From Little Things Big Things Grow: Secrets to Success

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Holla if you’re like me and struggle to nail down any kind of routine?!

Now, give me a wave if you also know that, just like eating our vegetables, routine is not only good for us but is one of the secrets to success. While the benefits of routine for our personal lives and careers have been well-documented, I want to take a minute and touch on the importance of routine in our spiritual lives and share three ways I, a serial routine destroyer, have managed to build some consistency into my life.

I like change; new places, new people and new challenges energise me and I can easily get frustrated when things become stagnant. While my list of passions, hopes and dreams have been known to change on a weekly basis, the only consistent thing in my life since I became a christian has been my attendance at church. This wasn’t and still isn’t enough. While inconsistency was definitely evident in my outer life, it was also raging in my inner life. I struggled with regular quiet times with God, with prayer and with reading the Word. This meant I was continually up and down in my faith, and that my passion and conviction for Jesus changed with the rising sun and ever-shifting circumstances of life.

In my own strength I could never seem to get it together: try, fail, try fail, over and over again. Luckily for me God’s in the business of transformation and he has been working overtime! I definitely don’t get it right all the time but now, instead of not noticing I haven’t spent time with God, I LOVE going to the breakfast table with my bible and journal in hand and I miss it when I don’t. Instead of praying once a week, I find myself praying throughout the day and I have noticed my faith and passion has become more steady.

We all want to make a difference, do something big and stand up and be counted for Jesus, but unless we get back to the basics, we are going nowhere fast in our own strength. We need consistency in our lives in order for God to build something lasting and impacting. Luke 16:10 says “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones, (NLT)”. With that in mind, here are three things that have really helped me build some consistency into my life.

 Find a spot

This is a simple concept, but building a routine you actually enjoy plays a huge part in getting it to stick. I really love the quiet, fresh feeling that comes with bare feet padding through the house as the sun begins to peak. The soft glow of the lamp as the house awakens, some fresh coffee and an open bible and journal at the kitchen table. In those moments God meets me and I miss them on the days I sleep in or rush instead of savouring them.

Journal

This is not a ‘Dear Diary’ but a ‘Dear Jesus’ type of journal. Firstly I date every page, then I will write down the scriptures that jump out at me, I write what I feel the Lord is saying to me from the passage, any questions I have and any prayers on my heart. These help me engage in quiet time instead of mindlessly skimming passages. It also helps me track how consistent I’ve been and challenges me to pick up my game when I notice chunks of time when I haven’t been journalling.

Accountability

My quiet times really evolved when I became part of a small accountability group with women from my church. Every week we met to discuss aspects of our Christian walk and I was expected to come prepared to share some scripture and what God had spoken to me about during the week. When we first started I would panic the day of our meeting, scrabble to find a scripture and quickly ask God “Help, what have you been saying to me this week?”. Slowly I have become more consistent and, while I’m far from perfect, in my growing consistency I  have found great joy and strength.

Let’s seek Him! It’s never too late to start or too late to get back up and try again. He will always show up, speak up and bring great joy and satisfaction when we seek him.

What are some of the ways you have been able to build consistent time with God in your life? I’d love to hear your suggestions. 

Much Love,
Amy

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The cute picture my sister drew of my my quiet time.

Rebekah and the single ladies

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Morning all,

While today’s story is specifically for all my single sisters, it is also for anyone waiting for God to fulfill a promise or those who need a little encouragement to know He is still at work in the silence.

A little prologue to today’s story would go something like this; Abraham and Sarah were very old when three visitors arrived in their camp. After an evening of feeding and attending to the guests it turned out the guests had a little something in return for their hosts. A promise. Actually, the reminder of an old promise of a child to be born unto Sarah’s barren womb, despite them both being past  childbearing years. In addition to this, Abraham was told he would be the father of many nations and that his offspring would outnumber the grains of sand in the sea and the stars in the sky. Hello, that’s a lot of kids! After a little laugh and a whole pile of doubt and another year on the clock, low and behold, there was a child and they named him Isaac. The family rejoiced and prospered and life continued. Now, Abraham became very old and the Lord had blessed him in every way and in preparation for his death he decided it was time to find a wife for his miracle son, Isaac (see Genesis chapters 17-24).

