Peace +

This poem is dedicated to anyone experiencing heart-tearing challenges or injustices in our world – whether personal, or in relation to the people and loved ones closest to your heart. Peace is promised, and accessible, even in the midst of great heartache.

Eternal longings burn inside my
earthen body like molten lava,
flickering with hope and pain,
sorrow and joy; the aches of
promises not yet seen.
My heart’s roughshod,
Like a cracked volcano
threatening to explode.

In this porcelain state
I whisper your name–
My safe-harbour God,
all-sufficient One.
You haven’t failed me yet,
and never will!
Oh, I lean on Your name,
cling to Your name!

You’ve said it: “Those who run
to me for safety are never
turned away, never overlooked”
I taste this promise again
with every breath
that fills these aching lungs.
You’re solid rock beneath me,
breathing room for my
gasping soul.

Mercy comes, soothing–
Falling as rain upon
smoking ground.
Soaking through ashy
confusion and spreading
like ink on paper,
It’s a beautiful submersion
of fear, as peace crashes
over chaotic feelings.

Floodwaters rush in,
coursing through me
in wild torrents, like
a river about to burst it’s banks!
Love, cool and clear, quiets
my noise-scratched soul.
You sing your Salvation
over me in climbing crescendos,
A song that reverberates
through the heavens.

I’ve never known
greater love,
never wanted more
for it to be known.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
On earth, as it is in

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”

-JOHN 16:33 AMP-

The picture for this post was taken from the recent chemical tragedy that unfolded in Syria. Preemptive Love Coalition is a certified organisation making a great difference on the ground to bring hope to people who are [understandably] despairing. If you would like to partner with them in making a difference, please visit here

Much Love xo



The Graveyard

Bronte graveyard

The graveyard entrance looms as I approach the top of the street in the steady summer heat.

Silent and immovable, it is like a sentinel that’s seen it all.  A few plant creepers stealthily make their way across its rugged surface, their wiry green vines spreading out like the veins on the back of my hands.

Inhaling slowly, I relax for a moment and savour the air. Wisteria and the fragrance of wild flowers mingle together, tainted with salt and the pungent smell of bare earth. I love that it’s less polluted here.

There are few places in this ambitious city where one can escape to be alone, but the graveyard is one of them – sprawled out over an entire hillside, it extends all the way down to where the land meets the sea – iconic in this area for its historic array of headstones. This is the place I have chosen to seek solitude.

I stare up at the great pillars before me, fascinated by the years they have weathered, years of keeping watch over death; despite the despondency one would associate with such sombre outposts as theirs, I don’t feel depressed standing here. Instead, I somehow feel like I’m stepping on sacred ground, like there are many things to be learned from this place.


A car horn interrupts my reflection, blaring rudely in the distance. Sighing and trying to quench the rush of exasperation that shoots through my brain, I glance back over my shoulder at the skyscrapers puncturing the skyline behind me, so angular and awkward. It’s hard to escape the reach of the city even here on the outskirts! Traffic is like an impatient young steed that champs at the bit on the day of its first race, startled by every sound and sudden movement. You never know when he might just snap and bolt.

Why do people always have to be in a rush? I ask myself, and it dawns on me simultaneously that my biggest pet peeve is literally other people getting irritated. Sighing again, this time in defeat, I remind myself that today is about solitude. Remember?! Just focus on that.

Stepping determinedly  through the entrance, city hubbub thankfully fades behind me and I stop for a moment to look around. It’s so peaceful in here, like another world! But not in an eerie way, just in a still way… the kind of stillness that soothes noise-scratched souls like mine. I can see the ocean sparkling below me, beyond the rows of crosses and headstones gracing the slope, and my irritation melts like fog dispersing at sunrise. After growing up in a seaside town where much of the commerce and export revolved around marine industries, the ocean has always represented ‘home’ for me. It sort of acts like true north. If I can get a glimpse of that wide blue sea, calm and serene beneath the sky, no matter where I am or what’s going on, I am always reassured that everything is going to be ok. And there it is, in all it’s sapphire beauty. Sunshine, ocean, wide open space… this is my happy place! Slowly exhaling all residue of frustration, I inhale rest with the salty air and feel the tension in my neck and shoulders easing. This is going to be a good day. (Despite what it may have been up until this point).

