“What do you bring to the table?”

2020 has been a strange year. It’s been unique. It’s been unprecedented. I think we’ve heard that word an unprecedented amount of times too, which only confirms what a strange year it’s been.

I’ve found 2020 to be beneficial in its own unique way as well. I’ve found it thought provoking. I’ve found it one where perspective has been more useful than normal. I’ve found we’ve been asked to think outside the usual parameters we’re accustomed to.

Individually the same can be said. Like one Sunday morning as i sat there on zoom tuning in to the latest “church on the couch”, as has been for months now this year. We were asked a question. A short one. But it was thought provoking, and in a good way.

What do i bring to the table?

The question is very much also a saying. What is it we can contribute? What is it that we offer? What is it that we know we possess that is of use to others? In this context it is all about what we bring to God, the Father’s table?

For me it starts with a simplicity. I’m simple. I know what I want and I’m going focus on that and only that. I’m not asking for much. I’m simply asking for what I need.

There’s authenticity too. I carry something genuine and real and it is me. It is mine. Friends and acquaintances have often spoken of it. Of how I carry something like the fingerprints of Christ. He’s put that in me, I know so.

But as he’s mentored me he has shown me how to go further. To love, encourage and to show compassion. He’s helped me realise that life isn’t all about me. The need to respect and consider others is of equal importance to that of my own.

He’s given me a desire now to speak that in to others through writing and no doubt through words that I also speak. Being brave enough to be open and honest is a damn hard task. Not least because you essentially expose yourself to others. “ Expose” probably isn’t the greatest word to use because by now i feel it’s less exposed and more offering up what I’ve found to be good for me. In the earlier days it did feel more like exposure.

But in doing this he has shown me the value of doing just so. We humans are meant to co-exist. We’re meant to do life together and the value in community is so high. Perhaps it’s the emotive reaction that connection brings? Or maybe it’s simply that our circumstances feel familiar and empathy is felt? We’ve all been in these places at one point or another

When I think back to that desire the father has given me I don’t just see the desire he’s put in to me but equally the desire he has for me, and wow! When you see that it blows you away. His desire is borne totally out of love. Unconditional love. When I think about this I feel it’s hard for us to fully comprehend how much he loves us. We have an idea, but that idea is based on our own idea. I have a feeling he loves us even deeper than that.

His love for us is a lot like taking a ride somewhere. It’s been a journey. We’ve had to learn and discover the deepness of his love. The journey has taken us places, it’s given us emotions that have changed us and when you look back 10 years, 5 years, 2 years and then today and you see all these parts he has built up within you. They have made you stronger and wiser. They have taught you so much that you are not the same person you were earlier. It’s not possible to be the same person anymore.

If the Father has made us so perfectly in his image then it is our duty to best believe that his design is intentional and the things that make us who we are were truly meant to be. Our identity is something we need to embrace.

That brings me back to the question I’ve been asked a few times lately.

What do I bring to the table?

The saying has been around forever but in the context of our relationship with the Father i wonder if we’re truly aware of what we bring to the table? I’m aware of the things I bring. I mentioned them at the beginning.

Things like authenticity and genuineness were words given to me recently. I’ve seen it and know it to be true. Another word given to me which also sits in line with the others was presence. Presence is not something you practice. Presence is something you carry and if anything it is more of a reflection. It’s what people see.

I think those are three amazing things to bring to the table.

Authenticity

Genuineness

Presence

Each one of those I see mirror the way the Father also was. The beauty in this is that this is what he intended for me. I didn’t really ever work towards this, it just became a part of me as i matured. This is how the Father builds us up. This is how he built me up.

I want to finish with this. The other day I was reading out of Acts chapter 2. Here King David spoke of a Lord who he walks with so intimately. He knows that he is forever side by side with him. He speaks of his praises, his joy and the hope that is so strong.

I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’”

Acts of the Apostles 2:25-28 NLT

It’s my hope that we all find a place where we can each be thankful for his presence, praise him for the joy he has given us and continue to live in such strong hope that he is forever with us on this journey. We will not be shaken. He will not be moved.

Whatever it is that you bring to the table you should have a confidence in it. A confidence within yourself. Your value is found in the things that Christ has given you. And all you bring is all you need to bring. It is all he intended for you. It is all you need…..and it is yours to keep!

Owning your identity

So I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about our identities and the way that our Father works within them.

