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Choose Your Own Adventure

this way, that way
this way, that way

Is life a set of instructions like, 'pass GO and collect $200?' Or is our story more like a ‘choose your own adventure’?

I used to believe in a simple, black and white type of existence (and in unicorns). I thought God had decided for me one husband, one career path, and one location to live. My job was to find out what those ‘one’ things were, and put them all together.

I had no option. I had no opinion. I had no oranges (sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else that started with ‘o’).

Turns out I was wrong. W-w-w-wrong. (There I said it. You’re welcome.)

I don't like admitting when I'm wrong, clearly, but i would like to clarify something upfront. I do believe many decisions have a definite and clear answer. There are lots of times I know exactly what my answer/action needs to be. For example when the Daffy Duck angel/demon cartoons appear on my shoulder, I know I should listen to the angel and swat away the Daffy Duck demon (thanks Looney Tunes for my moral compass).

I believe there are moments God gives us specific direction when we’re faced with multiple options. But what happens when each direction seems as right as the next?

Wanna know what I think? (If not, just a helpful hint that you probably came to the wrong website, I think you’re looking for Wikipedia):

When there are lots of options but no clear direction, when you have prayed but haven’t heard, I think it’s God’s way of saying, “Choose your own adventure.”

As scary as that may seem, the idea that God would trust you enough to make a decision that could alter the course of your life is a huge encouragement.

He trusts you. He trusts your heart. He trusts your decision.

“But what if I make the wrong decision?” I’m glad you asked. Again, here’s what I think (and just in case, www.wikipedia.com):

As long as your heart is in a place of humility and malleability, there is no wrong decision.

If you’re facing a crossroad, and what you hoped would be a simple, black-and-white answer is looking more like 50 shades of grey, I have two pieces of advice for you:

  1. Don’t read 50 Shades of Grey. It does not contain helpful insight into making decisions. So I’m told.
  2. Instead of losing sleep over making the wrong decision, take a deep breath and decide to decide. And then... Decide.

Oh, and one last thing. Please don’t "default decide" to the thing you think you ’should’ do. If God has given you options and has asked what you want to do, then do just that!  Which option gives you butterflies? Which direction makes you want to squeal like a five-year-old-girl who’s just seen a Disney princess? Go with that.

Forget responsible. Forget safe. Forget 'should.'

Be brave, choose your own adventure, and let God work out the destination.

So, what's your decision?

 

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When The Clock Strikes Twelve...

photo credit: Trop Dope
photo credit: Trop Dope

I have a confession (so really nothing’s changed after my little holiday). I started writing this blog six different times and I deleted it six different times. No you super Christian it’s not because six is the devil’s number… But just in case… Here goes number seven.

Writing this blog brings familiar feelings from school and catapults me into a state of reminiscing, backspacing and procrastination.

The end of a year is kind of like that though, right? We reminisce on all our favorites parts of the year, we wish we could backspace a few late nights or emotionally driven text messages and we procrastinate so we don’t have to make resolutions (that we swear we’ll never keep anyway) or New Years Eve plans.

I usually hate New Years Eve (bah-humbug). I know, how Grinch-like of me.

There is so much pressure to be at the best party, with the best people, and to post the best Instagram with champagne and fireworks, whilst still remaining ‘in the moment.’ And don’t even get me started on fact that I still don’t have someone to kiss at midnight, quick let’s move on before I have a mild panic attack.

Photo Credit: Trop Dope
Photo Credit: Trop Dope

Without realising it, I had created a monster. A monster called New Years Eve Expectations (sorry, my creative juices ran out when I was thinking of a name). And its mission statement was:

The way you spend New Years Eve is how you will spend your New Year, so it better be good.

But finally I started to understand this monster was just that, a monster. A fictitious character sent to scare me until I told it to shut up. You'll be happy to know I did tell that monster to shut up, and like any good bedtime story, it disappeared.

So this year, I’m excited for New Years Eve, and not just because I’m spending it with my best friends at the beach with an esky of celebration. I’m excited because for the first time I've decided,

New Years Eve isn’t the verdict of my New Year; it’s the launching pad into it. (click to tweet)

If your year has been anything like mine, it’s had its ups’ and downs with a few loop-de-loop’s thrown in just to keep you holding on.

Isn’t it crazy how much life can change in one year? The moments that we wish we could revisit. The memories that we wish we could erase. The things we wish we could have said. The things we wish we never said. The fights we had. The friends we made. The people we said goodbye to. The decisions we made. The hopes deferred. The dreams fulfilled.

Maybe this has been a year you will always treasure, or one you’d rather forget. Whatever it’s been like, it’s coming to a close. 2014 is almost here.

So, let’s make a deal. Let’s meet back here, same time, same place next year. Think about who you want to be, what adventures you want to have had, and how you want to feel. Think of all the things you would love to do, and then decide that 2014 is the year you will do them. I can’t wait to hear all about them.

