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.

All I need is….

I’ve been thinking about the title above for a while now, weeks if I’m honest. The question has been inside my head and the context for how I look at it seems to change every so often. One thing stands out though. The more I think about it the less I think we truly need in life.

There’s plenty we think we need but some of those are likely things we want rather then need. We humans are complexed people. It seems the busier we get the more we seem to feel the need or want for things. The more options we have, the more we want. With this it seems we become less satisfied with what we have.

On the flip side I’ve seen many people who’ve had little in their life. They are simple folk with an existence that seems that life is of a slower pace, but you know what? They seem happy! They carry this “less is more” approach to life which says that even though they have little, they have all that they need. I love it. I wish I could be more like this mindset.

That right there is what we’re all searching for. A place of contentment. A place that tells us not to worry about things. A place that reminds us to wake up each day and remember it’s a blessing simply to be alive. It’s a place where we finally feel like we can breathe and appreciate life. That is what we’re all after.

The catalyst to this piece today is a song I’ve been listening to for 2-3 months now. I’ve mentioned Switchfoot a few times already. Late last year they released a new song off their soon to be released album Native Tongue. The song is called “All I need”. But there’s one series of words that hit me more than the rest.

All I need is the air I breathe,

the time we share,

the ground beneath my feet.

Switchfoot-All I Need

I love it! It reminds me that we don’t need a lot. The air we breathe is free, yet vital to our survival. We need to take life in, fill our lungs with life and experience life the way it was intended.

Life has no boundaries, no expectations, no criteria. We just do it. We just need to learn to enjoy life. Love the things that mean something, laugh a little and take the time to rest for yourself. Why? So that you too can appreciate the things around you.

The time we share is what we hope we remember fondly. The best experiences always involve others. The human interaction element to this is what makes us come alive. The connection we feel with others can be such a positive experience that you just crave more.

And lastly the “ground beneath my feet” implies for me that all we need is right at my feet. It is there for me, for you. It’s right on your doorstep. There is an opportunity right there, it’s not some mythical beast or amazing discovery. It’s right at your feet.

Part of me also feels a reminder too to remain grounded, to keep my feet on the ground and keep perspective in life. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in life and lose track of what’s important.

It’s a pretty cool reminder for remaining focused on what really matters in life. I always feel that when all is said and done in life, how you’re remembered by others is what’s important. What did you stand for? What was important to you? Did you give that thing your best shot? Were you true to yourself?

I’m thankful for the air that I breathe, for the opportunities I have today. I’m thankful I have the confidence and clarity of mind to write this right now, I’m thankful for the same opportunities I’ve had to write other things.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to talk to others about the things I’m writing. I’m thankful that there are questions out there that need answers and that there are people out there that know how to verbalise those answers.

Why?

Because life needs these things. We need these things! What i find is that there are more questions than answers out there today, for all of us. Perhaps that’s the real reason we want more than we need???

Perhaps the answer to our questions are found in simplifying life? Maybe the best answer to all our questions is found in focusing on what we need and less on what we want?

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.

 

 

A prayer for Indonesia

It’s Christmas. That time of the year where a good deal of us are thankful, full of love and enjoying a chance to relax for a moment. It’s a time of year to reflect on what has been.

There’s been good days and bad days. Fun times and frustrating times. Opportunities that have grown me and opportunities that have reminded me that everything happens in a time that I can’t always control.

The arrival of the impending new year is another moment. To some it’s a symbolic opportunity to move in a new direction, or to simply opt out of a place you find yourself in.

For me this time of year always has me drawn to things that i value. That means I find myself drawn to things like family and friends. I value the opportunity to stop. Christmas and it’s lead up can be so busy. Rest is important. It’s only then that you kind of realise you could use the break.

I’m reminded by friends that this time of year isn’t for all. There are those that don’t celebrate Christmas and there are those where the new year becomes simply another day and no more. It’s a reminder of how different we all can be and how it’s important to respect all around us.

As much as this time of year is nice for me, it’s been hard to see the hardships of those suffering right now. Indonesia is in my mind. A devastating tsunami ripped through an area between Sumatra and Java, killing hundreds.

