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My blog is my escape, where my passion for people & writing come together to create something special. Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be blessed. Much love & keep smiling. x

Thursday, December 31, 2015

twenty fifteen.

As the year has quickly come to an end, I am left reflecting on the lessons I have once again learnt and trust me, 2015 has taught me the most.

1. Trust carefully.
This year I have acknowledged the fact that I trust people way too easily. The reality is that people will disappoint you - it's harsh, but it's true and unfortunately it's taken a few of these experiences for me to realise this. When you trust someone, you let down your walls and it is this vulnerability that can be so easily taken advantage of.

2. People come and go.
I see the people we encounter and connect with as one of two things: a message in a bottle or an anchor. They either come into your life merely to teach you a lesson, then just as quickly they drift and move on to be picked up by someone else; or they support, love and encourage you, holding you down when your seas get rough. God will bring people into your life that are meant to be there and they can be a blessing or a lesson; sometimes even both, but just at different times. He can also take people out of your life just as quickly, but just remember that ultimately, He sees the bigger picture and He knows what He is doing.

3. It's okay not to be okay.
We all have 'those' days and I have had my fair share this year alone. 2015 has been an emotional roller coaster and I have realised that I am a lot stronger than I thought. But, of course, that only lasts a while, because as soon as you think you are getting your life back together, something else decides to laugh in your face and go 'ha, not yet'. You're allowed to wake up and feel like crap. You're allowed to want to be alone and cry. You're allowed to have those days. Don't feel guilty for not feeling okay. Just don't forget that a bad day doesn't mean you have a bad life. Don't let a single situation you are facing determine your attitude toward everything else. Not all situations need a reaction. Amid all of the chaos, ask yourself whether the situation that's making you feel this way will matter this time next week, next month, next year? Don't let someone or something small and insignificant use up your energy unnecessarily and as a result, hinder your happiness.

4. Just do you.
One of the biggest killers of happiness is constantly comparing yourself with other people, whether that be people we actually know or those Instagram Famous 'celebrities' that pay for followers and look like they have the 'perfect life'. Real talk: society's standards are messed. I'll be honest, I couldn't count the amount of times I have compared my appearance to others on one hand, let alone two. It's a huge insecurity of mine and I struggle with it daily, but who is to say what the definition of beauty is? I know, it is as cliche as my Year 10 creative writing piece for English, but sometimes the only way we understand it is to hear it a million times. Not only do I compare myself to others, but I am also guilty of being a people-pleaser. I get really uncomfortable and upset when I know that people aren't happy with me and more than anything, I hate losing friends over situations that could have been well and truly avoided. If this is sounding familiar then my one piece of advice is just do you. It's easier said than done and for me it's a work-in-progress, but I won't stop trying to be the best version of me I can.

5. Find your passion.
I love writing, if you can't half tell. I also love food: eating it, that is - cooking and cleaning are not quite my thing (just ask my family - on a scale from gourmet to burns toast, I am the latter). But how can you find your passion by staying within the realms of your comfort zone? Try new things. Go on adventures. Fill up the car, grab a few friends and drive places you have never been before. Go camping. Learn a new language. Don't listen to TLC and go chase those waterfalls. Solo-travel. Go on a mission trip. Make a bucket list and actually tick things off! What's stopping you from doing what you love? What's stopping you from finding your passion? And once you find that thing that makes you happy, hold onto it and don't ever let it go.

So whether you have had an amazing year or you are keen to put this one away and start fresh with 2016, take this time to reflect on the memories, the challenges and the adventures that you have experienced this year. I can guarantee that you aren't the same person you were this time last year. We are constantly growing and maturing and it is our choice how we let these experiences impact us - positively or negatively. What are you choosing?

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, December 24, 2015

presence.

It has taken me a while to acknowledge the fact that it is actually Christmas again. Like what just happened? Did I not wake up from my food coma of Christmas 2014 and just skip all of this year or something? Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

Even with all of the Christmas carols, the candy canes, the tinsel, the corny Bon Bon jokes (which I really appreciate, mind you), the fake snow, the lights and the omnipresent Santa Clause that can magically be at every single shopping centre AT THE SAME TIME - childhood ruined; even with all of these things surrounding me, I just couldn't convince myself that it was Christmas.

