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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Monday, 26 February 2018

Stop: Make Yourself Happy!

We need to stop.

We need to stop looking to others for fulfilment and happiness.

We need to stop trying to fix and change our loved ones.

We need to stop being afraid of looking in the mirror of scripture.

We need to stop and take care of our own life.

Are you unhappy?

Chances are, if you’re reading this then you probably aren’t happy a lot of the time.

Do you find yourself wanting your loved one to ‘change’ or meet more of your needs?

Do you find yourself trying so hard to make them ‘happy’ through acts of service, you’re somewhat depressed and even resentful?

Do you find you give no time to yourself and spiritual needs because you’re ‘so busy’ giving to your loved one, or busy ‘working’ that you feel drained and exhausted…no matter how  your beautiful your pictures posted on social media are?

Most of us know the benefit of working on ourselves prior to being in a relationship…of preparing ourselves to be mentally and physically well for another person…

But I wonder why this often goes out the window when we get into a relationship???

Why do I read plenty of articles about ‘making yourself ready’ for singles and then the opposite for married people…For example, how to let your spouse know you love them…how to rekindle your love…how to reset your wife…and so on and so on…

I am actually tired of reading articles such as, “Husband, I need you to….fill in the blank” or “Wives, your husband needs more…..fill in the blank”…

In marriage people sometimes try so hard to give, and give, and give that they lose themselves. They then become bitter and lose their happiness. Marriage becomes an idol and the reality becomes life was happier and a lot easier when the person was single!

If you feel this way, the good thing is you are recognising it.
You now need to understand that another human being will never ‘make you happy’ long term, nor have they EVER been meant to fulfil you.

You need to look after your own happiness, just as you did when you were single.

Healthy happiness is both attractive and contagious to your spouse…It will encourage them to do the same for themselves...this is also called living as a healthy, mature adult.

The problem is we’re fed a lot of rubbish from Hollywood. Why? Because mature, healthy relationships do not make interesting fiction and we know what we internalise we imitate. Films are so popular as they're a form of escapism but we really do need to exercise wise discretion.

Indeed, it is nice when our spouse does loving deeds for us, and they should, but for heaven’s sake we need to stop sucking them dry…go to ‘The Source’ for real refreshment and transformation and make yourself happy!

Problems arise in every relationship. Relationships with our spouse are no different to ones with other loved ones in our lives. Problems with a spouse are more intensified however because we simply spend more time together under the same roof.
Truth Bomb (Warning): There is no way you can ‘bullet-proof’ your marriage or relationships.
Even as a Christian you will be allowed to face problems and challenges for your own benefit; so that you grow and mature. You will never be in a Christian ‘bubble’. No amount of self-sacrificial giving to another person will make you and your relationships immune.
You need balance. Time for your own recharging and happiness and time to give.
If you are with someone who demands all your attention, service and time, that is an unhealthy, and abusive relationship.
We need to stop.
We need to stop looking to others for fulfilment and happiness.
We need to stop trying to fix and change our loved ones.
We need to stop being afraid of looking in the mirror of scripture.
We need to stop and take care of our own life.
One way I decided to take responsibility for my own happiness is to write a simple ‘daily’ list of the things that are ‘core’ for my own happiness and wellbeing. The list simply is a concrete reminder of what I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy for my loved ones. My list is particular to me. It is not all I will do each day that will contribute to my own happiness and wellbeing but it is simply my essentials that I must do in order to not ‘run dry’ or ‘burn out’…or find myself looking to unhealthy options for ‘refreshment’.
This is my simple list of things that are absolutely core and essential for me personally. My non-negotiables. I encourage you to write one that is non-taxing, and personal for yourself. Remember this list is NOT ALL we will do each day that is beneficial, rather it is simply the core, non-negotibales.
My daily list:
  • Begin my day alone with Jesus, praying and reading scripture devotionally.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and take my Amino Acids.
  • Listen to at least 1 worship song and meditate upon Jesus while listening.
  • Write a ‘to do list’ and check it off.
  • Do at least 1 beautiful thing for myself.
  • Tell my family I love them.

Your list could include a daily walk, or visit, or anything you recognise is core to making you feel happy. If you have important things that are only weekly or so on, you could schedule these activities into your diary, or write them in your planner or upon your calendar...whatever works for you as a concrete reminder. Add to your list anything that is beneficial for the continued renewing of your mind with the unchanging truths found in scripture alone. Whatever way helps you to give your empty cup to Jesus for the filling of His soul-quenching love.
We need to stop looking to others to 'make us happy' and take responsibility for our own happiness and maturity!
With my love, Melanie.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Mission to where? Finding Significance.