Sadly it’s not the first time and it’s probable that it will happen again. I still remember vividly how scary the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 was.

It seems it’s become a way of life there. That the ocean is both what gives and takes away from these people. It provides life and opportunity for the people who live in coastal regions. The relationship they have with the land and the ocean is a deep one, so it’s sad when I hear of the fear they can have in times like these.

What’s not lost on me is the devastation these natural disasters cause. It’s heartbreaking! Lives are lost. Families depleted, broken. Livelihoods smashed into oblivion. Destruction reigns and the recovery process is long and hard.

Aid efforts will help. There are many based within the country that are already doing things. It’s a proud nation with proud people and determination will play a big part in them moving forward from here.

What’s hard not to look past in times like these is the reminder of just how precious life is and how delicately our lives can be held. Life is a gift, an opportunity to make a difference. Those opportunities can be both small and large, simple and complex. But the gift is what YOU make of it.

Life is vulnerable because you have no control of it. You don’t know what’s coming. You see examples of fit and healthy people who die suddenly.

How many live with the threat that a debilitating illness could kill them at anytime, yet they live for what seems a long period in the knowledge that they’re doing better than expected?

Life is mysterious like this.

It’s not just a chance to appreciate what we do have, but to remind ourselves that there is a beauty about life and the fact that our stories remain open.

Our stories are our lives. They are what make us who we are. They’re different and unique to each other and we have so much we can learn from opening up to each other.

That’s why the heartbreak i feel for Indonesia matters. Because it is here that stories have been ended. But I’m also reminded that amongst the heartbreak within Indonesia is an opportunity for other stories to be enhanced. Other opportunities will rise from within the devastation.

I hope people will stand up for others and bring new hope and new joy. This is a new beginning. A new opportunity. An opportunity for new stories and new dreams.

But what worries me is they have been here before and it feels as though it will only happen again. My prayer is that they will find a way to be safe.

I don’t quite know how that looks, but it is okay to hope. It is more than okay to believe these people will build for a new tomorrow. For now though I pray for safety. I pray for restoration of their land and their livelihood.

I pray that the best is yet to come.

Songwriters. Storytellers? Hope merchants?

One of life’s most commonly treaded paths on the way from childhood to adulthood is the experiences that shape you. You go from being a child who seems to do everything with their parents to determining your own independance. You choose your own friends, you determine how well it is that you’ll do at school and you begin to define yourself by the things you do. Some of us play sports, some of us play musical instruments, others invest themselves in books. It’s these years in our lives that reveal part of who we become.

In my teenage years sport was always a big part. Whether it was supporting my Balmain Tigers rugby league team or playing soccer, tennis and later cricket. Sport has always been a part of my DNA. But equally it is music that has been a big thing for me. I learned to play the drums for a brief while, tried to play guitar right handed, despite being a natural left hander. I loved attending rock concerts/shows/gigs. I’d seen the odd one in my teens but it wasn’t really till i hit 18 that attending these such shows became my normal.

By this point i was seeing close to a couple of gigs a month, often more. There was plenty to like about the experience. The bands, the bright lights, the deafening sounds and the fact that you were there with like minded people. It was great fun, and a relatively safe environment for a teenager to be in.

I’ve seen so many bands, too many to count really! My scene was pop punk bands generally. Sometimes they were heavier, louder, angrier and other times they were gentle, soothing and melodic. Over time you connect with certain bands, not just their music but the things that they stand for as individuals. You realise that these bands actually stand for things, important things. They stand as ambassadors to the ways of life that we can choose to live by.

A lot of them, if not all, will stand for loving and respecting everyone around them. But you do begin to realise that some hold these values closer than others. You end up being drawn towards the ones with likeminded thoughts and values to yourself. As much as a good guitar riff or hook sucks you in, it’s the connection you feel with a band or song that will pull you in properly.

I naturally was drawn to bands that were either positive, defiant, honest and real. Why? Because thats how i see life in general. I’m all of those things. It would be fair to say bands like Anberlin, Paramore and Switchfoot have become my anthems. Their like mindedness drew me in. I could empathise with what they said in their songs. I could understand and relate to things they said outside of their music.