But this morning, in the spirit of Christmas Eve, my sister and I decided to sit down and finally watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas for the first time (cue eye rolling, gasping and an exaggerated chorus of 'whaaaat!'), yesssss I know, first time, pathetic right? Needless to say, it was so worth the wait. And also, sidenote: how did parents show their children that movie? That big, hairy, green thing is pretty scary. However, amid all the wonderful puns, the hilarious innuendos and the cringe-worthy noses on those Who's in Whoville, the underlying meaning is so, so much more.

Working at a supermarket, it is so clear how commercialised Christmas has become. It is all about those things I listed above - the commodities and the superficial things - you know, the things that don't last; those things you like this year, but are "sooo 2015" when you are writing your new list the following year.

Presents are great, don't get me wrong. It's fun giving and receiving gifts, but we need to recognise and acknowledge the reason behind why we are celebrating. This world is a broken place; it's not difficult to see that, because unfortunately it is everywhere we turn. Yet if we turn to Jesus, he sees through all of that. He came into our broken world in an attempt to create a beautiful mosaic of all our shattered pieces. That's the best gift of all.

So this Christmas, I encourage you to remember the reason why we celebrate and for me, the Grinch has reminded me that rather than focusing on the presents under the tree this year, I am going to focus on being present in the lives of those I love instead. Spending this time with family is something so special and we often take it for granted. It is through connecting with the people closest to us that we have the potential to share the love of God with others. Trust me, you'll find a lot more joy in relationships than you will in any materialistic thing. Presents. Presence. You choose.

Keep smiling. x

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

pay it forward.

So I will be honest, this week has been pretty chaotic. There is a lot going on and I have been an emotional wreck. However, amid all of the chaos that life has been throwing at me lately, there are a few things that have happened throughout the week that I am trying to focus on in an attempt to realign my attention on positive situations that outweigh the negative and ultimately change my attitude as a result. 

A few days ago my Nan was at a bus stop in Parramatta when she found a mobile phone sitting on the bench next to her. Instead of just handing it into the information or security desk, she decided to take it home and then ring up my sister and I. She told us that the screen was black, so we told her to press the circular button down the bottom. Please, take a guess as to just how well that went. Yeah, terribly. We gave her instructions to see whether the phone was turned on and unlocked, but note to self: teaching your eighty-one year old grandmother the basics of an iPhone over the phone is as difficult as getting out of a pair of jeans that are two sizes too small...while the zipper is still up...and you are wearing a belt - ya feel me?

Instead, we decided to do ourselves a favour and drive over to my Nan's house the next day, check the phone and see if we could locate the owner. The entire time, we were joking about whether we would get some money as a reward if we could pull it off - however, I use the term 'joking' loosely, because deep down I think we both were somewhat serious.

We used our detective skills to discover that it was a teenage soccer player who had flown all the way from New Zealand with his football team and accidentally left his phone at the bus stop. We tried ringing his contacts labelled 'Mum' and 'Dad', but every contact was an overseas number and we were unable to reach them. At this point, my Nan just said, "Why don't you wipe everything off the phone and just use it for yourselves. You won't find him and it's his fault for losing it". Aimee and I just laughed. Challenge accepted.

In the end, we successfully found his girlfriend on Facebook and messaged her from my account letting her know what had happened. It was this part that was the most rewarding, because I was able to start a friendship with someone in a completely different country - yay friends! We spoke for a bit, helping each other out in the endeavour to get her boyfriend's phone back to him as soon as possible. We contacted the manager of his football club and were able to drop his phone off at the Leagues Club he was playing at. The manager asked us if we would like anything in return, like a football jersey, but Dad just responded with "No mate, thanks all the same, but we just wanted to pay it forward."

I was at work at the time, but when Dad told me what he had said, I was left a little disappointed at the fact we could have scored a free Parra jersey, but moreso, it taught me a lesson. We should do good things just for the heck of it. Not for what we might get out of it, the potential reward or our own benefit. I guess it all comes down to intention. And let's be real, at the start, my intention wasn't great - but hey, neither was my Nan's to be perfectly honest. That said, I'm so grateful that we didn't give up on finding the owner. It's not only so rewarding just finding the person and being able to return the lost phone, but being able to use the experience to get to know someone in another country and make a friend, no monetary reward could beat that - that was priceless.

