the good girl and the game changer

I’m sitting down for Bible study prep on Wednesday for the upcoming Tuesday afternoon (score on the organisational front!) and start reading Luke one’s account of Gabriel dropping this bomb shell of Jesus on 13 year old Mary. It adds a level of scariness, culture differences of marriage aside, to think of the girls you are studying with, as the same age as Mary! As I’m reading this passage of the angel appearing to Mary and her being scared witless and then him telling her this world-changing news, I wanted to know…

Why did God choose Mary as mother of Jesus?

I put it to the girls on Tuesday afternoon. Their answers echoed mine: “She was a virgin.” “She was good.” “She knew God’s heart.”

That’s what I always thought, too. Be a virgin and a godly woman? You’ll get used by God for simply incredible and memorable roles. But then I looked a bit deeper and I found something else.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” – Luke 1:26b – 28 NLT

Her life was pretty lovely by my standards: she was a good girl, living in a small town, backed up by a good family with notable connections to priests and to David, and she had a fiancé waiting to whisk her away to a life of first century Judeo-Roman bliss. She was a perfect candidate for great things for God.

And yet there’s a twist.

You who are highly favoured literally means to extend grace.

Grace means undeserved, unmerited favour and love.

In other words: Mary – I look at you and even though you don’t deserve it, I am showing myself to you, I want you, I really like you, and I find happiness in you!

Mary was confused and disturbed (NLT vs. 29) after this greeting and he hadn’t even reached the whole point of the message yet! Now obviously it’s an whopping blazing angel talking to her but it’s also a whopping blazing angel talking to her. About how God feels about her, just because. It bewilders her.

This gives me a lot of hope and peace. Even good ole, classic, pure Mary didn’t deserve to be liked by God or given so much special attention. But he did. Her ordinariness caught his attention. He wanted her right then and there.

It also blows my expectations of good choices out of the water. YES God desires for me to be holy through Jesus and to do things his way, but NO it’s not simply about ‘doing this his way’ for the sake of obeying him. Mary’s virginity, her good choices, wasn’t what got her the part. It was a practical necessity, sure. But when God looked at her he said, ‘you don’t deserve this, but I’m gonna give you it anyway lovey!’

The same applies for me. The more I learn about God, the more I realise that my flaws and mistakes, or my ordinary, tiny person in the universeness, doesn’t limit him. But neither is he owing to my good choices in life. He just wants me. I can do all the good things in the world and God will still say, ‘you don’t deserve this, but I’m going to use you anyway because I just really, really like you.’

Realising this in the story of Mary freed me from feeling like I had to be good for God, and instead, helped me to see I can do good with God. It releases the pressure to perform or reach a benchmark and instead invites me to fall in love with him and let a relationship overflow from there into everyday life.

Grace is the game changer, even for the good kids who obey all the rules. It tells us that we still aren’t deserving, but God wants us anyway. The story of Mary encourages us to release our grip on trying to ‘arrive’ and know that God really likes us right now. I want to be like Mary. I am like Mary – just an ordinary person whose good choices ultimately mean nothing, but who is loved and wanted right now. That’s amazing.

I’m never booking flights online again.


I’ve changed my outfit three times today. Three times. Not because I’m doing especially dirty or gross work. It just can’t get… right! I probably need a shower. A shower would feel good. It’s all very frustrating really.😛

This week has been a good week! My boss and I are discussing a pay rise because I’VE FINISHED MY STUDY! I unofficially/officially/just waiting for the certificate, have a certificate IV Business! It is daunting to now put it all into practice and live like a Cert IV Businessperson, much like trying to act like an adult actually. I’m hoping the skills I learned in marketing, website building, and double-sided bookkeeping will come back to me when the time is right, though (the movies all promise that it will, right?). Next week I’ll sign a contract to a new job description (to do all the things I’m already doing but written in a really fancy way!) and everything will be hunki dori.

I also booked my flights to visit my bestie later this year! I cannot wait to have a break, hopefully see the beach (I’m secretly an amateurish mermaid living in the bush) and spend a solid week with Hayley! And on that note, OH MY travel agents are incredible. This was a straightforward, as-the-crow-flies return flight trip with a travel voucher thrown in kind of booking, but Nicola had my flights booked in the space of seven minutes MAX. May I never book online again.

I now want to be a travel agent. Although, that would contradict my previous sentiment of never booking online again, but I think it’d be okay if I had name badge and unsuspicious websites to work off.

To top it all off I ran 7.14kms this week! I am training for a 9km run in 21 days’ time (yikes!). This 9km run is not any run, at least for me, who normally only has to worry about sidestepping rocks and vainly yelling at the dog to not run after wallabies. This run involves some hills. (Not like Swiss Alps or anything, but roughly four kms’ of up and down Lake Argyle’s hills!)