To me music speaks not just of a band or persons creative talents but it delves so obviously into the hearts and minds of their existence.  It reveals who these people really are. In Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman i see a guy who’s creative mind is one of the best in the business. He’s written some beautiful, inspirational and damn fine rock songs in his time.

He writes from the heart. Love, compassion, determination and wisdom are just some of things he likes to write about. Jon challenges you with his lyrics, like in 2000’s “Dare You to Move” where he writes;

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Here Jon challenges us to act with more intent. That a life full of regrets, or missed opportunities, is a life that is one action away from becoming who we can and should be. He dares us to move and to become the person we can, should and hope to be.

Again in 2003’s “Meant to Live”, Jon encourages us to simply live for more than what this world has got to offer. When i think about this i tend to think back to the phrase that there has to be “more to living than being alive”.

What do i mean?

Well. you can go around in life working, creating your own path to security. Looking after yourself and your family – which is great! That though is the mantra that’s got us where we are today. But look at the world. Look at the poverty. Look at the brokenness of our world. Look at the brokenness inside our own cities! Somewhere we’ve failed our peers, our communities and our fellow man.

How do you do that though?

I don’t think it necessarily means we need to be cape wearing warriors on the street stamping out all evil and saving the day. But we can still be warriors out there fighting for what we believe is the right thing. We can be out there caring enough for our fellow man.

Another band i’ve always connected with is Paramore. Their front-women Hayley Williams has always been a vocal leader of her scene – the pop punk loving youth/adults of the world. But the thing i love most about Hayley is her honesty. She’s never been one to sugar coat her words. She has a heart which allows itself to be vulnerable and raw. She’s not afraid to admit her struggles, her faults and the battle that it tows along with it.

Real people are what i connect with. When i say real i mean real in the sense that I prefer people who will say what they’re thinking. We people are not afraid to admit that life isn’t always easy. That some days are hard. Some things plain suck! But it’s okay to feel that way. We all do! It’s just that some aren’t always open to admitting it.

There’s a beauty in all this actually. When people open up and you see them for who they actually are it opens the door for something to be let in to that moment.

HOPE

Hope is like the anthem for my soul, my own soul. Hope is many things. Hope isn’t just a place on the horizon for those who are in a tough place. Hope is real. Hope is found in the relationships we’ve already built and loved. Hope is also found in the music and words that we come across.

 

Music has a way of speaking to us. Lyrics connect us to the music. This is the great unknown beauty of music. That until you listen to a song you have no idea how that song could impact you. Infact you could hear it one day and it could mean nothing. A week later you could listen to it again and only this time does it resonate with you. 

Why is that?

Your circumstances will  always trigger emotions and they will only ever need a tiny spark to turn in to bigger flames.

They say music is “good for the soul”. If that’s true then it’s probably also worth suggesting that lyrics are like the air that we breathe. They carry us when we’re down, they fill a missing piece in a place that feels void.  They also remind us that what we feel ourselves is universal – that we are not alone in that place.

But perhaps the biggest compliment i can pay to songwriters in general is that their creative talents are quite often the voice that we cannot find. Their words become our missing link. Songwriters have a way with words that often we ourselves cannot find on our own.

“Where words fail, music speaks”

It’s true. Sometimes music speaks for what we feel inside. A lot of the time it is the lyrics which communicate perfectly what we simply can’t verbalise first.  It’s perhaps a songwriter’s greatest gift to us all, the ability to speak in to us what we feel.

For that I am thankful. For the opportunity to get lost in the music and lifted by the power it communicates with us. For it playing a role in our story and helping us identify with what we feel.

They may well be the coolest story tellers in society.

 

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.

 

 

 

Live Inspired

It’s been a good couple of weeks since i posted anything. Truthfully i have been a little busier lately. Distracted by the things that are indeed life. That’s not to say i have had no time to think…..I have, and I’ve been thinking and searching for inspiration. A few thoughts have come to me but with little substance to actually write about it. That has been a frustrating thing, but i realise that these things have to come about themselves. You don’t just write for the sake of writing. Well i can’t anyways. I feel like i only want the things i truly believe to be the things i endorse through writing.