Queue Rebekah: A young woman  in the land of Ur of the Chaldeans, just doing what she does, fetching water, watering camels, assisting her father and mother with household chores and trusting the Lord. One day while she was going about her daily business, there was a newcomer at the well. He had travelled far and when he asked for water she gave it to him, and well, what the heck, She might as well water the camels too. This is after all what she ‘does’. Suddenly the man bowed down and brought out gifts and explained an unlikely story- he is the servant of a far-off master who had sent him in search of a wife for his son. It seemed strange, but the man had asked the God of his master to show him a sign and apparently she was it. Her family also seemed to think it was from God too because they bundled her up and shipped her off to Caanan where she was to meet Isaac. I wonder if she asked questions of the servant on her way to meet her new husband, like I would have: What did he do? What was he like? How big was his family? Finally they made it and she arrived in her new land, to her new home, to her new family to her new husband and her life changed forever.

Now to the point (did you think I was never going to get here?!). Can you imagine Rebekah sitting back contentedly on her porch in her old age reminiscing on her life? Thinking on the faithfulness of God, that out of all the women of  Ur of the Chaldeans, He would send a servant across the lands to find HER and bring HER all the way to Caanan where she joined not only a prosperous family but a family that God had directly spoken to and blessed. That their (and now HER) descendants would be as innumerable as the grains of sand in the ocean and that out of their family line would come a King. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. All that time when life seemed ordinary and she was just doing what she was doing, God was weaving her life into the tapestry of a story grander than any other story ever told. The story of Jesus.

Friends, as I’ve pondered these Genesis chapters over the last few weeks I have been greatly encouraged by the image of Rebekah on her porch in Chapter 24 ready to share her story to all who will stop and listen and hear. I imagine her saying something like this…

 

‘Do what God has set before you to do. Water your corner, serve your circle of influence and keep trusting Jesus. In due time God will bring you to the one for which He has purposed you. While it may not look like it, He is weaving you into a tapestry far larger, far more intricate and far more rewarding than you could have ever imagined it.’ – The Amy Interpretation

Soon, you too will be sitting back on your porch in the pages of history ready to tell your story of God’s faithfulness and how he expanded your world for the cause of His Kingdom, in ways you could never have imagined. Be blessed my friends, be encouraged and stay the course, He is working and his timing is perfect. Keep your eyes fixed on him and He will keep you in perfect peace until the time is right.

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Excuse my  dressing gown and bed face but I had a late night Valentines surprise from some sweet friends who wanted to let me know I am loved and that they’re praying for my future husband to send his servant across the desert to find me. Jokes!

Elusive Joy

2017

Hurtling down a mountain at full-speed towards the deadline of 2016, our feet feel as if they are going to be pulled out from underneath us at any second. There is still so much to do before 2017 rolls around and so little time to do it. Then just like that, the clock strikes midnight -BAM- and 2017 swings around. This all happens within the space of a second and yet somehow, as if by magic, we are expected to feel refreshed and renewed with the vigour of fresh passion and vision that comes with a New Year. New Year – New You!

I think I missed that memo!  I’m still tumbling around the bottom of the mountain that was 2016, hair in a mess and brain in a flurry.  I could swear I saw a few of you rolling around here with me,  picking yourselves up off the floor and brushing off the debris. It’s okay, we are all on this journey together and as I begin to lift my gaze to a new year and open my heart to the possibilities, there is one thing I think we all desperately need more of… Joy! Elusive joy. The kind of joy that is unshakeable, deep-rooted and weaved into the very fibre of our thoughts, emotions and being. ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ kind of joy.

I remember one day, about half-way through my first year of bible college, everyone wandered into class a little despondent. The excitement of a new environment had warn off and the reality of assignments and study had settled in. Noticing this, my College Pastor stopped mid-lecture and turned our eyes to the Fruit of the Spirit. Peace, patience and joy- as heirs of Christ they were part of our inheritance for the taking. He told us each to find a spot and begin thanking God for the Fruit of the Spirit we were lacking most- joy. Like a child feeling ‘found out’, I found my spot and begrudgingly thanked God for His joy.
“What a joke,” I thought, “How can I be joyful while I’m working two jobs, studying, still single etc.”
Out of duty, I thanked Him again. “Lord, I thank you that the Joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Someone to my right began to giggle, I smiled and thanked Him for his joy again. Before long, that little room, in a little Church in a little suburb in Brisbane, Australia was filled with the spirit of joy as people began to laugh, sing and shout praises to our Lord and Saviour. I will never forget that moment.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

As we stand here at the beginning of 2017, let’s start by thanking Jesus for all he has done. For dying on a cross for our sins, for welcoming us into his family and giving us new names and Eternal Life. For being the kind of Saviour and High Priest that can empathise with all we go through and has purchased for us, on the cross, all we need for life and godliness. Not just an ordinary life, mind you, but life with abundant peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control, gentleness and JOY.

Then, while we move through the moments of 2017, my desire is that as I seek out the ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasures forevermore that come from knowing Christ, I might bring you on this journey with me. May we emerge together from the coming year a little wiser, a little more steadfast, a little more thankful and a little more established in joy.