Tomorrow is a new year. What will you do with it? (click to tweet)

And as for me? This is going to be my year. A year of new beginnings. A year of adventure. A year to release my first book (eeek!). A year to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, the first time He speaks. A year to run a half marathon. A year to take risks. A year to drink more water and less diet coke. A year to support one sporting team, not just whoever wins. A year to stop saying the word ‘busy’. A year to dance with someone in the rain. A year to take at least three, week-long breaks from social media (you can hold me to that one). A year to take selfies. A year to live fearlessly. A year to run after my call.

2014. Let’s do this.

 

'Tis The Season

weird christmas pets
weird christmas pets

I am a Pastor’s Kid. At this time of the year, it is painful. Why? Three Words.

Family Christmas Cards.

Every year. Even the awkward ones. Thank you Jesus none were as bad as the above photo, though some were close. Luckily this is my favourite time of the entire year.

Have you noticed that no one feels “meh” about Christmas? The way I see it, there are only two categories of people – Buddy and Grinch. I am without a doubt in the first category, except that I refuse to put a reindeer nose on the front of my car.

Today I want to share what makes this ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for me:

Mariah Carey

The only way to start a Christmas list. There’s only one way to listen to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album (aka the best Christmas album ever made). Full volume. Using all lung capacity. Anytime from September.

Christmas lights

Some houses look like Buddy the Elf threw up on them. And I love it.

Family – the extended Murphy family.

It is big. It is loud. It is offensive. Don’t believe me? Last year, Santa was a he, dressed as a she.. I’m serious. I can’t make this stuff up. Pray for us, who knows what 2013 will bring.

But most of all, it is the laughing until we cry that I love. It is the way my grandma is entirely political incorrect that make me love her even more. It is the banter between my dad and his siblings that makes the day. It is my Aunty Robyn’s conversation starter place cards, as if we were strangers on a first date. It is the memories. It’s my family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gifts

Ok, so I get the whole “it’s better to give than to receive” thing but at Christmas time, it’s pretty much an even playing field. Just being honest.

http://andrewjamesphotography.com.au
http://andrewjamesphotography.com.au

Christmas Traditions

Every Christmas morning we wake to a loud, invasive shout of, “HE’S BEEN! HE’S BEEN!” It’s my dad letting us know it’s time to wake up because Santa has been. To this day, Santa still comes and drinks the milk and eats the cookies. Every year, without fail, we walk down to the kitchen and look on the balcony to see reindeer snow footprints (which tastes remarkably like flour). There’s even a snow mark from where a reindeer crashed into the doorpost. You’d think Rudolph would have it mastered by now.

Poor guy. It’s the nose.

The Mall

Don’t get me wrong; the car park at Christmas time is a trap from hell itself. But if you can get passed the preying sharks in Jeep’s, the vibe in the mall is totally worth it. I may be in my twenties, but when I see Santa, sitting in his chair taking photos, I can’t help it. I stop and wave. My favourite is when he smiles and waves back. In that moment, I feel like a little girl again.

But you want to know my absolute favourite thing about Christmas?

It’s waking up on Christmas morning. Before getting out of bed, I smile and whisper, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. That is my favorite thing about Christmas. In all the mistletoe and mayhem, I get to speak to the birthday boy himself. And you can too.

Well that’s my list. This Christmas season, why not take some time to write your own? Feel free to share yours in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Merry Christmas.. And happy birthday Jesus!

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The Problem With Social Media Is...

I love social media. I love that it can make a massive world feel so small. I love that I can stay connected with people I know and stalk people I don’t know. And I love that it unites our generation like no other.

It’s so simple. We can like, heart, tweet, facetime, facebook, face-anything-except-physical-face, retweet, and comment from anywhere in the world, to anyone in the world, at anytime of the day (unfortunately for some, even at 2am after a big night out). And all at the click of a button. But you know what?

It. Is. Exhausting.

In all the liking, hearting, tweeting and faceing-anything-except-actual-faceing, there’s no human contact. There is no vulnerability required. And there is no comfort given.

After hours on the Internet, we are still locked away in our loneliness.

In a world full of virtual community, we’ve never been so lonely. Everyone is connected, yet everyone is isolated.

Almost everyone I speak to at the moment (like actually speak to) feels alone, and ironically at the most “wonderful time of the year.” Maybe you can relate.  Rather than brushing it off as just a “season” (maybe the most overused word in the Christian language) and hoping it wears off after Christmas, maybe there’s more to it. Here’s what I think:

I think we’re lonely because we’re busy highlighting our brand and hiding our humanity. (click to tweet)

Our brand, you with me? Its our reputation, our status, our PR, our style, who we want people to see us as (it’s like the Amplified Bible up in here, choose your own adventure). Our own social media is a show-reel of our life, but we forget that when we’re looking at everyone else’s show-reel. So what do we do? We keep up appearances, because everyone else is keeping up theirs, like a game of chicken, to see who will break first.

