28 December, 2017

Unashamed - My Unexpected Word of the Year

I never intended to have a ‘word of the year’ this year. I like the concept; I chose one last year, and it was good. But I thought maybe by choosing my own focus I would miss out on other things God wanted to teach me - He should pick my the word, if I have one. It wasn’t a lightning-bolt revelation, and it wasn’t until part way through the year, but God gave me a word. 


I place a lot of value on being honest and genuine; it’s what I strive to be. But God brought to my attention areas I don’t live like that. I avoid opportunities to share my faith. I choose my words when I’m talking about what I believe – not to make sure the truth is clear, but so it sounds similar to what people are comfortable with. I wonder what people think of my family and friends sometimes. I try to make myself as ‘normal’ as possible, and feel intimidated when someone questions my decisions. I’d rather not talk about my struggles until they’re in the past. I’ve realized I live a lot of my life being ashamed: of my faith and my God, of my friends and family, and of myself, my choices, tastes, and struggles.

I was surprised to find the Bible full of the concept of being unashamed. Before sin, no one was ashamed, which means striving to live unashamed is something God would have us do. He promises so many times that in Him, we won’t be ashamed:

They looked unto him and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. Ps 34:5

…ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. Is 45:17

…and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Is 49:23

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like 
a flint; and I know that I shall not be ashamed. Is 50:7

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame… Is 54:4

…my people shall never be ashamed. Joel 2:26 & 27

Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Rom 10: 11 & 9:33

I don’t have to be ashamed. I can make my faith a natural part of conversation instead of trying to hide it. I can answer when someone asks why I do what I do instead of hesitating. I can smile when people I claim do something I wouldn’t do. I can wear what I’m happy and comfortable in without worrying what others think. I can own my decisions instead of justifying them. I want to be bold, brave, free: unashamed.

Just because God’s been teaching me this, I see how it applies to my life, and I’ve experienced it, doesn’t mean I live unashamed all the time. I have insecurities and fears, and want to hide my light under a bushel sometimes. I’ve been busier and more stressed this year, and it’s harder to live unashamed. I’ve been using tiredness as an excuse. But the call is still there, and maybe it’s the next step in teaching me there’s no way I can live like this on my own. It’s got to be His strength alone.

Unashamed isn’t just my word for 2017; I want it to be my life. Part of me whispers it’s too hard, but I know it’s part of God’s plan to restore us to Him and that’s the very best thing. If God will claim me as part of His family, I can own Him, who He’s given me, and how He’s made me.

And now, little children, abide in him, that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28


So that’s a big part of what God’s been teaching me this year! I have so far to go, living the unashamed life, but from the tiny experiences I’ve had: it’s the best and most freeing thing. How do you see living unashamed? Did you have a word or focus for 2017? What have you been learning this year?

18 December, 2017

I came. I saw. I judged.

I judged a person once. He came over where I was volunteering at a homeless shelter-like place. One of the other volunteers started talking to him which gave me plenty of time to form an opinion. There seemed to be something not quite right about him, and I thought he fit in well for the category of the place; a prime example of a young man ruining himself on drugs. He was roughly kept, and had lots of bright misshapen tattoos. I was sad, but it was a self-righteous kind of sad. I felt no compassion. 

The next time I was there, he came again. The other volunteers were busy, and this time I listened. He asked my name, and when I told him, he said he had a hard time remembering names. I brushed it off by saying, ‘That’s okay. We all do sometimes!’ But he shook his head.

He told me he was a successful business person; he made a million by twenty-three. He had a family, he had kids. He had everything life had to offer. And then, he had an accident. He was in a coma in hospital for a couple of years, he said. When he woke up, he had nothing. No money, no business, no family. Instead, he had a twitch which left him unable to pour a cup of coffee, let alone work. The doctors didn't know how to fix it. He had to teach himself to speak again, and he had loss of short term memory. That’s why he wouldn’t be able to remember my name.

He went on to tell me he’s only had three people in his life he’d call a friend, and he wondered why we’d go out of the way to help people like him. He told me his first rule to live by is self-preservation, making sure his needs are covered: food, water, and shelter. Anything beyond that wasn’t really a need. He said the hardest thing about sleeping on the streets was people walking past and pretending you didn’t exist.

Every single one of my assumptions – except his age – was false, absolutely ungrounded. I saw past my initial judgements. The cynicism in his voice was because he’s hoped with no expectation too many times. The pain in his eyes was the unspoken question: why?