Let’s start with the obvious. Our identity, which God has given us – is seen through the ways we use our gifts, which he has also given us. Our gifts become like our authority. God wants us to use that authority so that people may know and literally see our God given identity. He wants us to use it in a way that brings joy to his heart and glory to his name.

I feel such encouragement when I think about the way that my identity is found. I’m so profoundly lifted when I realise that the gifts he has given me are where my identity in Christ is revealed. The gifts are intended for me. They are for me to use in ways in which I can bless those i come across.

God has given us all gifts. Some are unique, others are intended for the right people. But all of us have an immense value that our Father wants us to not just discover, but use.

We find these gifts in so many ways. We find them in the way we serve tirelessly without seeking reward. We find them in the selfless faith we carry each and every day. We find them in the way our hearts desire for things. We find them in the things that make us come alive.

Some of us love like all of us only wish we could. It’s a love that looks easy, it looks like peace as well. It’s amazing! Love and peace feel like the dynamic duo we all seek and when we find it it is THE most brilliant feeling. To have someone shower you with their love and peace is a blessing you invaluably accept.

No matter what our identity entails it is all special and brilliant. After all, it’s God’s craftiness that has been at work, and his workmanship is unlike no other.

It’s so clearly part of his design for us and when i see this it draws me in closer and stronger with each day. He has a path he has set us on, he has us on his fingertips guiding and encouraging us. He walks beside us – forever in control. That right there is a powerful hope to hold on to. He is with us at ALL times so be on the lookout, listen for him.

Our Father has given us so much already. But perhaps the most exciting thing about what he has given us is that we literally have no comprehension of just what he can actually do and the depths that he would go in order to do so.

I was drawn to Ephesians 3:20 earlier and was simply struck in awe. It says

“ God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit gently within us.” (MSG version)

This is amazing! It’s Marvellous! It leaves me sat in awe of just what he could do. What I know is this. You and I, we all have gifts intended for use. And when you see the way he is already using you then you begin to sense a little a tick of the magnitude of his plans for us.

He does this by using us, by living within us. So when we use our gifts it is like God showing us the things we are capable of. But not only that. He’s showing us who we really are intended to be.

It is such an encouragement when we realise that. It’s also an incredible blessing to be entrusted with. He gives us this when we are ready to use it. He equips us with what we can handle. We are a vessel created and crafted for that specific purpose. It’s up to us to discover that purpose and gifting.

As I’ve thought long and hard over the past weeks he’s shown how this all comes together for the good of his kingdom. I’ve seen this in the words spoken over me. I’ve seen this in the way the same things have been confirmed by others. Almost like twins who think the same things. Our Father has confirmed much in recent weeks like that. It’s exciting and empowering when that happens.

But as I finish this “lesson”, if we can call it that. I want to finish by empowering you to step out and use your own gifts. Listen to God. Listen for the finer details which will become the start of something with such great purpose. No gift is too small, insignificant or over used. There’s always a need for more of it.

I’m lucky right now that the sense of my gifting is so strong right now. But rather than make it about me I just want to listen to the things my Father in heaven reveals to me. That friends is what is worth sharing.

Encountering God

I’ve found myself lately focused on the ways in which I encounter God. For a few months I’ve been leaning far more intentionally on the ways in which I encounter him and then choose to interact with him. He’s taught me to listen more to those around me. To remind me that he uses every one of us as a means to speak to us.

I’ve always known that there’s an intentionality behind the people that God provides in our lives. They are there for a reason. They are there because they provide us with tools or gifts that we are open to receive. These people are our encouragement, our kick up the backside and they are the ones who watch out for us. They are many things. They are also the tools that God uses to equip us with what we need.

Originally this blog was entirely centred on the ways we encounter God and at a later point it will again. However i felt it was perhaps necessary to think about it in a different way. A way in which it affects us in a world that is now changing by the day. Why? Because things are changing quickly and the world we live in has a reality that is very different to the one of how we spent Christmas Day. So much has changed!

What’s clear is that this world is a very different world now. Our freedom is being challenged. Our simple, every day routines have been compromised. What we took for granted all of a sudden seems more valuable. Life feels a little more a gift than an entitlement. We’ve been reminded in the most brutal way that life is fragile and that it isn’t assured.