Before I can take any further steps, movement in my peripherals arrests my attention and I turn to see a group of nuns making their way back up one of the winding concrete paths toward me. Outfitted in crisp black-and-white habits, they walk in peaceful camaraderie that begs to be left undisturbed. One of the younger nuns lingers behind the rest of the group, preoccupied with the clouds and the view they are leaving behind. She is casually sporting a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses which, paired with her religious garb, introduce a sort of postmodern edge to her appearance that results in an outfit you’d expect to see featured on the cover of some overpriced style magazine. But apart from this there’s no other indication of the 21st century about them and I feel like I’ve just stepped onto the set of the Sound of Music or something. I consider capturing the scene on camera, already anticipating all the ‘likes’ I would get on instagram before I realise where my mind has gone. Already! It doesn’t take long to rear its head, does it – that bottomless appetite for validation of tastes and approval of opinions by others. It’s never satisfied.

I inhale another lungful of fresh ocean air and realign my priorities. Today, I am going to seek the validation and affection of one who is unseen; one who graciously and patiently allows himself to be discovered by those too often engrossed with the brass shine of cheap popularity to bother, including myself. Yet whenever I decide to lay aside such distraction for even a moment and pursue Him, I find myself reoriented by an acceptance and peace which the world and all her shortcuts to fame cannot offer, an intimacy that only grows with intentionality. Most of the time, I wonder why I didn’t seek Him sooner.

I watch as the nuns draw closer, murmuring amongst themselves now in quiet conversation. They are a strange yet comforting sight here, of all places – surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of graves. Dialogue dwindles to silence as they draw nearer to me and I move sideways on the path to allow room for them to pass, catching the gaze of one young woman as I do so. She smiles warmly at me and I smile back. Her eyes are kind, full of depth. Maybe they came here to seek Him, too, I muse, watching the women disappear from view over the hilltop, leaving me alone.

Turning back to the glittering ocean below me, I wander down between rows of sandstone and marble, slowly pondering worn inscriptions. Words like “beloved father, brother and husband”, “gone too soon, remembered forever” mark headstone after weathered headstone. All around me, engraved words are the only remainder of what were once living, breathing individuals, and I find myself dwelling again on this mystery: the fact that someone can be alive one moment – full of thoughts and ideas and personality and soul, and the next – nothing but an empty, unresponsive shell. It is such a strange thing.

I guess that is the reality of life, though. Just as it has a beginning, it also comes with an end.

Pop’s face floats into my memory once more, his eyes closed, lips set in a serious, thin line. I will never forget seeing him for the first time as he lay in his coffin. He seemed much smaller than I remembered him to be. The struggle with cancer had taken a definite toll. People were paying their respects – some with silent tears, some with regret-laden words, others with fond tales of his dedication and genius. His hair was still mostly black when he passed away – combed back from his intelligent forehead in rippling waves. That serious face, in death, was just one of the many expressions I had become familiar with during his lifetime. My fondest memories of him swim together from childhood, pooling into one big recollection: his bushy eyebrows dancing a jig whenever he laughed – that great, hearty, hooting laugh that no one could really resist, even if they were angry with him; His prickly moustache stabbing my skin whenever he greeted me with a kiss; the customary pat-pat-pat on his grandchildrens’ heads as they said goodbyes after a visit… his renowned stubbornness. All of it, now nothing more than treasured memories. Intangible.

Death is difficult to reckon with.

