30 December 2015

freedom fashion

After some cool days in the middle of summer it was delightful to stand out in the sun and feel the warmth on my skin.  I'm enjoying some holidays relaxing with my family and celebrating the Christmas and New Year season with food and laughter and games and movies.  Another week of relaxing and having fun with family and friends and I'll head back to well paid work in the neighbouring state I currently live in.

A luxury really.  A privilege that so many women don't share in.  All month I've been participating in Dressember, wearing a dress every day to raise awareness and funds for the fight against slavery.  Dressember is about standing up for the dignity and freedom of women in particular who, due to forced slavery, are deprived of so many freedoms that we take for granted.  I've chosen to only wear dresses that are either bought from a second hand charity store or ethically sourced.  The second hand option has been a bargain route to take scoring several nice dresses for $8, $5 or $3 and a little crafty tweaking.  But I went a little further with this outfit.

The dress is from Nomads which have been supplying ethical, fair trade clothing since 1989.  They are a UK company and I was able to find a dress I liked and have it arrive before Christmas.  With the British pound and Australian dollar not on friendly terms, I splurged the $100 for this on-sale dress.  However, I know the workers are fairly employed and treated well.  I was glad to finally find an ethically sourced dress that I liked and suited my shape.

The shoes are my beloved Sseko sandals I bought at a local market stall.  I loved the story behind them.  Sseko hire women in Uganda giving them the ability to save money to then go on to university.  It is very rare for these women to get this level of education without help and the stall operators also said these women get to hear inspiring talks and receive guidance for their move on to further study.  Plus these sandals are awesome.  You buy the base and then whatever ribbons you like and then the tying options are creatively endless.  Sseko Designs also have a range of other goods but I can definitely vouch for their sandals.  I've had them for about a year and a half and worn them loads and they are still going strong.  You can buy your own in Australia through 747 Products.

The necklace I bought from Destiny Threads which is the shop associated with Destiny Rescue who focus on rescuing children from sex slavery.  After rescue, they live in Destiny houses where they get the care and rehabilitation they need to grow into healthy adults.  Part of that is training in an area that will enable them to provide for themselves and their family in a healthy, honourable way.  While at the Destiny houses some participate in making jewellery to be sold to help with the funding of this process.  The range ebbs and flows so it's worth taking a look sporadically.

Knowing that what I'm wearing has benefited these women in ways that I assume are normal and to be expected but are so powerful and life-changing and encouraging for them makes me feel good that I can help with that.  It really is fairly simple to participate in ensuring people are treated fairly.

DRESSEMBER.  It's bigger than a dress!

Please make a donation
who both work to fight against modern day slavery that is still rife in our world.

31 May 2015

35 solar laps later...

Yesterday I clocked up 35 years of life.  What a privilege to be alive and to have had all these days to live!  I am even more blessed that I have been journeying with God for nigh the entirety of them.  And to wonder that He has been watching over me, walking with me and personally involved for every moment.  As I begin this next year of life, I lay it all before Him.  

My journey thus far has been vastly different from all that I'd imagined and hoped for, both in highs and lows, yet despite and through the twisted path, I appreciate all that God has done and taught me.  He's helping me grow into the fullness of who He designed me to be.  For me, the wonder is in the journey and what a journey it has been so far.  And I wonder what is to come...  

Whatever the future holds, right now I'm enjoying learning to have a more intimate relationship with God, progressively understanding myself and Him and how we fit together. Enjoying the results from the challenging lessons anyway. For those who know anything of my journey, I feel I am beginning to come out the other side of my 'valley of the shadow of death'.  I feel that God is leading me into something new, my promised land of sorts.  I'm not really sure what that is but I'll discover it along the way as He and I walk together.  It's a year for growth and blessing I think.  Challenging and wonderful times ahead.

