Love , Life and Loss ….

A week ago today, I lost my best friend …

That’s very hard to write.

You know that some people are just so special, loving, beautiful, kind, funny, amazing, generous, faithful and faith filled.

Lyndall is an extraordinary woman. Yes … I said … IS … and always will be. No past tense.

I know where she is and she knew where she was headed.

That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with how I feel right now.
There is a gaping hole in my heart.

Her legacy of loving acceptance and the practical way she lived out her faith have been used by God to grow me.

If I’m honest I can be a little (lot) selfish . . And generosity doesn’t come naturally to me.
Hey .. don’t get me wrong .. I do my best .. I care .. but I still need to withdraw sometimes to get myself back on track.

My friend just kept going. In so many practical ways .. behind the scenes of the large church, she lived out her amazing admin skills . She was like a conductor directing a seamless symphony .

When Lyndall was involved in anything .. she gave it her all ..
Anything she was involved in became a success.

The reason for this . She loved our God so much that she did it all for Him.

She did it because she loved God and wanted others to know Him.

Her loving and godly influence will always remain in my heart.
The comfort of a friend who never judged or criticized me, is a gift that I will take with me, through the rest of my days.

‘As iron sharpens iron , so one person sharpens another’.
Proverbs 27:17

Dedicated to my precious friend,  

Lyndall Anne Bailey 27.01.1961 – 20.02.2016

 

 

More than a Survival Course

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From little things BIG things grow …

 

It may sound cheesy .. and it’s definitely a song line ..

but ‘From little things , big things grow’

Another day .. some glorious weather and a busy intersection ..

This week has seen some amazing weather changes where I live .. extreme heat .. mega humidity,  lots of wind and rain .. and those classic Aussie afternoon thunderstorms !

The photo above was just irresistible to me ..

It is an Australian native banksia, which has sprung up and is growing in the most unlikely place. It’s decided that the pedestrian island of a busy road is the place to be ..

On a work day morning last week, and during the misty morning rain .. After having walking past this little baby tree for several days in a row, I could no longer just step on by ..

I needed to record it’s survival against the odds ..

So, even though I was almost late for work, I stopped to snap this picture ..

And … I am glad that I did .. because since then .. it has sparked an interesting conversation with my husband and really made me think about life in general.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses some small piece of His creation to help me to regain my focus .

If a tiny seed can land in asphalt and find enough water and nourishment to begin to grow ..
How much more can we thrive in the life we’ve been blessed with?

We don’t need lots of money, or a great title, or a Palace to live in.

We do need love, relationship, and to be content with what we already have.

By relationship . . I mean the ability to ‘relate to one another’ ..
That comes in many forms depending upon our circumstances .. There are spouses to relate to .. our parents, children, siblings, friends, colleagues, customers. So many opportunities for positive (and negative ) conversation.

Sometimes we do feel like we are just surviving like that little plant on the road ..

I’ve discovered that making the most of each and every day is better than just surviving ..
it IS living ..
It doesn’t mean you have to perform some amazing feat ..
Just a catch up conversation can be the biggest blessing in anyone’s day ..

A surprise dinner ..

Taking the time to listen to something you love. The sound of the trees rustling, or the waves hitting the shore can be ever so therapeutic. Birds …
Some music . .

“[30] Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. [31] Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away “

1 Corinthians 7 : 31-32 NLT

Thank you for taking the time to read this – I pray that in some way you might be encouraged …

1st Day of a New Year …

Soooo ..

I LOVE life  .. here … now …

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And in all honesty – some days more than others.

But ….

I’m not really into New Year’s Resolutions …

I’m more suited to ‘daily resolutions‘   🙂

Like the momentary ones …
The ‘oh … I shouldn’t have said that .. I won’t EVER say it again’ type …

Or ‘why DO I ALWAYS DO THAT .. I won’t do it again’ type of resolutions .. The resolutions that I wholeheartedly mean but inevitably stuff up repeatedly. Even with the very best of intentions !

Why is it that we have this built in desire to do better. .. To be better .. to love more honestly .. ? To be different today than who we were yesterday or than who we are today ?

I’m pretty darn sure that this is a God given desire .. deep rooted in each one of us .. Our desire is – that we don’t want to tread water and stay the same .. We want to be an improved version of us …

Life throws at us – sadness and loss – which cause us to rethink a lot of what is important in our day to day living . .

I don’t want to just exist . .

I want to make a difference in the lives of those that God has placed around me ..

