Picking up the peace

(Intentional pun, you betcha.)


Hey there, wonderful friends!

That’s truly what you are – wonderful.

Wonderfully patient, ever-encouraging and always such a source of strength for me. Seriously! I’m beyond thankful.

So, thank you.

Continue reading “Picking up the peace”

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Chasing sunsets

Thankfulness is something we tend to take for granted.

The fact that we have so much to be thankful for is often blinded by our own desires and selfishness masking the true beauty of life and all its wonders.

It’s definitely something I’ve been conscious of in the past while, and something that I know I need to be doing more of.

Because there’s so much to be thankful for in this world. So much to give praise to our mighty God for!

The past few days have felt really uplifting to me, as I’ve taken the step back to just admire God. To love Him back simply and purely. Amidst the stress of uni and two demanding jobs (not to mention my lack of motivation for all three!), I’ve felt so protected and cared for by being thankful to Him. By realising that His strength really is infinite, as is His true agape love for me. I mean, what can top that?!

The past week has also had the most amazing sunsets. I keep raving on about them to everyone, especially my brother Ben. Every time I’m picking him up from somewhere, he’s first told how amazing the sky looks that evening and secondly told to take out my phone and be ever-so snap-happy. Love it.

I guess getting caught up in life’s busyness can do that to us. I’ve definitely felt that, with the pressure of study I keep putting off (not for the bubble class, mind you) and with preparing for these new jobs through uni and my tutoring prep. Sitting back and looking at life simply and reflectively through God’s eyes is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your week, I feel.

The fact that our God can create such a magnificent, yet complex, world just astounds me. The fact that every new sunrise and sunset is different and varied and beautiful. I mean, how can you not be thankful for that?

There are a lot of things I’ve been thankful for to God over the past while, but His creation is certainly one that I’ve been taking for granted. So thank you. Father. Your sunsets are remarkable, and a true reflection of Your power and grace.

Tonight’s was no exception. (Even if iPhone quality doesn’t do it justice!)

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Okay guys, life update time.

(We all knew it was coming!)

Today I trotted next door to my gorgeous new neighbors’ house and had my hair dyed by the lovely Jo. Who is actually a hairdresser, don’t worry haha. I only met her and her husband Michael the other day when I went over to awkwardly introduce myself and book a hair appointment – which is so bad, because we’ve been in our new house five weeks already!

Wow, five weeks..

They’re the loveliest people, and it makes my heart so happy. They have a young daughter Montana who I still need to meet, but Jo knows she’ll already love me because I play guitar and can jam to Taylor Swift with her. It’ll be like having a little sister, I’m so excited! I found out today that their family are strong Christians too – I mean, what are the chances?!

It feels like such a God thing that they’re our new neighbors – and I’m so glad we’ve got a new friendship blossoming with them. Particularly as we’ve never really had that before – we hardly spoke to our neighbors at our old house. And we lived in the same street for a good 17 years or so!

So that made me extremely happy and excited and yay-ing all afternoon. Oh, and the hair colour too! I decided that I wanted a change and that the ombre wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

Cutting it. Ha, unintentional pun for the win!

(Mel, please just finish the story..)

So long story short, I now have some groovy new reddish/brown hair, which I’m quite in love with.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetSuch fun!

I’m glad I’ve finally got it cut and ready for a new year of life (oh, how sentimental and deep of you Mel) – but mostly for Ron’s wedding tomorrow! Our beach mission leader Ron is getting married tomorrow, which we are all so excited for. I’m driving in with James, Maddy and Sarah (well James is driving – you’re a champ!) for the wedding in Sydney. Definitely pray for lovely weather tomorrow. It’ll be so special – especially remembering all 50 of us crowded around on the beach mission weekend away listening to Ron retell his proposal story. Oh, so cute!

I also recall a certain Adam Friend ‘nyawing’ the loudest at every part of it, haha! Such a classic.

