The journey of someone just like you, on a journey just like you

Category: Faith (Page 1 of 6)

The Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been To (So Far)

International travel is still off the cards for now but the world is still full of amazing sights. Here are the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… so far.

The most beautiful places I've ever been to... so far
New Zealand’s South Island approaching Mount Cook, definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to

Hard to believe it’s been about one year since Coronavirus shut down international borders. It’s amazing how much globalisation, the Internet, and fantastic airline services made the world so connected. Nowadays the digital highways are getting the most traffic but we still remember a time when travel was freely available and people were posting their great travel pics from different countries.

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Feeling Alone At Christmas Is The Worst Feeling In The World

It’s a time when you’re supposed to be happy, but a nightmare when you’re not. Feeling alone at Christmas is the worst feeling in the world.

Feeling alone at Christmas is the worst feeling in the world
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Or at least it’s definitely up there.

Christmas is a time where there are many images of joy displayed throughout the world, bombarded into our eyes and minds from every conceivable angle. Smiling children, singing carolers, joyous gift recipients and very content and full feast goers. The colours are bright, the music is upbeat, and the mood is entirely festive.

All this can be quite hard when you don’t feel any of that on the inside.

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Was 2020 The Worst Year Ever? Sowing in Famine – 2020 In Review

It’s cool to hate on this year, but is 2020 the worst year ever? Here’s my annual review of the year that was – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Was 2020 The Worst Year Ever?
Mr Walking The Shoreline going Walking The Shoreline with the fam in October

With a final few weeks to go until the start of a new year (seriously!!), the excitement is palpable. All the memes are out in force to pretend 2020 never existed, to flush it out of our lives, to be the year that never happened. A lot of things went wrong in the world this year, and it’s hard to blame a lot of people for feeling this way. I think that’s why everyone’s singing January, February, Quarantine, December.

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10 Christmas Movies That Are Actually Great

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but a lot of holiday movies deserve a lump of coal. Here are 10 Christmas movies that are actually great.

10 Christmas movies that are actually great
Source: Universal Pictures

We watched the new Lego Star Wars Holiday Special last night and it was a decently amusing love letter to Star Wars. Of course, it’s also 3000 times better than the original Star Wars Holiday Special which even George Lucas may or may not have said he would take a hammer and destroy every last copy of it. That said, the original did actually give us Boba Fett and result in the events leading to the creation of the currently brilliant The Mandalorian, so good job, Star Wars Holiday Special. You get a Baby Yoda toy for Christmas this year.

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My Problem With Modern Worship Songs

Too emotional? Too commercialized? Too “Jesus is my Boyfriend”? Here is my problem with modern worship songs.

My Problem With Modern Worship Songs
Source: Elevation Worship

Probably worth mentioning from the start that this post is a bit more targeted towards readers of a Christian faith, but you’re welcome to keep reading no matter what walk of life you’re from.

Ah, the modern worship song. Few things stir more controversy in the hearts of the faithful. Whether it be a rock and roll upbeat anthem or a melancholic ballad, it seems the singing aspect of church services is under constant scrutiny.

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The Thing That Fills My Heart With Sorrow

I’m usually not the type to despair, but sometimes I do. Here is the thing that fills my heart with sorrow.

The thing that fills my heart with sorrrow... is anger
Source: The Australian

Our world is in one of its most trying times in existence. International borders closed, families and friends kept physically isolated for extended periods of time, bushfires and hurricanes, unknown and highly contagious diseases, injustice and violent protest. You’ve gotta wonder, what on earth could happen next? You hope for it to get better, but it’s very likely things will only continue to get worse.

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5 Bands That Have Shaped My Life AKA The Musical Journey of Matt

If music tells you a lot about a person, get ready to learn a lot about me – here are five bands that have shaped my life and gotten me through the ups and downs of life.

Bands That Have Shaped My Life

If you appreciate music, are looking for some new tunes to check out, or just like people being reflective, give this one a read.

Everyone’s being super reflective at the moment. Being an INFJ super reflective type at most times, I’ve definitely appreciated seeing people taking stock and sharing about themselves in a more intimate fashion. I love hearing people’s dreams and their life journeys and so loving to see the innermost machinations of people’s hearts and minds being put to writing at a time when the world needs it most. Good job, world.

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8 Ways To Be Physically Distant But Socially Connected

With the need to be physically distant from others in this season, it can be a very trying time for human connection. Here are 8 ways to be physically distant but stay socially connected.

Ways to be physically distant but socially connected

Source: Stock

A positive look at our great opportunity during this trying time.

I’m writing this in the midst of a world in chaos. COVID-19 AKA Coronavirus is ripping through the world and destroying much of the societal norms that have existed to this point. Affecting China for several months at this point, the spread of the virus has become fairly widespread. As a result, governments everywhere are making necessary decisions with far reaching consequences – closing borders, reimbursing small businesses, and mandating that most social gathering and large scale events not occur, or occur within certain sizing limits.

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When Will Christmas Be Happy?

One of the deepest questions of this season isn’t around presents, lights, carols or shops – it’s this: When will Christmas be happy?

When Will Christmas Be Happy?
Source: Universal. Also, Arthur is a doodley-doo

Christmas really is one of the most unique times of the year. I’m walking around Australian shops in 40 degree heat and our country is currently facing a huge bushfire crisis, but at the same time, all the songs playing are about winter wonderlands and letting it snow and the carol of the winter bells… and everyone seems to find it completely normal. Shops are open later providing more opportunities to shop, and yet they’ve still been always full. Our politically correct world all of a sudden has no issue with religious figures or making comments about fat men with white beards.

