The Year That Was

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When I was growing up New Years Eve was always spent at my Grandma and Grandad’s house with my mums whole family. We had a cricket match that we played in one of Grandads paddocks then we would head back to their place for a BBQ and to see the New Year in. Sometimes Grandad would even have his own fireworks show. It was always my favourite night of the year. There was always so much excitement that filled the place. Party poppers. Sparklers. Talking about the grade we were now in at school. I have so many fond memories.

Now that I’m older, I still love New Years Eve even though we no longer spend it at Grandma and Grandad’s. What I love about the new year now is thinking of the possibility of what’s to come. What are my goals for 2015? Where do I want to be at the end of 2015? What am I going to take from 2014? What am I going to grow in and learn from the previous year? Did I achieve my goals for 2014? There are so many questions. One of my favourite things about a new year is that people see it as a chance to try something new, to better themselves, to go on a journey. I find that people don’t want to make the same mistakes as the previous year so they use January 1 as the building block to do things even better than the year before.

2014 for me has seen two family weddings where I gained two sister-in-laws. It has seen me reach my goal of being debt free. It has seen me grow in praise and honour and kindness (things I’ll forever being growing in). It has seen my best friend get engaged too! 2014 has seen some sad times too. My younger sister moved interstate which to be honest, broke my heart a little. I’d never had someone so close to me move away before. Even in the last few months of the year there has been loss that has affected the people that I love most.

Through every good and bad, high and low, happy and sad moment that has been in the last 365 days, God has always been faithful. He has always answered when I’ve called. He’s protected, He’s lavished love, He’s shown up and to me, that is what defines a good year.

To finish, below is something that my mum wrote for the school newsletter where she’s the chaplain. I think it’s beautiful. It sums it up perfectly.

Believing your 2015 will far exceed any expectation you have. Believing you’ll be blown away by God’s kindness and love through every situation in the coming year.

“Beginnings and endings are inevitable and, ultimately, all serve a purpose. If we allow it, they bring about greater depth of character, promise, growth, achievement and possibilities. This is not to say that there is not struggle, suffering or pain; in no way do I intend to minimalise the depth of feelings we experience during these times. But, whatever your beginnings and endings have been this past year and as we approach the end of 2014, I trust and pray in it all you will experience the love, peace, grace, comfort, courage and presence of God.” – Annie King

Kindness is Key

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Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself—glorious life!
Proverbs 21:21

The AOK Challenge.
One act of kindness a day, for twenty days.
Easy peasy.

Cultivate means “To grow or maintain in culture.”
How cool is that. A life goal of mine is that I am always growing in kindness; that it becomes a lifestyle not just a 20 day challenge. I love the verse above from Proverbs about kindness bringing life. Jesus showed the greatest act of kindness the world has ever seen or known (and will ever see or know). I didn’t deserve His kindness at all, yet it was still freely given to me. I really think the least I can do is show kindness to others.

I had this thought the other day that no matter how big or small an act of kindness may be, when it’s done in partnership with Jesus there is always a heavenly exchange that happens. A beautiful exchange. An exchange where heaven and earth collide. Kindness is a key that will unlock a lot in your life. I personally believe that kindness towards others shifts something in my heart, resulting in a life of joy. And to be honest, I can’t think of a better way to spend my life.

I hope you will join me in this challenge. I hope that it changes your life as well as those you’re being kind to.
I pray that you cultivate kindness; that it becomes part of your DNA.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I love this time of year. I love the joy. I love the excitement. I love the presents. I love the kindness. I love the lights. I love the songs. I love the food. I could go on…
I had a conversation with someone the other day about Christmas time and how they don’t like it as they feel it’s all a commercial thing. I get that, I do, but my challenge to them was what if this is the only time of year that people even remotely think about Jesus. What if it’s the one shot I get to talk to someone about who Jesus is, why He was born, why the whole world sets a day aside to celebrate Him being born.

I love reminding myself of that when I start to get a little overwhelmed by all the events that pop up around this time of year. It can really become quite stressful but, as always, once I focus my thoughts on Jesus, everything else subsides. Sometimes I feel like I should understand by now that when my focus is on Jesus, it is well. So often though I find that I’m focused on myself and that often leaves me feeling like the world is caving in…right on top of me. Ha!

Jesus at the centre of it all. Always. Even when life is busy. Even at Christmas time.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.