Also, minor fact, I’ve never run 9kms before. I am missing stuffing my face with chocolate but I am enjoying the challenge and getting into better shape. In the past, I have burned the candle at both ends by jumping headfirst into a running challenge without eating properly or getting enough sleep and before long I turn up to work miserable, with a cold, and not fit. I constantly have to remind myself to avoid sugar and dairy and to eat lots of protein, fruit, and veggies, and get into bed before 9:00pm. I am enjoying the focus, I guess you could say, of a stricter routine where I don’t mess around as much before bed and wake up with enough time to do everything and not rush before work. Hopefully I’ll start eating breakfast before leaving for work soon, too! That’d be a bonus.

As I read over this blog post, I’m wondering, as I have been all this week, what makes for a good week? Why have I noticed these highlights the last few days? Part of it, I think, is the outflow of Garth’s sermon on Sunday – seeing the gifts that God has given me and being thankful for them, and for who he is. That was a really tough pill to swallow, that GOD gives me these gifts. It’s funny; I used to be so, so good at playing Pollyanna as a kid, seeing God as good and thankful for it. As I grew up slightly I learned that life is not always great and maybe negativity or ‘realism’ is justified. Yeah, LIFE SUCKS SOMETIMES, but he still gives me the gifts of good stuff for me to enjoy, and it tastes especially good when I remember that it is a gift, not a given.

Thank you for reading this far!! Enjoy the rest of your weekend guys.

xx Jess

it’s okay to struggle

One of the best feelings in life is the lift in your chest when you finally tell someone. It’s like taking off a heavy backpack, or climbing out of the pool and re-orientating with gravity, or finally twisting open a new jar lid. The pressure lifts. Freedom bubbles up. Every muscle relaxes.

I’m naturally a happy person, but I’m not always happy. I have doubted so much about God, and though my faith in God is growing, I still go through hard days and times where I’m just not sure about who he really is, who I am, and if he’s even there.

It’s not just doubt – lots of things bring me down. People annoy me, I get angry, or maybe I’m down and low on myself. Fear, intimidation, pretending, pressure, a sense of inferiority, failure, disappointments, broken promises, feelings – there can be so much stuff going on in our lives that drags us down to the dumps, or feelings that leave us whimpering in the corner. We feel stuck from living the life we know we could live, but we just don’t know the way to get there when we have these issues piling up around us.

I think there is hope for all of us in the midst of our awful times, because no matter what, you are not alone. Cling on with every fibre of hope in you, even if you aren’t positive about it, that God is there for you. A friend told me once, believe like God isn’t there, and you will know the truth. The darkest point in my life was realising how much joy, hope, security, and promise God gives me and how dismal and unfulfilling life is without him in it. Someone else said that God might be a crutch, something we hold on to for survival, but we all have a crutch in any case, whether that be money, popularity, beauty, security, family, friends, or a job. God might be my crutch, but he will last forever and he satisfies in the deepest ways. Come near to him, and he will come near to you. You are free to struggle, but you aren’t struggling to be free, because in Christ there is no condemnation.

So what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay to be here wherever you are. Whatever stage you are in. The darkness won’t win.

My enemies are waiting for me, they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. (Psalm 27:11b, 12b – 14)

PS other things to do when you are sad and in The Unsure include, but are not limited to:

  • Eating Subway or treating yourself to a lunch you like
  • Chocolate. Right now calming down is more important than your waistline.
  • Good music
  • Go on a drive
  • Thinking about something else
  • Taking it easier – you still need to go to work but try and do the easy jobs that day
  • Rewarding yourself for accomplishing what you had to do
  • Praying lots
  • Watch a movie or read a book
  • Make dinner, make a chatterbox, make something!
  • Keep busy
  • Get hugs
  • Wear something nice so you don’t feel that you look like you feel.
  • Talk to someone (post coming…)

Facebook does funny things to my head

Facebook does.jpg

The last twenty-nine days I haven’t used Facebook. And yes I am counting!! I realised one night that I was too addicted to my phone. I used social media as a way to escape, not by posting anything, but by going there when I wanted to sulk and not face the conflict, hard times, or responsibilities in front of me. I decided I needed a break. In books that help people go sugar-free, an admirable but personally unattempted exercise, they tell the readers to go without any sugar for a month, even fruit. It resets your tastebuds. Once the month is up, you slowly reintroduce yourself to unprocessed sugars. I wanted to take a similar kind of approach with social media for a whole thirty-one days. I decided to keep text and messenger, even though I do use them as a cop-out too, because you know, baby steps.