Here, the daily challenges of life that so easily wear away on my nerves or grind down my patience seem petty and insignificant in the face of its reality. I’m suddenly aware of everything I have to be thankful for: A husband that loves me. A stable job, a home to live in, friends that believe in me and encourage me. A family. But mostly, to be alive – seeing, hearing, feeling and breathing – seems like the richest blessing. It’s crazy how death always puts life in perspective – and really, it only serves to highlight how valuable the simplest of things really are. Yet, there is also an interesting tension here.

While the graveyard reminds me personally that I have much to be thankful for, and that life may really be bright and beautiful for the majority of us, it also reminds me that countless others have only known existence to be dark, broken, painful and filled with hardship. Often because pressures and tragedies have become so heavy they are literally crushing – pressure to earn a living, pursue a career, pay bills, support a family on one income, improve a tarnished criminal record, overcome addiction, trauma, a mental condition, loneliness, poverty, war or illness. The list goes on. For some, death has maybe become more appealing than these pressures, and that breaks my heart. Yet the reality is, life involves challenge, hard work, frustration, pain and tragedy for all of us at times; they were just never meant to define or dominate us.

Sitting here amongst the headstones, I have no idea what decisions these people made while they were alive – whether they were honorable or dishonorable; whether lives were taken tragically or unexpectedly, or whether they lived to a ripe old age before passing on. But what I do know is that every moment we each have on earth holds the same purpose and opportunity for all of us – the opportunity to recognise what we have rather than what we don’t have, to treasure it and steward it and learn from it, and build upon it. There may be more to overcome for some than others, but it can be overcome! Peace is possible, even in the middle of trials and hardships. Rest is possible, even in the midst of intense labouring. In this solitude, I am reminded that there is a refuge available for all of us – just as this graveyard is a refuge for me, from the noise of the city.

His name is Jesus.

I climb up onto one of the large stone platforms that serve as a memorial, savouring a renewed sense of gratitude for life and salvation. Sunlight bathes the skin on my arms, causing each little hair to glisten golden. A few birds flit about nearby, preening themselves and stretching delicate wings whilst eyeing me keenly, inquisitively. Salt air gently cools my face, and I turn toward the ocean once more, sprawling unchallenged below me. There is the horizon – a straight, undeniable line dividing mysterious deep from pastel blue sky… a mirage that keeps disappearing the closer you get to it, I muse; the line that has taunted adventurous souls for centuries past with it’s attainable allure. Just as the horizon disappears when we reach it, I will forever be chasing air unless I am anchored in You.

So many people chase horizons of fame, money, possessions, beauty or influence, only to find that the closer they get to attaining them, peace, purpose and joy recede further and further into the distance. With an obscured view of the wide open sky, I too am so often found guilty of thinking life revolves around me. Spending too long in the city narrows my perspective until my eyes have tunnel vision and life becomes about right here and right now, getting what I want, when I want it. But here in the graveyard, I’m reminded that all the rushing to and fro doesn’t add a second more to the length of our days, or lives! It only acts as an anesthetic, numbing us to the reality that life is fleeting and it can actually end at any moment! That’s a sobering thought, without the hope that Jesus offers, the hope of eternal life.

Some words I learned when I was young suddenly swell to the surface of my mind and echo in my heart:

“So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom” – Psalm 90:12

There’s a hope that supersedes the things we spend our lives grasping for.

The truth is, all of our searching and striving does not ultimately save us from death, whether we find ourselves living the dream or going through hell. Humanity is in constant need of this hope. Here, the ocean reminds me of it – calm and unchanging – always there no matter what part of the world I find myself in. I can always run to it, I can stake my life on its existence.

This hope is the real treasure of life, the real diamond in the dirt. It will enable you to persevere through trials and hardships with purpose, to find contentment no matter the circumstances, in the simplest and smallest of blessings; to find peace amidst the greatest challenge and heartache. To live wide-eyed with wonder, soft-hearted and receptive, yet resilient, bold and victorious at the same time. To live openly and honestly, truly free.