And then on Sunday it’s my birthday or something. Wowzas. I’m looking forward to a lovely breakfast with my ever-gorgeous fambam, and having some friends come and eat stuff and getting to wear my new Jeanwest purchase. The self-restraint I’ve had in not wearing it this past weeks is impeccable. And equally as excruciating.

#muchdramatic

It’s a given that church on Sunday will be amazing as per usual, with fingers-crossed that either Beneath the Waters, Alive, The Stand, Be Thou My Vision or Man of Sorrows is played. Actually, all five would be excellent haha. But maybe not.

And with the inevitable gallivant to Maccas with the church fambam after church, it’s looking like this weekend will be fairly excellent.

So much to be thankful for and such a great God to bestow His love upon me, a sinner unworthy of His grace.

May His light shine brighter than ever.

From my heart to yours,

Mel xx

“It is good news, worthy of all acceptation; and yet not too good to be true.”

~ Matthew Henry

Stormy nights and uni life

Hey there lovely friends!

How awesome is this rainy night? Seriously! I’m a little (read: REALLY) in love with stormy nights and falling asleep to the sound of rain. I don’t know what it is about it, but it makes me feel so safe and so calm. Snuggled up in bed with a good book and a comfy doona is always a bit of a win. Actually, a pretty darn big win!

And hearing the kids at soccer practice fleeing for cover across the street now has the mischievous thoughts inside me giggling quite a bit. Did I just say giggling? Oh dear.

We’re back into the swing of things this week, with the first week of uni starting. Safe to say, I don’t miss my core B Arts units at all – it’s nice to be doing a semester predominantly filled with education units. That is, units that will actually be beneficial to what I want to do. Such excitement!!

It’s been nice getting back into the people-watching and coffee drinking that is uni life. Not that what I count as coffee actually is coffee, I’ve been told. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!

(She said, a year ago)

And O-week is quite something. On Monday we spent a fair chunk of the morning talking to the female Captain Cook who was walking around with a golden skull in one hand and a caramel latte perched in the other. She brought our stall for CBM (Campus Bible Ministries) some red frogs, so she got the automatic tick of approval. Even if she did carry around a suitcase with swords poking out left right and centre. Then today there was everything from the crocodile guy to a big plastic wind tunnel you stand in and catch paper with prizes in. Oh, university.

With taking on this new job at uni, keeping up with my tutoring kids, and a whole other bunch of things, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed over the past couple of weeks. To the point where I’ve been feeling physically sick about it, which is definitely a bad sign. I’d even been stressed yesterday because I’d had a double tutoring session, raced home for dinner, and then headed up the mountains for a new bible study in which I knew no one upon arrival!

But it was awesome to feel God’s peace and presence with me during that time. I’m so thankful that He’s constantly building my confidence and giving me strength, even when it all seems too much to take in.

Bible study last night was great though. Our leaders are so lovely (and hilarious!), and our whole group is so diverse but really wonderful because of that. It’s going to be a great couple of weeks getting to know everyone, and fellowship together!

The connect groups at our church are going through the Sermon on the Mount, so we sat down last night after some amazing dessert (seriously Beth, you are a superstar!) and read the whole sermon. Because that’s how it would have happened, as we’ve been told at church during this series. Jesus went up the mountain, he preached the sermon (Matthew 5-7) and then he went back down the mountain.

I’ve really been enjoying this sermon series, because it’s been going a lot deeper into passages than what I’ve grown used to. A lot of that is also the new church dynamic, which I’m absolutely adoring! Deep teaching which leaves you impacted for weeks after is definitely something to hold onto.

When we read through Matthew 5-7 last night, the end of chapter 6 really stood out to me though.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble

– Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV).

So relevant. Even though we didn’t do a study on these particular verses last night, it’s something I really noticed God pointing me to.

Whether it’s work or uni or friendships, I know that I’ve been struggling a lot with burdening myself or overanalysing things, and really just burning myself out. It’s so unhealthy and, as it’s showing in the passage here, what good is going to come from being so stressed and anxious? As it says in verse 27,  how can being worried add a single hour to your life?

Simple answer – it can’t.

