Inspiration for January

A few pieces from around the place that I’m ‘collecting’

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
– Nora Roberts

This blog post about a different approach to ‘missions’. Some people are on non-traditional missions and I love it.

These beautiful necklaces from Kita Designs.

This stunning dress from Sustainable Fashion

Puzzles… how great are they!

Jack the Cockatiel on Instagram

Love Jess xxoo

A little light

I haven’t posted in a while – I have written, but not posted. For some reason I feel as though this one might make it, but we will see.

An older friend recently commented that she thought the world was going down the toilet. I understand given recent global events, but if you look back through history, tragedy, war, slavery and the love of money and self are nothing new.

Knowing this does not make me indifferent by any count. I read stories about sex trafficking, see pictures of war and starvation on the TV, witness friends lives blindsided by the death of a family member, the ache of infertility, depression, sickness and so on. It can be crippling and leave your heart aching.

“Well Jess, this is all rather depressing”, I hear you thinking. The realities of life can be at times, but there is good news as well. I also read stories of great courage, see pictures of aid organisations helping others on the TV and I witness friends pick up the pieces of their lives and move slowly towards healing. It is encouraging and can leave your heart full of hope.

The sweetest thing I’ve ever heard
Is I don’t have to have the answers
Just a little light to call my own
– Sleeping at last

And here is my little light, it is the best news… it is beyond good, I can hardly describe it:

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Obviously I don’t have the answers and I don’t pretend to, but this prophecy by Zachariah (about Jesus) recorded in Luke 1, fills my heart with joy. According to this ancient text Jesus has already visited us and He is available to guide us to the path of peace amongst unrest. So, I ask Him today to show me how to bring peace and find peace in my day and in the world I live in.

If you need Morning Light from Heaven (as I daily do), He is here. He is with you. He is for you. He will guide you.

I picture it a little like this:

sunrise

Love Jess

PS – Life is a rather grand adventure isn’t it? There is so much to learn about and so many different ways to ‘grow’ as a person. You may not hear from me as much as you used to because there are things that I am learning that are only meant for me. We shall see what happens as the adventure continues to unfold.

 

 

Living Simply without the shops – Part 2

At the end of August I wrote a blog about trying not to spend unnecessary money in the month of September (read it here). Having just realised that it’s now October, I thought I’d give you an update on the month that was.

It was a rather interesting 30 days for me and I’ll try to be as transparent as possible. During the month of September I wanted to incorporate three things into my every-day-life. These three words were my mantra for September:

Simplify. Enrich. Focus

It was important to me was that it wasn’t a pass/fail ‘project’, because that would totally undermine the point and only become a burden. My approach to September was not to just have nice ideas, but to have practical ways to incorporate these ideals into my life-style. I wrote down nine things to could do to simplify, enrich and focus my life during September and off I went. Some I did well in and others went by the way-side… I didn’t end up planting those herbs after all. Looking back, I think there were two things I really wanted to do: stop spending unnecessary money and create a culture of thankfulness. Realistically, this meant staying at home more and being mindful of my thoughts.

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Obviously, just because you can’t spend money doesn’t mean you can’t go out. You can go to the park, visit a friend, go on little adventures and a host of other things all of which are fun and interesting. Unfortunately, little Bella does not like going out. My little darling will scream the whole way of a 30 minute car-ride at times and a trip to the park can require more emotional energy from me than I used before having kids. There are times when Bell-Bell is awesome during an outing with not a tear in sight, but they aren’t that common. A trip in the car, no matter how short can easily be a joy killer. It is the age and stage – this too shall pass.
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(Cheeky monkey)

Two and a half weeks in, I was waking up every morning seriously depressed. After a few hours (and a double shot coffee) I would find myself again and the day would be pretty good. Bella was still doing two to three nighttime wake-ups, I was with the girls 24/7 without a break and we were all coming out of our third bout of illness. However, my morning depression was pretty bad, so having had horrible post-natal depression with Amy, I took myself off to see my GP. The diagnosis? Exhaustion… of course. So, I decided to ignore my Simplify and Focus mantras and took myself and the girls straight from the doctor’s office to get a coffee and some cake. It was time to relax and enrich my life a little. I believe Bella screamed the whole way home (as usual), but I had some real coffee and the memory of a nice ‘date’ still in my mind.

