Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today, I die

Did that get your attention (insert grin)??

I'm not trying to be all dramatic, it's just the title that popped into my head as I was thinking about this post.  It comes from a fantastic article by Jeff Goins on his blog, in which he writes

"Creating is painful, and every writer gets wounded. In order to move out of wounded-ness (“God, why have you forsaken me?”), we must face the injustice of unfair criticism, and heal.  We must, with God’s help, get reborn. We must become whole again."

To be reborn, you first have to die.  To your self, to the world's expectations, to your fears.   From death comes new life, resurrection, a rebirth into being whom God has created us to be, and a freedom to live the life He intends for us.

I haven't written for a few days, here or anywhere else, because I'm still scared.  I'm still fearful of the pain of the story I know I need to tell, and fearful of failing, of getting it wrong.  I'm confused, not knowing for sure that this is where God wants me to go.  But the fact that each day when I have thought about writing, I've felt a physical knot of dread, that only gets worse when I think 'I'll start tomorrow', tells me that I have to do this.  And not just write this, but to share this, too.

It's simply my story.  We all have a story, and they're all extraordinary in some way or another, regardless of how simple and ordinary and uneventful they may seem.  My story is no more 'special' than anyone else's, I just hope that anyone who reads it will find something encouraging, something that they can relate to and that might challenge them in some way.  That's what we all need from each other, connection and encouragement.

I once heard Dr Phil say 'in life, our greatest desire is acceptance, and our greatest fear is rejection'.  I absolutely agree with that 100% - as I've written before, we are made to be a community, we want to be accepted and loved by thhe people in our lives, and we're afraid of how that feels if we don't experience that - which is ultimately rejection.  I have also thought that you could replace rejection with pain - rejection is painful, and when you think about it, every moment, every aspect of our lives that we fear involves pain.  Having an accident and getting hurt, a broken heart, the thought of failing at something, being rejected in any situation, facing up to our fears, becoming ill, dealing with a difficult relationship - all involve pain.  We don't like pain, but as I wrote just last week, there is beauty in pain, and we need to go through it to discover that.

I have avoided writing my story because I've been fearful of revisting the parts that hurt, and I've avoided sharing my story because I've been scared of what people might say, what they might think of me.  Oh, I don't have any big, deep, dark secrets, but I have my failings and times I wish I could have a 'do-over', and whilst those closest to me know those chapters of my life, it's the putting it 'out there' in the big wide world that quite frankly scares the pants off me.  But if I keep hanging onto it all, and keep ignoring the Voice that tells me share what I've lived, to let it all go, I keep hanging on to the fear, and to some degree I've been doing that because it's comfortable - not the healthiest choice, and not something that is uplifting in my life, but comfortable because I can predict the outcome of my actions.  I've written before that part of my fear of failure comes from perfectionism, and how at times I don't do what I really what to do, or know that I'm meant to do, because I can't predict the outcome, and I'm fearful that it (whatever it is) won't turn out how I think it's supposed to.  And in my warped sense of thinking, that could be bad, and someone might not think well of me.  See?  Need = acceptance, fear = pain.

In this great journey of life, I've learnt that we don't live up to our full potential because of our deisre for comfort and familiarity, which as I just said isn't always the best option for us.  We wonder why we, and people around us, hang on to negative thought patterns, and keep repeating behaviours that aren't healthy for us, and it's because they're familiar - we can predict the outcomes of our actions, even if they make us (or someone else) feel bad.  We like the comfort of knowing A+B=C.  We don't try to change the equation because we don't know what might happen, and we're not willing to take the risk of feeling pain if we don't get it right.

But what if we do?  What if A+ B = J, and J is wonderful?  If we don't risk, we don't discover, we don't grow, we don't learn.  Be it intentional or accidental, we have to change the equation, and risk the possibility of pain. 

So today I die to my fears, to my need to be able to predict the outcomes of my actions, and will be reborn to live the life that God has placed before me.  Today I embrace the risk.  And for the record, that's still scary.   

