorway, we clipped the edge of our vehicle (smashed the side mirror) on another vehicle and then sat outside a roadside service thing for ages waiting for police to take photos etc. While we were on our way to catch a plane.
4. My favourite letter of the alphabet is B (Any guesses why that is?)
5. When I was younger I memorised the entire patriotic American poem 'Paul Revere's Ride' just for fun
6. I went geocaching for the first time on Saturday afternoon and it was awesome
7. The best thing that happened to me this week would probably be my journaling Bible arriving. Yay!!
8. A random memory - I have no idea how old I was turning, but we were at Willowbank (a wildlife park) to celebrate my birthday, and my brother Ben (probably around 2 years old I think) fell into a swamp/pond thing. I remember Daddy rushing in to get him out and how Mum hadn't seen it but heard the splash and thought a duck had dived in. Definitely not a good birthday after Ben fell in.
9. If I could go back in time, I would want to go back to Bible times and hear Jesus's words myself!
10. My birthday is coming up
11. Eating chocolate, being with people and listening to happy music cheers me up.

Here are the 11 questions Hannah asked:

1. What is your favorite blog?
My top favourite would probably be A Lovely Calling. I also enjoy reading Fresh Modesty and a variety of other blogs. A current favourite is Clare's Spot. :) (Shout out to my bloggy friends!)

2. What is the biggest thing you've learned from blogging?
Blogging has taught me the importance of laying out my thoughts in a succinct, concise and interesting manner. It's a totally different kind of writing to most things I've done before. 

3. How many siblings do you have?
9, will be 10 around the end of August!

4. Favorite author?
God. I mean, he did write the Bible, so.... yeah.

5. What is a movie that has greatly impacted you?
I haven't seen many movies, to be very honest. War Room impacted me because it made me realise how much prayer can do! Prayer is an incredible weapon.

6. What is a book that has greatly impacted you? (other than the Bible!:)
I read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time last week. It. Was. Awesome. Such a different book - I learnt so much about society and even history! Totally recommended. A great book.

7. What is one of your most prized possessions?
My teddy bear, Theodore. 

8. What is one of your best memories?
I remember Daddy praying with us before bed every night and then giving us 'fall-ons' - it sounds terrible but it was the best thing ever! He would stand at the end of our bed and then fall on to us in a variety of ways. We had the Thunderbird fall-on, the rocket fall-on (can you tell Dad and my brothers made up some of these?!) and everyone's most hated/most loved one; the caterpillar fall-on. 

9. Your best writing advice?
Just keep at it.

10. What is the title of a book your currently working on? (tell a little about it)
Sorry to spoil the party but I'm not working on a book! I've never written a book and I don't plan to in the near future... I'm currently drawing a colouring book for Lydia, does that count?

11. What is your favorite Bible character other than Jesus? :)
Hmm, good question! I really admire Abraham's faith and how God honoured him for it. I love the stories of Esther and Ruth. But my top favourite would be David, I think. How he obeyed God's call as a shepherd boy and ended up becoming King over all Israel. And did some pretty cool stuff in the middle of it. I also really love his heart of love for the Lord as expressed throughout some of the Psalms. 

I tag-
And now, for those I tag? I am not tagging 11 bloggers - but if you're reading this and you want to take part, you're officially tagged! :)

If you want to do the tag, please answer these 11 questions....

1. Would you rather have legs as long as your fingers or fingers as long as your legs?
2. What is your biggest fear?
3. Have you kept a New Year's resolution? If so, what was it?
4. What is a random memory from your childhood?
5. Have you ever pranked someone or had someone prank you? What happened?
6. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
7. If you had two hours left on earth what would you do?
8. What's something you never leave home without?
9. What was your first job?
10. What superpower would you most like to have?
11. What are you terrible at but love to do anyway?

And that's pretty much it, I think! :)
Any guesses why my favourite letter is B?
post signature

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Here's a Hair post

A while ago one of my readers sent me an email and asked for a hair post. Today I thought I might do that... although I'm warning you - what I do with my hair is CERTAINLY nothing fancy at all!!

Firstly, I wash my hair twice a week - either Tuesday/Wednesday and Saturday, usually.

I favour morning showers... just because it helps to wake me up and I like going into the day clean. I do like evening showers too, but then you have wet hair when you go to bed and it's not as easy to deal with.

My hair is thinnish and medium lengthish and brownish. Very 'ish'. There are a lot of times I've longed for really long, blonde, wavy hair... but God saw fit to give me brown hair that refuses to go the slightest bit wavy without some 'encouragement' from me! :)

What does that encouragement look like?  Good question.

Curling irons annoy me because they take forever and I haven't actually managed to figure out the best way to use mine. I've owned it for ages and use it sometimes but I'm never satisfied with how it ends up looking!