This hope is a refuge when the world gets too loud, and it is found in the person of Jesus, the only figure in history who’s grave was found to be empty…

“All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son deliberately wills to make Him known.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  [Matthew 11:27-30]

I close my eyes, heart at peace, thankful for this moment, this day. For Jesus.

Though death comes to all, it will not have the last word.

“Who wants it?”


That was the name of the little old lady in our church by the sea, with its hopeful and humble congregation of thirty or forty believers. We met weekly in a small, modest bowling green at Waihi Beach in New Zealand. According to our bulletin sheets, we were supposed to begin our one Sunday service at 10am but more often than not the religious duties would only begin once everyone had arrived to enjoy a cup of english breakfast tea and a catch up around the pool table in the front room that served as a foyer.

In her 80’s, June would faithfully come on her own every week to our haphazard meetings. She had either lost her husband very early on in life, or had never married – I can’t remember. But she was always there to encourage and welcome everyone with a smile, and pray with such humble, knowing trust. There was a quiet depth and authenticity about her that carried the weight of years of walking with Jesus. Yet she was never intimidating or self righteous. She would sit with her walking stick when she couldn’t stand, but regardless of her stance, she reflected a friendship with Him that shone out through her clear, wrinkle-bordered blue eyes. I had no idea what she’d been through in her life – all I knew was that she possessed something deep within her that was authentic and I was drawn to it, to her. Looking back, I’m only just realising now how much influence she had upon me, as a young girl. (Often we don’t realise the value that the people around us actually add to our lives until they are no longer there).

One Sunday, June did something that I will never forget.

She stood up during a time of personal sharing we were having and slowly and surely shuffled to the front of the church, leaning on her walking stick. Despite her stooped shoulders and less enthusiastic limbs, there was a calm dignity about her. (There is beauty in such dignity that radiates through any physical layers one may possess, whether they be alluring and youthful or wrinkled and worn. True beauty begins on the inside, in the deepest of unseen places.) Clutched in her hand was a small sum of money, and I remember what she did with it next, as clear as day: she held it out, palm up, so that the coins lay in her slightly trembling hand. “I have five dollars here” she said, softly but seriously. June didn’t speak often, but when she did have something to say, we listened. There was an authority in her words that commanded attention.”It’s not much, but if you want it, it’s yours.” And she held her hand out further, slowly turning along the half circle of curious congregation members, inviting.

No one moved.

I think we were trying to assess whether she was trying to teach a principle, or whether she was genuinely offering the money; or maybe both. Either way, we were not used to such forthrightness, especially in church! Why was she doing this?! Whatever the reason, I remember June’s elderly fingers were extended towards us for an unusually long time as we analysed her every move. The silence in the room was loaded. But she didn’t waver. “Who wants it?” She repeated, waiting. You could have heard a pin drop. I was a teenager at the time, and I remember thinking of all the things five dollars could purchase for lunch. After all, my parents were often short of money because they had eight kids that constantly needed feeding (and you’d be surprised at what five dollars could do at the local Fish n’ Chip shop!) But I stayed glued to my seat nevertheless, too self-conscious to put up my hand. A few more seconds ticked by, and it became clear that June’s offer was not going to be withdrawn. Finally, someone stood up and said they would take the coins – I believe more out of pity for the old woman than anything else. In a small church, you eventually get to know everyone’s life stories and genealogies, and I knew the person who accepted her gift certainly didn’t need an extra $5. But June was up to something. She straightened with a knowing smile and leaned on her cane a little heavily, as if the effort of holding out her hand for so long had been more than exhausting. “You see” she said in her quiet, confident way. “You can’t receive… until you’re bold enough to ask. Unless you really want what I’m offering”.