We have a tendency to bottle things up, burden ourselves and burn ourselves out as humans. The three B’s. We have a desire to please people, no matter the cost. We have a want to do things ourselves, without the help of others.

When you share joy with someone, that joy doubles. When you share a burden with someone, it halves. God knows how much we want to do things by our own merit. But we fall short every time. He’s constantly there with His outstretched palm, ready to pick us up and dust us off.

If you’re feeling stressed or burdened, take heart in knowing that God won’t give up on you. He’s eager to hear you call out to Him and ask for help – and He will do so. Because of his rich agape love.

Sigh. It’s so wonderful.

 

My ramblings are really coming to a standstill because I’m so tired, so I’m going to leave it there – yeow. Hope that your week is going super well, that you’re learning more about our Saviour each day, and that your heart is being challenged to love like Him as each day passes.

Do not worry about tomorrow, because God’s got it under control. Focus on today and take every opportunity needed to make it astounding.

Love,

Mel xx

Cardboard forts and shenanigans

Hey there lovely friends!

How are your weeks faring so far? Wednesdays sometimes feel like such a drag, especially when we know it’s only the middle of the week. But hopefully your week is already wonderful, and improving day by day!

I promised a blog post on moving, and a blog post you shall receive! Sorry for the double up of my rambles this week – I’m sure I’ll be quiet once uni starts back. Ugh, next week.

Ugh.

So in due Mel fashion, here are some of the things I learnt when moving house:

  • You know when they say you can never own too many books? Well, that person obviously owned about five and never moved a day in their life. UP STAIRS. Crazy.
  • Midnight trips to the kitchen become exceedingly difficult when your game plan is thrown about by newly daunting stairs. Let’s just say it happened, and it didn’t end too well. Crusin’ for a bruisin’?
  • New neighbors don’t like their front garden plants. They can, and will, go on a hedge chopping rampage at random intervals on Tuesday afternoons. Note: don’t mess with the shirtless man.
  • People you don’t even know will come from near and far to admire your frangipani trees. But there’s always one who decides to bag a leaf (not a flower.. a leaf!) and run a mile down the street. Is this what 70 year olds do for kicks these days?
  • Watching dogs go up and down stairs for the first time will actually bring you to tears. They’re fantastic!
  • Unpacking boxes feels like both Christmas and stocktake when you haven’t seen things for a few months. Oh the feels.
  • Mattress surfing is the most tempting thing in the world, but you know that the consequences are going to far outweigh the fun. ‘Aint nobody got time fo’ dat.
  • How many Mels does it take to change a light cover? One, you meanies. (But it’s most definitely still lopsided)
  • IKEA instructions are basically gibberish, with smiling pictures to spur you on.
  • You may get desperate for internet and have to wade your way through crowds of first-years at uni in order to reply to emails and print things. But it’s okay, because the uni makes caramel hot chocolates which will save the day!
  • And that everything else you need to know about moving can be found in FRIENDS:
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From cardboard fort building (and epic hat wearing)..
kmpdvd1288
To bubble wrap escapades..
pivot
.. And of course how to PIVOT! #shutupshutupshutup

Not that anyone would do actually anything so silly..

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This didn’t happen at all.

Oops.

Hope the rest of your week is wonderful, you guys!

Love,

Mel xx

Moving trucks and caramel lattés

Hey there lovely friends,

I’m currently one of five people sitting in our massive university library, making use of internet and appreciating the fact that I’m no longer a first year. Although, forgetting it was O-week, I’ve already been asked three times if I know where I’m going.

“Yeah, I’m second year, all good!”

Smiles.

Tosses hair indignantly into the non-existent wind.

Oh dear.

The past week has been absolutely hectic. I left home early Thursday morning to go to our annual Aspire retreat (the leadership program I’m involved in at uni) for a day of workshops, a night of networking with academics (side note – the new Dean of Education is absolutely awesome!) and then a night of partying it up. Well, mostly. I was pretty lame and went to bed a bit before midnight, because I was so exhausted.