Sometimes I have felt as if my life is not enough.

It’s not big enough. Not grand enough. Not exciting enough.

That I am not making enough of an impact in this loud, huge world.

Do you know what I mean?

It is times like this that when I see others achieving, and receiving praise, self-doubt plays on my mind. I begin to self-evaluate and analyse my choices over and over.

I feel small and insignificant. I can feel ‘stuck in the rut’ of life.

I begin to question my life’s mission for I long to have a life that is significant.

A life that counted for something when I am gone.

Yes, I feel like this sometimes, even as a Christian.

I feel like this when I am tired from caring all week for my family. When I am enduring another ‘hot flush’ or feeling anxious from perimenopause.  

I can feel like this when other people’s problems and poor choices weigh upon my heart, or when my own children are continually challenging me.

Yes, I feel like this sometimes, even as a Christian.

Today we can see so many, so many people, with loud, impressive lives (yes even within the Church) we can begin to feel insignificant…Can you relate?

Yet I know without knowing scripture we have no foundation for when the self-doubt comes. We can falsely think Christianity is all about making the loudest noise, to make a difference in this world.

But when I come humbly to scripture I find peace.

I find peace because I read nothing about loud, impressive, flashy lives.

I find peace because I read that salvation is God’s work. Salvation from my sin and continued forgiveness by having been made a child of God, is only possible through Jesus Christ.

My high ideas, standards and ideals all melt away and I find rest again.

So when I begin to feel insignificant and the self-doubt comes, I turn in prayer to scripture to refocus, and find reassurance once again for my life’s mission.

I understand my desire for significance is common, human vanity. I know that I am loved and my value rests upon Christ in me, and nothing else.

All of scripture is clear. And I state ALL because we need to read all of it, not just favourite verses. We need to read it ALL – Old and New Testaments. Letters as a whole. Books as complete works.

It’s my opinion people struggle to comprehend scripture and ‘trouble’ passages as they call them, as they read scripture from an analytical perspective rather than a personal, self-reflecting one. They address scripture as an ordinary book, rather than a powerful supernatural one. They read without praying first to Jesus and Jesus alone, for a softened heart and enlightenment…praying with a heart that desires to be changed.

Scripture as a whole makes things clear.

It’s God’s mission to make us His children.

It is our mission to make disciples.

It’s the Church’s mission to mature disciples.

We read right throughout the Holy Bible from Old to New Testament, God’s desire and plan to forgive and redeem us to become His own children. We read it from Genesis right through to Revelation. We read of God’s perfect standards, our human willful pride, and of His amazing patience, fair judgements, and love. We learn about His offer of forgiveness when we repent, and of what it means to be His child, compared to a child of the world, and therefore the devil.

We read that it is our mission to make disciples and of the lives of those who have done so before us. Of lives that have given up everything in order to reach others. Of lives that have paid the price and cost of being a disciple themselves who love Jesus and others above everything else the world offers. We read of the life-long tireless efforts, not big, flashy lives.

We read of the church’s work in strengthening and maturing believers. We read Paul’s letters that The Lord has provided us with for maturity. We read of mature believers working hard, giving much, and leading quiet, holy lives…making and raising disciples while they themselves are maturing.

Jesus does not put heavy burdens upon us, we do.

Jesus simply says we are to be found ready when He returns. We are to be found ready by loving, for love does not sin or hurt others. We are to be found making disciples and this is a life-long effort that begins in humility by loving our own family first and foremost.  

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and desiring to be loved by everyone.

We need to stop desiring to be significant for this is just human vanity.

Let’s just simply live lives that truly love others, openly, honestly and faithfully to be found ready as we read the disciples did. Let’s promote Him above ourselves and draw near to Him each day to find rest and peace. Then if later He raises us up, so be it. His Will be done and not ours. Let’s care more about our character rather than our status, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6b

Love Melanie.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Valentine’s Day 2018: How much is too much?

Here we are again.

Another 14th of February, so yet another Valentine’s Day.

Looking back over Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman, I’ve written about this day a few times. You can read those posts if you like by clicking the links…

Each past post was written while I was unmarried…yet I sit here today as a married woman, so I’m forced to ponder if now writing on this topic would be like rubbing salt into open wounds for some people who read my blog.  I would never want to do that as I know how it can be a challenging day at different times during our lives for many, many different reasons.

I do however love to use the blog as an encouragement for others and therefore I have once again decided to write down my thoughts on such a day as this…

I am sitting here thinking, “How much is too much?”

