Saturday’s prompt: write a recipe for disaster

 

image

Pre-heat the oven first (duh).

METHOD:

Pour two very tired parents into a medium sized bowl

Add 3 cups of 4 kids each hyped up on red cordial, red snakes…anything red, basically

Stir in a very drunk third cousin and a brother who can’t find his pants

Sift a teaspoon of an open gate right near your two week old retriever that hasn’t been trained or tagged yet (if wondering why please refer to step 2 of method)

Crack a bad egg of an uncle with few social skills besides telling corny jokes into the bowl

Stir well

Be sure to: forget about the guests you invited over, scheduled to arrive about…2 minutes ago, according to the ov–

Excuse me; gotta go!!

(Remove from the oven with the smoke alarms disconnected. Success not guaranteed)
Sincerely,

Lil

 

Image: http://media.mnn.com/assets/images/2015/06/baking-ingredients-on-table.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart.jpg, sourced 30 April 2016.

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Friday’s prompt: where you wish you were

I get so excited as I browse through this smorgasbord of prompts because ideas start buzzing and soon my mind resembles a beehive and the only problem is which story to write first. Are you ever afraid that you’ll have a really great idea and then forget it? And then you think, that could have been the story idea that got me onto the New York Times bestseller list and an interview with Ellen Degeneres. Or maybe that’s just me.

I make a point not to spend my time wishing to be elsewhere, but since the book asked, the place I dream of is Italy. About a month ago, the travel agent asked why I was going to Europe. In one of those moments where you say exactly what you think I replied, “Because I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t.” Europe has been my dream ever since I can remember. The year before last I got to a point where I couldn’t even listen to people talk about Europe, because I wanted it so much. I would walk out of group conversations and considered deleting a few of my friends from Facebook when it felt like my entire friends list was travelling Europe. In Year 12 I asked our coordinator to take down the posters for Au Pair (the overseas nannying gap year program) if he wanted me to get a university education. There has always be a reason why I can’t go and I constantly fear that I won’t be able to reach Europe before something or someone ties me down, and then I would end up resenting them or it (just the sad truth).

But this year there is finally no obstacle and my dream of Italy and Europe is becoming a reality – although it still seems way too good to be true. A reality of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and avoiding spending money on most things as I scrounge together the cash in a relatively short amount of time (apparently these things are best booked a year in advance, note to self for next time).

I dream of Europe … of the Eiffel Tower and vineyards of France; the ravioli and Venetian long boats and painted ceilings of Italy; the white washed houses of Greece, the mountain peaks of Austria and Switzerland, brushed with snow and dotted with wildflowers; the myriad dead authors’ houses and red telephone booths of England; the history that haunts Berlin.

People have said to me, “But what if it’s not what you dream of?”and I say, “That’s for me to find out.” Even if Europe is a total washout for me, and I turn out not even liking one single thing, I can live with that. But I have to know. I’ll go crazy if I don’t, and the thing I can’t live with is not getting to experience it.

Most days I’m content where I am, but right now I’d also be content floating down a Venetian canal in a gondola,  squinting at the Italian sun through Armani sunglasses (likely) as I eat a slice of authentic pizza. For the afternoon I’ve planned a cooking class and a tour through old churches with art crafted centuries ago.

Yes, I can’t wait for September.

Sincerely,
Lil


Image: http://best-wallpaper.net/wallpaper/1440×900/1305/Vernazza-Italy-city-sea-beach-boats-houses-people_1440x900.jpg, sourced 29 April 2016.

Thursday’s prompt: what was the most recent incident in your life that made you laugh?

This response will be short because I spent about 12 hours on my feet today.

The problem with funny stories is that they’re rarely funny to retell and most of them end up being you had to be there moments (our excuse when any story flops) so instead I’ve compiled a list of ‘would you believe…’ moments about things that cracked me up recently. Because I don’t know about you but a lot of the time when people ask why I’m laughing the answer is, “I don’t know.”

Browse the list and see if you would have laughed at any of these things…

  1. Someone told me that their friend took a girl he liked on a date … to a dam
  2. At a meeting this week the leader, while speaking, kept accidentally saying racist sounding things or coming across sexist (he is neither of those things) and the fact that his wife sitting across from me was trying not to lose it laughing made it hard for me to stay composed
  3. A really corny Christian pick up line involving the book of Corinthians
  4. An 84 year old (lady) customer at work slapping me on the butt on her way out, much to my surprise
  5. This picture
    (Credit: Tracey and Leisa)
  6. My five year old friend Noah calling his three day old sister Neve “Steve”

Hope you’re having a great week and are finding some things to laugh at (remember it’s good for your health … and your abs, apparently!).