It leaves my heart heavy. How do you explain the unconditional love of God to someone who’s never experienced sacrificial love? How do you explain why Someone would give themselves in our place to a person who's never acknowledged as a human being? How can I be used of God to reflect Him when I can’t meet a person without judging them? 

I want to shout: we’re all human. We’re all sinners, fallen, struggling. We’re all in the same boat, if only we acted like it. I don’t know how to change our culture’s habits. But I’m pretty sure it starts with realizing humans are humans. I’m not any better than you. I’m not more human than an addict on the street. 

We can do our part. Please: come, see, listen. I have a feeling the world will be better that way.

11 December, 2017

What Does the Bible Mean to You?

Hellfire bay, Cape Le Grand, Western Australia 

Maybe you’re like me. I know the Bible is the word of God, full of practical truth and wisdom, but my life doesn’t always reflect that. I’m on a break from study at the moment, and the first things I thought of doing in my spare time were: finally read some books, catch up on blogs and emails, and work on a couple of projects. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but today I felt prompted: why wasn’t my first thought to spend more time in the Bible and prayer? Why aren’t those things my priority? If a stranger were to see a log of how I spend my time, would they know I am a Bible-believing Christian?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

This is the incredible thing about God: He only counsels us to do what will be best for us. Reading the Bible isn’t a theological ritual to make us feel holy; it’s interacting with the Divine. It’s not about formalism or legalism; it’s because God knows we’ll be blessed, encouraged, strengthened. His word is powerful, life-changing. We’ll have constant refreshment, like a tree growing next to a river. We’ll not only grow in our personal life, but produce fruit to benefit others. The psalm continues: ‘his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.’ That’s a promise made by a God who cannot lie. But the condition of the promise being fulfilled, is for us to delight in God’s word, and meditate on it day and night. It has to become a part of us.

It’s tempting to sustain the Christian life with second-hand faith – hearing someone else’s experience with God, or reading inspirational Instagram captions or Pinterest pins. They can be encouraging, but we can get it directly and personalized. If they’re good, the source can only be better.
Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters! Also, you that have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in rich food. Pay attention to me, come to me; and listen, so that you may live… Isaiah 55:1-3

It’s speaking to me. I’m spending time in things that don’t satisfy, while God is offering more than I can imagine. Will I choose to prioritize Him and His word? Will I go to the Source and have my own connection with God rather than trying to gain it through others? Will I give time to His word, knowing that the results will not only nourish me, but be a blessing to others?

It’s a challenge – and I write because this is where I am; not to shame you into reading the Bible. But this is life everlasting, and communion with the Creator we’re talking about. It’s far superior to anything else we can experience. But as it is written: no eye hath seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 Will you join me?

04 December, 2017

A Call to Follow God's Will

I apologize for missing last week’s post. Thanks for still being here when my priorities get out of order. And to all you dear people who commented on the previous post: you’re heard, and you’re not alone. Let’s live unashamed.

 It’s interesting when something you share becomes increasingly relevant to your own life. A few weeks ago I wrote about knowing God’s will, and since then I’ve been wrestling – not so much with knowing what God’s will is for me, but how to live it out; what it looks like in practice.

I’ve been realizing God doesn’t align my circumstances so I automatically follow His will. It doesn’t mean I won’t have to give up anything – even good things. I feel for the past couple of years I’ve only followed God’s will for me in a certain area of life when it’s convenient. It’s when I have holidays from studying, exams are over, and I have time off work. I wait until then and say, ‘Hey God, I’m available!’ But He’s saying to me, ‘What are you doing?’ Why does following God only happen when it’s convenient?

Following God’s will isn’t going to make sense according to our culture’s standards sometimes. It might look like quitting a comfortable life and good job. It could seem counterproductive, totally radical, and even unnecessary. We may not understand why. 

It reminds me of the Bible story about the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked what to do to have eternal life. This guy was already doing good things. He was devoutly religious, he kept the commandments. Maybe he considered himself to be in God’s will, and simply wanted validation. But Jesus didn’t tell him to keep up the good work. He told Him to do something radical and unexpected. 

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matt 19:21) 

Does that make sense? Does it seem like a financially wise thing to do? Maybe it seems noble, but most would’ve said it foolish and uncalled for. It would mean giving up a good, stable life to follow a Man who was ‘despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ (Is 53:3) It would mean rejection. People would’ve thought him insane. It didn’t make earthly sense, and the man chose not to take the advice.