So then after only getting to sleep at 2am Friday morning, it was up and at ’em at 7:30am, packing and breakfast by 9am and then watching the first years do their skits. They were actually fantastic. It’s tradition to embarrass the first years in one way or another, but they actually proved themselves to be quite the hilarious bunch. We had Beyoncé impressions, Mr Bean (girl, whoever you are, you absolutely killed it!) along with very accurate boot camp re-enactments. So great.

We then had the Pinnacle Events team come and divide us into teams for four challenges of ‘Survivor.’ Team 12 was obviously the best team out.

Obviously.

After lunch and awkward stair photos (oh, U-dub..), some friends and I said goodbye and thankfully escaped to our cars for the long drive home. Really happy with the decision to drive up this year, instead of catching the bus. Sah anti-social. I still love you guys a lot though. A lot, a lot!

Ooh, and Amy and Clare were absolutely fantastic (as usual) and brought props and a camera for a photobooth after the dinner! So much fun – here are some pics!

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Anyway, a bit before 4pm on Friday, I arrived home. To a different house. Woah, what!

And then proceeded to help load and unload cars and boxes and whatzamajigs and whoziwhatsitz for the next seven hours. I kid you not. By 11:30 that night, it’s safe to say that I was pretty tired. Exhausted. Dead. Y’know.

We woke up before 7am on the next day and then proceeded to do the whole thing again. But this time with the moving trucks, my beautiful friend Corrine helping (gosh, you’re amazing!) and everyone chipping in to finish it quickly. Corrine and I even built an IKEA desk ourselves.

I feel as though if we can do that, we can basically do anything.

(Yeah girl power!)

Update: It hasn’t fallen apart yet.

It’s safe to guess that yesterday morning, I woke up a wreck. I think I could have made it in time for church that morning, but I was so tired that I thought it’d be better to just save my energy. What I did do though, we look further into the book we’ve been studying from in CBM the past few Mondays called ‘God is Enough.’

Technically we’re reading this chapter tonight, but I read it yesterday anyway and am so thankful I did. It was one of those moments you feel God saying ‘Hey you! Yeah you! This is so relevant right now!’

Love it.

(Spoiler alert to any CBM’ers that may read this before bible study tonight, haha)

It was looking at Psalm 90 which is actually the only Psalm attributed to Moses. It talks of how even 300 years before David (writing these Psalms), God was so faithful to Moses and the Israelites. They went through immense strife and thousands were put to death because of their continued rebellion; yet God remained true to His promise and to His people the entire time.

Timing is everything, these days.

It’s something we’re so focused on.

Whether it’s checking the time on our phones to see if a lecture is about to finish (which we normally forget to do, because we get distracted and then have to pull it out again to see the time. No, just me?), or placidly listening to the tick tock and chimes of your Grandmother’s cuckoo clock. We’re so focused on time.

When you need to be somewhere. How much time it takes to get there. How long will it take in drive-thru? How long do I have to sit through this conversation?

This Psalm really struck me though and reminded me of the amazing difference of God’s timing.

It talks about the infinite nature of our God. Of how He has always been, and always will. Ray Galea, the author, used an analogy of a child to express this. A child may ask ‘Well who made God?’

“If you answer it by naming something or someone, then God by definition stops being God. What makes Him God is that He is timeless. He alone is immortal. He goes back in time forever. How goes forward in time forever. You could say He is simply outside of time. There was never a time when the Creator did not exist, and that cannot be said about anything or anyone else.”

Wow, huh?

Something we need to be conscious of is the distinct difference between what we see time as, compared to that of God’s perspective. The Psalmist writes that “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday what it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (Ps 90:4)

The important thing to note here is that the verse isn’t saying that precisely each day or creation is “mathematically equal to 6000 years.” It’s simply saying that what a long time is for us, is like a nanna nap to God. Like saying that thousands of dollars to us is like loose change for Bill Gates.

Ray notes here that it’s too easy for us to forget what a short time-span this is for God, and so we think that God has forgotten about us. Our own lack of perspective leads us astray.