God bless you!

Sincerely,
Lil

Image: http://memesvault.com/laughing-hard-meme/, sourced 28 April 2016.

Wednesday’s prompt: What you were doing this time last year

This time two years ago I was forgetting my brother Samuel’s birthday. I have the best brother. I love him to death and don’t tell him enough. In 2014 I don’t feel that I was the best sister. I didn’t go to one single football game of his, had to be told about the fact that he’d made the grand final by my friend Jethro, and then I forgot his birthday. It was 9pm before I remembered. This morning I sent him a text at 6:28am, still trying to make up for two years ago.

Looking at the texts, I compared my word count (60, exactly) to Samuel’s (two – I counted twice). That pretty much sums up our relationship. I’ve always been chatty and, despite being a man of few words, Samuel’s always shown me grace. We may not have the longest conversations, but I know he’d always have my back and I would do anything for that man.

However, the prompt did say last year, not two years ago, so I looked back on my journal and found that I was experiencing creative blocks a year ago. I remember Samuel and my older sister Hayley helping me with my writer’s block throughout high school. I’d surrender my notebook (yes, I’m referring to actual pen and paper as opposed to a digital notebook) and receive it back five to 20 minutes later, to read their interpretation of the next bit of the story. Hayley’s stories would somehow always involve a lot of mythical creatures, while Samuel’s just consisted of a lot of fighting (as well as how South Africans say that word – farting). Surprisingly, these ridiculous and brilliant stories helped me to shake off my writer’s block and they’re a memory I love to think back on.

Again, I’ve digressed. I found a quote that I wrote down a year ago.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive.

-Gil Bailie

Often what Jesus has called you to is what you’re passionate about, and have some skill in. Pursue things that are life-giving.

A few months ago, as I was sorting through about 10 years of childhood memories in my parent’s house, I started to get sad as I came across books and books of drawings and watercolours, pages full of stories and poems and songs, albums full of photographs. None of them were anything spectacular, but the sheer volume of them show my passion. A passion that I felt like I had lost along the way, and was feeling somewhat hopeless of finding again.

My mum gave me some priceless words of wisdom that really helped me. She said that as a child we show a preference towards the things are we good at and have passion for. Having lots of time and not being able to go out very much, we express these things, often with more abandon than skill. Leaving school and going out into the world takes a lot of attention and energy. You’re learning how to be an adult and take care of yourself – function in the world and contribute to society (full time work is no cake walk at first).

Here comes the good bit. She said I’ve been doing this for the last four years (moving out of home, completing uni, paying rent and bills, learning to drive, moving countries and then towns again, starting full-time work and becoming a manager) but am coming to the end of that season. After an adjustment, coming-of-age period, our creativity resurfaces, but in a more mature, fully developed expression that will actually be of use to people (aka a painting that more than your mum thinks is beautiful, or writing that can be published).

So, despite the fact that they may metamorphasise and change as I grow, I now no longer fear that my passions will disappear. They are placed inside you and will not abandon you. They sometimes get buried, but are never lost.

My passions boil down to:
1. Connecting with God and people
2. Expressing, articulating, communicating and encouraging
3. Creating beauty

So to these things I’ll devote myself.

Sincerely,
Lil

———
Image 1: http://www.nawicpnw.org/news/2015/9/22/thanks-for-the-memories-region-10-forum, sourced 27 April 2016.
Image 2: http://belimitless.com/gchahal/life/motivational/never-let-your-memories-be-greater-than-your-dreams, sourced 27 April 2016.

Tuesday’s prompt: a houseplant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live

 

Tuesday’s Prompt is pretty random, so I had to get creative, which is good for me, because I like a challenge. I probably scrolled Facebook for a full 20 minutes avoiding this prompt.

A houseplant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live.

Hey, Ron—is it okay if I call you Ron, or is that just your good friends? Sorry, what would you prefer? Fine, sir it is (I don’t feel ridiculous at all). I just came over to talk to you because I can’t let you give up. You have so much to live for. Like what? Well, because… Well, how would your owner, Sam, feel if you died, leaving her a murderer? You have a responsibility to think about others. Yeah, I know she wasn’t thinking about you when she went off to Queensland last week, and all you do is think about her because she’s the only person you know.