I find that my hair cycle goes like this:

It's not terribly scientific but you get the idea. As the time increases after I've washed it, the dirtiness of my hair increases. As it gets less clean, it gets more dirty. :P It's kind of a gradual gentle slope - it doesn't suddenly go really bad on day 2, it lets me down gently. :P

I usually just leave my hair out and straight the same day after I wash it. Then when I go to bed I put it up into a really high (kind of silly-looking, but who is looking at me when I'm in bed??) bun. If I want my hair particularly curly/wavy the next morning I'll also slightly wet the ends. Then I sleep.

Here's my random bun :P Right on top so it doesn't annoy me in bed.

The next morning I take it out and it's wavy and actually has quite a lot of volume! Yay for volume! :)  I then style it however I'm going to wear it - a ponytail maybe, maybe just leave it out, a half up, a side ponytail, whatever.

The volume (and wave) I get from the bed bun will gradually decrease throughout the day but it's amazing how much 'lift' you can get from sleeping with your hair in a bun. I found this anyway! It's like (and I'm too lazy to draw another graph) it jumps the cleanness up a couple of cm back into the previous day's slot. I don't know how to explain it better than that, and if you don't understand feel free to moan about it in the comments. :)

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes. So the first night I do a bun. The second night I do too. It just works really well for me. If I wash my hair the next day the cycle repeats itself, otherwise just add another day onto it!

When I wash my hair I don't use conditioner. I find it makes my hair SUPER smooth - and like I said before, my hair is so naturally thin I do love some volume! So just shampoo for me. Saves money too.

I think that's everything possible I could tell you about my hair. I don't do anything super fancy - that's not me! Basically I like to keep things simple. So I do.

Any questions? Ask away.
Girls, how do you manage your hair? 
post signature

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Unanswered Letters

Image from Pixabay

I read of a man who was involved in a tragic accident. He lost both legs and his left arm and only a finger and thumb remained on the right hand. But he still possessed a brilliant mind, enriched with a good education and broadened with world travel. At first he thought there was nothing he could do but remain a helpless sufferer.

A thought came to him. It was always nice to receive letters, but why not write them - he could still use his right hand with some difficulty. But to whom could he write?
Was there anyone shut in and incapacitated like he was who could be encouraged by his letters? He thought of men in prison - they did have some hope of release whereas he had non - but it was worth a try.

He wrote to a Christian organization concerned with prison ministry. He was told that his letters could not be answered - it was against prison rules, but he commenced this one-sided correspondence.

He wrote twice a week, and it taxed his strength to the limit. But into the letters he put his whole soul, all his experience, all his faith, all his wit, and all his Christian optimism. Frequently he felt discouraged and was tempted to give it up. But it was his one remaining activity, and he resolved to continue as long as he could.

At last he got a letter. It was very short, written on prison stationery by the officer whose duty it was to censor the mail. All it said was "Please write on the best paper you can afford. Your letters are passed from cell to cell till they literally fall to pieces."

No matter what our personal situation is, we still have God-given gifts and talents, experiences and encouragement that we can share with others.

Original author unknown - from Stories for a Cheerful Heart, compiled by Alice Gray
post signature

Monday, 9 May 2016

Journaling my Joy Quest

Lydia on a lamppost

Day 1 – Monday
Today is the first day I’m focusing on a spiritual fruit and journaling my experiences. I picked joy. Although it’s my middle name, I feel like I used to be a lot more joyful when I was younger! I know there are lots of Biblical ways to lead a joy-filled life and I want to explore some of those.

Psalm 16:11 talks about fullness of joy being found in the Lord’s presence. How often do I try and find joy and happiness through things other than God himself? Yes, those things can bring temporary joy but I know we can only be truly joy-filled through Him.

Lord, help me to hunger for your presence. Teach me to yearn for it, to soak in it. Bring me joy through you and you alone!

Day 2 – Tuesday
Today I was thinking about joy and righteousness and their relationship to one another. As Proverbs 10:28 says, the hope of the righteous shall be joy.

The thing I love about this is that the righteousness mentioned doesn’t come from us trying to reach Heaven’s perfection under our own steam. That righteousness is only found through Christ’s sacrifice!

I snapped at my siblings today. Most definitely not a good way to find or bring joy! Oh dear.

Day 3 – Wednesday
James 1:2-4 talks about considering it pure joy when we face trials, because the testing of our faith develops perseverance. This is about finding joy in all of our nasty circumstances because we’re trusting God and know he’s got it all under control!

Easy to say. Hard to do.

When life goes pear shaped on you and you feel totally overwhelmed it’s so hard to trust God and even harder still to consider your trials JOY!

Day 4 – Thursday
We’re told in Acts 20:35 that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. This is so true, especially when it comes to encouragement. It is truly a blessing to be able to give away encouragement and spread joy!