Keep smiling. x

Friday, December 4, 2015

win/win

"Granddad, who is God? Where is He?"
"God sits in a house, a massive house, far beyond our imagination. This house has an infinite number of windows...infinite means that when you think they are finished, there's always another one and then another one again. Each person on Earth looks through a different window, seeing God in a slightly different way from a slightly different angle, but they all look at God."
I am scared of three things: spiders, heights and the ocean. But my biggest fear is making it to Heaven and finding out that the people I love haven't made it. I think the thing that scares me the most about that is the fact that I could have changed that; that I had the potential to change their mind, to influence them and to show them how much God loves them.

One of the most attractive and admirable qualities of a person, I believe, is being open-minded. Religion can be a difficult topic. Everyone has an opinion and it is how others react to these opinions that possess many positive and negative connotations. This year I started my first year of Uni and working part-time. These new environments have allowed me to surround myself with new experiences in which I have been given opportunities to have conversations with work colleagues or other Uni students about religion. When people ask you questions about what you believe it's terrifying, but it is also exciting at the same time. It's terrifying because you feel a sense of vulnerability - your defenses are down and you are sharing a part of you with someone else and naturally, that can create space for potential prejudice. However, sharing your ideas, thoughts, opinions and beliefs with other people can be exciting because you have the opportunity to challenge others to be open-minded and not take their opinions as the be-all and end-all.

For me, believing in God is an obvious choice. When you think about it, realistically it's a win/win decision. In the end, if it all pans out and God and Heaven is for real, then we get eternal life! And if it turns out that it wasn't all what is was talked up to be, then what do we lose? Nothing. I don't know about you, but I know what I'm choosing.

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What does your faith look like?

Earlier this year I was at Hillsong for an annual women's conference called Colour. Simply put: three days of an intense spiritual high in a room full of oestregen. One of my favourite things about Hillsong would have to be their passion when it comes to worship through music. There are literally thousands of women packed in the one room, all singing to the same God. It is the most incredible feeling being surrounded by so many others who share the same belief as you. But that isn't what made me tear up while singing.

As the musicians were up on stage, beautiful music and voices filled the auditorium with women standing everywhere with their eyes shut and hands raised - completely and utterly engrossed in the moment and in love with their God. I glanced around, smiling and taking it all in. This is what Heaven will be like - the epitome of love, passion and happiness. Kind of like a jar full of skittles with all the green ones removed, but better. So. Much. Better.

As I continued to look around the room, my eyes were drawn to the women in the front row of the seated area next to the sound desk. It was reserved especially for those with a disability, namely the deaf women. There was a lady signing all the lyrics to the women so they could understand and sing along. My eyes immediately filled with tears as I watched them so passionate and enthusiastic about worshipping. It completely blew me away. I could hear the drums, the guitar, the keyboard, the synthesiser, the singers, the voices of the thousands of women - everything. But they could hear nothing. It made me wonder whether their disability was their catalyst for such passionate faith. So often we get distracted by all this artificial, 'white noise' constantly surrounding us that we lose focus of what it really means to love God or worse, we lose focus of God, period. A part of me felt terrible for enjoying the beautiful chorus of sounds I could hear so easily, sounds that they would never have the chance of experiencing. But then another part of me was filled with this overwhelming sense of joy, compassion and awe. They were proud of their faith and their faith was incredible. I want my faith to be like theirs - complete, unhidden and made manifest among others.  

I was on the train this afternoon making my way home from Uni and after three hours of back-to-back classes all finishing before midday the first thing I was looking forward to was sitting down on the train with some food and my headphones in - Uni students, ya feel me? It is a common pet-hate of all commuters - train, bus, plane, ferry, yacht, you name it - when you finally take a seat and get comfortable and all of a sudden what seems to be the only audible thing is a baby crying or a kid testing out the highest decibel he can reach without his core body temperature resulting in a physical combustion (not sure if that's an actual thing). Well the latter, yeah that happened to me today. Usually in this situation I would preferably want said kid to wipe me out in his path of obliteration, but today was different (well, at least almost). I took my seat on the train and after about five minutes I heard this young boy, probably five years old, make his way down the stairs to my carriage and sit by the window providing commentary on everything that was happening outside to his Mum who was upstairs sitting down holding on to a stroller. 