For me a lot of what i have written starts as a simple thought. It starts with a thought that simply connects with the way i feel about something. Lately though those simple thoughts seemed to lead to a dead end.  You can spend so much energy on this that it becomes almost tiring.  You can pray, you can read things, but when the connection just doesn’t match up i have learned just to wait, and wait i did. That was until…..today!

This morning in church we had a guest speaker by the name of Lana Vawser.  Lana is what we call a prophetic mentor. She travels around ministering to churches and encouraging them and their people to seek out a greater intimacy with God. Whilst a lot of what she said this morning was not necessarily anything new to my ears it was in fact parts of her own story and experience that impacted on me.

Lana is also a writer and is set to release her second book very shortly. To hear of the experiences she encountered during her own process of writing was encouraging. It was encouraging because i too have felt the same things with myself. Writing takes time. There is a process and not often do you come out with 1000 words in 45 minutes or so. Okay, so that has happened, but more often i find it is something that happens with 2-3 paragraphs one day, perhaps the same again a day later. You read it to yourself later, touch it up some more and before you know it you have something that you’re happy with.

It was encouraging to hear Lana speak of the impact her words could have. Even when i was younger and writing simple little match reports for my friends and their Western Reds touch football team i would be told countless times how they enjoyed what i had written up that week. That was then, this is now.

In the 3 months since i began posting stuff publicly that same response has happened again. Some people simply encourage you for what you have done. Some go a little further and then encourage you to keep going and remind you that it is a gift and that gifts are there to be received by others.  Lana spoke of the way her words can impact people.  Words can guide people, they can encourage people. I’ve found too that people have been impacted by the words i have shared, and that it’s an important thing to be able use your words for good.

Perhaps the craziest thing i got out of Lana’s visit was when she admitted that she found it hard to believe she had actually written her books. That not just the experience she went through to get to that point, but also the content of what she had written seemed far beyond what she thought she was capable of. Okay, so obviously she did in fact write the content, but i can attest to the feeling of going back over something and thinking “Wow! Did i really write that?? How? “.

It’s a weird thing looking back at something you wrote and feel as if the words which so perfectly fit were actually your words.  Some of it i’m not sure how it comes about. I’m far from a scholar of the english language but when i read it back sometimes i’m left in awe that i actually put that together.  In my view i can only thank God for the way he has led me to the words i have put down.

Ultimately what today taught me is that all i needed was some inspiration in order to get moving again. For a couple of weeks prior to today it seemed that as much as i wanted to write, there simply wasn’t anything coming across my path. As i sat there in church on this Sunday morning it felt a little like i had a moment where i felt God telling me;

“Pete – i know you’ve been waiting and this is your moment. Be ready, write about it. Write about it because people are going to need to read this”

What are these people going to take from it? I have no idea?  Is what’s relevant to me also relevant to others? And is what i believe in all this actually true of other people too?? I really can’t answer that. However i hope that it is.

But maybe the idea of feeling inspired by something or for this day someone is all that’s needed.  Inspiration has a way of driving us in a certain direction. It has a way of determining a thought process. Inspiration has a clear path linking us to things we believe in. Without it it can feel like part of our identity is missing  or even as if we’re lost. We need to feel inspired in order to become the people we hope to be. Inspiration gives us strength, that’s how and why it drives us at the best of times.

Living inspired is something we all strive for at one point or another. For me i find it seems to be at its strongest when i’m focusing less on myself and more on the things around me. I’m probably guilty of focusing on myself a little too often that i can miss the moments before my eyes. However when i do happen to realise the moment it’s a powerful thing to understand why i am in that situation.

Sometimes though the moments don’t actually lead to jaw dropping breakthroughs or light bulb moments. Sometimes they’re just small nudges that push you closer to where you’re meant to be, and that’s okay. It might be a conversation with a someone that draws inspiration out of you or even just a 20 minute stroll along the beach that gets you thinking about stuff once again.  Either way, these are the moments that offer you a choice and a chance to turn one way or another.  The challenge then is to step out, and like on this particular Sunday morning. i certainly felt the challenge to follow up on what my own heart and mind was telling me. How do i know this? Because the proof is right here among these words.