Yes, maybe she should have more friends over. Well, I don’t know. No, it’s not because she’s ashamed of you. Of course I’m sure. You think everyone’s against you? There’s a word for that. I guess that does make Sam a bit of a loner. Come on, there’s no need to get personal just because she forgot about you once. She just must not have much time to entertain. All those nights working on the scarf are irrelevant. I don’t see anything wrong with a 20 year old knitting.

But we digress. My point is you need to stop knocking yourself over every time she waters you. Let the water revive you (this is one step away from out and out self-destruction, sir). Yes, I know it’s no luxury fertiliser, but you can’t be too harsh. That stuff is expensive.

…Why are you looking at me like that?

Look, I’m just trying to do you a favour, okay? I don’t need this. It’s not exactly in my best interest for you to make it. No good deed…

What’s that? Oh, the answer seems pretty obvious to me. I’m a compost, remember?

Actually, it’s a free country. Do as you please.

 

I know it was pretty strange but hope you got a bit of entertainment out of it! Stay with me; I’ll pick a different kind of prompt for tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

Image: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/houseplant.jpg, sourced 16 April 2016.

New Year’s Day

 

For my birthday last year my super awesome American roommate Taylor sent me this notebook called ‘642 Things to Write About’ full of cool and (very) random writing prompts. So, in the interest of writing more regularly and practicing my craft, I have decided to write in response to one of these each day this week. We’ll start out with one of the less weird ones.

Monday’s Prompt: Tell a complete stranger about a beloved family tradition.

Every New Year’s Day, my family and I do two things: we get up (relatively) early and travel about half an hour to a place called Timboon. We have two regular places that we are once-a-year customers to: the Timboon Strawberry Farm and the Mouse Trap Cheese Factory.

Over the years the extra faces coming along for the ride have changed, but I don’t recall us ever going alone, just the seven of us. From our cousin and aunt, to mum’s best friend, to our sister/daughter’s new husband this last year, I love that we always have extras.

The funnest part (yes, I just realised that wasn’t a word despite the fact that I’ve been using it for about a decade) is sneaking some strawberries as we pick—pretending that we’re stealthy even though I know the lady knows—and then eating them at the cheese factory with our cheese platter, even though they’re not from there.

We never spend very long at the strawberry farm, which I’m glad about because there’s no shade and I don’t like the feel of sunscreen. For Christmas last year my younger sister got me a hat. For some reason I got laughed at by my older sister and brother-in-law when I exclaimed as I got out of the car at the strawberry farm, “Oh my gosh; hats actually have a practical use, too!” when I realised it had just solved my sunscreen problem.

I think the cheese factory’s not as good as it used to be but maybe that’s just because I’m older now and everything is coloured rose through the lens of childhood. Or maybe it’s because they let us try less free cheese in the tasting than they used to, and cheese is practically a food group for me.

But still, the garden is beautiful and we brave the bugs to sit out there with our cheese platter, swatting away as we drink our milkshakes (or wine) and graze. Some, but never all of us, play cricket.

I think we take a photo every year—surely we must—and I’d be interested to see how we’ve all changed. Sometimes you see old photos and want to go back to those times, but I realised when I was about 13 years old that if you went back in time, you’d probably make the exact same mistakes, and you’d have to go through all the growing pains again, so the only way to go is forward, which is the only possible thing to do anyway, unless you have a DeLorean DMC-12 handy.

Sincerely,
Lil

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment telling me about your favourite family tradition.

Image: http://lartisancheese3.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/7/4/10742455/_3227552_orig.jpg, sourced 25 April 2016.

Being still in a culture of hyperactivity

 

I’ll never forget what my Auntie Helen said to me when I was about 12. She called me for my birthday and, after the traditional present question, asked how I’d been. I said, “I’m pretty busy at the moment.” She laughed and said, “Lil, you will be busy for the rest of your life.” That stuck with me and ten years later I’m still saying it.

Being busy has become a fad, become fashionable. We seem to think that somehow being busy makes us a better person. There’s also the phrase “at the moment”. I can’t spend time with Jesus/exercise/clean the house/make an effort in my marriage or with my kids/friends because I’m busy at the moment. “At the moment” has lasted a decade for me so far. How about you? If we use busyness as a way to escape facing tough things, or as a way to make ourselves feel valuable, or if we’re busy simply because we think that’s what’s expected of us, it might be time to reassess.

As an aside, when people say they didn’t have time to spend with God this week, I’m always tempted to be a bit naughty and ask them to tally the total hours they spent watching TV, gaming and on social media. We make time for the things that are important to us.

It’s true that certain seasons of your life are more hectic than others but we need to make time for stillness.