As for the day for celebrating my life, it was a smooth and pleasant one.  I began, after opening waiting presents and cards sent from family, by taking a walk with God down to the water's edge where I sat and talked with Him.  Mid morning I set out for the day, stopping by a friend's briefly before catching up with a fun bunch who gather to play board games.  I haven't been able to make it for a while so it was great to indulge myself for an entire afternoon.  I sat down with some others to battle the Power Grid.  I've only played this game twice but both times I've won so I wasn't sure if I should risk my winning streak.  But nevermind that.  The way things flowed led me to win again.  Yay for my birthday.  Also played a shorter, more playful game called Colt Express.  I then moseyed on home where some friends joined me in the evening hours for cheese and wine.  One brought me a delicious homemade carrot cake.  Friends and food and talk for several hours was a most delightful, satisfying end to another birthday.


03 January 2015

new year, continued challenge

God spent a lot of 2014 challenging me about my “cravings and desires”.  Namely the one major one that has been with me since childhood: love—to be married someday.  I believe He asked me earlier in the year to give Him my heart, to surrender the dream—not abandon it but leave it in His care—bringing Matthew 6:33 to mind and the idea to seek Him above all.  Later in the year He more pointedly made me aware of my passive pursuit in desiring the love of a man in the hope to satisfy my heart.  I can still hear the echoes of His request: “Find your satisfaction in Me. I am enough.” 

Amongst the stressful ride of multiple sudden job changes, house moves and the in between unemployment, this has been my underlying challenge all year.  One I have notched up hours upon hours in conversation with God about.  I remind Him regularly that this is a tough thing He’s asking of me; usually followed with a verbalised expectation of help because there’s no way I can do this on my own.  Because of this I’ve been thinking a lot more about ‘singleness’ and have had some great and challenging conversations with friends.  I have a life to live and whether I am single or married, I want to learn to live well. 

Toward the end of the year I have found myself praying more often for help to be open to God and His Spirit and to walk and move with Him.  Now 2015 has rolled in and I have a whole new year ahead of me.  The first verse I read that really stands out to me is the one above.  It is my desire that this year be one I learn to walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit, responsive to and controlled and guided by Him, that my cravings and desires be for God Himself, the only One who can truly satisfy my soul and the One most worthy of my affection and devotion.  I know this will be a constant challenge and it will be hard but I’m convinced it’s worth doing what God asks of me.

As 2015 continues to roll on, I pray that you too will know a greater wonder and satisfaction in God who loves us beyond our comprehension.

29 October 2014

glory in the storms

After initial shock and some bouts of tears this week, today I sit here and laugh. My word! What a  journey I'm on! Life is crazy but, gloriously, God is good. I shall continue to trust that truth.

Never would I have imagined being on such an adventure as this. Yet here I am--about to make my 6th move and end my 4th job in the space of 12 months. After my last job ended I had a another month of unemployment followed by a month of adjusting to my new job whilst a totally awesome friend of mine shared his home with me.  Last week I signed a lease to share a house in the lower north shore of Sydney.  Between then and starting work this week,  life has changed for this new work family and I was given notice on Monday morning. Needless to say my emotions have been fluctuating. I'm sure they still will in the coming days and weeks but for this moment I feel peace. I feel as though my spring is approaching after a long dark winter. Just maybe something new is about to begin. I just need to hang on to God, seek Him, trust and follow.  For all the intense craziness I feel about my life this week, I have worshiped God my Rock from a deeper place finding peace as I rest in Him.  The following lyrics come from a song that has significant meaning in this turbulence.

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

While this is a challenging time, I wait curiously to see where He leads and what glorious unfolding takes place in my life. I rest contentedly--though at times with difficulty--that my God is ever with me.

10 August 2014

the twisted path

God works in mysterious ways.  So mysterious not even I know how He's working in my life.  Mostly He doesn't fill me in on His plans.