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From then onwards things got easier. Bella started sleeping more at night, we all became healthier, I upped my coffee intake and I knew what was going on with my emotions, which that helped at lot. On the whole I enjoyed the month of September and I know I will continue to do some of the nine things I wrote out. It’s odd that to living a simpler life in our culture is something you have to ‘fight’ for at times. You would think it would be easier, but it goes against cultural norms. Why be happy with what you have when you can have and/or could afford more?

With September at an end, I have $45.60 to donate to a worthy cause. I don’t know who I will donate to yet, but I know it will focus on children either in trafficking or community development.

And if you’re wondering… yes I did my share of baking and slice making this month 🙂

Love Jess xx00

PS – I read this awesome blog this morning and just had to share… Are you living Deliberately?

Living Simply without the shops

Sometimes it’s hard to keep little people entertained. I’ve found (and so have other mums) that if we do an activity in the morning my kids are less painful at the end of the day. The problem is, going to the shops can be an easy way to burn up time and create extra stimulation for their little brains. We don’t often buy things, but I have been thinking a lot about the lessons this is teaching my dear ones. Am I teaching them that shopping equals happiness? When I do buy little things (they don’t need), am I teaching them that to value the many toys they already own? So, we do stickers and colouring, water play and dolls-house, Lego and pretend to be horses (ugh, the horses), and… we bake.

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Amy’s at that wonderful age where she wants to help me.

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This morning I woke up with baking on the brain, but my rules were simple: If I don’t have it, we can’t make it. I didn’t want to spend any money and make a trip to the shops. If I needed a piping bag, well too bad. If I didn’t having baking powder, I’d have to find a substitute.

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Turning to the very yummy and creative Sweetest Menu, Amy picked out some cupcakes she wanted to make. I had to do some serious substitutions and managed to distract her with the idea of strawberry infused icing instead.

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My favour part of the whole exercise was packing up a few little cakes to take to our neighbours.

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As I struggle with the consumerism machine I’m continually fighting an internal battle. I want to buy my family treats and toys ‘just because’, but there are kids in the world who don’t have clean water. So here is a strategy I will put into place for the month of September:

  1. If we go to the shops and I’m tempted to buy that unnecessary gift for my immediate family, I will exercise more self-control and transfer the amount of said item into another account when I get home. At the end of the month, I will use that money to make a donation to an international relief agency.
  2. I will be more conscious of what I’m teaching my little ones. We can have fun in so many different ways and most of them don’t involve money. Although I rarely spend ‘just because’ money on myself, I need to make sure I’m not setting that example or expectation for my kids.

Love Jess xxoo

God, where were you?

In early 2010 I lay on the gurney alone in the halls of the hospital. I remember being left by myself as tears streamed down my face along with the crushing revelation that the baby we had hoped for was no more. They had not allowed Tim to come with me for the scan and I felt so sick that He didn’t know and I would have to tell him. I felt completely and utterly alone. 

Amy has had two seizures in two and a-half-weeks. It has happened to her before when we were overseas, so it wasn’t so shocking for us this time round, but it’s still not very nice. A virus enters her little system and her temperature can spike up to over 41C (106F) . If you’ve never seen someone have a seizure it is can be frightening and when it’s someone little it’s even worse to witness. We know in Amy’s situation that it is ok and it’s not uncommon for kids to have febrile convulsions.

The problem is, that as parents you can tend to worry more after the event has taken place. Visions of Amy’s body convulsing can haunt you when you least expect it. Unhealthy imaginings of when it will happen next and what will transpire do not help you sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

In recent years when Tim and I have faced difficult situations and not had peace, we will undoubtedly ask Holy Spirit to show us where He was when the event was taking place. For example, I asked Holy Spirit where He was when Amy was having her seizure. He showed me that as I had my hand on her forehead, He had His hand on my shoulder and at the same time, He was holding Amy.