"MUM LOOK THERE IS A FOOTPATH. DID YOU SEE THE BIG YELLOW, BLACK AND BLUE SIGN? MUMMMM, IS THAT OUR STATION? OH, IT'S NOT OUR STATION MUM, WE DIDN'T SLOW DOWN AT THAT ONE. WHEN IS OUR STATION?" This went on for a solid ten minutes, with thirty-second intervals if he was feeling generous. I turned up my music louder and tried to zone out before I seriously started considering testing out the train's emergency stop system. A few more minutes passed when the little boy piped up again, but this time with something I could not help but smile at: 
"HEY MUM?"
"Yes bub?"
"I LOVE YOU!"
"I love you too darling."
"NO, MUM, LIKE I REALLY REEEEEAAAALLLLY LOVE YOU."
"I really really love you too."
I looked around the carriage and every single person who had heard it had a small smile appear on their face. It made me think, what if our faith was like that? Complete, unhidden and made manifest among others. What if we weren't ashamed to tell others how much we loved God? What if we were proud of our faith? 

Ask yourself, what does your faith look like? 

Keep smiling. x

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

attitude & perspective.

The other day I was at Uni and had a three hour break between classes. I was sitting outside in the sun eating lunch and catching up on the latest episode of The Bachelor (is it already too late to ask you not to judge me?). Once I had finished eating I packed up all of my things and walked in the direction of my class. There was a girl, probably around my age, that had walked a few steps and then stopped a few metres ahead of me. By the copious amounts of bags, tripods and cameras I quickly assumed she was a Media and Arts Production student. She was hunched over on the ground, struggling to hold all of the equipment. I stopped and bent down beside her, asking if she needed any help carrying anything. She looked up at me and said, "Oh! Yes please, thank you so much, that would be great!" I picked up a tripod and a huge carry bag with what seemed like the entire film industry's equipment packed in. How on earth was she carrying all of this on top of everything she had in her arms already? Dani and I walked and talked; I asked her a few questions, she asked me some. But here is the confession. The short three minutes we were talking, I couldn't help but have this little thing playing in the back of my mind thinking, I wonder if anyone saw me help her - everyone else was just walking past her and around her. I wonder if anyone noticed? Someone, please, kick me. 

That night I went to a youth program at Hillsong with one of my best friends. They were interviewing one of the members of Hillsong United, a Christian band, and he said something that really stood out to me. Each time he went up on stage to perform, whether it be at church on the weekend or overseas while on tour, he would picture himself as a silhouette rather than an actual person. He adopted the attitude that this talent he had been blessed with was a gift from God and he was using it to glorify His name, not his name. He continously would ask himself the question, 'would you still do what you are doing if people didn't know who you were?' Attitude and perspective. Boom. This hit home, hard. A well-deserved punch in the face. Although I haven't been gifted with the beautiful vocal and musical talent as some others have been, I realised that even things like my small acts of kindness toward others, like Dani, should become natural, not actions I take in hope that I will somehow reap a reward. Intention

This mentality of changing your attitude and perspective can be adopted throughout many aspects of life. I'll be honest with you, right now, I'm struggling. Life has thrown a massive curve ball at me and I thought I was strong enough to handle most things, but this is challenging me. The last few weeks have taught me this very important lesson: your attitude and perspective toward anything changes everythingWhether you have HSC coming up in just over a month, you're hurting because something didn't go the way you planned or you have lost someone special, you fill in the blanks. I have found the past few weeks incredibly difficult, but I found this verse the other day that was too relevant not to share:

Romans 8:18 - "The pain you have been feeling does not compare to the joy that is coming."

How uplifting is that promise? I only recently found this verse and I automatically felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Of course, I am still hurting. It isn't going to just go away completely. But I felt this overwhelming sense of comfort and love - I don't feel like it's just me struggling by myself now. God's right by my side and He is picking up my pieces and putting me back together. I am not one-hundred percent, but I am 100% sure that I will be okay. 

If you are going through something really tough right now and you can't really see a way out, take a moment to stop denying it, accept reality and breathe. It is going to hurt a lot and it isn't going to be easy, trust me - yeah, it sucks. But in the end it will be okay and if it's not okay yet, then it is not the end. I heard a sermon the other night & the pastor said that we face struggles not because we are weak, but because we are growing; and growth hurts because it is new. 

"After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:10.  

I challenge you to choose to be happy tomorrow morning when you wake up. I am not saying fake being happy when you are genuinely not. I am saying choose to have a positive attitude, step back, look at the bigger picture and change the way you are looking at things.  Attitude and perspective is everything. 