It was over much deliberation and conversation with Him and my wonderful sister in law who I was staying with at the time that I came to be where I am today--working as a nanny in northern Sydney.  I've moved around so much since I moved out of my childhood home a good decade ago.  Mostly due to my 'off-adventuring' status.  Even in between my USA year and my UK double though, the longest I've stayed in one place is two years and that was with a tidal ebb and flow of work.  The past twelve months alone has involved five moves and three different jobs with a few months of unemployment to spread it out.  I'm ever thankful for my older brother and his family letting me overtake their spare room for weeks on end when my jobs have fallen through.  Such generosity!  Although this current job always was a short term position I find myself challenged again with another twist in my path having my contract shortened to now end with August.  In fact this whole idea of a twisted path runs across practically all areas of my life over the last several years.  I round one bend, climbing over tree roots and tripping on rocks, only to see a metre or two ahead to the next bend.  Sometimes it's hard to clarify if I'm actually making any progress.

In these unknown and unsure times, I often hear people read or quote Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.

It irks me.  I don't like the wording of the latest New International Version.  In my opinion, from my point of view, life is just not like that.  It's anything but straight.  Even with God.  In fact, I don't WANT it to be straight. I've found comfort, hope and strength in reading Psalm 23 this year.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need...  Partly coz the last several years have felt like walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  And with my imagination it's easy to picture journeying through a valley that is so overrun with vegetation that it's darkened and difficult and you can only hope that this twisted path is winding it's way out the other end.  It's bloody tough.  And that's an understatement!  But it's an adventure!!

A friend read out Psalm 23 for me a few months back and where she said, "He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake" I initially thought she said "wide paths".  It got me thinking though.  Wide paths?  I don't want to take the motorway with it's multiple lanes, whizzing along traffic and boring scenery.  I like the back roads twisting through the less visited places and interesting scenery.  That's where the adventure is.  And for me, life is about the journey; not the destination.

So I'm sticking with the way I originally learnt the Proverbs passage way back in the day; like the New King James Version words it:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

I want to stick close to God.  I want Him to lead and direct me.  A little more clearly or directly would be nice since it's difficult to trust without knowing where you're going.  I'm all for getting out of this valley, even with the appreciation of how I've grown from it, but I'm content with taking the twisted path.

13 June 2014

as I am

That God would create me, in all my uniqueness, and then expect me to fit some Christian mould is absolutely absurd!

Why would He intricately design and create me and then want me to relate to Him contrary to that design? That would be like saying His design wasn't good. Have you read the creation story in Genesis? It's peppered with God creating, pausing to observe His work and declaring,  "It is good".

Granted I am part of a broken world where imperfection prevails but it is still true that my design is good. So to celebrate and embrace who I am is to glory in God and His work. He delights in me being who He designed me to be, including how I share in my relationship with Him. He wants me to interact with Him in a way that is real and honest and true to me.

And it's the same for you. 

31 May 2014

the coming of a new age

That day of the year has come again.
That day that marks another completed lap of the sun.
I've been so far blessed to make thirty four of them and I'm off on my thirty fifth.
It's strange to pause and look at my life.  What I have is far from all my imaginings.  I actually have to remind myself that that's not a bad thing.  Birthdays are a great opportunity to reflect on the blessing of life. For all my imaginings I have done multiple things I'd never dared dream of.  I have walked paths I never would have chosen if I'd had the option.  I've gone on numerous journeys of exploration and adventure and many of them solo.  I have discovered that I am strong and quirky and capable of much more than I give myself credit for.
I am ever learning; ever growing; ever shaping.
I am who I am today because of the journey my life has taken and how I've taken on my life.
Things often don't roll the way I would like but I find that God blesses me in unexpected ways. Personally, I think He does it on purpose.  I can almost hear Him chuckling.
My trek through life has been pretty darn challenging at times but I am most grateful for the way that God has watched over me and remained with me.  I'm incredibly thankful for His patience with me and His involvement in my life.  I will continue to dream, to journey, to grow and to trust in the God who masterfully oversees it all--whatever unfolds.
As for this year's celebration day, it was filled with things that make me peacefully smile: just a little bit of work, celebratory food (pancakes and all the toppings for breakfast), relaxed home lingering, chatting and praying with a friend, listening to music while painting, flowers and thoughtful gifts and dressing up for a night of fun with friends.
And so here's to the coming of a new age and all the twists and turns and unexpected blessings it will hold.