*sigh*

Peace like a river. Fear, time to move along.

Years later, in a moment of beautiful Worship with Daddy God, Tim had a picture of me laying alone in hospital and he saw the word ‘abandonment’ written over my head. He felt God wanted to show me where He was when I was facing my darkest moment.

I want to encourage you, if you have been through a negative or traumatic life event, it’s important to ask Holy Spirit to show you where He was. If you see anything other than a loving, caring response, you need to go read about the life of Jesus. He was moved by compassion for people in all sorts of situations and He is a direct representation to us of what Father God is like. Asking God to answer this question can really start the healing process if you’re carrying trauma.

As soon as Tim explained what He saw, I knew what He was talking about. I knew that God was good, but somehow the feeling that I was alone had snuck in to my thought-life, so I asked Holy Spirit to show me where He was. And being so wonderful, He showed me. He was holding me so very close, arms wrapped around me, understanding all my pain and loving me so completely. The secret fears that I held started to fade and another level of healing started taking place.

Sometimes, it’s only when we ask this question do we realise He was there all along. Don’t wait years to ask it, don’t let the little moments go by without questioning those fears. Say it with me… God, where were you? Can you hear Him answer… I was right there.

His truth sets us free.

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Love Jess xxoo

Living Simply: A quote

“Ironically, studies show that increased consumerism comes at a steep price. A rise in prosperity is not making people happier or healthier… We are incurring debt and working longer hours to pay for the high-consumption lifestyle, consequently spending less time with family, friends and community.”

– Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Shout out to Laura Swanson for the recommendation

An ordinary extraordinary life

I was thinking about the ‘sum’ of my life last night while my cat supervised me washing the dishes. Is there something extraordinary inside of me yet to be revealed or is it just a feeling left over from my youth days when we were constantly told we would do amazing things? Have I lived an extraordinary life? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. Do I really have something remarkable legacy to offer humankind in my future? Not that I can see.

P1070348Here’s a thought… perhaps my extraordinary, dazzling life is already present.

Perhaps it is in buying ethical products?

P1070354Perhaps it is in my heart every time I think and pray for those trapped in slavery?

Could it be in my desire to raise kids who don’t look to others to tell them who they are?

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Perhaps as I continue to live out my ordinary life I will be doing amazing things in secret. What a wonderful idea! A secret extraordinary life would probably suit me perfectly. Doing remarkable things doesn’t have to be loud and bright and seen by all as I thought in my teenaged years. I think of our Aussie farmers, working so hard to make ends meet and in my eyes they are quite frankly awe-inspiring.

I may never write a book or be known Nation-wide as the founder of a life-changing not-for-profit organisation, but I am ok with that. I will keep trying to do awesome things in secret, which at the moment mostly involves changing nappies and finishing the day without having a nervous breakdown. I amaze even myself sometimes 😉 and I am constantly delighted and inspired by most of the people I know. I guess it’s the everyday things that add up to make someone’s life significant.

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Love Jess xxoo

The last few days – Unsurprisingly by Jess

 

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The last few days have been filled with some hilarious and horrendous moments. I thought I’d share some of the funnier ones and yes, some things are funnier once everyone is in bed and finally asleep.

Saturday 27th June

During a rather one-sided conversation about a certain little girl going for a ride on a unicorn, I realised that I hadn’t actually explained to Amy that those fabled creatures aren’t real. She was pretty devastated for about a minute and then went on to talk about pink and purple horses. One thing at a time.

Monday 29th June

Today I was Amy free, which was a blessing, but also made me miss her. After picking her up, we drove home:

A: Mum, do you have a lollipop?

J: No I don’t

A: No, you do

J: No Amy, I really don’t

A: Noooooo, you do

J: I can promise you Amy, I don’t have a lollipop

A: You do (getting seriously annoyed)

J: I don’t (getting seriously annoyed back)

Slight pause

A: Mum, do you have a pizza?

J thinking: I’m just going to pretend she’s not there.

