29 February, 2016

Summer's Past

Summer’s past? I know I say this at the end of every season, but I honestly can’t believe that this summer is (technically) over. It seems like we’ve hardly begun. But then, it also feels like it should still be 2015, and instead we’re up to the third month of 2016. 

I realized the other day that I had barely taken any photos this summer, so I went out one morning and took a few as the sun was coming up. It sort of fascinated me how a pretty ordinary photo could be turned into something entirely different and beautiful when the focus was shifted. Often we don’t like stuff out of focus, we want it perfect, or ‘normal’. But sometimes out of focus, backwards, upside-down, the entire opposite, is most beautiful. And I’m still thinking about that concept, and relating it to life, so that possibly didn’t make any sense.

I‘m just trying to think what I have spent the last three months doing. I finished school in December (another thing I can’t believe), went to a wedding and a camp in January, and spent time canvassing and practicing violin and piano in February. In between, I busied myself worrying about plans for the future, checked out a lot of fabulous blogs on the internet, began making getting up early a habit, played at a nursing home by myself for the first time, cooked meals, and everything else that comes into the category of ‘normal.’

The main highlight of my summer was the D’Sozo camp in January, and additional week of canvassing following it. It was a really great and amazing experience, just learning more about how to share the hope we have, spending time with people who are like-minded, and getting out and being a blessing to others. It also started me canvassing, and, by God’s grace and strength, there’ll be no going back. :) 

(I’ve already mentioned canvassing a few times, and I will probably be mentioning it again, so I thought I’d better explain exactly what it is! By canvassing, I mean literature evangelism. We go out with a selection of books - including a healthy cookbook, a few different encouraging spiritual books, and a couple of different children’s books with Bible and character building stories – and knock on people’s doors. We show them the books, and chat with them. We don’t sell the books, but rather give them out on a donational basis, so that everyone who will read them is able to afford them. In between we pray a lot, and it’s amazing to see God answer prayers, work miracles, and change hearts. For me, canvassing is a way that I can be a help and blessing to others, and it’s also exhilarating to watch God work. So there, that’s canvassing in a nutshell! Are you coming with me next time?)

I’ve read appallingly little this summer; only one book in the whole month of January, and not too many more for the other months. The Boy in Striped Pajamas and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry were the ones I enjoyed most. I picked up Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry in an op shop last week for one dollar, started reading it right away. Basically, I didn’t stop until I finished. Goodreads tells me it’s part of a series too, so I’ll have to check out the rest of them, because it was a good story: easy to read, yet riveting, well-written, and also touching to read about the injustice people had to go through. And then to realize it really happened; the book is based on the author’s family’s story. I’m also still reading Ministry of Healing and it’s inspiring and thought-provoking as well. (And it’s actually one of the books we canvass!)

In the Bible, I’ve been reading Acts, and the stories in there are amazing. Those disciples had so much faith and courage. They believed, they prayed, they went forth, and no one could stop them. God worked miracles through them, and often hundreds or thousands of people believed at once. But the disciples were humble too, and that strikes me. They could’ve taken glory and praise for the things they were doing, but they directed it all back to God. I’m only up to chapter thirteen, but so far two things seem pretty clear about the disciples’ evangelistic methods: they prayed a lot, and they shared about Jesus every single chance they had. It’s been really convicting. And I recommend it, if you’re wondering where in the Bible to read next.

Anyway, I always feel like these posts are so full of me, and I’d really rather hear about you. :) So what were some of the highlights of your last three months? Are you keen to try canvassing (or have you done it already)? Have you read Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, or the book of Acts? What’s been your favourite book, verse, quote, song, etc? What are you looking forward to most about the next season?

18 February, 2016

Tagged Times Three

Firstly, a big thank you to Esther, Abbiee, and Lydia for tagging me! You guys make me feel so blessed. Actually every single person who even notices this place blesses me so much. Each comment, and follow, and kind word, like throws me into a mental spin of ‘Woooooow!’, ‘I can’t believe it!,’ ‘I’m so blessed,’ ‘Praise God!’ So yeah; know that you are thought about and appreciated, and used of God. :)

Anyway, moving on to the tags… I’m going to combine them, so firstly Abbiee and Lydia’s questions:

Best childhood memory? Hearing my father say ‘I love you.’ And I remember staying over at my grandparents place with my siblings. At night, I would go to the bookshelf, grab a few books, go sit on my Grandad’s knee and read them to him as we sat in front of the fire. I got to be too big to sit on his knee (as Grandad would say, ‘I sure grew-some’), but we still have chats about books, poems and stories. Maybe that’s where I got my enjoyment of quality literature and history from. 

What is your opinion of Tumblr? Well, to be honest, I’ve barely explored Tumblr, so I don’t really have an opinion. Am I missing out on something or not?

Current favourite song? ‘Go Light your World.' The lyrics inspire me to be bold about what I believe, and dare to share. I’ve been reading lately about the responsibility that rests on us. The golden rule - 'whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them' - goes the other way too: if we were lost without hope, wouldn't we want someone to share God's love with us? So that's what's been on my mind; if we believe we have life and soul saving information, we have a responsibility to share it.

What is the thing, that when you do it, you feel ALIVE? Canvassing. There’s nothing like working for God, and doing what you know you’re meant to do.

Are GIFs life or annoying? To me, they’re annoying. No offense to all those who deem them a necessity.

Do you stare at them forever just to read lips with the caption? Yes.

Was that last question confusing? No, I knew exactly what you meant. I just thought I was the only who did that.

Dream job? Well, I’ve had fantasies of opening up a bookshop/cafĂ©, and I even have it all planned, and named, and I've even thought up a small way to start without going straight into a shopfront. But I don’t think I want to do it enough to make it happen.