I know of people who refuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day remarking it’s a money making day for Hallmark…I sit here also as an Aussie and think of my friends who remark, “It’s an American tradition and we’re not America!” I think of people who resent the day for how it makes them feel and I think of the people who declare, “I show love every day and don’t need a date on the calendar!” while pondering, how much is too much?

So I try to think objectively as 1. An Aussie, 2.Someone who knows what it’s like to be single and grieve loss on this day 3.As someone who also dislikes commercialism tainting special times (yes, especially Christmas!) and 4.As someone who also tries to show love EVERYDAY to others.

My thoughts quickly travel to other ‘special days’ such as Christmas and Easter, family holidays and birthdays. So I wonder do we really need to purposefully stop each year to reflect upon Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection? Do we really need to stop and purposefully spend quality time as a family each year, or eat birthday cake every time it’s someone’s birthday (that’s a lot of cake each year)? Do we really need a day to celebrate romantic love?

I am left with my own answer which is this. 

No, we don’t need to do any of these things above, in fact sometimes our budget doesn’t allow it. Everyone is entitled to their own choice to keep whatever traditions they choose. However we cannot ignore that we do keep our traditions, as being purposeful and keeping cultural traditions is important to HELP show others we love them. Plus many things in life which are great fun and show we care, can be free or inexpensive when we take a little time and think creatively.

While Valentine’s Day has previously been about romantic love, here in Australia over the past decade or more, I’ve noticed a change. It seems Valentine’s Day has become more of a day for anyone to reach out to those they care about and show some love. I know of young people who use it a chance to show appreciation and friendship love to others. I know of single people who use it as a day to send messages of love and support to their other single friends. And I know of some people who still do extravagant romantic deeds on this day (like my husband who proposed this exact day last year)…

And again I ponder how much is too much?

I believe when it comes to love and support I say there’s no such thing as too much…

Yes, we can show love every day, (indeed we should)…Just as we can think of Jesus’ sacrifice and triumph every day and be thankful (indeed we should)…Yet it is good to take a moment, to stop and be purposeful in our actions…and this is how I personally feel about Valentine’s Day.

So, in short, reach out and tell someone you care this Valentine’s Day…They may just really need it.

Love Mel xx

Friday, 9 February 2018

The outer expresses the inner: More than being lean.

Jesus said outward qualities are only an expression of the inner person. That it is from the heart either love or hatred comes forth. What externally enters a person (such as food) has no value to change the inner. You can read it here.

I decided this week to try and eat more healthily and lose some weight. This was a decision to actively work towards better physical health, yet I know it doesn’t matter how lean I am, true beauty comes from how I love the people in my life…

I believe it’s natural to look for external things to fulfil us and give us joy. We all enjoy new exciting things and feeling special. However it’s actually altruistic day-to-day giving that truly makes life so much richer, and more meaningful.

The character Anne of Green Gables when declaring her love for Gilbert in the series, declares this so eloquently;

“I went looking for my ideals outside of myself and discovered it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it. The dreams dearest to my heart are right here…”

What good is it then if we’re super lean and fit, and/or mega wealthy and a horrible person? How rich is our life if we’re super popular and well known, yet awfully alone for lack of a true friend? How good really is our life if people can’t honestly write a decent obituary for us when we die? Is it really okay for young people to get great grades at school, or know all the answers at youth group, yet at home disobey and disrespect their parents?

Does any of this even matter? I think yes.

So as I look from an external perspective at my body and work towards the shortish goal of becoming physically more healthier, I’m also forced to look at my heart, as I struggle with very real physical challenges that come with this goal, such as cravings and tiredness.

The Lord challenged His people in the Old Testament (Isaiah 58:3-20) when he declared they only fast to quarrel and fight. He told them this would not profit them any favour with Him.

The saying, ‘the means sometimes justifies the end’ is not true. Life is a journey and we need to have personal integrity in all situations and emotions we may experience along the way.

Scripture says it perfectly, “we are but a vapour” (James 4:14; Psalm 103:15 and 1 Peter 1:24). Yes, our life here is incredibly short. We could be gone tomorrow or Jesus could return.

Yet honestly even though I know all these truths in my mind, I still struggle for I am in my human skin. It’s only by sticking close to Jesus and Jesus alone that I can be an authentic loving person, even when no one is watching.

I can relate to ‘Anne of Green Gables’ for the dreams dearest to my own heart are here with me, and therefore how I treat them and myself matters.

I do believe it’s natural to look for external things to fulfill us and give us joy, as we all enjoy new exciting things and feeling special. However it is altruistic day-to-day giving that truly makes life so much richer, and more meaningful and I’ve found Jesus is the One who makes it possible to live this way, while we remain embodied in selfish and demanding, human flesh.