All those thoughts are just a little confronting to think about. But equally it’s a time to remind ourselves that God is still near. Things are still the same between he and I. They are still the same between God and yourselves. And it’s those encounters with God that we should be dearly looking for. He is there. He’s not gone anywhere. Right now I feel an encouragement to be more actively seeking him. To be mindful of the ways in which he is presenting himself to me.

There’s little doubt the feeling of seeking God more is a thought that has crossed all our minds lately. This is a world now that needs resolution. It needs restoration and healing. It is a world that is crying out for authority and there is none better than God.

Coronavirus has us all feeling a little anxious and concerned. Our daily lives aren’t just affected they are altered. We are learning to do things differently. We are learning to keep our space from people. We are learning to be mindful of the things we do and the way we go about that. We are retraining ourselves in our habits. It’s all a bit unique and different, and we as creatures of habit never like change.

There is though an encouragement. Because even amongst the fear we feel on our streets, our shopping malls and transport network there is something far greater than the strongest fear we can entertain.

God.

He’s not just our creator and father. He is our healer. This is the same God who moved mountains, parted seas and broke droughts. He has an infinite amount of power over this world.

So of course we should continue to ask him for healing of the sick. We should ask him for protection. We should ask that he will bring wisdom and clarity to our political leaders. We should ask him to provide strength and precision to our doctors and their teams, including nurses.

That is the God we encounter when we actively seek him. It is the God we know and have faith in. Even in these challenging times his promises are still so real. He has reminded me so much of that fact in recent months. That all it takes is a genuine heart that seeks him out and one that is willing to receive what he is offering.

So friends. Be open. Be open to the things he places on your heart. Be mindful of the ways in which he speaks to you. Know that there are people in your life for a very specific reason. Challenge yourself to be more open with them. Have a conversation with them, even if you’ve never done so yet. Just know that God has a reason for that moment. It’s all part of his design. And now perhaps more than ever his design needs you working towards it.

The mindset

I often wondered what it was like to find a level of peace that existed beyond what I initially knew. It’s easy to say to someone “Cheer up!” Or “Look on the bright side dude!”. But when you feel that way it’s not always easy to simply pick yourself up and feel better about certain things or situations. On occasions there are but what’s more likely is that you will put on an act to look as if you’ve moved on, all the while you feel a sense of carrying that burden with you, it remains. It just sits in your back pocket waiting to come out again at a later point.

We’re really good at storing unnecessary things within us. We hold grudges. We hold disappointments. We hold bad experiences. We hold a lot of things that carry negative weight within us. It’s crazy that we do!! Why do it!?!? It’s doing no good for us so why focus on it? Why let it absorb so much energy? It would be so much better if we could just flush it away and know that it’s done with.

So how do we do that?

The truth is we’re flawed characters. We don’t have all the answers. That is how we end up where we are in the first place. We make decisions emotively. How we feel determines how we react. It feels as if we are built with defensive mechanisms within us. They seem to stem from our flawed personalities. We react in a imperfect manner. It’s proven in those moments we look back on and realise we didn’t react the way we should have or even would like to have.

I believe the key to difference starts in a similar place. It’s starts within us. It starts with our mindset. Our mind is our biggest weapon yet our most dangerous adversary. It can do both. Both brilliance and destruction. But there lies a real force in a mindset that is positive. There comes with it a real belief and determination to wherever you find yourself. A positive mindset is more proactive. It is more productive and it is far more healthy for us. I guess it stems from knowing what we want in life, or in that day or moment.

Ultimately though a positive mindset is the ability to think in a manner that chooses not to worry. It chooses to think in a forward thinking space. It determines a mindset that doesn’t let things get in the way. It focuses on a way and shuts out all thoughts around it that could unsettle those thoughts. It’s a mindset that requires strength and discipline because it’s obviously far easier to let our emotive selves control the way we think.

The level of peace I carry now stems from a shift in my mindset.

What did I do exactly?

Well first you need to identify your mindset and what dictates it. You need to figure out what it is that controls your thinking. Is it your job? Your family? Perhaps it’s your wealth or even your health?? But deep down there will be something that feels central to dictating the way you think and feel.

When you figure out what it is that dominates your mindset you have to ask yourself.

Is this a good thing? Or

Is this a bad thing?

I think it’s so important to fixate your mind on the good things in life . Things that make you happy, things that bring value to your life. Things that deep down inside of you feel right.

