Guess who’s coming to dinner?

If you could ask someone you respect and admire (past or present) to dinner, who would it be and why?

Let me answer by telling a story.

In my fresher year as a Uni student, I became quite enamoured with the ‘carefree’ lifestyle I could enjoy being a young adult who had left home to commence a degree in the big smoke of Hobart. Armed with a bit of cash from a government studentship allowance, I regularly indulged in the footloose and fancy-free lifestyle on offer. Over time, my dulled and wearied mind began to wonder if the ‘good times’ were actually satisfying and genuinely enjoyable. This question forming in my mind led me to look around to note how my peers were managing their freedom, their studies, their finances, their relationships and their sense of self and dignity.

I began to observe the lifestyle and interactions of one of the students in the Uni residential college where we both lived. She was well-respected, handed in assignments on time, turned up to lectures ready to learn and would often be found with a bible in her hand, as she attended a study in a nearby suburb with friends.

I found her fascinating, and watched her from a ‘safe distance,’ not alerting her to my observations, or communicating with her in any way. I had never seen someone walk around with a bible in hand. I admired her courage to do so, and noted the respect and acceptance accorded her by other students as she went about her life.

I watched her for two years, all the while growing more and more weary and dismayed by the personal life choices I was making, in the pursuit of the elusive ‘good times’ offered by the ‘in crowd’.

So much so, late one night, I finally acknowledged in a raw, honest moment alone, the significant lack of satisfaction in my lifestyle choices. On a whim I will never fully grasp, I did not knock, but rather impulsively barged into her room, woke her and asked her to tell me everything she knew about God. There it was. A strange question but the right question to ask. I knew from the months of observation that she had a secret, an understanding about life that was worthwhile, giving her confidence, courage and poise. I wanted all of that and instinctively realised it was somehow connected to the God of the bible.

Her, wise and gentle response to being woken up by my passionate plea was,Come along tomorrow night to our bible study to find out more about God.”

I did! Awkwardly, hidden from all my friends, I went along each week for some months to the bible study. Over time, listening, watching and studying the bible alongside a group of fellow students, I found the answer generously and authentically alive in the hearts of those who faithfully shared their hope and truth with me. I too, found the answer in Jesus.

I have never forgotten my beginnings as a Christian. I am eternally thankful for a young woman of faith who bravely and genuinely lived her life amongst use while many of us were chasing after the whirlwind and wondering why we felt empty most days.

My answer to the question of who to invite to dinner and why, is my friend from Uni. To thank her, to celebrate her and to share our stories of life as it pivots on the axis of faith every day.

We are shaped and changed by others in significant, sometimes painful and often powerful ways. But there are those we have watched, respected and admired, perhaps emulated in some ways and they have changed our lives.

And now I ask another question for you to ponder.

Who would be inviting you to dinner and why?

1 Peter 3:15-17 TPT

..give reverent honour in your hearts to Jesus and treat him as the holy Master of your lives. And if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be ready to explain your faith with gentleness and respect. (Even in the middle of the night when rudely roused from deep sleep!)

The Art of Journaling

To write or not to write… or draw, collage, paint, doodle, dot point or photograph. 

Over the years of being mentored I’ve always been asked if I keep a journal. And now, I ask the same question of my clients.
Do you keep a journal?
Responses range from; “Nah”, “Never”, “Did years ago”, “Started lots but…”, through to “Absolutely love it and never miss a day”. So, for lovers and dodgers alike read on to find out how this time honoured technique can be of benefit to you and explore some of the blockers that may hinder you.

Social Media -Tells our Story

I’ve noticed with the onset of social media people love to write, video, photograph and record with fabulous flair their everyday life moments. From the sublime to the ridiculous, banal to brilliant, people from all corners of the world are recording their activities for posterity and whoever wants to click ‘like’ or ‘love’.

So, when I ask clients, if they journal, perhaps now I need to ask a more relevant question: Do you consistently post on; FB, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat or any other platform I have not yet encountered (cause I’m not in the right age bracket)?