But does God know what He’s doing? Am I willing to follow His leading if doesn’t add up in my mind or seems like a backwards move, like His advice to the rich young man? Living in God’s will isn’t a nice thing to say, a kind of spiritual lifestyle. It’s absolute surrender, being totally sold out. It’s scary; my self-sufficiency runs deep. But this isn’t servitude under a ruthless dictator we’re talking about. It’s the Creator of the universe being willing to take me on as a co-worker. All He’s waiting for is me to say yes.

Maybe you don’t relate; this isn’t your experience. But I desperately want to encourage you: if God’s calling you to do something, don’t wait until it’s convenient. Don’t wait until school’s finished, or you’re more qualified, or you have financial security. It will only get harder and harder. You’ll find more excuses. I’m talking from experience; putting off following God’s will is one of my biggest regrets. Please don’t make the same mistake. We only have now. 

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer that when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Rom 13:11-12) Behold now is the accepted time… (2Cor 6:2)

20 November, 2017

Dear Girl-Who-Feels-Deeply

Dear girl-who-feels-deeply,

I was thinking about you last night, as I lay in bed, and I wanted you to know: it’s okay.

It’s okay to feel deeply. It’s okay to be the one who cries over the news or the state of the world or the fact that disease and aging exist. It’s okay to feel the pangs in your heart while everyone else laughs it off. It’s okay to have to lift your head from the pages to blink away the tears. It’s okay to take a moment to stare out the window because you need time to absorb what you just learned. It’s okay to feel someone else’s pain and cry in despair of your powerlessness. 

Please don’t be ashamed of the wounds this world gives. Don’t try to hide the tears, the pain. Don’t let yourself grow callous and indifferent because that’s the way others appear. Don’t brush the feelings aside in an effort to be ‘grownup.’ Don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt when it does, it doesn’t matter when it does, and it doesn’t mean anything when it does. Don’t let other’s judgements make you hard.

Know this truth: God made you to feel. He made you to feel deeply. It’s not a flaw, it’s not something you’re meant to grow out of. It’s going to hurt sometimes, but it’s going to mean you understand His heart a little more, because God feels. He feels deeply. He has a plan for your sensitivity, a plan to use it for His glory, a plan to show through you a piece of His heart.

Please, please, stay soft. Stay impressionable, stay sensitive. Let yourself feel the pain, the sorrow, the hurt, the injustice, and the love and joy and trust. You’re a deep soul, and your vulnerability will mean people misunderstand you. But don’t let it sway you. You know who you are, and this world needs more people like you.

From my heart to yours,
The girl who knows what it’s like. xx

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.  - Elie Wiesel

13 November, 2017

Why I Don't Answer to 'Single'

I was browsing a website some time ago, and there was an article about singleness. I skimmed it, like I skimmed the articles to marrieds. It wasn’t until I read the responses in the comments section I realized the post was written to me. I am the target audience – my age, my relationship status. But I didn’t answer to it. I didn’t see a post written for singles and think ‘Oh, that’s me!! I must read that!’ It feels strange to call myself ‘single.’

Why don’t I answer to single? I’m not in a relationship, I’ve never been in a relationship, I’m already out of my teens; I should be desperate by our society’s standards. But single is an adjective not a noun. I'm single but I'm so many others things first: loved, chosen by God, complete in Him, blessed, and Australian, female, older sister, writer, musician, nut. Single is a description, but it's not who I am.

We need to stop finding our identity in our singleness. We need to stop telling ourselves we’re single, single, single, like there’s something wrong with us, like we’re incomplete, like we’re lacking. Our identity is so much more. God calls us loved, chosen, worth dying for, of inestimable value, and complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10)

It saddens me to see people make their relationship status their identity. They feel they can’t be satisfied until they’re with their ‘other half.’ They feel there’s something wrong with them, because no one has noticed them. They change themselves to get someone’s attention. They fantasize, building up expectations which only lead to disappointment. You are so much more than what a guy thinks of you. A Man has already told you what He thinks of you, and demonstrated His love by giving the ultimate sacrifice. That’s who you are. That’s where your worth comes from. You can rest securely, because it doesn’t matter what your crush thinks of you – God says you’re beautiful and loved. 