It’s a time of feasting, presents, toys, traditions, big family get togethers, lights, classic movies, and love. Or at least that’s what we feel it should be. When Christmas is working, it works great, and the magic of what Christmas could be is indeed alive and well. But when it’s not working so well, you’re left wondering when will Christmas be happy.

Christmas brings with it a darker side every year. As with anything that repeats every year, Christmas brings with it a magnifying glass on the areas of your life that are less than you want them to be. It reminds you of where you were this time last year and the years before that. Check out some of these lesser known facts on how happy Christmas actually is for people:

  • Relationships Australia studies report that Christmas is in the top six stressful experiences in life, up there with moving house, divorce and changing jobs. About a third of respondents to their 2016 survey reported family relationships highly negatively affected by work-life balance and financial pressures of the season
  • A study by Age UK carried up in the leadup to Christmas found hundreds of thousands of older people who found themselves alone on Christmas day, and also who had not seen a single friend in over a month
  • The pressures of the upcoming holiday make December 11 the most likely day to break up 

I think one of the most telling indicators of the loneliness and stress of Christmas are a few of the stories that get repeated every year. The third most popular Christmas song according to the Spotify numbers is Wham’s Last Christmas – a song of remorse and pain about the loss of love in the previous year. We have the story of the Grinch, a child who is rejected at Christmas and for every Christmas, so much so to the point that the only way he can handle the pain is by tearing down the happiness of others. And of course we have Ebenezer Scrooge, a man with a similar story – left alone at Christmas time, with breaks up with the love of his life at Christmas, spending his life angry at the world for what Christmas did to him.

I’ve always liked the movie Four Holidays (also known as Four Christmases) which is a bit of a humourous depiction on the real state of relationships at the time of Christmas. It’s about two people dating each other who both come from broken homes and need to travel to four different places to celebrate with everyone. It’s funny but surprisingly profound in presenting what life’s reality is like for many people – family breakdown, relationships that are unreconciled or have unaddressed issues, holiday-induced childhood trauma, painful memories, how little we actually know about each other, disparate dreams and goals – all thrown in the pressure cooker of the Christmas season.

When will Christmas be happy? When you look at the stats and the stories that resonate with people this time of the year, you can see why so many people are asking this question.

For me, Christmas has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some years have been really wonderful – others have been really hard. Some Christmases I remember laughing so hard I cried. Another Christmas comes to mind where I spent a few hours crying into the carpet in my living room, lying there overwhelmed with what was going on. The magnifying glass on relationships and where you are with your goals and dreams is often a challenging one to confront, especially when the key message of the season is to celebrate with joy. Sometimes, that can be furthest from the truth. Some years would be as blissful as a 90s Christmas movie. Others would be reminders of bad relationship breakdowns, of struggles to move forward in life, of wondering when it will be my turn, of wondering if certain things would ever be different.

I think it’s hard because all of us want to be happy. We want the holiday to be a time of celebration. We want the joy that we’ve been told our whole lives we should have at this time of the year. Even beyond the holiday season, we want our lives to look and be a certain way. I even recently wrote about that challenge of expectations vs. reality in my 2019 In Review post. When you want your life to look a certain way, when you’re single and you want to be married, when you’re heartbroken and you want to be whole, when you’re lonely and you want to be celebrated, when you want your broken relationships to be reconciled, when you have people and situations in your life that refuse to change – that’s when Christmas gets hard.

And all those things add up and start to prompt some of the deepest and darkest concerns of the heart. If only someone would celebrate me. If only someone would think me worth the effort. If only someone would give be their best when I feel like I give others my best. If only the love I give could be returned to be. If only…

If only we could see that this is what the Christmas message actually is.

Lost in commercialism, we forget a little child in a manger, born to prove every insecurity I feel about myself is incorrect. In a world where I may feel overlooked or unseen, Christmas proves that I am completely seen, that I am worthy of the ultimate effort, that someone cares enough about me to reach out to me and repair and restore what’s been broken. It tells me that I’m loved, I’m worthwhile… Christmas shows me that I matter. You don’t need to do anything for acceptance, but you can live a life from acceptance instead.

We think this message is dated and irrelevant. We relegate it to baby ceramic Jesus on the coffee table or in the Myer catalogue. Perhaps that’s why we remain so unhappy. Perhaps that’s why I still think I’m unloved or alone. Perhaps that’s why we can become like the Grinch or Scrooge and cope with our pain by trying to blame or ruin the joy of others.

The true joy of Christmas is that I am celebrated and loved beyond measure. A child born to die for the chance that I might live, and truly live. 

Maybe that message doesn’t take away the bad things that have happened in your life, the rejection you’ve faced, the painful things that still exist in your life today. I think it’s important that we take the time to face and process those feelings at Christmas time. Perhaps Christmas wouldn’t be so painful if we took the time to process things properly throughout the year rather than spending our lives avoiding them or trying to work around them. We blame Christmas for reminding us of the things we’re trying to forget, but maybe running from our problems isn’t going to bring us the peace we need.

Even amidst our challenges, what the message of Christmas does for me is it shows me I never have to face anything alone. That Emmanuel isn’t just a pretty name, but a reality that God is with us… if I’ll let him. 

Have you ever had someone in your life who has refused you? Rejected you? Taken your best and wasted it? Given your heart but the very next day, they gave it away? Imagine if you were to do that to someone who cared for you. This Christmas, don’t miss this gift. You are loved and desired more than you could ever know.

I hope this Christmas that you don’t find yourself asking (or asking again), “When will Christmas be happy?”. In the midst of what you may have faced in your life, I hope that this holiday season you find to be a time of restoration, of reconciliation, of new hopes and dreams. See the love that surrounds you this season and indeed through every season of life.

“And I celebrate the day that you were born to die, that I could one day pray for you to save my life.”

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