I think that’s something so important to remember.

I find myself always saying to friends that ‘It’s in God’s timing, He’s got a perfect plan’, quite halfheartedly a lot of the time. As if it’s something I should know, but have a hard time believing for myself. The perspective of knowing that God always fulfills His promises though is one that should be a great source of comfort and relief!

In 2 Peter, it becomes perfectly clear that God’s timing is not our timing:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)

Ray goes on to explain that God’s timing doesn’t mean that His promises won’t come true. Just the opposite, in fact. His timing is spot on. And I know that’s true because when I look back even at the past year of my life, I can see how God has used and shaped every opportunity, every friendship, every situation (good and/or bad) that’s happened. He’s intricately working in my life, and He’s doing it for my good.

We can’t get caught in the cliché Christian view that once you’re saved, life is going to be easy. We all still sin. That’s a given. But I think when we get caught up in repeatedly talking of God’s perfect plan, we think that it means all is well and good. That our lives will literally be perfect!

No way, man.

Humility check.

Getting caught up in the goody-two-shoes Christian act isn’t going to cut it for God. His perfect plan may mean tearing down all you thought you needed, in order to finally get through to you that you need to change.

That’s what happened to me a year and a half ago.

Yet looking back on all of the chaos, tears and anger, I can pinpoint exactly where God was working along the way.

Which He does. Because He loves me.

He loves you. He loves each of us with a love so full and so indescribable, that when you finally realise the extent of it, it may well bring you to tears. Ultimately though, it should bring you to repentance.

The next verse that really stuck out to me was verse 12. You’ve probably heard it in a lot of Christian songs before:

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

The song that I related this so was one from my favourite Christian band in high school, Revive.

I don’t want to miss, even just a second more of this.

So much love.

We need to number our days, because we need to understand that they are numbered! In Ecclesiastes it talks of how God “has put eternity into man’s heart.” (Eccl 3:11) which is in the midst of a book which talks of the meaningless of life. We all have a desperate hunger within each of us to live forever. Did you know that even if modern medicine were to cure every disease, it would only increase the human lifespan for another 7 or so years?

God has limited our days, yes. In 100 years or so, there’s probably going to be no one on earth who remembers us personally. Yet, we don’t need to despair as the writer of Ecclesiastes was. What makes this life bearable is the unfailing love of God.

This love satisfies.

“The God who set eternity in our hearts has satisfied our desire for immortality.”

– Ray Galea, God is Enough

The resurrection renders our labour meaningful. Work in God will not come to nothing.

Death washes away any trace of our labours, like chalk in the rain.

Yet work and trust in God will echo into eternity.

We need to stop living our lives as though tomorrow is a distance reality. We need to live in full knowledge that God’s plan for us will satisfy us, as it is covered in a love so powerful, it conquered death.

Take heart in knowing that God works for your good. He loves you with an unconquerable passion and desire for you to love Him too. Don’t be afraid to give it all to Him. He really is in control. How amazing is that!!

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

What a tangent that all was. Massive props to you if you kept up with that, and understood it all! It’s something I want to be a lot more conscious of in my life – knowing that our time is limited, our days are numbered – but our God is great. And because He is great, our efforts in sharing His name and proclaiming His word are not going to be in vain.

They will echo into eternity.

So cool.

 

I’ve been sitting here at uni for the hour and a half – I’m thinking a caramel latté and a bit of a read in the café is going to be lovely right now. So keen for going through this passage at bible study tonight and seeing what everyone else thinks about it. Massive encouragements, they all are!

Side note: I’m glad I can see other people in the library now. I was scared before that I’d been locked in, because the only people circulating the ground floor were library staff. And man, there are a LOT of them!

So I’ll go make my escape now. I’ll do more of a house update tomorrow or Wednesday, so I can put up pictures and stuff. Yay, yeah yeow!

Hope the start of your weeks are absolutely fantastic!

Love and grace,

Mel xx

 

P.S, I’ve decided on a mocha instead. Though you ‘oughta know!