I am not trying to lower the tone of journaling here at all by linking it to our social media interactions. But social media reveals more of us are keeping written, oral, visual and creative records of daily life, including interests, ideas, questions and issues. With this activity in mind, the step towards journaling can be a smaller one than many of us imagine.

Perhaps we need to consider how to utilise the skills we apply to social media to the ancient and reflective art of journaling.

The ‘Big, Blank, White’ Fear

I remember a conversation some years ago with a friend of mine who is a brilliant landscape artist about what happened for him whenever he started a new work. He spoke of feeling daunted at first by the large, blank, white canvas in front of him, never quite sure if he would yet again be able to capture the beauty of the New Zealand landscapes he delighted in.

I marvelled that with his amazing body of work he still felt the same when standing in front of the next big blank canvas.

Journaling can often be stalled by the ‘blank white page’ moments of uncertainty; what to write, will it work for me, why bother, who will read it and what will they make of all the junk in my mind?

Perhaps we need to approach journaling with a bit more curiosity and playfulness. This will give us the room we need to mentally switch on the light and find out what we have hidden in the recesses of our minds.

Not sure you want to find what’s lurking there?

You may surprise yourself in your discoveries and yes, if you are willing to explore the questions, contradictions and patterns of your life, you will come across new things to appreciate and challenge within yourself. That is one of the amazing things about journaling; making it worth the time and consistent effort it takes beyond the first few pages. Keep turning the pages of a journal to write in a regular sustainable rhythm until it becomes part of the expressive and explorative fabric underpinning your life. Keep writing until you break through your own masks, walls, indifference, fear and finally find you. I don’t want to sound like a ‘shampoo advert’ here but ‘You are worth it!’

It all sounds mystical and mysterious, but it’s really not at all. It is a simple reflective repetitive tool of trade for any of us who desire to learn to listen well to ourselves, each other and to God.

The wonderful thing about journaling is that it is private, personal and has no limits to creative capacity. No one can click like or love, no fear need hold you back. You can’t fail at this!

As part of a therapy process it is an invaluable mirror for a client to reflect on sessions, skills and next steps.

But for anyone who wants to pivot on the growing edge of life becoming more compassionate, confident and courageous, then journaling is a no brainer. Build the habit into your life, but don’t become ‘religious’ about it. Keep it fresh, playful, honest and be curious about who you are, what questions are forming, what challenges you face, what hopes, dreams and darn good ideas are floating loose in that ‘fearfully and wonderfully designed’ brain of yours.

Go on, give it a go.

Contact us at C-Change and I’ll email a helpful handout of ideas, questions and suggestions to get you going and keep you going on the adventure of journaling. If you have any suggestions, please share them with us so we can pass them on.

Best Life Together

Even before we say ‘I do’ to our ‘perfect match’ we have a question forming in our mind bursting to the surface with the inevitibility of a balloon under water. It can only be supressed for so long.

‘Do I have what it takes to make this work?’

Until we do life together in the raw beauty of ordinary intimacy we have no mirroring reality of our innate vulnerabilities, hidden strengths, crazy making vagaries, (floor-drobe, skid marks in toilet bowls, noisy eating, oh, and toothpaste squeeze), among other virtues and vices.

Often our families of origin have done their best to reward sociable behaviour and monitor with reasonable humour and tolerance the wayward but loveable delinquent or diva.

Social and emotional development in ‘peer central’, also known as ‘school’, shaped or shattered in turn.

Workplaces either reward viability or quietly move you sideways until the door becomes an obvious point of exit due to ‘downsizing’ of course!

We really don’t have a clue how to answer the question. Who could ever know? Where do we honestly intentionally, impartially and intrinsically learn the vital life skills required to make relationships work for the long haul with satisfaction guaranteed?