But I know J will be wonderful.


I'm going to be writing over on a new blog, which is still under construction.  The Running Stitch will become a place to record the day-to-day of my life, I'll post a link to the new blog later tonight when it's up and running.  In the meantime, I'm posting below and excerpt from my attempt at NaNoWroMo 2011, which talks about why words are so important, and why I struggle with writing.  I wrote in the third person, and was attempting to 'fictionalise' my experiences, so 'Janie' is me (just in case you didn't work that out!!).

For future reference, parts of my story won't be shared, because they involve other people who's permission I don't have to make their expereinces public, and simply because tney don't need to be told.  There's also no happy ending, no living 'happily ever after', there is just truth, and joy, and pain, and love.  And a whole lot of learning along the way.

So here goes......

She stopped typing, absentmindedly twirling her hair around her finger as she tried to figure out what felt ‘off’.  Is it the writing?  The subject matter? The telling felt forced, and her internal editor was too loud in her head, echoed by the voices of dissent trying to convince her that this was all too hard.  Maybe try a different tack? ‘But I don’t want to just give up, I don’t want to keep stopping and starting, scrapping that which doesn’t work for the easier option of starting again’.  Perhaps the story is too close, too much a part of her to release on to paper.  Perhaps that’s not the story that needs to be told now.  ‘So which one?’ she thought in frustration, trying to still the words and pictures swirling around in her head.  ‘Why is this so hard, it’s just writing, it’s just putting words to paper (so to speak)’,  but she knew it wasn’t as simple as that.  
Words are gifts, she thought, to be used thoughtfully and with wisdom, she knew that all too well.  They can heal as much as harm, and tear down that which has been built up.  We use them without thinking, and throw them around as if they have no worth, yet the power of what comes out of our mouths and what we write is so grossly underestimated.  A simple, kind word can be a sooting balm to a multitude of wounds, and a scathing, sharp retort can leave one reeling.  One word can speak volumes, and a thousand can echo with no meaning or substance.  Words are how we connect, how we live and for some, as vital as breathing.  There is such beauty in these collections of letters, the way they form and shift to convey a thought, a breath, a heartbeat.   
In thinking all this, it started to make sense why the telling was so hard.   She loved words, loved hearing them, seeing them, playing with them.  For her, words were as much as a requirement of life as oxygen -  indeed, at times when she felt she couldn’t breathe, when it felt as if the world was suffocating her, she still had her words.  The thought of not using them as they were intended, for the story within her, was almost enough to stop her from trying.  But where would that get her?  She knew the words were there, waiting to come out when she was ready, waiting to begin the healing.  ‘Ahhhhhh’ she sighed, feeling the pieces start to drop into place as she allowed her soul to sit with the thoughts in her head, realising that this was a part of the journey of her head filtering down to her heart.  ‘Now?’, she questioned Him, realisation dawning on her, ‘really, like this?’.  
But it made sense.  He made her.  He made her to love the words He blessed her with.  He made her with the desire to see and to hear the words of the stories - her own, and those who crossed her path by His design.  ‘Is this the time?  Is this how You’re going to do it, how You’re going to lead me to where I need to go??’ she asked Him, wondering if she was making more of this insight than it really was.  But something had shifted, something within that whispered ‘Now is the time to tell.  Now is the time to let it go, to stop holding on so tight’.  She couldn’t work out what she feared most – fully embracing the call and stepping out in faith, or turning from the beckoning, and adding another layer to the wall from behind which the voice whispered.  Did she dare?  Did she dare to ask, and be willing to accept the answer?  ‘I’m not ready, but I will’ she whispered back to the voice in her heart......