It has been an interesting experience! The weekend I started, I talked to a friend about it and she shared how sometimes she goes on TV-free weeks because she realises she just spent two hours in front of the screen instead of the original thirty minutes she planned. When I asked her how she found it, she said that it was fine, until she ran out of things to do. I found that relatable. The first week was crazily busy and I hardly had any twiddling my thumbs moments that I normally would have spent on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. After that first six or seven days, however, I started to notice that I would normally be on Facebook now, so what was I going to do instead?! (Answer: read books, watch youtube videos, play the piano, converse with friends, be on time for stuff. I really quite like these things.)

Then there were the withdrawal symptoms. If it wasn’t so trivial and hilarious, it could be embarrassing. Actually, it wasn’t embarrassing because I am convinced that a large majority of social-media users would and do experience a similar feeling when deprived of their accounts. It is partially what made me hesitant or reluctant to start the challenge before now. I knew I’d fill my time with other things, but could I do it?! The feeling I experienced was so intriguing. It was like being my own pchycologist, except I have no idea what was going on scientifically in my head.

While I didn’t exactly miss Facebook, my heart rate went up and started pumping hard. There was a heavy feeling in my chest. The nerves in my hands felt twitchy, like when you are about to do something nerve-wracking. I really noticed it. Isn’t that funny?! I thought it quite bemusing and amusing. As the days ticked by, it has subsided, but I wonder how quickly I’ll re-establish my addiction symptoms when I go back.

I thought my withdrawal symptoms were fascinating because as I said, I didn’t really miss social media. I often feel meh about the stuff people put on Facebook. It has made me realise though, that I, and I suspect a lot of us, are nosey people. We like to know what everyone is up to. And I think related to that, is that social media means we don’t have to say goodbye. My Facebook Friends’ demographics range from my closest childhood friends, to friends I’m no longer close to, to parents of friends, to Church-friends who moved away, to friends who are currently a part of my face-to-face life, to in between demographics. Some people I’ve met precisely three times, and some I’ve never even met! Yet Facebook puts aside all the geographic distances, labels each other friends so that it is rude to distance yourself from someone if you so desire (unless you are brave), and puts you all together so you can hear about moments of their life.

While I am not about to quit my Facebook account and I do enjoy not losing my special friends and even getting to know some people better because of Facebook status’ (different to Facebook Messenger, I will add), I just personally prefer quality over quantity, and am starting to wonder if we sacrifice building new relationships and seeing the new awesomeness around us, because we cling to the friendships we had of old. (Also, there are so many stinkin’ memes and videos these days it is hard to find the actual status’ can I get an amen?! #butstillnotmovingtotwitter).

The other thing I think I learned from my social media hiatus is to just enjoy the moment without recording it. It’s funny, I tell myself, oh, I’d take this photo anyway regardless of putting it on social media, but reality is, I hardly touched my camera during the break. I did, however, think about these potential photos being instagrammable. Would I collage them, or spam everyone with ten whole photos, or just pick one?! Oh that’s right, I’m on a break. Haha.

I want to tell people what is going on. I want to join the funness of social media, and fun it is. On the other hand, this month has challenged me to get comfortable with my own smallness. I realised I try to sound a certain way or project myself a certain way, and I know not everyone is like this. I’m not making a ruling, so calm down. If you are your most genuine self on Facebook, that’s awesome. Don’t stop. I’m not saying tell everyone all your rubbish, but being genuine online and offline same, is great. I just think people, myself, we, sometimes try to sound smart, cocky, funny, obsessive, draining, whatever it is, online, because we want an outlet to rant, get attention, or something. Dare I say create drama? Make our lives look more perfect than they are because we compare ourselves to everyone else’s beautiful Sunday picnic? I don’t know the answer here. I don’t think it’s that Facebook is bad, but I just wonder if we are trying so hard to project ourselves.

I’m challenged to be okay with the fact that I am one single tiny person in this huge, enormous thing called life and the universe. I am still valuable, and still worth a lot, but I am small. I read once that animals sometimes puff themselves up to look bigger than they really are. Our rooster did this, until we killed him and found out what a scrawny guy he was underneath his white coat. I think the ultimate answer is to find peace with who you are and who God is and where he has placed us and to know that our life is just as awesome and valuable without anybody else knowing it really happened.

One of my cousins and her husband don’t have Facebook. She used to, but then she quit it. Six months ago I asked her if her or her husband had an account and she so happily shook her head and said nah, we think it distracts us from living.