Marriage and companionship is a beautiful thing. God ordained it, and I believe it’s God’s plan for some of us, maybe all. But it’s not who we are. The verse in Colossians I referenced earlier really spoke to me: ‘Ye are complete in Him.’ If we aren’t feeling complete, could it be we’re neglecting our relationship with God? He is the only one who can complete us; give us security and fulfilment. It’s normal and God-given to desire companionship – absolutely. But we can’t be looking for our worth and value and identity in it. We will be let down, because people are wonderful, but they’re not perfect.

I was thinking about God giving marriage in the beginning, and saying it wasn’t good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) We use that verse, but God said this before sin and separation; humans were in perfect harmony with Him. A spouse for Adam was the only thing lacking, because his relationship with God was there. We might not have the companionship God gave Adam, but we’ve also lost the relationship with God, and that came first. That’s most important. 

I don’t have this down. I’m not writing because I’ve made it and you haven’t. I’ve daydreamed about guys and my future, had crushes, and tried to change who I am to be noticed. Temptations are real. But what I want to emphasise is: God can give us victory over those things. It’s hard, but it’s so, so worth it. Knowing who you are in God is the most freeing thing. And, if marriage is in God’s plan, the right partner is going to be attracted to you because of who you are, not who you’re trying to be, or who you want them to make you.

I saw a quote once that said, ‘If God could find Adam a wife when he’s the only human being in the world, He can get you somebody.’ Friends, this is not our battle. Our job is to give our lives over to God, and He will orchestrate marriage if that’s in our best interest. He has already given us everything we need for satisfaction and fulfilment in ‘singlehood.’ Let’s walk in that.

Whew! That was quite intense! I hope it’s clear I share not as one who has arrived, but because I care. I’m passionate because I see people struggling in their singleness when they could be walking in the freedom of who God says they are. What do you think on this topic? Is singleness something you've struggled with? And non-singles, it’d be great to hear your perspective too! Is there something I’ve missed? Most of all, friends, stay strong. You’re complete in Him. xx

09 November, 2017

Thankfulness Thursday - Spring Buds and God Working Despite Me

Grace Anne from Totally Graced is hosting Thankful Thursdays this month – it’s about taking extra time to remember and share what we’re thankful for. I realized the reason for thankfulness in November is probably due to thanksgiving, which we don’t celebrate in Australia, but it’s always a good time to be thankful, in my opinion. :)

I’m thankful for God working even in comfort zones. Last week, I was going out for the day – volunteering talking with homeless people and doing their washing, then some shopping and teaching. I was praying on the way, asking God for strength; strength to acknowledge Him even though I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t ask for opportunities to talk about Him and witness, because I didn’t want those opportunities. I didn’t feel like stepping outside my comfort zone. I was tired. It was a lame prayer, honestly.

After I did the volunteering shift, and I was sitting in a carpark eating lunch, I saw God answered my prayer without me even realizing. I got to share my faith with three people directly through the shift, and indirectly with the others who were listening. Two people asked what I was studying, and when I answered ‘Christian counselling,’ it led to more discussion. One man apologised for anti-religion stuff he’d said earlier, and I was able to share what he'd said didn’t offend me, because it’s more about my personal relationship with God rather than structured religion. They were natural conversations, not forced, or awkward.

The third opportunity came when I was talking with another guy, and he told me I was not like other twenty-year-olds he’d known. I didn’t seem like the type of girl who’d spend time in nightclubs, and do drugs and stuff. I was able to give God credit, and say it’s because of God and my Christian upbringing. 

As I was sitting in the car thinking about those situations, it made me laugh. Here I was scared, tired, praying safe prayers. And yet, God still gave me opportunities and used me, and I didn’t even see it coming! So this week, I’m thankful God works, even through my weakness and fear. 

And I want to encourage you: if you’re feeling low, like you have nothing to offer God, and you aren’t worthy of being His witness, be honest with God. He’s not limited – comfort zones and tired hearts don’t stop Him. He can still use you, and the best part is when He does, it ignites His enthusiasm in us, and we get the biggest blessing. Stay strong, friends, and let God use even the little bit you have – He’s a God of miracles. If He can work through my inadequacy, He can absolutely use you. xx

What are you thankful this week? How has God been surprising you recently?

