deep-rooted

This is a poem I wrote about my Granda Mervyn. I love him. Hopefully the poem speaks for itself – he’s a wonderful wonderful man.

Shorter than the tomato plants that grew

in your greenhouse, my little body brimmed

with a love for you.

To me, you were a tree; immovable

and strong. My arms were too short, couldn’t reach

around you when I hugged you, like the trunk.

But your arms weren’t like branches, they were roots,

grounding me to you.

I saw your face, like the bark, marked by lines

that told me you’d been here, planted on earth,

for far longer than I could imagine.

My whole life, and my mother’s whole life – more.

Your arms became branches when they lifted

me into the air, and when they sprouted

Milky Buttons and Smarties in your hands.

Collecting tadpoles in mason jars, you

showed me growing life.

I was one of your little leaves: riding

around the garden in your wheelbarrow,

dancing with you hand-in-hand in the breeze.

You would mark my height on the picket fence,

immortalising

my three-year-old self, like carving a heart

into the bark. With the flowers, I grew

in your garden too.

 

And now, taller than the tomato plants –

and even you – my grown body still brims

with a love for you.

But you have become more than just a tree

for me to climb, with branches bearing fruit.

You’re a dad who calls his daughter precious,

a husband with a heart big enough to

love and continue

to love – even when life is stolen half-

expectantly, and yet still mid-sentence.

You are a determined chooser of joy,

dancing despite the new branch that grew from

your hand to support you. You are a tree

planted by the river, spreading your roots

by the water. The sun rises and sets

with your thankfulness, your unfailing prayers.

And your earnestness.

Your roots spread wide and deep, reaching out arms

that span across cities – even oceans.

I know that you are proud when you see me.

You see a seed planted in good soil. Growth.

You tell me to trust

that when you go, you will be ready. So,

I’m sure that when you’re uprooted from this

Earth, you’re going home.

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Some truth

I’m just gonna let God’s word do the speaking. It’s powerful, radical stuff.

Psalm 68:19

uni pep talk

It takes time to settle in. It takes time to feel established in a new place. It takes time to build relationships. It takes time to build influence. It takes time to become known and to know others. It takes time to truly thrive. It takes time.

Try not to strive. Try not to wish you could skip to when you’re already settled in. Embrace this time of change – embrace the people you meet and the opportunities you are given. Try not to worry about finding friends, fulfilling your purpose, or being known. It takes time: be patient. Abide. Rest in God’s hands. He’s beside you through it all and here to comfort you as well as empower you. Hold onto his promises for you. Trust in him. He has good plans for you and exciting adventures for you – he will use you and do amazing works in and through you. But this is not a burden for you to carry. You don’t have to force these plans into place yourself. You don’t have to strive so much, wanting to be used by God. God will bring you to where you need to be at the right time. Take heart, be patient. He has promised you that he would use you – but that doesn’t always mean straight away. Rest. There is no time limit to God’s plans. Be patient. You’re not failing God even if you feel like you are. Say ‘yes’ to things, get involved, be interested in people. But do it all in God’s strength – you can’t fulfill God’s plans for you in your own strength. Keep your hope in God all day long, every day.

Know that he has promised you life in all its fullness and he will fulfill that promise. Know that he is doing a good work in you – and just because you see God working in other people, doesn’t mean he’s not working in you. This all – all of this change and challenge – is working towards your good. It’s going to make you grow. Be excited because God is still working in you! His work wasn’t done before you came here – you haven’t peaked, you can still grow and be further equipped. Don’t be discouraged when you see all the places where you need to grow – have joy because God will transform you and strengthen you in these areas. He has taken you here for a purpose – and that purpose is as much to grow yourself, as well as encouraging growth in others.

pre-uni pep talk

So, in just over a week I’ll be off to university. Moving to a new place, meeting new people, learning new things. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed. At some points this summer – as I’ve imagined myself trying to settle in, whilst keeping up with the new level of work and making friends – I’ve just felt so intimidated by this new challenge. It’s easy to be excited about something far off in the future, but when it comes close to being real — that’s when it gets daunting. So, I’ll be honest with you: I have spent times this summer crying to God laying down my worries and fears about uni, as well as wishing for things to not change. This year in school I had felt myself begin to thrive. I had embraced who I really was and was loving living out my calling. Leaning into what made me different, and taking steps of boldness amongst those who knew me was amazing. So, naturally, I was upset because I didn’t want to lose all that when going to uni. But! This is where prayer is amazing, and God’s grace is endless: when I kept on coming back to God, crying about this same thing over and over, each time he would patiently listen to me — and then he would speak truth into my heart. (Even when I forgot the truth and cried to him again, he would still listen then speak! God is so consistent! He never tires of speaking truth to us – even if it’s sometimes the same truth over and over! Consistently patient, consistently loving, consistently wise.)

So, this is what God’s been reminding me — and I’m clinging to it as I face university. I hope that these truths help you too — they’re applicable to everyone, in any stage of life! This is God’s pep talk to you too!:

“Choose to trust in ME – not yourself. All your anxiety about keeping up with studies, making friends, making a good impression… comes from the pressure you’re placing on yourself to make things happen. Remember, you can do all things through Me (Philippians 4:13) — you don’t have to carry the pressure. Give it all to Me, I’ll relieve you of that pressure. You can just trust.”

“Be bold, be confident – you are growing into who you’re called to be. I have loved seeing you thrive in school — you will also thrive in uni! I’m doing a good work in you (Philippians 1:6) so be confident and bold in that.”