Keep smiling. x

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cambodia | RAW Revolution

I recently arrived back home after spending two weeks in Cambodia volunteering with RAW Impact Org, a non-government organisation which focuses on raising awareness worldwide for those struggling in Cambodia. Not only did I pick up power tools for the first time in my life, but I successfully used them. On top of that, I am also proud to say I learnt that 'cladding' is not actually a mathematical term, but the technique of applying one material over another for multiple reasons; to prevent weathering, create a layer of insulation or merely for aesthetic purposes - in our case it was mostly the latter and heck yes did it look good!

To say I have one highlight from the entire trip would be a lie. There are many and if given the opportunity, I could quite easily write about these past two weeks for pages and pages. However, as I reflect back on the trip itself, there are three moments that stood out for me.

We arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday morning and began our first day of work the following day. After roughly a thirty minute drive with a ten minute interval on the ferry we stepped foot on Gunty's Island where we would set up our work stations and begin our assigned tasks. I, along with two other ladies, had never used a power tool before, so after almost two hours of finding the drill the most difficult tool to use, we were quite embarrassed, but mostly relieved, to discover that it is a much easier task to accomplish when the drill isn't switched in 'reverse'. Needless to say, we smashed out the remaining cladding after that lesson was learnt. After days of hard work, the most satisfying moment of the entire trip would have to be stepping back and looking at everything you have achieved - both personally and as a team. It is the most amazing feeling physically seeing that you have made a difference in the lives of the kids who will begin attending the SALT School when it opens in early October. It is one thing to hold up some timber, make sure it is level, drill a hole, hammer in a nail and do that a million times before lacquering it all. But when you use your time and talents (although I wouldn't call my attempts at cladding 'talent') to make a tangible difference in the life of others, that is something else entirely. An action is simply that - just doing something, but when there is an intention behind the action, that's what makes the impact.

Another highlight would have been Cultural Day where we visited one of many She Rescue homes, the S21 Prison and the Killing Fields. She Rescue is a non-government organisation that provides a safe haven for girls and women of all ages that have experienced the cruel world of sex-trafficking firsthand. Watching videos that documented real-life stories broke my heart. It was impossible not to be filled with sadness, anger and helplessness all at once. Listening to the statistics not only made it raw, but reminded me of this harsh reality. Walking around the S21 Prison and the Killing Fields was just as heart-wrenching. Learning about the reign of the Khmer Rouge government that began in 1975 and tortured and ultimately killed thousands of educated Cambodian people was confronting. Actually seeing the fragments of a not-so-distant history right in front of me made it real, almost too real to comprehend.

Saying that visiting these places was difficult would be an understatement. By the end of it all I had felt like my heart had been ripped out, beaten and knocked around and then put back in. I didn't want to say or do much. I just felt numb. It was terrifying to learn all these things that had happened not so long ago and some of which are still happening today. How human beings can be so cruel to other human beings will never make sense to me. Cultural Day was extremely difficult and terrifying and trying to fathom exactly what had happened hurt a lot. That said, acknowledging these events that happened and still happen allowed me to recognise the repercussions in Cambodia today, which consequently made me fall in love with the people and the place that extra bit more, inspiring me to make the most of my time there and make a difference, big or small, in any way I can.  

One of my favourite days working at the school site would have been our last day. As sad as it was that our time there had quickly come to an end, the day was filled with happiness. The majority of our assigned work had been accomplished, so we spent most of the day playing with all of the school kids. There was this one particular boy that was always running around giggling and being cheeky, clinging off the sides of anyone he could. I soon found out that his name translates to 'sadness' in English. My immediate thought was what kind of parents call their child sadness? The ironic thing about this was the fact that this little boy had not wiped the smile off his face the entire time we had been there. It puts things in perspective when you see kids saying that they "love school" or when there are a handful of children standing in a circle playing a game where they simply kick around a single sandal between them. Or when you teach them how to play 'Over and Under' with a ball and you recognise the exact moment they understand the game as they all begin jumping, cheering and clapping. These kids have the bare minimum, some only having a few pairs of clothes and the basics for what they need to survive. But they are happy. Dare I say, happier than most people living in Australia who are blessed enough to have a house that is not a straw hut or a small wooden canoe floating on the river. I think that is the most valuable thing I learnt from this trip. They are so incredibly happy despite the very little they have. And hey, if that's not a reality check, then I don't know what is.