I have one life, y’all. I am only twenty-one once in my entire life. I don’t get to live my life through anybody else. I have this one. ONE. I don’t want to project something of myself that isn’t honest. I want to be happy with my own smallness because Jesus + me = the dynamic duo even if I disappear into oblivion when I die. I want real and genuine relationships with the people in front of me and quality conversations with the people away from me. There are a gazillion skills I want to learn and things I want to do. So ultimately, when I go back on Facebook on Tuesday after thirty-one days without it, I want to remember these lessons I’ve learned. I don’t want to use social media as a time filler or live in fear that I’m gonna miss out if I’m not on it all the time. Instead, I want to be myself, be content, be happy, be wise with my time, and love well. And that’s what I learned about Facebook doing funny things to my head. x

unprocrastinationism is scary

I’ve been going through a stage where I’m procrastinating on a lot of stuff. I think it’s because of several things – I get busy and stressed and everything goes into the too-hard basket, I’m tired, I’m LAZY (big one – ‘I just can’t be bothered’ talk), or it’s daunting. Stress paralysed is totally a thing, I’m telling you, and don’t let any Dad from Mom’s Night Out tell you otherwise haha.

Yesterday at work I was cooped up in the office by myself, closed to customers, and lemme tell you, I was so tired and just didn’t want to get moving. I didn’t really know where to start unless it was the exit door leading the way to my car and to my home.

Then I stopped and it struck me: procrastination is really daunting. It’s a daunting lifestyle. Just imagine a world where nothing got done because for whatever reason, we all shuffled our to-do paperwork from pile to pile and back again #confession rather than facing our (probably small, in reality) giants. Procrastination also makes every thing daunting and too hard to get started. But just putting it off until the ambiguous later really accomplishes nothing. When crunch time comes, I’m rushed, stressed, and performing less than what I’d like or what other people need from me.

And we all know that doing Other Things instead of The One Thing I Need To Do isn’t really a comforting activity, because The One Thing I Need To Do just sits there at the back of my mind nagging at me to go and do it instead of enjoying what I am doing.

People don’t think it but sometimes, and I feel like especially now, I put the Pro in Procrastination. I’ll do it later. It can wait. Whatever. 

But I’m trying not to do that anymore. Instead of avoiding it, I’m challenging myself to move in the opposite direction and do it.

And you know what, unprocrastiniationism is scary.

It makes me move like a fire hydrant. It surprises me how much STUFF I can get done if I just tackle that one project here, right now, until it is done. And that is scary.

As I sat in that boring, dimly lit office I decided to tackle my to-do-list-paperwork-file and not procrastinate on the tasks within it. I didn’t get through the whole pile before I left for the day but I got through some paperwork that had just been sitting there this week. It felt energising. It was good.

During that final 90 minutes and since then, I’ve surprised myself how many times I caught myself saying: I’ll do it later. 

But I’m finding that I can get so much done, I can enjoy my time afterwards, and the tasks are really not that bad, when I just get in there and DO It.

So because I love lists and it helps me plan, here are some things i think can help me to unprocrastinate…

1. Play my jam. My mum always played Johnny Farnham when she was doing the bank reconciliations. Really loud. It helped her move and stay happy in a more menial task. And depending how much I have to think, it helps me too! (but not Johnny Farnham.)

2. Stop making lists. Lists are really helpful and it can help to make several lists throughout the day so I can stay focused: start-of-day lists, oh-yeah-I-forgot-I-really-must-do-that lists, and right-I-really-need-to-focus-on-THESE-THREE-THINGS lists. But at some point I need to stop fluffing around and move away from the list and spring into action.

3. Reward myself with the thing I really want to be doing. Today, that was writing this blog post AFTER I cleaned house. The soul-enriching stuff that we dream weekends be full of, but sometimes can’t be.

4. Don’t overload myself with tasks. I need to work on this one! I tend to try to be Superwoman or else Nothing, trying to cram everything into one day. But then I don’t have time to do all the fun, soul-enriching activities (my rewards) and I end up melodramatically pining about my life and falling into a heap. Be realistic.

5. Choose what can wait. While my whole blog post and challenge to myself is to stop saying ‘I’ll do it later’ and do it straight away, some things have a reason to wait or need to be done tomorrow because of my limitations of Not Superwoman. Know the difference between ‘I didn’t get to it today because I was genuinely busy’, and procrastination. (Like buying a 2yo her birthday present 20 minutes before the party started today. I really was busy this week!) I need to give myself a break too.

It ultimately boils down to my attitude of being happy with the world and life God has given me TODAY and living that to the full. Be warned; it might scare you or it might lead to scary results.

What helps you unprocrastinate and be a scary fire hydrant living your life to the max?