Today I wrote a note for a friend and spent a while writing encouragement, drawing cute doodles on the envelope and praying for her. I felt joyful knowing the joy she will feel when she receives it!

Day 5 – Friday
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. Being thankful to God about the oodles of blessings he’s given to us is a great way to find joy.

How easy to complain, and how one must really set one’s mind to it when one decides to be thankful and joyful in all circumstances! I had to stop myself so many times when I noticed myself about to complain.

It was a neat experience, journaling my joy quest. I will definitely be drawing on the things I’ve learnt in the future. It’s so easy to be critical and complain and discourage…. But so worth it to focus on being joyful!

Have you ever focused on a spiritual fruit for a week? I challenge you today to do it! Journal your thoughts, your experiences and what happens. (For extra points.... do a blog post about it!)

Have a blessed, joyful day!post signature

Friday, 6 May 2016

thoughts on singleness, loneliness and preparing for marriage

Before I begin, did you know that this is my official 600th post? I'm so excited! Thank you for sharing in my journey so far!

Did you catch my last post? This is sort of a follow-on from that. :) 

Does singleness mean loneliness?
Does singleness mean a life of ease and living for yourself?

I would answer both questions with a resounding NO!!

As a single person, I am living for someone else - my heavenly Father. At no point is my life my own! And I am not lonely. My Father and my best friend is always with me... besides, I have learned to be content with my singleness and so I will be happy and rejoice... even though my friends might pair off and marry and leave me still single.

Philippians 4:11-12
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret.…

It can be hard, sure. But for us single people, we have this amazing window of opportunity where we can serve the Lord wholeheartedly without distraction!

1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

So how should we be living as single people? 
Should we be counting down the days until we eventually find someone? Should we sit around and wait for someone to appear? Should we moan and complain to God that he's not bringing the 'right one' along?

Of course not. All of that goes against the 'being content in this situation' thing. 

I think that our singleness has multiple purposes, as I would like to show you.

1. We can better serve God with our free time (see 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 above) 
2. We can also use our free time to gain important skills - maybe there are blessings and opportunities this season offers us  
3. It teaches us to be content with our situation and to patiently trust in, wait on and rely on God (not someone else)
4. It means we can spend time preparing for a relationship / marriage so that when the opportunity eventually turns up, we can enter it prepared (nobody is perfect - if you think marriage will fix all your problems you are sadly mistaken!!) 

Preparing for marriage. Hmm.... how can we, as single people, prepare for marriage? 

[WARNING! sarcasm immediately below!]
Of course, being the expert I am on this subject I have lots of brilliant ideas on how you should all be preparing for marriage while you are single.

[sarcasm officially ended]

I actually do have some ideas. :P Whether they are brilliant or not it remains to be seen... but anyway, let's give it a shot.

1. Focus on your relationship with God above all other things. 
If you focus on God and make him your number one priority, everything else will fall into place!

2. Trust him completely
When he is in the driving seat of your life you don't need to worry about anything. He'll sort out everything for you. It really is wonderful not to have to worry about it!

3. Find contentment and joy in the season of life you are currently in.
This is a really great article- it talks about finding contentment in your current season of life - and what won't change once you get married. Also strengthen your relationships with your friends and family members. You won't regret doing that!

4. Understand marriage
When I say understand marriage, I mean understand the God-ordained purpose of marriage and what it really is. God created marriage to be a beautiful picture of Himself and the church. There are some great scriptures on this that you can read and study. The thing is, that has implications on what a marriage should look like!

5. Pray for your future spouse
This is really important in my opinion! Pray for your future spouse... whatever they are doing, wherever they are in life. I did a blog post about this last year.

6. Become a woman worth pursuing
Sorry guys, this one's not for you. (You might glean something from it though.) How to be a woman worth pursuing. A really interesting read.

7. Learn new things
Always be open-minded to learn new things. Read great books about the world and about Christian living (Preparing to be a Help Meet by Debi Pearl is a great one - and on the topic of preparing for marriage, too!). Learn some new skills, make mistakes, step out of your comfort zone and just go for it!! :)

Do you think singleness means loneliness?
How do you think single girls (and guys) should be preparing for marriage?
post signature

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

"Isn't this what I'd been waiting for all my life?!"

Sea and sky from the New Brighton pier

I don't really like sharing hugely personal information on this blog because something inside me wants to keep some things to myself. Some things are absolutely not made to be shared.
My experience with a young man was one of those- I wasn't going to share about it on my blog. But I've decided to share it today, not quite sure why, just thought maybe I would. Hopefully it will encourage someone.

*story starts now*

It all started around about September/October 2014. A young man who I'd known (just as an acquaintance) for a couple of years started Facebook messaging me. For a long, long time, I thought (or tried to convince myself) that he was just being friendly. It wasn't until other people who were not family members started thinking something was going on between us that I eventually conceded that yes, maybe he was interested in me. He had started going to our Church and then my parents started inviting him home with us for lunch because they wanted to check him out (fair enough).