Wednesday 1st July

Number 1. This morning while hanging out in Bella’s room, Amy was looking at the painting Tim did for Bella:

A: Daddy’s going to paint one for Shadow (our cat) with red and pink and yellow, like horses running and a unicorns with a black tail.

J thinking: Sounds awful, but fifty years from now it could be worth a fortune

Number 2. After struggling for an hour and a half to get Bella to go to and actually stay asleep, Amy came to tell me the good news:

A: Bella’s asleep

J: Oh YAY!

A: You did it Mum!

J thinking: I can’t feel my arms! How will I drink coffee?

Number 3. Just before bath time:

A: I’m pretty tired Mummy. I have eyes in my soap.

J thinking: I know the feeling

The last few days have been tough, the kind of tough that makes you want to go for a long, long drive to nowhere in particular with just you and your favourite music. This afternoon, as I sat feeding Bella for the forth time in so many hours, I thought about the pains and struggles in my own life and the lives of others around me. I know this is part of the adventure, it is all part of our story, but man it’s exhausting.

b623e07f5bda4b73b774f9a60283a5b4As I sit here, I look forward to tomorrow. What hilarious thing will Amy say? Which little smile will Bella give me? Who will Whatsapp me telling me that they are feeling better? Tomorrow fills me with hope. So, if you’re having a tough one, don’t worry, you are not alone. You made it through today and I am so proud of you! Chin-up, we can do this.

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Love Jess xxoo

Someone is happier by Jess

Contentment is not something we do very well. Are we satisfied with our house, our clothes, our latest holiday, our social photos online? More often than not, the answer is no. Even when we get our latest ‘wish list’ item we then move onto the next thing or bigger and better. If we are buying a new car or house-hold item, do we get what we need or do we go that one step more and get something a bit bigger, a bit more expensive?

Contentment is something I am continuing to learn about. As my inbox fills with emails about the latest sales and season fashions, I have realised I need to be mindful of my thoughts in order to catch out the lie that I need more things to be happy. I also need to avoid the comparison trap when I look at the lives other people lead. Comparison is the enemy of contentment.

“Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen.
We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of
dollars and ropes of diamonds”
– from Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

In the end contentment isn’t about what you have or don’t have, it’s a state of being and it is something I am trying to cultivate in my life. It is simply freeing once you get used to it. I am free to have something and free not to have something. ‘Things’ do not impact whether I’m happy or not. Obviously I am still learning and sometimes I look at that new winter coat with longing, but I have to remind myself that it will not make me happy. I choose to be content with the lovely jacket I already own.

Someone is happier with less than what you have
– Anonymous

Let me encourage you to start practicing contentment. It will take time, but it will also allow you to experience a sense of freedom over things and the lives of others around you.

Love Jess xxoo

This time last year by Jess

This time last year we were in Brazil, in a smaller city called Indaiatuba to be exact. Tim and I love talking about the things we learned and memories we have from that time. Man, what a difference a year makes. We arrived in Brazil not knowing any Portuguese, and unsure about what we’d really be doing for the next 3 months. By the time we left, Amy had turned two, we knew some basic phrases, could follow along with conversation and had met people from all walks of life. Of all the countries we visited, Brazil is the place we want to go back to. The people, the culture and various groups we visited captured our hearts. In short… we fell in love with the people of Brazil.

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Flash forward to today. We now have an addition to our family. A beautiful Baby Girl called Bella Rose. That’s right, the ‘he’ turned out to be a she, which bought giggles of laughter from Tim and I in the delivery room. Once again we find ourselves in uncharted waters, but I know this for sure, we have totally and completely fallen in love with this precious girl. The name Bella links back to Tim’s Mum and her Italian heritage and means beautiful. This is how we see Bella, she is absolutely beautiful inside and out, a gift to our family.

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Tim and I often talk about memories from our 7 months overseas, little moments in time that we suddenly recall. That season in lands far away has absolutely impacted our life here and how we approach things. Our prayer is that every season in our lives will leave us changed with greater perspective; we’re sure this next phase of our family life will do just that. It’s once again time to Voe Mais Alto, which means To Soar Higher.

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Love Jess xxoo