Who is your greatest spiritual influence? My family. I don’t follow anyone particularly, or look up to one person. My mum, siblings and friends all influence, and encourage me, but I like to think things out and discover things for myself. I guess not having consistent fellowship over the years has made me a fairly independent thinker, and, hopefully, more dependent on God.

If you had access to a time machine, where would you go? Wow. Maybe it would be good to just zoom through all of history – from the beginning right up until now. But I’m reading through Acts at the moment, and I have to say, I would’ve liked to have been there when like three thousand people believed all at once.

What is your biggest hobby? Well, if you call music a hobby, that’s the one I’m spending most time on at the moment. Next in line comes reading, writing, emailing, and sending letters, other creative stuff, and cooking. Oh, and taking photos. I have too many hobbies. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Um, I honestly can’t think of anybody particularly. Pretty much everyone I know inspires me though, just in different ways, to do different things (including not to do the things they do). Does that count for an answer?

What is your favourite piece of music? Oh, this is hard. I like rich, beautifully haunting music, especially played by cello… Stuff like ‘Theme’ from Schindler’s List, ‘The Swan’, and Jewish melodies. I wish I could find more of it.

What is something you wish you knew more about? Human behaviour, and what makes people think and do the things they think and do, and how the brain works, and all those fascinating things. And then how to help people using that knowledge; I see so many hurting people, and I just want to help them, but I don’t know how to. 

What is your favourite quote? I’m hoping that means current favourite, because I’m constantly getting new favourites. So: Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. I have this stuck on my pinboard, and it stands out to me every time I glance that way, and makes me ask myself, ‘What is it that sets me on fire?’, and ‘What’s stopping me from doing it?’ 

What is something you look forward to doing each day? Eating, if we’re going to be honest, and really just thinking, processing, mining for those ‘wow, that’s truth’ statements in whatever I’m reading, seeing, or thinking about. 

What is your favourite way to get exercise? An early morning walk spent talking with God. And canvassing as well, because you’re focused on more exciting things, but you actually get a lot of exercise.

Describe yourself in three sentences. I’m a student. I’m still figuring stuff out, messing stuff up, making silly mistakes, getting excited with each new find, and hopefully at the end of each day, learning. I’m also super blessed. (Or you want like my bio? I actually have one. Here: Jessica believes everyone has a story worth sharing, and is enthusiastic about helping people. She enjoys making music, pursuing creative ventures, and chasing sunshine. She lives out in the country, with her family and three pet sheep. How lame is that.)

What has been your biggest life achievement so far? I like these questions that make me think, except… yeah, I don’t always have answers. Finishing school is quite something, one of those things I never thought would actually happen, but it doesn’t seem like a big life achievement. Maybe one of bigger life achievements, which is still ongoing, is pushing myself outside my comfort zone to be a blessing to others. It’s been worth it, every single time. 

What is something you learned recently? That God is still in the business of doing miracles, that no one ever asked if I wanted to grow up, and that time and opportunity wait for no one.

Where is the most interesting place you have ever gone? It depends how you define the word ‘interesting’, but as far as culturally different and interesting it would be Cabramatta. I live out of town, and we shop in a small town with few foreigners, and then we spent a day shopping in a busy, dirty, city suburb where we were some of the only Australians, and everyone was speaking a different language, some of the writing on the shopfronts was in a different language, everything was crowded, and most shops were smoky from burning incense. But, the shop owners were friendly, everyone was probably a trifle more real, and the ladies were well dressed. It was interesting.

And now, Esther and Lydia both tagged me to share some facts about myself, but I feel like I’ve already talked enough about myself, so I shall break the rules, and share eleven facts regarding you:

God’s love for you is everlasting. (Jeremiah 31:3)
His kindness and peace for you will last even after the mountains depart, and hills are removed. (Isaiah 54:10)
Nothing – not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, life, death, angels, principalities, powers, or things happening - can separate you from God’s love. (Romans 8:35-39)
God set plans in place to save us all, even when we don’t deserve it. (Romans 5:8)
God is preparing for you, something you could never even imagine. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
He gave everything up just for you – to give you an amazing, everlasting future. (John 3:16)
He has plans for your future – plans of hope and peace. (Jeremiah 29:11)
God calls you His child. (1 John 3:1)
He’s there to comfort you. (Psalm 71:21)
He’s able to do for you more than you could ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)
He says you’re precious. (Isaiah 43:4)
God will be with you always. (Matthew 28:20)

I shall tag  Niv, Katie Grace, Vanessa, Bailey, Joy, Erudessa, Sarah, Janie, and, Esther, Abbiee and Lydia. Here are the questions:

Which sense, (smell, tough, taste, etc) do you value the most?
What are three things you’ve learned recently?
What book (aside from the Bible) has majorly impacted your life?
Which is your favourite Psalm?
Are you more the cook or the eater in your home? (Tell me if you’ve heard this question before. :D)
How do you pick yourself up if you’re having a not-so-good, down, or slow day?
What is your favourite time of the day?
What are four of your current ‘happy’ things (songs, pictures, products, etc)?
What is something that is outside your comfort zone, but you want to do it?
What are a few of your (current) favourite words?
Try this recommendation by Ernest Hemingway: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."

Wow, this is hugely long. Thanks again to Esther, Abbiee and Lydia for tagging me, and thinking up those excellent questions. And if I didn’t tag you, please, do the tag anyway and let me know; I’d like to hear your answers! :)

What are your answers to the questions I was asked – your favourite childhood memory, something you wish you knew more about, your favourite song or quote, something that makes you feel alive? Does it awe you, everything God offers, and wants to do for us? How’s your week going so far?