Equally though it is time to rid yourself of the things that you feel drag you down in life. This is your life, you decide what is good or bad for you in your life. Rid yourself of it. Don’t allow yourself to invest the time even thinking about it. Choose to say “No! I’m not going to focus on this.”. Choose to rid yourself of the negative energies in your life. Focus on the good and allow your mind to feel at peace. Your mind can have you sinking deeper by the day if you allow it to do so.

A healthy mind is wonderful basis to build upon. A healthy mind is a mind at peace, and a mind at peace is a mind that is making choices that deep down feel right and do good for you.

My mind feels at peace most of the time now, but I am human. That default mechanism has me emotively thinking some days but I am usually quick to slap that in the face and think with a mindset that is more positive for myself.

Perhaps a lot of that is to do with my Christian faith………….

Actually, it probably has a lot to do with that. Maybe faith has a lot to do with instilling a positive mindset?

If faith is the ability to trust in something you cannot physically see then that right there is a mindset that chooses to think outside our usual emotive ways. Instead it chooses to believe in a higher power greater than myself. It chooses to believe that what I feel or fear is merely my emotive state telling me otherwise. The challenge is always to trust the process.

Having God there helps a lot with this. I choose not worry about things that I can’t control. Instead giving them to God, and knowing that if I focus on what’s important then the rest will fall in to place. And it always does.

The old me would’ve let that fear or negative thought take control at some point. It would’ve highlighted to me how my reaction was always a certain way. A way that didn’t really help me with anything. Now though it is different. It starts with the mindset that sees me looking forward and positively. And with it a reminder every time of how much better, easier and enjoyable life is when you look at life through a positive lens.

So friends it’s a simple equation. The choice is yours. It’s like a fork in the road. Your mindset will control you. Which direction you want to send it is up to you.

Left or right? East or West? In the dark or the light? It’s your call. Even if you feel you’re in a good place right now let it reinforce the value of a positive mindset and be thankful you’re able to enforce it.

But perhaps it’s best put this way. Don’t think of it so much as a case of simply trying to find the good in any situation. But rather learn to look for the good. Even in situations which leave you feeling bummed or hopeless. Desperate or sad. Try and find something of value, something of good. It will help. It will help even if all it does is encourage you to think and react differently.

Fears

So a few months ago I was asked whether I would like to give a short speech on Sunday at my church. Just a short kind of thing that lasted perhaps 2 minutes.

It was basically an opportunity to speak on what God has been doing within me. The truth is that God has been doing a lot inside me this last 12 months. Not all of it is groundbreaking. Not all of it is even that important to anyone outside of me. But it’s been undeniable that he’s been working on me, ”Project Pete” in this time.

Unfortunately on this chosen Sunday, I was not to be around. I was out of town. I was disappointed to not have a chance to talk about it because I believe the opportunity was a good one to be honest and real with a group of people.

That last line there is a strange one because anyone who knows me would know that I’m far from comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of an audience. Most of us have felt this way. I used to dread, fear, loathe and even hide from the idea of doing so in high school.

My mind goes to places where it thinks about what I could possibly say and how insignificant it would be. How something big for me is simply for me. That my highs aren’t shared in the same light for others.

Even today the idea of sharing or speaking still gets me slightly uneasy but I feel at piece with the idea of doing so now. You learn over time that the reality of anything is never half as bad as the fear of the unknown that you feel beforehand.

Fear is one of, if not THE greatest foe of man of all time. It plays on us like a kid with a nasty streak who just can’t stop. If allowed to continue it will persist.

Fear is something we all feel at different times. Sometimes it comes and goes. Sadly it can often hang around and dictate life if you let it. But what is fear? And why does it have such a powerful effect on us??

The truth may well be that fear is simply nothing more than an illusion but then why is it so hard to sweep it aside? What is it that lets fear dictate the way we feel?

Sure, there is the reality that we do worry about how others perceive us. So that quite often can be a reason not to do something. But the fear of the unknown is probably an even greater reason. If we knew the outcome of doing something then we would do it right away, especially if we knew it could be a good thing.

The fear of the unknown is a funny one. It has the ability to paralyze us because we simply cannot see what will happen next. But why do we automatically assume the outcome will be negative? It’s human nature i guess.