06 November, 2017

How to Know God's Will

I first thought seriously about knowing God’s will when I was getting close to finishing school. Everyone asked what I was going to do next, and I didn’t have an answer. But in my mind, God would reveal what I was meant to do, and I’d be set. I would have direction for life, and the dilemma would be history. I would know God’s will once and for all. 

That’s not how it turned out, of course. God gave direction on what to study, and I believe it’s His will for me to be studying now. But there are more questions: what am I going to do when I finish studying? Where should I be working? How should I be spending my time? And knowing God’s will isn’t reserved for big things like what to study or where to live or who to marry; it comes into everyday decisions too. It’s wonderful to think God is so involved in our life. But how can we know God’s will? I haven’t found a magic formula (current decision + God’s will = ?), and I don’t believe there is one. But I learned some things recently which help me navigate this desire to live in God’s will, and I want to share because I know it can be hard and confusing.


To recognize God revealing His will to us, we have to be familiar with His voice. You know when you’re a crowd of new people, there's a steady hum of voices, and suddenly you hear someone you know? You pick their voice above everyone else’s, and you don’t feel alone anymore? That’s what it’s like with knowing God’s will. There’s lots of noise – people’s opinions, social pressures, media, and expectations. If we don’t know God’s voice it will blend in, and we’ll be confused and bombarded. 

We become familiar with God’s voice by spending time with Him – in prayer, in the Bible, in His creation – the same as we get to know someone else. If we’re in communication with God, we’ll recognize His voice. The Bible reveals what God is like, and what His heart for us is. It’s also important to know, because Satan can mask himself and present things which seem like God’s will. But if they don’t line up with the Bible, they can’t be from God because He doesn’t contradict Himself. So knowing the Bible helps discern who the suggestion comes from!


When Christy, in Christy by Catherine Marshall, struggles with knowing God’s will, Miss Alice Henderson gives her this verse: ‘If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.’ (John 7:17) My reaction was similar to Christy’s: how is that relevant? But as I thought about it, it became clearer: if anyone will to do God’s will, then they’ll know. We have to be surrendered and willing to obey whatever God tells us. Will God reveal His will if we’re only curious about it? If we’re interested in knowing, but not ready to lay down whatever He asks to do it?

Then, I was reading John 8:31-32: ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ It’s after we continue in God’s word – obey and live out what we already know – He reveals more truth to us. So, another part of knowing God’s will is obeying what He’s already shown us.


The most fascinating thing I learned about God’s will was from a sermon by Ray Comfort. (I recommend watching it here, if you get a chance! Thanks, Paige, for recommending it to me! :) He points out that God expects us to use initiative. God has given plenty of knowledge in the Bible about His will. For example, Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens, which fulfils the law of Christ. We don’t need to ask whether helping someone is God’s will. Ray illustrates by saying if we saw an elderly lady fall in the street, would we stop and ask ‘God what is your will for me here?’ No, we know His will is for us to help the lady. Maybe He stays silent sometimes when we ask to know His will, because he’s already revealed it. If it’s sharing salvation and the hope of Christ, if it’s helping others, if it’s anything He tells us to do in His word, we know it’s His will. Our job is to trust Him, and do it. The Bible often talks about knowing God’s will in past tense. So, the third point to knowing God’s will for our lives is taking initiative in areas where His will is already revealed to us (which comes back to knowing His voice through the Bible!).

Sometimes I’ve gotten frustrated with knowing God’s will, and questioned: why can’t God make it obvious what I’m meant to do? He could send a letter, or write it in the sky. But God isn’t a machine to give us answers. He’s our Father, and more than anything, He wants a relationship with us. If He gave us missives from heaven every time we wanted to know something, we would treat Him like google. Have a question? Just God it. But we can’t have a relationship with google. I think the struggle to know God’s will might be part of His plan to us draw closer to Him. Even when He doesn’t reveal the answers, we can rest, because we know Who He is – our Father who always, always wants what is best for us.


Have you ever struggled with knowing God’s will? What would you add to this list? Are there other ways we can learn to recognize God’s voice? Do you think God sometimes asks us to come closer to Him before He shows His will?

Also! The giveaway is still open - if you missed it, enter here! And, thanks to feedback from my survey, I’m going to begin posting on schedule! Expect a post every Monday (or maybe Sunday night if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). They will be inspirational/spiritual/(what genre are my posts?), and if I share anything lighter or more life-y, it will be inbetween. Please pray I’ll grow in time management, and be able to keep my word!