We feel lonely because we refuse to share our reality, convinced that it’s not “show reel” worthy for our social media altar ego.

But, today, I’m calling my own bluff, in hopes other people will call their own. It’s a lie.

This show reel social media is anything but real. (click to tweet)

I don’t want a social media altar ego with thousands of “friends” if it means forfeiting my handful of actual friends. There are people around you that you can tangibly hug, laugh with, encourage and even tweet at (if you so feel the urge).

I lose hours on social media seeking community, but I’m left feeling more lonely, depressed and unfit to be human than if I’d steered clear of it all together. Can you relate? But five minutes with actual humans, my actual friends? I’m on top of the world (“ay, I’m on top of the world..” Am I the only one who has that Imagine Dragons song in my head now? You’re welcome).

I have decided. I want the real thing. And that might mean turning off my wi-fi and using my phone for its intended purpose (how retro of me), calling my friends to let them in on the lonely stuff.

We all go through lonely seasons, things our friends might not understand – the loss of a loved one, being made redundant at work, a messy breakup, difficulty falling pregnant, being bullied at school… The list goes on. But I’ve learned that while loneliness is a feeling, isolation is a choice.

Don’t let your loneliness become isolation; it’s your choice. (click to tweet)

Whatever you are going through today, despite your self-talk and what you see on everyone else’s show-reel, you are not alone. People around you might not understand, but they want to listen. Allow them in. Avoid isolation. At all costs.

So today, get out from behind your phone, and get connected. Actually connected.

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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part Two)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc Dear Teenage-Elyse,

It’s me again! I hope this isn’t turning into a creepy, Ghost-From-Christmas-Future type thing.. Of course, we're PK's, therefore we don't believe in ghosts, right?

Anyway, below is some final advice I want to give you... So here goes:

6. It’s ok that you love leopard print. Rock it.

The crazy little quirks that make you feel like an outcast right now? They are exactly why I have learned to love you. Please, stop trying to hide them. Stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.

Here’s a secret:  None of your friends know what they’re doing either; they’re just as insecure as you. So, they’re going to copy someone, it may as well be you!

Learn who you are now before the world tells you who you should be. Should is overrated, I mean the world itself is just weird, go on, look at it. Weird right?

So, stop hiding your freckles with foundation, enjoy your Fanta instead of sparkling water with lemon, and work the leopard print everything. You are so much more fun when you are you.

7. Cheating is overrated

In the ninth grade you’re going to get caught for cheating on your English assignment. Apparently you’re not as stealth as you think because you forgot to read through your stolen assignment before you handed it in. You're story about “wishing I wasn’t the only son in my family" kind of gave it away. Your brother won't be too thrilled either, he worked pretty hard on that.

Here's a tip: do your own work.

The feeling when you receive a good grade on your own work is amazing and (heaven forbid) you might actually learn something! Plus, if you do cheat, Mrs McGovern will find out, and the feeling of getting caught will make you want to crawl in a hole and die. 

8. Stop kissing boys.

(You totally skipped down to reading this one first didn't you...)

Despite what you think, the excuse that you’re trying out for The Bachelorette is not valid. Neither is the excuse, "but he looked like Zac Efron!"

I know you think doing this kind of thing will make you feel attractive and wanted, but it won't. All it does is leave you feeling lonely and guilty. Trust me, I know better now.

Deep down your heart desires love and value. I get it, you want to be swept off your feet and looked after. You'll have that, just be patient. Trying to rush your fairytale will only leave you running out at midnight, with no shoes, feeling like a pumpkin... With no Prince.

9. Your friends are waiting for an invitation. Just ask.

You know how much you want to go to Josh’s party on the weekend, but you’ll pretend you don’t care until someone invites you? Your friends are they same. They want to come to youth, but they don’t want to invite themselves.

Your friends see an invite, any invite, is a verification of your friendship. That includes church. Let’s face it, right now their only plan is to sit at home and watch re-runs of Saved By The Bell.

They won’t definitely come if you invite them, but they definitely won’t come if you don’t invite them.

When you leave school, your biggest regret won’t be missing a party, forgetting that it was mufti day (although that sucks) or getting a detention. It will be that you kept your mouth shut. Please, speak up. Their eternity is more important than your reputation.

10. It's ok to fail.

In fact, it’s kind of liberating. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get it right, every time, all the time. That kind of burden will make you feel like you've just run a marathon, without burning the calories. Exhausted yet unsatisfied. Trust me, you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

 

I’ll write to you again one day. For now, have fun. Appreciate high school, your really fast metabolism, and the fact that mum still makes your bed.

Oh, and don’t try to “grow up” too fast, I know right now it seems as exciting as the idea of being BFF with Miley Cyrus. But, as cute as she might look now, having the “best of both worlds,” one day you’ll be glad you didn’t make her your best friend.

Love, Elyse x

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