For silence.

Even as I write this, I have music on in the background, and I’m thinking about dinner. In this age of iPads, social media and cable TV have we completely lost the ability to be still? We say we don’t have time for anything but then we feel it on a heart level as our soul becomes more and more depleted, slowly but surely drying up.

The bible says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

How many hours, minutes, even seconds during the day do you take to be still?

Most days for me it’s not very many. And I feel convicted, having been guilty of seeking the hand of God more than the face of God, or completely ignoring Him for whole days because of my busyness “at the moment.”

I let the King of Kings fall to the wayside. Am I insane?

I love the Word of God because it always brings me back into alignment with His plumb line. The Word says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act” (Psalm 37:7). The temptation can be to take things into your own hands. “Giving God a nudge,” as my pastor Russ describes it.

What are you waiting for?

During times of waiting, God says to be still in His presence. How do you grow an intimate, thriving relationship with someone? Spend time alone with them, just being together.

God longs for you to do this with Him.

BE STILL and wait for Him to speak, however long it takes.
Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image: https://cnsbranches.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/be-still.jpg, sourced 24 April 2016.

A Man Named Bill

   
Recently at work one of my girls and I met this wonderful customer named Bev. Seventy-four, she was still kicking on as cheeky as ever and absolutely made my day. She was still 21 on the inside, which is probably why I connected with her so much.
She reminded me of one simple fact: who you choose to spend the rest of your life with is extremely important.
After finalising her sale she stayed for at least another 20 minutes, sharing with us about life with her husband Bill, gone now for 11 years.
She told us about how until the day he could no longer get out of bed, he would race home from work to beat her to the washing line so he could take all the clothes down. Anything to make her life easier. 
He would wash the dishes and make her breakfast and tell her she was beautiful. 
“I shouldn’t be telling you this,” she leaned in and said, “but sometimes when we we out at the shopping centre he would grab my backside and make me jump.” She giggled. “I screamed and told him, ‘Not in public, Bill! You can’t do that!'”
Bill, in his 60’s, would smirk and say, “You’re my wife and I’ll do what I want!” He’d point to her ring, look around and say, “It’s okay, everyone knows your mine.”
People asked if she was going to get remarried. She can’t believe those people who remarry less than two years later. Eleven years later she still won’t even consider someone else. “He was the only one for me,” she said. “Who in their life ever thinks they’re going to get that lucky? Who could even compare to Bill?”
Eleanor and I were choking back tears (trying not to cry in our workplace) as we listened to one lady tell about her life with one man. 
All the little things seem small at the time, but a lifetime of little things lead to a bond so strong that 11 years of separation has done nothing to change. 
In his last year, when Bill could see the end coming, he insisted on having a granny flat built out in the backyard for Bev. For after he was gone. 
“He couldn’t rest until he’d made sure I was going to be taken care of. I think he was holding on, just making sure. Bill was like that.”
Bev laughed and almost cried as she told us about her memories with such a special man. A man named Bill.
The kind of man we all long for, the kind we should look out for, hold out for. 
Sincerely,

Lil
Ps. On the way out Bev slapped me on the butt as I leaned over to grab something for another customer. When I turned around in shock she was walking out of the shop giggling.

Reminder: you’re only as old as you feel. 

Dear 15 year old me: the things I wish I’d known

Dear 15 Year Old Me,

I know you jumped on the scales this morning thinking all that running had been paying off, and you’d actually gained two kilos.

Let me tell you something. Muscle really does weigh more than fat. That’s not just something your teachers and parents have made up. You just put on two kilos of awesomeness. Two kilos of healthy. Two kilos of fitness. Own it.

Do yourself a favour. Throw the scales out, or put them in a place you won’t see them (if you think Mum would kill you for throwing them out). The only reason we need scales is to make sure our baggage is under 20kg when flying and to weigh our dogs. Checking the scales can become an addiction that will sit heavy on your back and be really hard to break in later years. Trust me.

If you think weighing yourself more than once a week isn’t excessive, it is, for someone your age. I now don’t even keep scales in the house because of the slippery slope it has become for me. If you look great and feel great, why do you need a number?

Don’t let you those models on TV and in magazines make you think that you have to be stick thin to be attractive. Did you know that half the time (or possibly more) someone behind the scenes, after the photoshoot is complete, is going through and sucking the fat out of those models’ legs with a Photoshop tool? This image of perfection they sell you is false, unattainable. Don’t be their fool. Embrace the body God gave you and work at appreciating it and taking care of it to the best of your ability.