Much Love to you my friends.

Amy

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* A little blurry and a whole lot of fun. We couldn’t quite get it together for our 2017 photo!

The Perfect Time

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‘There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace’.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 || MSG translation

When we experience winter we often feel it will last forever, forgetting that spring is just around the corner. Caught up in the moment, it’s hard to remember that we ALL go through EVERY season in life.

Just a few weeks ago I got it into my head that I wanted to surprise my sister for her 18th birthday. I hadn’t planned on making the 14 hour flight  home and I wasn’t feeling home sick at the time but once I thought of going, I knew that I had to make it happen! The logistics all came together beautifully and I had a wonderful week back in Australia surprising my friends and family across the country. At the end of the week, as I waited to board my flight back to Abu Dhabi, I had time to stop and reflect… How perfect is God’s timing?!

When the thought of flying home originally dropped into my mind, I had no idea what kind of a week I would have had before hand, but God did. I had no idea how much I would need face to face time with my best friends talking life and laughing, but God did! I had no idea how much I wanted to hug my siblings and spend time with them, but God did. I had no idea just how much I needed to sit and talk through life with my Mum, but God did. That fresh revelation of God’s hand working on my behalf in the present and in my future brought a new sense of peace, knowing that I am forever in good hands!

Whatever season of life you are in, know that His timing is perfect, His plans are good and He can be trusted! For your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8).

Ams xo

A lovely photo of my not-so-little baby sister, little (big) brother and Mumma…

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The Reprimand: 3 top tips for dealing with rebuke and disapproval

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You are trekking along, minding your own business, working hard and it happens. Maybe you did something wrong, maybe you were misunderstood, maybe it was an accident, never the less, you were reprimanded. It happens to the best of us. As a child many of us were reprimanded and although we never liked it, it was often an expected and normal part of growing up. As an adult however, it’s a whole different story. We are used to being autonomous, following through with our own plans, making our own decision. To be told you are wrong, or have done something wrong, stings a whole lot more and injurers our pride in a way it never did when we were children.

It happened to me recently. Something I innocently and casually said was interpreted as being rude and disrespectful and I was dutifully informed that my attitude had to change. I was mortified, I had not intended to be rude or disrespectful and couldn’t imagine how what I had said could have been so wrongfully interpreted. My first, internal response was one of indignation and a sense of injustice- ‘didn’t they know that anyone who knows me, would never accuse me of being rude and disrespectful or of having a bad attitude?!’. Even though my inner self was looking a little like this…

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Wisdom has taught me to push those initial feelings aside and respond in a different manner. Here are my top three tips for dealing with a reprimand…

1) Apologise…

Our first reaction to being told we’re wrong is often a defensive one. Our prideful nature would have us say- ‘how dare they tell us we’re wrong’, ‘ I don’t bring up all the things they do wrong’, ‘can’t they see all the hard work and positive things I’m doing?’, ‘how could they misunderstand me like that?‘.

Jumping into defence mode will only bring grief and trouble. James 4:6 says “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble”, I think the same goes for human beings too. You are more likely to meet opposition to your plea of innocence or forgiveness if you jump straight into defence mode, it will only bring more grief and trouble than the situation is worth. Humbling yourself and apologising (however difficult it may be and despite wether you were ‘right’ or ‘wrong’) will always calm and defuse a situation and help create open channels for communications

2) Reflect…

After the reprimand has happened, take some time to reflect. The saying ‘ you learn something new every day’ doesn’t just refer to classroom knowledge or random fun facts- every part of our lives is an opportunity to learn… Were you at fault? Was there something you could have done differently? Perhaps you weren’t at fault and the other person was having a bad day? How can you be sensitive to others needs and minimise future misunderstandings? Is this your issue or someone else’s issue?

Self reflection goes a long way in moulding us into strong, emotionally healthy people. It also encourages our creative thinking skills and helps prevent us from repeating the same mistakes over and over again (the definition of insanity, as the saying goes!). If you’re not used to self reflecting this can be difficult to start with. Taking a journal, finding some spare time and a safe, peaceful place to think are all useful tips to get you started. Forewarning: It’s not always pleasant to shine a light on your inner life and see whats hiding there, you may not always like what you find. Go easy on yourself, we are all on a journey and each step forward brings us closer to our destination and to becoming the kind of people we were created to be.

3) Let it go…

Now that you’ve apologised and reflected, it’s time to move forward. I know this seems a little harsh, but ultimately non of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. Our minds are powerful tools and if allowed, will wreak havoc on our internal life. It will replay situations and dredge up old feeling until they become bigger than Ben Hur (look that one up in Urban Dictionary if you need to!) and appear as reality.