“Embrace your difference – I called you to be set apart (Romans 12:2). This isn’t always easy but it will bring you so much freedom as you step into My Calling for you rather than the world’s. Own your difference. Delight in it as I delight in it. Love that you are marked by My Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).”

“Hold onto that joy-filled, free spirit of yours. Don’t let your joy be dampened or held down by fear. I have promised you that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and that no one will take away your joy (John 16:22).”

“Don’t be reluctant to encourage, compliment or help someone! Love them! I have called you to love them (Matthew 22:39).”

“Don’t forget your purpose – you are a fisher of people, called to lead them to me (Mark 1:17).”

“You are not alone. I go beside you, behind you and in front of you. (Deuteronomy 31:8) I’m with you wherever you go.”

unattainable happiness/worth/fulfilment

Lately I’ve realised that we as people tend to place our happiness/worth/fulfilment on things that are temporary and unreliable. Grades, success, outward appearance, popularity, boy/girlfriends, likes on social media… it’s all so unreliable. If our happiness is dependent on another person’s feelings towards ourselves, or how we look, or what grades we get, or how many likes we get, then we’re doomed to be disappointed. We’re building our houses on sand not rock. All these things are temporary and temperamental — they change as often and unpredictably as the wind. People’s feelings change, our bodies change, definitions of success change… and all of these things will ultimately not give us lasting happiness/contentment/fulfilment/worth. Sometimes I feel like they steal our joy more than give it: they create a pressure for us to look/perform/act a certain way in order to attain our own happiness and worth. If the power to find our own happiness, worth and fulfilment lies in our hands then why do we keep placing our happiness and worth in such precarious places? It sometimes seems impossible to find a source of meaning, joy and self-worth that is sturdy and reliable. But I’ve found my rock. The only unchanging source of purpose, joy, worth & fulfilment in my life is God. He is the only unchanging source of love in my life – unswayed by emotions, consistent and constant in his delight and love for me. He is the only One I can rely on, who never stops listening to me, who never stops reassuring, encouraging and empowering me. He is the only One who gives me purpose without the pressure to perform/act/be a certain way in my own strength. He is the only One who can show me my inner worth. He is the only One who can help me find joy that isn’t dependent on circumstances. He promises me life in all its fullness. He promises me that no one and nothing will take away my joy. And he keeps his promises. He assures me this through his word — his living, breathing word! If you want to have a joy/self-worth/fulfilment that isn’t dependant on people/grades/circumstance — you can have it! All you need to do is ask. Lean into him, his love, his promises & his word.

It’ll be revolutionary if you do.

4 year anniversary!

I got a notification today from WordPress… it turns out that 4 years ago today I started up this blog! It’s my blog’s fourth birthday – and how much it has grown! When I first started this blog, it looked totally different – I’m pretty sure the design involved lots of polka dots… – and even the tagline was different (‘a home for my imagination’ I think it used to be). I began this blog to share my writing and get it out there, and to get into the habit of writing more often. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and as a person on the whole since that first ever blog post. But it’s still really nice to look back at my old posts and see the parts that haven’t changed: I still love writing, and I still want to be a writer; I still love to travel, and get inspired by the places I go. When I first set this up, I had meant this blog to be a ‘home for my imagination,’ a place to post my poems and stories, but now it’s grown to be a place where I can gather my thoughts and share the revelations I have as I dig deeper into the bible, and grow in my faith. I remember the first time I ever vaguely mentioned God in one of my blog posts – I was so nervous! And now, I sometimes wonder if this is becoming a blog just about my faith! It’s been so exciting for me, being able to freely share my thoughts and realisations and to be encouraged in doing so. It’s really boosted my confidence and has helped me to become more bold in sharing my faith with others. So thank you to every one who has been reading my posts for the past 4 years – or even if this is your first time reading this blog – thank you so much for making me feel like there are people who want to hear what I have to say.

another post about body image

Insecurities and struggles with appearances don’t go away straight away… I’ve written two other blog posts on this topic already, and I still haven’t cracked the code of being fully confident in myself yet. So, I thought I’d share another little thought/nugget that has helped ease my insecurities about myself and has given me new perspective on what’s important.

In the February holidays, I had been particularly struggling with being unhappy with how I looked. One day, I was crying out to God in prayer about this, saying how discontented I was with myself, and how I couldn’t stop feeling this way; how it was taking over all of my thoughts and robbing me of the fun I should’ve been having on holiday. Then God gave me this revelation:

There is more for me;

I am worth more;

I am more beautiful;

than these temporary things and this temporary body.

I am not defined or measured by how I look — I am worth the blood of Jesus! Which is priceless! (1 Peter 1:18-19) My beauty doesn’t come from outward appearance, it should come from within. I shouldn’t strive so much to make my outward self look better, that isn’t what makes me truly beautiful – it is my heart that makes me beautiful! (1 Peter 3:3-4) And!!! God has blessings for me and promises for me that will not tarnish — blessings that are beyond my ‘fitness goals,’ that are more fulfilling and joy-giving blessings! (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Looks are temporary, and they’re only a fraction of our true beauty (we are made up of body, soul and spirit — our body is only a third of what makes us who we actually are! And it’s the least important one: our spirit and soul are what really make us beautiful.) We have blessings in store that will not tarnish. I am beautiful because of things that will not tarnish: my spirit, my soul. I am bought with things that will not tarnish – my worth is more than temporary things.