But what would it look like to assume that the outcome will in fact be a positive one? The right one! It comes back to a couple of things for me. First it requires you to believe in yourself and the person you are. You need that quiet confidence in yourself to believe that this next step is one you’re ready to make.

The other step required is to show some faith. Faith not only in yourself but that the direction you’re heading in is the right one. You need to trust that you’re in this position for a reason, that it’s no mistake that you’re in this moment.

I know it’s easier said then done. It’s a hell of a lot easier said actually!

You’ll probably only fight with yourself for longer than you need before convincing yourself you should do it. Why? Because that’s how fear works. Things are always harder than they should be when fear is in the way.

Faith is actually a key component in overcoming fear. Faith is believing in something even when you don’t see it yet. Fear will try block your faith and keep you right where you are. Overcoming those fears is a big part in how we grow as people.

What I’ve learned is there’s no easy way to overcome it. You have to look it in the eye and just do it. You have to be strong enough to look past the things you fear. You have to realise that in order to keep growing you need to be able to believe that you are bigger and greater than what your fear tells you.

Fear will tell you many things. All of them negative. Obstacles though are meant to be overcome. Fear is exactly that. An obstacle.

I saw a great exercise in overcoming your fears a few years ago. The non profit community ”To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA) launched a campaign back then where people were photographed holding a card which listed their ”Fears vs Dreams”.

On that card they listed a fear and then below it a dream. The idea being that it highlights its okay to have things we fear, we are all human. But that place of fear doesn’t define us. Our dreams are in part what defines us. The things we hope for mean something greater & deeper than any fear could ever be.

Fear is an obstacle. Our dreams are….our dreams, our hopes, our desires. Deep down they are things which mean something to us. They are significant to us. Below is a video which captures the idea of the concept TWLOHA were aiming for.

Fears vs Dreams concept video

TWLOHA – Fears vs Dreamshttps://youtu.be/NAJQttIy_vQ

The idea of promoting people listing their fears and dreams is one that encourages people. It can also empower and show people that what they feel is something others feel too. That they are not alone in feeling this. We all need encouragement to press in to things from time to time because too often we feel as though we’re doing this on our own.

As for me?

Well, fear is always going to be there. But the key is to remember that I am greater and stronger than it. That I’ve already overcome it previously. It doesn’t define me, doesn’t control me and certainly it is not my companion. For the most part I do okay with this.

When I live in this mindset I not only believe that it’s true but I see the evidence of it too.

Friends,

If fear is nothing more than an obstacle created by illusion, the challenge then must be to overcome it like you’re meant for this moment.

Godspeed!

The think tank in me + you

So. I’m a thinker. I think about a lot of things. I probably think about things too much, sometimes without doing too much. I’ve been told that it’s kind of a habit somewhat normalized by plenty of us in the world today.

It’s an odd thought though to think a lot yet to do little about it. The truth is I’m getting better at doing things with those thoughts. What I’m discovering is that there’s actually a useful purpose behind some of those thoughts. One of those thoughts has been where writing steps in and creates something of those thoughts.

So the other morning an Instagram post from Jedidiah Jenkins @jedidiahjenkins got my attention. Jed is a guy who I found out about via my brother Andrew. Jed is a writer and Instagram personality. His book ”To Shake The Sleeping Self” sits here at home.

I’ve not read it yet but I see it sit there every day waiting to be read. I so badly want to read it because I can tell that from what Jed says on his Instagram feed that his words and indeed his thoughts are going to be so worth tapping in to.

So I mentioned Jed today because his latest Instagram post was something eerily similar to the things that I’ve been seeing in the past 4-5 months. Writing has been fun. Jed questioned how we know we should be writing?

For him and to a lesser extent I, it comes back to how your stuff is received. It’s one thing to put it out there and be brave enough in doing so. It’s another thing entirely to have it out there and creating any sort of impression on people. For it to make ANY sort of difference on just one person makes it a worthwhile experience and a purposeful exercise.

To have seen the ways in which things I’m writing have affected people has been an eye opener. Generally a lot of the feedback has been positive and the encouragement written about has been appreciated. I’ve also found that my words have been timely for others. Something that was needed and sought after.

I’ve learned within this time that these words aren’t just my words, they become your words and your friends words. Essentially they are words that are there for anyone they connect with.

The power in the words we write or even speak is not lost on me. It really does bring home the importance of the saying ”choose your words carefully!”.