Many years ago, my then 16 year old son, came to chat about why he’d just broken up with his girl-friend. ‘Mum,’ he said with a sigh, “Im not ready to be emotionally responsible for someone else.”

Where did such ancient wisdom spring from? Old head on young shoulders indeed. But there is a valuable truth here.

When we say ‘I do’, we are agreeing to bring our ‘best self’ to doing life together. We are agreeing to care, support, share, give, receive, be available, vulnerable, real, responsive and so much more. We are committing to be emotionally responsible for ourselves individually and for us as a couple in order to build a mutually satisfying relationship where we thrive individually and together, seeking to create a loving, nurturing and safe environment for a family to flourish.

Instead of the haphazard hope that life has taught you the skills to make a life together work I recommend you invest in a reality check. Discover together the skills needed to last a lifetime.

Sign up today for our ‘Best Life Together Coaching’. Our coaching is designed for each stage of life together. It’s never too late to learn new skills to add some spark to relationships in transition or provide resources to re-ignite relationships in difficulty.

An investment for a lifetime. You and your partner are worth it. Always.

Finding home in the heart

‘What I love most about my home is who I share it with.’ Tad Carpenter

Some years ago, one of our sons was asked how he coped with the many house moves his parents made over the years.  His response came immediately and straight from his heart. ‘Home is wherever mum and dad are.’

I don’t think my husband and I ever planned to live semi nomadic lives, it just happened out of a mix of necessity and who we are.

We enjoy discovering beauty in all places and meeting people from all walks of life.

We are drawn to people and their stories of faith, hope and love. Stories that inspire, provoke and add to our understanding of what it means to be human.

We treasure those who have trusted us and felt at home with us wherever we are.

Thomas Merton says,We’re called to give our hearts to the world, but first we have to have our hearts in our own possession. We cannot give to others what we ourselves don’t possess.”

The journey for us as ‘happy wanderers’ has been to daily learn to be at home in our own hearts.

Learning the ways of giving and receiving, owning when we are hurting others, celebrating when we are part of the solution. Learning to listen to ourselves and to others without prejudice and judgement. Learning when to accept, forgive, and love well. Learning how to let go of fixing, advising, setting straight and respectfully refusing to accept other’s attempts to do so.

Learning ultimately to allow our gentle and good God to make His home in our hearts. This is still an unfolding mystery and the greatest adventure of our lives.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its home in you. ― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

What does ‘me time’ look like?

I remember some years ago taking time out for a weekend away by myself. Away from my normal routine of washing, house cleaning, attending sporting events for our three active sons and all the other fun activities that crowd out a weekend before Monday returns with a dull thud.
Ah, a wonderful weekend of peace and quiet in a friend’s shack, all made possible after much planning, negotiating, list leaving and reminding myself, it’s not all up to me.
My first hurdle was at the supermarket on the way to my ‘retreat’. I walked up and down the aisles aware of a struggle to know what to buy for myself. I was so sure of what everyone else in the household liked but I had no clues as to what ‘treats’ or ‘staples’ I wanted for myself.
It was one of those funny moments of awareness that just maybe, I really needed this quiet weekend away, if nothing else just to remind myself of what I want to eat when I’m not focused on feeding the hungry hordes and their mates.
“Me time has gone out the door and I’m not sure when or how to get it back,” said a friend recently who was juggling working from home, supervising her children’s schooling and trying to get through a list of home projects because it seemed like a great idea at the time.
Would love to hear your answers to these questions as we consider more ways to bring healthy change to our lives.

  • What is ‘me time’ for you?
  • How do you re-charge the batteries?
  • How do you create those small but essential spaces in a day, week and/or month to re-acquaint yourself with your own needs, wants, feelings, interests and just cause moments?

And I must add that ‘me time’ does not mean just sleeping, pleasant as though that may be for some who are weary from the daily duties of life, and then some.

And my final question:

  • When was the last time you had some serious, high quality, replenishing, ‘me time’?(Photo of Paisley – Pipe Clay Lagoon 2020)