Another fight, more hurtful words thrown around carelessly between them, intended to maim and wound.  His words echoed in her head, words she’d heard a thousand times before, but in that moment, it all became so perfectly clear.  ‘I can’t change him’.  The realisation hit her with stunning clarity, and all of a sudden, she knew.  She knew the truth that she had been hiding in the deep, dark recesses of denial.  It was time.  She had to leave, because nothing was going to change, and she couldn’t keep going the way things were.  ‘How do I do that?’ was all she could think, and the silence that answered was deafening.
Janie paused, lost in the memory of that moment , that point in time where life as she knew it was shattered, broken into a million pieces, when she knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Beauty of Pain

(Following on from my back-to-running experience and post yesterday, and the brilliant article on Jeff Goins' blog today, it's appropriate to post what I wrote about pain a little while ago).

I don’t know where that title came from, I’m sure I’ve heard it or seen it somewhere before, but it perfectly describes my experience with pain.  Yes, that sounds strange, if not downright bizarre, I know.  How can there be beauty in pain, when pain is such an unpleasant experience?  

Pain lets us know that we’re alive.  Yes, it is a ‘warning system’ that God has created within us, and alerts us to the fact that something isn’t right in our body, but if we feel pain, that means we are alive.  That’s where the beauty lies – in the act of being aware of life, life within ourselves, within God, within the world.  We don’t embrace painful experiences because of how they make us feel, and yet these experiences are some of the most valuable ones of our lives.  Pain, be it physical or emotional, or both, serves to teach us how do deal with life when all doesn’t go according to plan, how to avoid situations that will bring us harm, where to find the perseverance and strength required to have to keep going when we know it hurts to do so.  

Dealing with pain, be it temporary or long term, exposes us to experiences that we may not have had otherwise, teaches us life lessons that we may have missed out on if not for the particular turns life takes:  humility, grace, what it is to be part of a bigger picture, strength, perseverance, patience, a sense community, tolerance.  I suppose they’re the ‘good’ effects of the pain experience.  But as anyone who has experienced pain on any level will tell you, the ‘bad’ effects are equally as significant: fear, frustration, despair, hopelessness, isolation and rejection.  

I can only write from my own experiences, and I’ve been through the gamut of pain, from a paper cut to childbirth, from the short-lived stubbing of a toe to the long-term nature of chronic illness.  On reflection, each and every experience has taught me a lesson, has impacted and shaped my life somehow, has taught me what to be wary of and what to embrace.  I’ve learned what I’m capable of, and what scares me, and both have been somewhat surprising.  For me, the beauty comes from the lessons learned and the discoveries made, from realising that pain has purpose and that we don’t go through all the hurt and fear for no reason at all.

Without pain, we would never know of the dangers in the world, we wouldn’t learn what harms us and causes us to hurt, inside and out.  We wouldn't have experiences to reflect on that teach us how to avoid situations that could be harmful, but also experiences that show us how pain makes us feel alive

Would I change my experience of pain, present and past, if I could?  My immediate response would probably be yes, because life before chronic pain seems so much better in my memory.  But pain has taught me so much about living, good and downright horrendous, and I wouldn't be who I am today without those expereinces.  Rather than ponder the question, I continue to just take each moment as it comes, and try to find the beauty in the every day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Because I can

This time last year, I was in training for the City to Bay 12km run in Adelaide, held each September.  A couple of days after a training run with my co-consiprator (AKA very dear friend) on the 18th of July, my feet were very painful and sore to walk on, and a rather large bump had appeared on the back of my heel.

In trying to figure out how to best manage the symptoms that had flared up in my feet, I was told by my physio and podiatrist that running was really out of the question for me.  I was devastated - I'd finally come to love running, only to be told it really wasn't a good idea.

Then 3 months ago tonight, I was laying in a hospital bed in agony, unable to walk due to a flare-up of the arthritis in my feet, and it was a month before I could walk again without a walking stick. If it hadn't been for the fact that I knew that God was taking care of everything (despite how it felt at the time), I would have felt completely hopeless, wondering if I would ever walk without pain again.

That run on the 18th of July was the last time I ran.

Until tonight.

Tonight, I ran on the treadmill at the gym.  

I ran on the treadmill at the gym.

I moved for 25 minutes on the treadmill, with 2 x 5 minute runs, and when I hurt so much I thought I was going to throw up, I remembered laying in that bed unable to think of anything but pain, and I just kept going. 