Family, friends, workmates, the customers I serve, anyone I interact with in the course of my day.
Yesterday, in a very busy and pressured day that wasn’t easy. .
I struggled and fumbled to honour God in what were at times very frustrating and difficult situations. I know that I didn’t get it right.

Still … I’m not giving up .. I will keep plugging away at it today…

I will try not to waste too much of my day on Social Media ..

I plan to think before I speak ..

Take some time to read my Bible ..

Soak up some sunshine ..

Not expect perfection from myself or anyone else ..

Be thankful ..

Treasure many precious memories from the year just past ..

Thank you to my family and friends who love, support and encourage me.
Thank you to everyone for reading my ‘musings’ on life .

❤Thank you LB for the beautiful ways you reflect love and friendship to me.

❤Thank you HL for the wonderful encouragement you’ve been as you’ve given me feedback on my blog.

A chat with a friend…

Oh …. how therapeutic is a chat with a friend ?

I just love the scope a conversation with a friend can cover !

It can happen face to face .. Over the phone .. In a text or an email.

Some chats are regular .. Sometimes there are big gaps in our opportunities ..
I love the gift of conversation ..
It can be like medicine.

A deep sharing. A soul exchange.
With or without a cup of coffee. Over a meal.

Age and stage don’t matter.

Two grandmother’s sharing the cute recollections of time spent with grandchildren.

The encouragement of a text reminder that someone cares .. That they’re praying for you.

That they ‘get’ you.

It’s a gift to be understood.

The Mum who is conducting the orchestra that raising small children can be .

A beautiful symphony – or the banging of a wooden spoon on a saucepan (depending upon the day or the child) …

We share our joys and our triumphs . . Our successes and our failures . . Our pain, our pleasure, our hopes, dreams and our fears.

Sometimes it’s two way, other times it’s the gift of a listening ear.

Sometimes lessons ..

Others just reflections and being heard are the rewarding gift of true friendship.

Whether we’re laughing or crying I am thankful for the conversation and the sisterhood of friendship.

I think that friendship is God’s way of keeping me sane ☺

Crunchy Old Bark ….

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Sometimes, something really triggers a process of my thoughts ….

This past week .. with lots of other things in my mind .. God drew my attention – to the bark on the trees, that are a daily sight from my back window.

For some reason,  I just happened to notice that although these beautiful trees, which are mostly all Eucalypts (Gum Trees) .. are all growing at different rates .. They are in different stages of a growth process.

Some of the largest ones have a complete covering of crunchy and crusty bark … Then there are others which have lost bits of bark as they grow larger .. revealing a beautiful smoothness coming through underneath. . Still others are completely smooth with a glowing newness revealed – just like the smoothest sandstone, with an amazing array of colours and variety of patterns …
Then as I looked down – a patchwork of mulch in a rainbow of colours and textures, laying on the ground and forming a thick layer, feeding and enriching the soil below …

Being the thinker that I am … These things all pulled together in my mind and made me look at us .. people .. myself ..

We are as complex and varied as the trees .. the bark .. the rough and the smooth .. the layers, the colours and the crunchy bits .. the way we shed certain thoughts and ideas as God grows us from within … He reveals a newness in us .. a new understanding of some long held prejudice or ideal .. A past hurt – able to be healed and off comes that hardness that we have held onto for so long .. we are now just a little softer .. fresher .. Refreshed in our thinking and in our spirit.

I want to be like a tall gum tree ..

Strong, but smooth … Deep roots reaching down to the rich soil that nurtures my soul .. Willing to accept the growth that sheds my crusty exterior and reveals the smoothness of the Holy Spirit in my life ..

At the moment I would describe myself as a sapling .. I stumble .. I still get bent in a strong breeze … My bark is very hard in places .. My desire is to keep growing though ..

I don’t think anyone could articulate these thoughts better than the Apostle Paul did in the Bible in Romans 12 … So lets hear what he had to say ..

A Living Sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

And … as a Post Script to this recent blog …

I realise that shedding our bark only happens as we grow stronger in our faith .. I dislike the trials of this earthly life .. There are more struggles than one blog post can possibly contain .. For all of us .. They may take a different form – but they are real .. and they are the soil in which our faith can be fed .. My bark has been watered by lots of tears recently – so I am trusting that a growth spurt will follow soon 🙂

 

 

 

 

Before Work …

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Ok .. sooooo who has time to begin blogging before they go to work ???