Every moment of the RAW Revolution mission trip was absolutely incredible. From the organised chaos of the Cambodian roads to working at the SALT school. From witnessing half the team eat tarantulas to dressing up a friend in a crazy outfit for the night. From playing with the kids to realising how much I hate lacquering. Every single moment is a memory I will never forget. I put together this small video of clips I recorded during my time overseas and seven minutes doesn't do it justice. What an amazing, life-changing experience! I hope this encourages, inspires and most importantly blesses you.


Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQDpc8KS1VQ

Keep smiling. x



Friday, June 12, 2015

recommit

Last week I witnessed a friend of mine taking a stand in front of a group of people at a worship service. He stood up in front of everyone and poured his entire heart out. He was not only struggling, but finding that life was just throwing way too much at him to handle. There wasn't enough time to let God in and he wanted to recommit to God in front of everyone and asked for us all to pray for him. 

I found myself tearing up as I heard him speak. Only moments before, I had mentioned how he always looks so happy, always with a huge smile plastered across his face. Little did I know what was really going on beneath the surface. I felt a wave of emotions all at once. I had assumed that this guy had his life together, that he was content and happy with his current position. I was so, so wrong.

In one of my earlier blog posts The House with the Pretty Garden I wrote how "people are like houses; the ones with the neat and pretty gardens are often a mess inside". Everyone is fighting their own battle. Life might not be the same for you or me, but one thing remains the same - as soon as you think you have it all together, life just gives a little smirk and thinks 'haha just kidding'.

Once I got home that night, I was in bed and turned to Psalm 46. In short, this is what it says:
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...God is within [him/her], [he/she] will not fall; God will help [him/her] at break of day...be still and know that I am God".
Whether you have already committed to God or if you are struggling with your relationship with him, I encourage you to wholeheartedly recommit not just today, but everyday. Everyone may be facing something different, but everyone is facing something, so just remember that you are not alone. God's light will always prevail over the darkness that the devil is shadowing you with.

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Take Two: The Maze

I was asked to write a script for a video that would open the Week of Worship at my old school. The theme was Take Two, reflecting the idea that God is a God of second chances. It took a while, but after a lot of inspiration and work, the Chapel team created something so beautiful with the script, that I wanted to share it on here. I hope you are not only blessed, but encouraged by the words and video below.

- - - - - 

Life is full of crazy things; distractions, temptations - you name it, she's got it. Sometimes she's on the highest of highs, but almost just as quick, she can hit her lowest of lows. She had many problems, but she has messed up really bad this time.

Life is confusing, she's like a maze. Trying to find the way out can be hard and when we hit the dead end more than once, we eventually just give up trying altogether. We get lost, confused and plummet down the spiral, thinking there is no way out of the mess we have landed in. Questions can be difficult to answer and when we can't find the answers after a lot of searching, the dead ends lead us to nowhere and we think she's won the game - the challenges life threw got the better of us. What's the point of trying anymore?

Everything happens, but then everything finishes. So when you feel like your world is on a downwards spiral, remember that spirals eventually get smaller and smaller and when they reach the smallest point, they stop. The struggles you're going through, the constant disappointment, the fear of not being good enough, the group of mates you thought were your friends, the dead ends you're facing,- these feelings won't last forever. You just need to find another path through the maze. Second chances might not make things right, but they help prove that we could be better even after we fall.

So let me ask you again. What is the point of trying anymore? Because although she's a maze and with a maze comes dead ends, if you keep searching, there's always a way out. God is the way out of your maze. He will show you forgiveness and give you not only a second chance, but another chance at trying, because when you hit a dead end He wants to turn you 180 degrees and say "Take Two". 



Keep smiling. x

Friday, May 8, 2015

How to be happy: rule #1

As a Communications student majoring in Digital and Social Media, it is safe to say that I spend a lot of time talking about, learning about and of course using Facebook, Instagram, you name it. The other day I was on Instagram and came across this quote:
"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel."
It is so true. We are continuously trapped in this vicious cycle of comparing ourselves with other people. Simply thinking that their social media profile is full of amazing, flawless pictures automatically means that their life must be perfect and they've got it all together, right? Wrong.

I think we tend to forget how much of a superficial world we live in today. And I'm writing to myself here as well. Almost every picture you see is edited in one way or another. One filter can cover all the blemishes, or hey if you're not wearing makeup that day, just resort to the old-fashioned black and white - they'll never be able to tell. But this isn't the main problem. Social media is a perfect way for us as individuals to share our life with others with a simple click of a button. The thing that we often forget, is that we only share what we want to share - we get to pick and choose what parts of our life other people get to see. This is the same for that girl, or guy, you have been stalking on Instagram for the last twenty minutes. We filter through (pun intended) the thirty-two almost identical selfies and pick the one we like the best.