And going.  

There is a quote on the wall of my gym that says 'exceed your expectations....because you can' (which I've posted about before).When I first started walking tonight, it hurt more than I thought it would, and I thought 'Right, I'll aim to move for 20 minutes'.  The more I walked, the more it hurt, and it hurt a little bit more when I started running.  But I just kept going......because I can.  

About 1.5 minutes into the second run, I didn't think I could keep going, but I did......because I can.  

And when that 5 minutes was up, I kept going for another 10 seconds.....because I can.

At the 20 minute mark, I continued walking - partly because I was afraid that if I stopped moving I might just fall down, but also......because I can.

I exceeded my expectations, because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

'Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.'
(Philippians 4:13)

I can do anything, because He has made me to be who I am.
I am a runner.

Feels so good to say that again.

My thought for the day - find what your limits are, take them off and exceed your expectations.....because you can.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Starting again.


Today’s a new day.  

Beautiful, clean, fresh, kissed by sunshine.

I can choose to embrace it, to drink in the enormity of possibility, to delight in everything that comes across my path.

Or I can choose to shrug on the cloak of fear as I usually do, to look ahead with eyes that expect failure, a heart that fears the unknown.

I’m tired of that.  The cloak is heavy and stifling, and full of despair.

I want to live in the freedom that Christ holds out to me, to grab it with my whole self and just run.

Just run.

Soak in the beauty and wonder that is the world around me, love on the people I live amongst as Christ loves them, experience life as it was intended.

I choose freedom.

I choose life.

I choose Love.

Today and every day I am blessed with ahead of me.

Will you share the journey with me?

 (image from

Ask. Seek. Knock

God always shows up.


How else can I explain the particular podcast I listened to yesterday, after everything I wrote about in my last post?  I listen to Andrew Wommack via podcast when I’m travelling for work, and I never fail to hear God speak to me through his messages.

After writing yesterday about wanting to find my voice in my writing, to have the courage to live according to God’s purpose for me, to live without fear, especially of failing, I listened to several podcasts in which Andrew spoke on exactly those subjects.  Only a few hours after put into words what it is I’m seeking , God moved.  He confirmed that what is on my heart, He has placed there, to explore, to question, keep seeking.  I have no idea yet what to do with what it is I discover along the way, but I know that to hear God, to know His voice, I need to step out of the fear I live in.  

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.(Matt 7:7-8)

I ask, and I don’t expect to receive.  I seek, and I’m convinced I won’t find.  I knock hesitantly, and expect the door to stay firmly closed.  

God whispers to me ‘this isn’t My way’.


I’m scared that if I do, He will ask too much of me.  I’m scared that if I try, I won’t live up to what He expects of me.

Fear is limiting God in my life.

I’m the only one who can do anything about it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where to start?

I’ve done it again, let fear stop me from starting.

I don’t know what to write.

I don’t know what my story is.

I have so much to tell, so much to say, so much to share, I just don’t know where to start.

God, help me, please, show me Your way, give me Your words.

I want to tell about staying married, perservering, that God is big enough.  That we as a society, as a culture, have lost the true meaning of marriage, we don’t know how to put another before ourselves, every single day, and that when the going gets tough, it is easier to give up, and hope that next time will be better.  That the alternative to what is hard is actually worse, however bad the relationship may be at the time.  That divorce is never good, even if it seems the better option, that it tears families apart, and the wounds heal into ugly scars.  That at the time, we cannot see the damage that is done, and have no idea how the destruction of marriage shapes the path we start to follow, and that there’s no going back.  That even in the reconciliation, the scars are there, keeping you wary and on guard, and they contract the skin of our selves, not letting us fully be available to the other as we need to be, for ourselves and for our kids.  That the effects of the wounding are felt for years after the event, something we cannot possibly see at the time when we just want out of the pain.