When those thoughts and feeling start to surface you have the power to tell your mind to let it go, consciously make a decision to let go of the offence, hurt and anger. A useful tip for doing this is thinking or speaking aloud the good things about the person in question, or telling yourself the valuable lessons you learnt from this situation etc. Philippians 4:8 tells us that thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable is one of the ways we can have inner peace and joy. There will always be trials, disagreements, hurts and disappointments but if we carried around baggage from every encounter, we would never be able to stand up under the weight of them. Let it go.

Nobody likes to be reprimanded but at the end of the day you can’t let bumps in the road throw you off course, ruin your day or week or year. Apologise, reflect, let it go, then dust yourself off, get back up and keep moving forward. You have value and purpose and a unique contribution to make to this world. Being buried under your failures, mistakes, hurts or resentments only holds you back from reaching your full potential. Breath and smile, the emotions of today will fade tomorrow and in the years to come, the mountains you see now will look far off and insignificant.

Much Love,

Amy

Ps. Please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your experiences and advice for dealing with reprimands and other tough situations!

Gratitude and Tea

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Last weekend I took a little trip across the border to Oman with some friends from work. To be honest, I was actually dreading it. It had been such a busy week ,I just couldn’t get my head around leaving the country and spending the weekend away from the comfort of my home, but…I’m so glad I went!

As I woke to the sun rising, I stretched and smiled… a night of sleeping on the beach, under the stars, snuggled under blankets, feeling the ocean breeze whip around me. Bliss. After breakfast we eased our way into the cold water and braved a morning swim. As I floated in the clear, cold water, looking about, it hit me…I am in OMAN, swimming in the ARABIAN SEA! How in the world had I, a little country girl from Australia, ended up living this life?! It was a life I had always wanted: travel, adventure, new friends, challenging job. Yet it was a life I never thought I would have.

My primary school teacher had told my parents that I was a nice friendly girl, but that I wouldn’t amount to much. Maybe he was right, I probably shouldn’t have amounted to much. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, I came from a broken family with alcoholic parents and a house that held lots of anger, fear and resentments. But I have also belonged to another family, a heavenly family with a heavenly Father. A Heavenly Father that loves, protects, defends, guides, blesses, cares for and calls me out of darkness and into light.

As our journey through Oman continued, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. Tears kept filling my eyes (behind my sun glasses, thank goodness) as I thought about all the wonderful things that have taken place in my life over the last 12 months. A few days later, I was sitting at a dinner table with friends (new friends, but friends I feel as if I’ve always known). We were drinking tea, playing music and complaining about the taste of Stevia and the same thing happened- it hit me. An overwhelming joy and gratitude for life, all of it! The joy, the pain, the disappointment, the rejection, the uncertainty, the anger, the fun, the adventure, the laughter and the people. The people that shape us, challenge us and add a rich blessing to our lives.

As I survey my life, I look about my family and marvel! We survived the trials and we are succeeding. There is great love and affection and a fierce loyalty among us. I have an amazing Mum who fought for consistency, diligently took us to church and taught us Godly values even in the midst of chaos. I have siblings that I love and whom inspire me. I have a Dad and extended family that are resilient, caring and always put family first. I have friends that love me just as I am and make me want to be a better person…What the world said was ordinary and destined to fail, God has turned for good.
You never know when the next answer to prayer is just around the corner. So no matter where you are, what challenge you are facing or what success you just achieved, don’t forget to stop, have a cup of tea and be grateful. It might just be the re-focus you need.

Love
Amy xo

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Who else tries on their outfits before they pack them?!
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Oman, what a view!! ❤

Moments

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Angry moments, sad moments, grieving moments, lonely moments, despairing moments, defeated moments, pity-party moments…we all have them. It isn’t these moments that really define us, it is what we do in and with these moments that counts. You are not your defeat, you are not your loneliness, you are not your brokenness…you are defined by the strength that helps you get back up, the faith that makes you look heavenward, the hope that calls you forward. Sometimes in the midst of the ‘moment’, finding your way out can seem an impossible task…sometimes you need a little help.

Woman of God, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!  You are called for such a time as this and are being made in the likeness of your King with every passing day. Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords, everlasting and sovereign. He has good things in store for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. He crowns your year with favour and is the light to your path. He understands what you are going through and will exchange your heavy burden for His light one. All things are possible through Him.

Romans 5: 2-4 says We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Daughters, there is rhyme and reason for every moment and season… there is a bigger story at play. Don’t be disheartened, don’t give up… look up! Continue reading