Note to self: starving the body is not taking care of it! Have you ever heard of something called ‘starvation mode’? If we want to turn to facts and science here, (well, summarised facts) depriving yourself of food can actually stop you from losing weight. The body thinks it’s not going to have access to much food for a while so it retains all the fat that it can, in order to ‘survive’. So, probably not the best idea.

Everyone should be their healthy body weight and not made to feel bad about it. For those who are naturally a size 6-8, fantastic. Do you, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. If you’re curvy and healthy, great.

If you’re aiming for anything, aim for healthy and fit. That is your best you and something your body will thank you for in years to come.

Your choices matter. Think about how your decisions today are going to affect you in the long run. A great book I’ve read recently by Lysa TerKeurst (and referenced in a previous article) called The Best Yes has taught me a helpful concept called “chasing down your decisions”. It’s where you look at what you’re choosing now and the path that each decision is leading you down. What kind of habit am I making? What will this decision help make me into? FYI, obsessively checking the scales every week, every day, twice a day (slippery slope) leads to a paranoid person with very low self-esteem and a feeling that they are never good enough.

So ignore the scales and do whatever your body needs to stay healthy. I’ve gotten into a habit of that now (I weigh myself maximum once a month, sometimes not even that) and my confidence is at an all-time high (maybe almost too high—who knows).

Have a great time being you and make this year a year of change in mind-set. Because when the mind changes, everything changes.

Sincerely,

22 Year Old You

Image: https://noothername412.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/9231a-fitness2bgirls2bto2bget2bbeauty2bbody.jpg
Sourced: 14 April 2016

 

 

Dear 13 year old me: the things I wish I’d known

 

Dear 13 Year Old Me,

How’s Year 7 treating you?

Just a few things on who you are as a person, because I remember having this on my mind at your age. Let me think back…

As an eight-year-old, it seemed so obvious who I was. I’d sit mocking as I watched movies with confused teenagers saying, “Who am I?” thinking that that was the dumbest question ever. I wanted to say, “Did you lose you memory or something? Look at your birth certificate!”

If someone had have asked me at that age who I was, the answer was too easy. Well, my name’s Lil. I like to dance and read and draw. I’m a Christian, so I go to church. Give me a hard question.

Remember that?

But identity is more than a name because now you’re asking the very same question. Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I belong? What do I want?

When did this question become so complex?

This is the point where most people choose a source for their identity, something or someone to define them and tell them who they are. I’m sorry to say, but you choose wrong.

There are a few options that people look to to learn their identity. As kids it’s usually parents, but now that you’re 13 there are a few other prime candidates:
– School/achievements/grades
– Friends
– Sport
– (These days) the internet/social media – and the amount of likes you get
– Boys
> Jesus.

Can I strongly suggest that you don’t choose the second last option, like I know you’re about to? Of all the sub-par options, this is the worst. The reality is that if you don’t find your identity, your validation and your sense of value from Jesus (the genuine source), you will get it from another avenue (a counterfeit source). From experience, this is a let-down at best, long-term damaging at worst.

If you’re asking yourself how much of a big deal that is, ask yourself, is an orange Monopoly $500 as good as even a purple $5 note that is genuine? Which can you take to the bank? Monopoly money’s fun to play around with, but don’t expect it to get you anywhere in life.

I know it probably won’t change your 13 year old mind but I’m asking you as a friend not to do this. Please. For our sake. Does knowing you’ll spend years undoing the damage make a difference at all? Just to give you an idea, the process of Jesus healing you from all the rubbish you’re about to pick up takes 4 painful years, till you arrive at the age of 22, where I am now, nine years later.

So if you want to build your life on something, how about the only true Rock?

The bible (Matthew 7:24-27) says that building on anything other than Jesus is foolish (stupid) and will end up crashing down as soon as a big enough storm comes.

So, instead of Instagram, the arms of a really cute guy, your soccer or dance team, your friends, search God’s Word for what Jesus says about you, because He’s the only one you can always, without fail, rely on to tell you the truth.

And isn’t truth what you long for? What you desperately need.

Start with a few verses like, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14) and “you will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand” (Isaiah 62:3).

How about Galatians 3:26? “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Choose well.

Sincerely,

22 Year Old You  xo

 
Images (sourced 3 April 2016)
1: http://yukaichou.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Identity.jpg
2: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/251920172877401567/
3: http://www.soulshepherding.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Identity-in-Christ1.jpg
4: http://quotesgram.com/quotes-about-identity-in-christ/