I want to tell that change is hard, and it hurts, and we’re almost allergic to it, because we don’t want to experience more discomfort, more pain, even if we have a glimmer of hope in the joy that is waiting for us.  We first have to pass through the fire, through the pain, and we shy away from that.  Wounds hurt, old and new, and memories are long, our senses are conditioned by the experiences we have, and until we create new memories, new experiences, we remember the original hurts, and let that shape our judgement and expectations.  We don’t want to face the challenge and pain of healing, and growing, because it’s hard work, and it can hurt – a lot.  I want to be an encourager, to come alongside people just facing and starting the journey I’ve been travelling, to speak words of life into them, and to walk with them as they take those hesitant, faltering steps toward the Life that is theirs for the taking.

I want to tell that there is beauty in pain, that there is nothing in this world that is strong enough to kill us if we walk with God through the darkness into the light, relying on Him for strength.  That when the world seems completely unbearable to the touch, when the every-day of life seems insurmountable, when pain is all that our senses can register, God is there, ever-present, holdingus up, no matter how alone we feel.  That from pain comes heightened awareness, a full realisation of who we are, how we hurt, and how we heal.  That pain is a blessing, because it alerts us to the fact that something is not right, in our bodies, in our hearts, in our very selves.  That despite our attempts to cover it up, to hide it, to ignore it, pain won’t go away until we bring it out into the light and see where it’s pointing, start seeking the healing we need.  

I want to tell of the beauty in our world, regardless of what it is the culture we live in tries to tell us, how it tries to deceive us.  That we don’t need the things and ‘stuff’ that our culture tries to convince us that we do.  That we need each other, because we are each a part of the whole, and when one part isn’t ‘working’, the whole feels it.  That if we just showed each other a little bit more understanding, a little bit more kindness and compassion, that if we truly learnt what it means to love one another, we would begin to heal the rifts caused by the deception that shrouds the world we live in, that what we have isn’t enough, and we need more to succeed, to be better.  No.  We need to connect, not to collect, to get, to spend, to be entertained. 
I want to tell of what it is to truly see God as enough, but that I can’t do yet, because I’m not there.  There is still a big part of me that can’t seem to let go of the world to grab on to Him completely, without hesitation, with complete and utter faith, and until I can, I don’t feel qualified to write about what it is to know that He is enough.  And yet I know that I am, because I’m seeking, because I’m travelling that path, searching for that understanding, and this is what we need to do, to share our inadequacies and foibles, the inner parts of us that we try to hide from the world.  We need to stop hiding and to bring it all into the light, so that we can each see that we are as broken and bruised as the person next to us.

Life really isn’t a dress rehearsal, there is no encore.  Whilst the eternity that is waiting for us is far more beautiful than anything we can experience here, we are here with a purpose, for a reason, and we only get one chance to fulfil that, to live as we are truly meant to.  I don’t want to waste my one chance, to drift along in life just hoping for the best.  I want to know where it is I’m supposed to go, what it is I’m supposed to go, what it is I’m supposed to say, who it is I’m supposed to connect with.  I delight in the seeking, in the wondering, in the being open to whatever or whomever comes across my path.  I also fear the unknown, not being able to predict the outcome of my actions, and dread failing yet again.  I don’t want to live like thatthere is no fear in love, and perfect love drives out fear.  I want to experience living in that perfect love every day.

This one life is mine to live as only I can choose, and I choose to live.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy way out

Yep, that's what I'm doing todya, taking the easy way out - I can't grab thr toughts in my head and string them together in a thoughtful post right at the moment, so I'm rounding up my Instagram efforts from last week, few as they are.  I'm keeping it simple by following Fatmumslim's July photoaday series (when I remember!!).  Sorry for the small pics, for some reason I can't load bigger ones.

 Playing along with InstaFriday at

01/07 - self portrait (and new haircut for me!)

Self-portrait #2 - as I'm learning to see myself

 03/07 - best part of your day (any part involving sunshine)

07/07 - garden  (perfect birthday present, frost in the morning)

08/07 - lunch (leftovers from a birthday lunch)

 Short and sweet for now :-)