My journey has only been 4-5 months long. It’s only just begun. I have no idea where the journey takes me or what it means but the lessons I’ve learned along the way already have been valuable. They have taught me deep, profound things about life.

At this point today I feel encouraged. I feel as though I simply need to remain focused on the things that I am doing. As a thinker, this is not easy.

Why?

Because my mind wants to think about what happens next? Next week. Next month. Next year. But I’m learning the value of simply letting things happen and embracing them. God tells us so often not to worry about tomorrow. I’m always drawn to Matthew 6:25-27

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%206:25-27&version=NLT

It’s a reminder to me, and if not all of us that we shouldn’t give too much concern for what tomorrow holds, instead focus on today and put all your efforts in to today.

When I look back on time I see the ways in which things usually do work out. When I look ahead all I see is the unknown but then when I look back i see a path which was created.

Like climbing a mountain – the road up looks daunting and slow but then from the top you see where you’ve come from and the view from where you now sit. It’s so much worth the effort and the determination to get there.

And it’s there that maybe the lesson is found?

The challenge is to worry less about where you’re going to end up and more about where you are right now. I believe God’s got me where I’m meant to be right now.

My challenge is to dig into that place and find the purpose for my situation. To worry less about what comes next and more on what I’m going to do now. I’ve seen the evidence of what happens when I follow the idea that this life is a story created and I just need to play my part.

So it’s a nice thing to see that my own story has similar episodes to others. It encourages me. It encourages me to keep doing the things that I am doing and know that there is a purpose in them.

It’s also kind of quirky the way that things can inspire you. The thought of an Instagram personality inspiring anyone is so modern day. If anything it shows you the value that does lie within social media when it’s used for good.

So when this ”thinker” thinks back over recent months he begins to see that it’s those thoughts that are coming alive – one tiny spark at a time. The challenge though is constant; to continue pressing in to those thoughts…..one day at a time.

Dear Friend – part II

Dear friend,

Life. It isn’t always fair. It isn’t always easy. But we do it anyway. We do it because….well we have to. We do it because inside ourselves a voice tells us to keep going. It tells us to keep fighting. It tells us it wants better. It tells us it wants more than this. It tells us we deserve better than this!

There is joy in the little things in life. Maybe we need to be reminded of this? There is something captivating about life and its offerings.

Friend, this morning I’m reminded that one of the keys to happiness is finding what makes you feel alive and acknowledging this. There are episodes all around us, opportunities each day to take this in.

Even if it’s just the morning coffee or tea ritual. In that moment you will find something of you that comes alive. Hold on to that feeling and remember it.

Maybe it’s just an opportunity to laugh with a friend. Hold on to it! Laughing is such a positive emotion. You need it. We ALL need it.

I’m reminded this week of how important we all are to each other. I’ve seen the value in being there for others. We don’t coexist by chance. Sometimes we need to be the words or examples for other people. What we say and do does matter! It matters because it has the ability to impact more than just ourselves.

Friend, like I said. I’ve seen the value of being there for others this week. But I’ve also seen the value in you. I said you are not defined by your adversity. It is true that you are greater than this.

Your value is measured in those that are closest to you. Only they know the true value of yourself. They say that we ourselves are our harshest critic and that it is our closest friends who’ll speak the greatest values of who we actually are.

Friend, today is another chapter. A new chapter. A new opportunity to continue your story. Stories change over time. Plot lines take on new directions always!

Remind yourself that your story is far from finished. Remind yourself that with each sunrise comes a powerful new opportunity, then when sunset comes be thankful for what was and don’t worry about what wasn’t.

Friend, take hold of what you can, be the difference maker today. Life is what you choose to make of it.

Friend, your story matters. You are more than you realise. Listen to your heart and quieten the noises around you.

Dear Friend – part I

Dear friend,

This one goes out to you. You are not one, but in fact you are many.

Your adversity is not a simple thing. It is not a quick fix. It may become a new day but that new day still feels like the others. It plays on your mind. You see it everywhere, even in the littlest things around you.

Your adversity isn’t just your pain though. It is also your challenge. Your challenge to overcome. The God I know doesn’t put you in positions that you’re not capable of overcoming. You are strong enough to overcome this. You are strong enough to push through it and break through towards better things.