Don't compare your life with another person's newsfeed. Just like you, they are probably only sharing the parts of their life that will get them the most 'likes'. I am not saying this is a bad thing or you should delete all of your social media accounts because they are from the devil. If that was the case, I think I am studying the wrong degree. Rather, I want this to be an encouragement, even just for one person, to be open-minded and consider that what you are seeing doesn't necessarily depict what is going on in their 'behind-the-scenes'. Everyone experiences ups and downs in life, because spoiler alert - that's life. Just because you're not seeing it on their newsfeed, doesn't mean it's not happening. So next time you are scrolling through your different social media accounts, keep that in mind, because one of the best rules to being happy is to stop comparing yourself to others.

I heard a pastor say during his sermon the other day that although it is still an issue, money is no longer the primary roadblock getting in the way of our relationship with God. Instead, it is this growing trend of narcissism. WE ultimately drive the wedge further between God and us. 
"Don't become so well-adjusted and conform to the pattern of this world that you fit into it without even thinking" - Romans 12:2 (NIV & MSG). 
We focus too much on ourselves that we forget that all of this is just temporary. The love of God and his promise of life with Him - now that's something that lasts forever.

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Open doors.

Earlier this year one of my beautiful friends tagged me in a post on Instagram about a writing competition for a young women's Christian magazine. I screenshot it and one afternoon while I was sitting in my room mindlessly flicking through my pictures, I came across the screenshot and decided to give it a go. Instead of asking 'why?' I asked 'why not?' What did I have to lose anyway?

Almost two months past and I still hadn't received anything from the magazine. To be honest, I had forgotten about the competition altogether - I had other priorities such as Uni and work.

Well here's where things start to get exciting. This morning I religiously checked my emails, dreading what new Uni readings I would have to annotate by next class. Little did I know that one email in particular was going to open new doors for me. I clicked on an email from a lady whom I had never met, nor heard of. In short, it was referring to a new magazine issue that was being published soon and how she was looking for articles relating to the theme. She finished by thanking the team and signing off with a few "x's". I selected the email and was about to press 'delete' when I stopped, re-read the email and thought, what are the chances of this being an accident?

I decided to reply to the stranger and asked her to confirm if I was meant to have received the email. She replied within minutes apologising for the confusion and informing me that she would love to have me on board the team of writers. This meant that I would have the ability to contribute to the MICI (Made In Christ's Image) Magazine through my writing. In case you needed reassurance  - I said yes.

Inspiring people through my writing is something I have always dreamt of doing and slowly, but surely, it is finally becoming a reality. It's amazing what can happen when you take chances, step outside your comfort zone and try new things. One open door can lead to so many wonderful new opportunities and experiences. So just take that first step. Be courageous. Try something different and be bold.

So before you select what could be a new opportunity to achieving your dreams and click 'delete', stop for a moment and think, what do you have to lose? Give it a go and just do it.

Keep smiling. x

Monday, February 2, 2015

Radiate positive vibes.

I recently got a job at a small local supermarket and have been exposed to not only new opportunities, but new people - which is my favourite part of working.

A middle-aged man came in the other day while I was working at the register. As he walked up to the counter to pay for his groceries I smiled and asked, "Hey! How are you?" He replied, "I'm cool thanks Jessica", with a smile almost too big for a Monday. Two things surprised me about his comment. He not only said he was "cool", but he said my name. I had no idea who this guy was and I think he realised I was a bit confused, so he went on to say, "your name's on the front screen" while pointing and grinning. 

A couple days later the same man came in and I recognised him straight away when I asked, "how are you?" and again his response was, "I'm cool thanks." This time when he came to the register I began a conversation and asked him how his day was going. As he handed over his money he said, "my day has been really good thanks, but any day is a good day if you look at it that way." 

Isn't he just the coolest guy ever? Each time I had seen him he was radiating positive vibes. That's the kind of person I want to be. This man not only made my day, but he encouraged me to not let the events of my day dictate the way I feel. If you wake up in a bad mood thinking that you will have a bad day, then that's exactly what's going to happen. Don't let difficult things you experience today reflect how you feel. Try your best to look at the positive things, despite how hard it can get. Be positive and be cool. 

Keep smiling. x