I really enjoyed spending time around him. He took me to a few things, most definitely not 'dates' but group things that we'd both been invited to and that it was convenient for him to take me to since he drove and I didn't. I found him really interesting to talk to and looked forward to seeing him.

He went away for a training course for a few weeks on either side of Christmas. I really missed him during that time. You don't really know quite how much someone means to you until they go away.

Over this whole time of discovering he was interested in me and then going away, I was seeking God like never before. I'd sort of been 'looking out' for the right person God had prepared for me for ages, but never actually thought about what I'd do if they turned up!!

What if he was going to end up being my husband?
What if he wasn't the right one?
What if I was doing the wrong thing, getting involved in something that wouldn't work out?
But wouldn't it work out? Why shouldn't it? Isn't this what I'd been waiting for all my life?!
What was God's will in the situation?
I didn't know.

It was a really faith strengthening time. I really wanted to know God's will in the situation and I really had to trust him that he would show me his will, because it wasn't clear for quite a while.

Anyway, the young man arrived back from his training and it became very obvious that things were progressing quite speedily towards a relationship. He never said anything to me about it, but it was obvious. It just was.

I'd talked with my parents about it a lot, and also with a few other (mostly older) friends who I really trusted.

It was the beginning of March 2015 and I decided it wasn't fair to lead on the young man when I was having such doubts about the direction things were taking.
I contacted him and told him that I wanted to talk to him about something. We went for a walk and I told him everything that was on my heart. About how I wanted God's will for my life. And how that included the person I would end up marrying. About how I had prayed and sought God's guidance about the situation and not really gotten a clear answer. About how I didn't want to lead him on with him thinking I was approving a relationship when I wasn't sure.

He was really great about it. I had been so worried about having that conversation with him (because I didn't know how he felt!) but it all worked out great. We decided to have a two month 'break' as it were, to both of us seek the Lord and talk to some people about whether to end our special friendship completely or whether to take it into something more. We both wanted God's plan and that was the most important thing.

Part of the problem for me was that I'd allowed myself to get a bit emotionally attached. I really, really, really liked and admired this young man. He was (and is!) a lovely, kind, helpful, funny guy who is just really fun to be around. He's also a strong Christian and loves the Lord with all his heart.

I thought to myself, "But if I give this up, will there be anything else?? Is this my one opportunity for a relationship?"

It was really hard.

After the two months were up, we got together again. And decided that we would not pursue a relationship with each other (at least, not right at that time).

My reasons were:
- I didn't have any peace about it. After all the seeking of God I'd done, I didn't feel that pursuing it was right.
- My parents didn't feel that this particular relationship was right for me at that time. They advised me not to go into anything just at that stage and I felt like their advice was extremely wise.

I know I said this before, but it was really hard.

So we cooled it down. We're still friends, but absolutely nothing more than that.

I wrote about my opinion on what Christian relationships between girls and guys should look like back in June 2015. June was the month when it was probably the hardest for me, just fresh from saying goodbye to a relationship with this young man. Writing my opinion on relationships was really helpful - to remind myself of the reasons I'd done what I did and to caution against the biggest mistake I made, which was to get emotionally attached too early. I said in the post that I'd never been in a serious relationship, which was (and is) completely true.

At the beginning of this year, that same young man got involved in a relationship with a young lady I know. She is absolutely wonderful - so sweet, gracious, kind and, I think, probably better for him than I would be. I'm so absolutely thrilled for them both.

I regret nothing.

I've had cause to look back over the last year or so and go, wow, it was so hard. But I'm so glad it happened. I learnt so much. About myself, about God. Yes, it brought me a little bit of heartache and yes, there were times when I just about tore my hair out (!!) but oh, I learnt so much! And there was much joy and sunshine and fun in the process, too.

One particular moment sticks in my mind well. It was a couple of days after I had declined the relationship at that time. I was biking to work and I was a bit early so I stopped in a park on a bridge above a beautiful stream that I always love biking over. As I stopped my bike I was thinking about the last few days and asking God for some encouragement. Then I saw two big, beautiful white swans just floating down the stream. Now, I've stopped on that bridge many times and I've never seen two swans together before or since. I felt like it was God encouraging me - saying, "Bonnie, trust me. Don't despair. You might feel like you've lost your swan but it's not over yet. You can't see the future but I can. Trust me."

I was about to write "And that's the end of my story" when I realized that no, it isn't. My story is not over. That particular chapter of my life is over, yes, but then, so is all of my past.

The past is a great teacher.
That particular chapter of my life taught me this:
Trusting God isn't easy, but it's by far the best thing to do.

Lord, I trust you. May I ever learn to trust you more and more.
post signature