Friend, whatever your adversity is – illness, broken marriages, past failures or addiction. Perhaps it simply a weakness or the loneliness of being separated from those you love? Remember the truth about yourself. That you are better, you are stronger than all those things. You carry a strength within you that allows you to overcome it.

If adversity feels like it’s on your doorstep I hope you see that it’s not bigger than you. Use the things that you have learned in the past. It’s not about learning from mistakes, it’s about realising there’s an opportunity to become a better version of yourself.

Friend, today keep doing what you’re doing. Even if it seems you’re barely moving forward. You’re gonna make it, you’re probably closer than you realise. Keep hold of the hope you have and know you are closer than you were yesterday.

Friend, you’re adversity doesn’t define who you are. You are much greater than this.

Please, remember this.

A new year?

It’s 2019 now. A week has passed since it ticked over. 2018 was a good year. It taught me more than i ever imagined it would. I’m thankful for what was. The lessons we learn about ourselves are just so valuable. The world will tell you how things could be, but i’ve found that there is much more value in what we learn on our own terms. Things have to be done on our own terms, on our own time.

Essentially, you just have to let things happen and control what you can control. When i look back i see the way in which things did work out and almost always it happened in a way in which i couldn’t control.

It seems we line every new year with hopes and desires. We make a mental checklist of what the year will be about. Most of the time it doesn’t end up resembling that list by the time we evaluate our year.

It’s funny that!

New Years resolutions usually get laughed about and then forgotten about. We then make the argument that why should it matter when i commit to a resolution? There’s no reason why i can’t commit to something on January 1st or October 24th is there?

But resolutions should hold more value than perhaps what we allow them to. Yes, the New Years versions become questionable, but the idea of resolutions come back to the things that we hope for and dream about. That is why they should matter. Because somewhere along the process they reveal a part of who we are or hope to be. It’s a chance for us to actually listen to ourselves and hear what our inner self is saying.

The challenge in all this may actually be not so much in the things we decide we hope for and then strive towards, but maybe a better idea is to practice the same thought process more intentionally and more regularly in our day to day lives. Maybe we need to listen to our inner self a little more. Maybe listening more to ourselves and less to the noises around us is more worthwhile??

The new year is often looked at as a clean slate,  a chance to move on from what was….and create hopefully what will be. Others will tackle new adventures, next steps and next chapters. It’s all a chance to build on our own stories.

One of the things i will do in 2019 is remember the way i grew in the past year. From there i want to push on and build on my own story. I learned more than i could’ve expected last year. I found value in places i hadn’t previously bothered investing enough time in. One example was in the way i connected with people. I found value in being more open and more accesible to those around me.

Sometimes i become like my own person and i get the feeling i can be hard to read. Why? Because i wouldn’t open myself up for others to appreciate. I’ve learned that we all need to be more open with each other because it’s in that place that we connect and build relationships. I love the phrase “people need other people”. It couldn’t be more true. I think we need the right people in our lives as much as we need the air we breathe.

What i want to encourage you all for the year ahead is to remember that there is purpose in who you are. There is purpose in just where you are in life right now. There is purpose in the things that you will do this year. No matter what 2019 looks like for you, remember that it is all part of the plan. Remind yourself that you are strong enough to face what ever it is that challenges you right now. Remind yourself to embrace the year ahead. Enjoy the things around you.

Remember to feel alive. Remind yourself to smile, to laugh and love. Remind yourself to listen, to wait and be patient.  Encourage yourself to dig deep for strength if you need it.  Pray about it if you believe in prayer. Invest yourself in those around you who make you feel good….and keep clear of those who drag you down or frustrate you.

Remind yourself that the year ahead is an open book. Nothing is set. The pages of that book are empty. The possibilities are all there. What are you going to write on the pages? Only you will know. Listen to your heart and follow it – it is there that the pages will begin to write themselves.

 

 

Love is…..

There are few words more powerful than the word Love. It is a word that is essentially overused in the English language. We use it to just about describe anything that comes across our path that we find favour with, we even use it in ironic or sarcastic circumstances too, just to prove we really do overuse the word. But Love isn’t just a word, it is something which carries far more power than we often realise.

Often love is associated with the idea of simply loving someone or something. We show affection towards it. It becomes important to us. We believe that it carries more weight or for a better word……significance, than the things around us. We hold a value in this that far outmatches other things. But the truth is that love means many different things and it’s value to some will be far greater than it is to others.