Instead of facing a difficult problem and later praying, “Jesus, I’ve done it again, please forgive me...” Perhaps we should pray, “Keep me from temptation by changing my heart to be like yours…”

Then the inner will change the outer. 

We will make good choices that honour The Lord, ourselves and others. We will be beautiful and healthy from the inside out. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever stumble or struggle, but we will be much healthier people because we will look much deeper at our hearts and need for Jesus to be within us. When we keep our eyes upon Him who sees all, we will be able to live more altruistically and find meaning, for this life is but a vapour and we need to be ready to meet Him.

In love, Melanie.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Let It Flow.

Some people who have been long time readers of the blog will know, I’m a creative person who loves to make beautiful things. For example the majority of my blog post pictures for years were my own photographs of where I lived, or of art pieces I made or drew.

I had studied fine arts at school like most people, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I returned to ‘art class’. I wanted to get back into art and knew my skills needed polishing. Plus I had been single for a year and also wanted some healthy, adult interaction. It was around the same time of beginning this blog, as the blog too was a healthy, expressive outlet for my creativity and a way to connect with others.

Fast forward to the end of 2016 when I met my now husband, and we connected both as mature Christians and as creative people. It wasn’t long until we found out about acrylic pouring and began experimenting with this modern art technique. It was a great way for us to connect and bond. We were able to see each other’s temperament when things didn’t go quite to plan!

One of my recent paintings, 'Ocean Swell'.
Acrylic painting has an expression, “let it flow”, as you let the fluid paint run and expand over the surface. It’s mesmerising as the paint reacts with the insoluble silicon and makes incredible ‘cells’ bursting with colour. It can be quite a tense wait to see what will organically form before your eyes, before you’re able to do anything else…

So much has happened for me over the past year, more than I could have ever imagined possible in such a short amount of time, but after settling in together as a family we’re back to creating paintings and it’s got me thinking about how just like with the paintings, we must ‘let it flow’ in life to remain in God’s Will. By this I mean going with things naturally, patiently waiting then reacting when we can see what we’re dealing with.

At times in my life I have felt anxious about remaining in God’s Will, to the point where I’ve made myself stress so much I was not very joyful. I know I put this burden upon myself, but sometimes it’s difficult when we’re not sure about what our next step should be…

I have found as I’ve journeyed along and tried to discern His Will for my life, that as long as I’m not sinning it’s been fine to step on some ‘steps’ to test whether or not they’re for me. There have been times when I’ve been absolutely sure of His Will and it has happened (like when I met Richard) and other times when I’ve been sure something was right and it didn’t work out…

In those times however I needed to patiently wait and ‘let it flow’ to discern further in regards to what my next step should be, if anything. Just like acrylic painting, it can be a tense time waiting to see what comes to the surface and what the next step should be.

Recently I resigned from school chaplaincy to return to home-schooling the boys as I knew they needed me. I was quite sure that while they studied I should as well. I planned to complete a Graduate Diploma in Christian Counselling. I prayed about it, and it all seemed to ‘fit’ in my mind. Yet as life began to ‘flow’ and I began doing some schooling with the boys, I quickly realised that progressing with the study at this time would be too much for me. Before the course officially began I cancelled my enrolment.

'Pink Tulip on black gloss' I painted this last night.
I was finding that come late afternoon and evening, I had no energy left for further academics. Interestingly, since I’ve made the decision to not study at this time, I have found a renewed energy for acrylic pouring. I am less stressed, and Richard and I are really enjoying making art together again. Yes, God is good, all the time. It’s we who often put the burdens upon ourselves.

I have found sometimes we just need to relax and ‘let it flow’. I believe organic, spiritual growth, is a wonderful blessing from The Lord that is natural and healthy. When we get anxious and stressed our vision can become clouded…worse still we can panic and then push for our own will, rather than His.

Letting it flow, isn’t being complacent, it’s patiently waiting rather than reacting too early. It’s expectantly waiting for assurance on the next step. The next step may be to continue forward or to retreat back, and either is fine when it’s His Will.

He really loves us so much He doesn’t burden us beyond what’s good for us, rather He wants to grow us naturally and organically. Organic growth is a process that requires we stay close to Him as our gardener. Just as Jesus said we must remain grafted onto God’s vine through Him, we cannot be obedient to His Will without being connected to Him as His children. When we are secure in our relationship with Him, it makes it easier to relax and ‘let it flow’ while we patiently await to see what forms and becomes clear before our eyes…Indeed waiting and letting things flow can be very wise indeed.

He calls us to peace, and there is so much peace in relaxing and trusting Him, as we stay close to Him observing, and letting it flow.

With much love, Melanie.