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elyse murphy

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Is Failing To Plan Really Planning To Fail?

I have an issue. Well, I have many issues, but seeing as we’re still getting to know each other, I’ll keep the list short… For now.

It’s an issue that annoys me and interferes with every part of my life. I’ve tried denying it, justifying it and ignoring it, but they say the first step to recovery is admission, so, here goes. You ready? (That was rhetorical, I’m assuming you’re ready. If not, pretend I’m pushing you down the slippery slide and you have no choice but to be ready).

I’m a planner. A big, compulsive, plan-ny, planner.

I love the feeling planning brings. It makes me feel like I actually have my life sorted out. For a second, I have control. For a moment, nothing bad can happen. Why? Because it’s not in my plan.

It all started in my childhood, like all good ‘you need therapy’ stories do. As a little girl on holidays I would wake up before the sun had drunk it’s coffee, jump on my parent’s bed and insist on planning our day, from breakfast to bedtime. My family would break my heart with the news we were having a plan-free day. They wanted to head down to the beach and, “see what happens.

See what happens? That was the worst plan ever (this was the type of thing I had to deal with as a child. It was traumatic)!

These days, I’ve learned to go-with-the-flow a little more, however my planner alter ego still pops up, kind of like Sasha Fierce, except less Fierce and more Sheldon Cooper-ish.

Now before you sign me up for an intervention, deciding that I’m totally crazy and incapable of social etiquette, let me clarify that I have learned how to be spontaneous… Sort of.

I love going on adventures, impulsively going Christmas light looking and having impromptu BBQ’s on the beach in summer with my friends. I love it, just as long as my calendar is clear and it doesn’t interfere with any other plans.

Planned spontaneity. It’s totally a thing. 

And yet, as I think about some of the most memorable, fun moments I’ve had, most of them weren’t planned. In fact, very few of them were.

Some of the best nights my friends and I shared as teenagers were spontaneous summer nights at my friend Smithy’s house (Smithy is his nickname, his last name is Smith. I know. We’re pretty creative). We would all migrate from the beach to his pool, break out the BBQ and hang out well passed our curfews.

They were nights of fun and freedom. We had nowhere to be other than exactly where we were.

And none of it was planned.

There’s nothing wrong with plans, but when we’re flexible, I think we’ll find God’s plan is better than anything we could come up with.  I think God likes to mess up our plans from time-to-time, not to be cruel, but to remind us that He can surprise us with something better.

These days, guess what my favourite plan is? To go down to the beach… And just “see what happens.”

 

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Common Sense? Common Schmense!

photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc
photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

It’s a new day.

Stop living in last year, last week, or last night.

Stop living in its pain.

Stop living in its failures.

Stop living in its disappointments.

Stop reminding yourself of all the reasons why now is not the right time to pursue your dream.

It’s a new day, the perfect opportunity to go after a new thing. So what is that new thing? It’s the thing that you’ve tried to forget about, tried to subdue. Perhaps you tried it once before and failed. But your heart reminds you of it constantly, when you wake up, before you go to sleep, when you are alone.

But what if you fail? Good question, I have a better one (as usual). What if you succeed? The truth is if you don’t try, you will never know if it could have worked, but I promise you will always wonder. I’m no expert but that’s got to be one of the cruelest methods of torture, because it is self-inflicted.

You don’t want to retire in the town of ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda.’ It’s overrated and its population exists entirely of bitter, under achievers who have no one in their football teams, only sideline hecklers. No one wants to bring a family up in that neighborhood, so don’t. Pack only what you need, take anyone who will join you and move.

I get it. It’s scary. So many things could go wrong. There are so many questions without answers. It’s all too soon. You probably should just wait until you can make next years resolutions. It’s just not common sense. Maybe. But what if common sense is overrated? Here’s what I’ve discovered (with a little help):

Common sense is for common things. It is not for destiny decisions. (click to tweet)

Common sense has its place in life, certainly. Looking both ways before crossing the road is common sense. Not licking a steak knife is common sense; trust me on this, I’ve learned from experience. Not texting the guy/girl you like just because you’re lonely is common sense (ok so perhaps common sense isn’t always that common, but you get the picture).

However when it comes to big destiny decisions, I think common sense can be one of our biggest enemies. It can birth a fear in us that stops us from doing the very thing our heart longs for.

Living in fear causes us to hand over our possibilities, dreams and adventures to someone else. All we are left with is a heart of regret.

Perhaps, if we were honest, we would admit that the real reason we haven’t taken that leap of faith or made that big decision is not because we don’t know the answer. It’s not because we don’t know what to do. Maybe the real reason we are still teetering on the edge, looking over the edge, is because we are afraid of how far we could fall.

Taking a leap of faith isn’t common sense. But I’m pretty sure no one ever changed the world by stepping back and walking away.  They did it by knowing when to shut off their common sense and when to listen to their heart.

What’s your heart saying to you today? Where is that whisper in your spirit directing you? My advice? Go for it! Step off the edge (figuratively speaking, very much figuratively speaking)!

Take a leap of faith and be assured of this… He will catch you. (click to tweet)

Because here’s the harsh reality: If you don’t go for it, someone else will, and they will get the reward. New things aren’t new for very long. If you don’t grab ahold of the new thing, it will soon be old. Now is the time. So, what are you waiting for?

It’s a new day. Get going. Before someone else does.

 

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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!