Clearly I do …

And the above picture encapsulates how I attempt to begin my day (not always successfully, by the way) …
Bible. . Notepad. . Highlighter . .
And a heart bursting at the seams with a complex mixture of love / loss / happy /sad /need /desire … etc ..

There is so much of my life that I love and appreciate ..
And other things which cause me pain and sadness.

Mornings (especially because I am Not a morning person) are usually a slow start.
I set my alarm for 2 hours before I need to leave home .. I bound (not really).. more accurately is *stumble .. from bed .. Aim for the kitchen and switch on the coffee machine ..
Once that sweet Cappacino foam, covered in chocolate, hits my lips .. there begins my ability to think about my day.

The dogs sleep blissfully at my feet… (Hoping that it’s my day off and then they get to stay inside).

Today though . . No chance . .

I am thankful for the sunshine and blue sky outside..
My thoughts turn to the things on my mind and heart. .

Today it is my family.

The complexity of relationships. .
Unique personalities .. The way we are shaped by who we are and also by the environment in which we were raised.

My thoughts turn to prayer.

I was especially touched recently by the movie ‘War Room’.
It is about relationships and prayer. Both are things very close to my heart ..

Prayer changes us .. prayer – in line with God’s spirit – makes us more like Him .. keeps us honest, accountable .. allows us to love others in ways that don’t just come naturally.
We become more sacrificial. .less selfish. . God uses us in ways that we don’t expect and couldn’t imagine. . I love it when that happens. . You just know that it’s Him ..

I learn to trust more and fear less ..

This past year has had lots of challenges for me personally.

I have a precious friend who has a difficult health challenge … yet being the amazing and Godly example she has always been .. continues to love God and extend grace to those around her. Still managing to smile and be an encouragement 🙂

I endured a job situation which was abusive and drove me to a state of mind that I never thought possible from a ‘job’ ..

There are people close to me with health challenges ..
Physical .. emotional .. battles to be fought and God willing, to be won ..

And yet somehow . . Not by anything I can ‘conjure up’ .. but by knowing the one who created me .. I don’t just ‘survive’ ..

I live each day ..
Thankful ..
That God has a plan ..
And a purpose .. for me ..

Not just me .. But you . .

YES ..

YOU

as well.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. [12] In those days when you pray, I will listen. [13] If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Jeremiah 29 : 11-13 NLT

Broken and Bruised

So .. I decided NOT to attach a photo to today’s Blog Post …

You may ask why???

Well ….  It’s because I decided that being broken and bruised looks very different to each of us ..

Some days it’s physical and visible ..

And other days it’s emotional – on our heart, or a mental battle – for our thoughts.

It might be all three at once.

However pain appears in each of our lives – it is no less real or any less important.

To the one who is enduring a shock diagnosis,  or to the relative or friend that wants to comfort them ..
The family member suffering depression or mental illness .. a job loss .. an accident .. a struggle at work ..
The Mum raising small children or helping keep teenagers on track .. the Dad doing overtime to make ends meet.
A broken relationship …

Life can be really hard.

There are no quick or easy solutions.

I know – for me,  the loving support of a friend – who – just by listening to me, is often the soothing balm that helps me survive the day ..

Plenty of times I have cried out to God in prayer .. and I am reassured that He hears me even if a solution isn’t instant – or the answer that I was hoping for.
This reassurance has come as I have learned to rely on God .. knowing my own limitations .. flaws .. and failures .. and accepting that I don’t have to be perfect or assume every body else’s expectations of me ..
These things have only come as I understand who God is .. and allow and accept His purpose for my life ..

If you don’t yet know who God is .. I would encourage you to read one of what are called ‘The Gospels’ ,

(Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) ..

I personally have never read the Bible from cover to cover, but have read or studied verses and chapters .. either on my own – or as a part of a small group. Both are really helpful.

You can also buy ‘study guides’.. that focus on a particular subject -and use verses from the Bible – which relate to that subject .. Again – an exceptionally helpful way to understand things from Gods perspective ..

I have verses which mean a lot to me – that I find an encouragement –

‘I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.’

Psalm 16:8

My all time fave is : 

Proverbs 3:5,6

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
 Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

and on a Sunday evening – the encouragement from my Church family is

‘ If God is for us, who can ever be against us?’ Romans 8:31

reading the Bible isn’t a magic formula for happiness and success – but it is the best way to understand who God is, who Jesus is .. and why your story is so important ..

It is accepting Jesus as saviour .. that opens the way for you to have a real and personal relationship with Him .. and it’s the fresh start that we all need 🙂