Sadly love will not always represent what you hope for.  To some it will be a hard place. A bitter memory, a painful loss. But these places remind us of the power of love and what it carries, or did carry and how it doesn’t always work out the way it was intended. People are human, they’re aren’t faultless. People will have their own battles and you may not get a say in it. We as people are far from perfect and sadly people do get hurt inside places where love should’ve existed.

Perhaps Love’s greatest asset is the action and reasoning behind it. As an action it is powerful. It has the ability to connect one person with another where circumstances otherwise may not have done so. It takes only a moment to connect people. As simple as helping a mother lift a pram on to a train, yet the action remains in that mother’s mind for longer. Why? Because you showed something of your heart towards her in helping. To love by action is to commit towards something. You show a focus toward it. You have a reason for which you want to be in that moment. There is a value in giving your time to that moment.

Your friends and family are perhaps your best example of where you can show love like this. Growing up i had plenty of friends but there was always a core group, much smaller in number that were your true friends. You know the ones that you would literally stop for and be there for? This was them. They’re the friends that matter the most. Often, like with family, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t have done for them. Their situation was almost always more important than your own.

It’s a selfless love.

It’s never been about impressing others. Or wondering what you could get back in return. It’s a feeling that comes from within, like an extra sense, that channels you in to acting this way. This kind of relationship goes deeper than most. It means something far more significant than other relationships. You could go long periods of time without connecting with these friends or family and things still don’t seem to change. When you catch up it feels like you never drifted apart. These are bonds that we’re lucky to have. These are the bonds most people wish they could have. These are the bonds you should never take for granted.

But what about the world we live in today? It feels often like everyone is out to look after themselves. It can feel like everything has a price and that in order to step out and give someone your time would be at the expense of your own time.  Our time is precious, perhaps more so than ever? We live in a world now that leaves us short on time. It feels like work takes up 70 % of our lives, that sleep takes up 20%(probably less for some) and that the final 10% gets divvied up among ourselves, our partners, friends and family. Time has almost become like currency. We value it more than perhaps ever before.

What i see in the world today is that it is very important to look after yourself. It’s crucial to develop your path. Whether that be through your career, your family or even simply your future. There’s never been more importance placed on those things than there is today. All of this kind of feels a little out of line though. This type of world focuses a lot on looking out for ourselves and not to worry about the other guy, securing our own futures which in one sense is all well and good.  But is that really what we’re here for? Surely there’s more to life than this?? There has to be!

I think one of the greatest things you can give someone is your time. Earlier this year i felt God telling me that i needed to invest more time in those around me. I’ve always had time for friends and family but i haven’t always been the most open of people. Being introverted doesn’t help. You tend to come out of your quiet little corner every so often. It can feel like an effort to simply invest your time in people. But i’ve tried harder at it this year and its been a valuable experience.

What it’s taught me is that there is value in all of us. We’re all so different. So unique! We think differently. We believe different things. We hold different things closer to our hearts. However when we come together and chat, or listen, We’re not all that different afterall. What i once would’ve considered weird about someone, i now kind of view that as them simply being them and there’s nothing wrong in that. It what makes them unique.

It’s taught me that these experiences we share have a way of growing us.  We open our hearts, we share our stories, but perhaps more importantly we are actually showing value in them by investing our time. We show them that they matter and that who they are means something. It also reminds me that we people need other people. Not just to coexist but to remain sane. Trusted friends or colleagues have a good way of understanding us and keeping us on the right track. They have a way of picking you up if your a little down and pushing you towards the direction you should be heading in.

In all this though the question remains.

Love is…..???

Well, love is still the most powerful force on the planet. Love reaches in to places where others would fear to go. Love casts aside all fears, it breaks down barriers that seem unbreakable. Love is offering coffee and your time to someone. Love is respecting the beliefs of others despite what you may believe yourself. Love is positive action in a situation that cries out for help. It’s stepping in to a place where love is missing and offering exactly that, love.

We’re all in the world together, and it’s no accident. There are lessons to be learned for all of us, not just in love but in life. As much as we navigate this life ourselves we should embrace those around us. Learn from them. Listen to them. Encourage them, encourage each other because that’s how it should be. It really is that simple. Love is what you make it to be. If you invest in something or someone, do it with love. Do it because your heart tells you it’s the right thing to do and remember that acts of love are like gifts of kindness. They’re meant to be received.