June’s principle helped me to understand a very important truth that day. A truth that I am still learning to outwork in my life now. Receiving can be easier said than done. Receiving from other people, yes: because it takes an honest assessment of your vulnerabilities to put up your hand. But also receiving from the God who loves you more than you could actually grasp. He stands as June did, but instead of a few humble coins, His pierced hands stretch out to humanity offering the greatest gift of all: Salvation. It shines through His healed-wounds, the holes that prove the lengths he went to to be able to extend this Salvation gift to us, at every moment that we draw breath. It contains everything we could ever truly need– healing, wisdom, grace, faith, safety, certainty, hope, restoration, forgiveness, purpose, overwhelming peace and the surest love. Oh, if only we would receive what he offers, without reserve, without analysing and supposing and assessing! If we would simply and honestly just… accept.

–“Who wants it?”–

Thinking back, I’ve often pondered the initial response that June was met with when she offered her coins, including my own. Isn’t it ironic? We are sometimes quicker to be suspicious of someone who is simply being generous, than to accept the gift that is offered without reserve. In our coming-of-age, have we become so accustomed to ulterior motives in our dealings with others, we cannot trust pure generosity for what it is any more, like we did when we were children? All those times I was sternly but lovingly warned by my parents– “Darling, remember not to take lollies from strangers!” as I was innocently skipping out the door to get lost in blissful adventures. Prone to trusting anyone and everyone. Or is it something else altogether that prevents us from openly and honestly receiving? Fear, maybe. A lack of courage to make public a deep personal need. “Children should be seen and not heard” might have been the phrase ringing throughout your upbringing. Or maybe, if we seem too keen to accept things, we would be perceived as lazy or… a bit of a freeloader. No one wants to be that person. Which causes me to wonder why we go to such lengths to cover up our weaknesses in the first place. Why does human nature seem to operate by the unspoken law of self-preservation? Why do we fight to achieve a polished, need-less reputation whatever the cost, even if it means on the surface we’re succeeding but on the inside we’re a crumpled, insecure mess? And why has self-sufficiency been made the human goal anyway? To keep us from getting hurt, or broken? We all know that hurt and pain are a pretty big reality in our world at the moment. Innocent people are taken advantage of, daily. Why is admitting our need such a difficult thing to do? When we all feel the ache of common human frailty surfacing at the most inconvenient of times: Insecurity. Fear. Hopelessness. Doubt. Lack of purpose. Rejection. Addiction. Loneliness. That sense of not being good enough, pretty enough, intelligent enough relevant enough or socially eloquent enough, like the other 95% of the world.

You may think you’re the only one, but I can promise you, you’re not.

On that Sunday I was in need of $5, but I stayed glued to my seat nonetheless. It’s not that I didn’t need the money, I just wasn’t bold or humble enough – or both! – to put my hand up and accept it.

I’ve learned, since witnessing June’s illustration that day, that in order to receive, you must be bold or courageous enough to put up your hand and acknowledge that you are in lack; and to receive, you must be humble enough to accept a gift you may not have asked for, but truly need. Like a child, trusting and dependent upon its parents’ judgement. There will be those who say, “well, because of their innocence, children are also taken advantage of by careless or neglectful parents”. And that is sadly true. But that is also where the Father is different. He does not take advantage of us. And there is a lesson we can learn from a child’s unconditional trust, a lesson we must learn, in order to receive the thing that will save us. Because we cannot save ourselves. And where humanity often fails, this magnificent Father in heaven does not, and never will. He asks us to trust innocently and unconditionally, like a child – not so he can take advantage of us, or neglect us, but because he created us, and longs to reveal to our doubtful and suspicious souls just how good he is, through and through. How faithful, and how utterly trustworthy. There is no shadow or imperfection in Him. And it is only when we do trust him unconditionally that we can receive all that he has for us, and experience the freedom that His truth releases. For he will not force it upon us if we are not willing. One who is trying to win the love of another will patiently and steadily pursue – he will not frighten or force his way in if he wants his love to be recognised as the true and deep love that it is.

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

– Luke Chapter 18, verses 16 & 17-

Some of the most profound truths in life will come through the most ordinary, ‘unlikely’ looking people. The God of the Bible has a history of using the least likely individuals to trust with his presence and authority, for in His kingdom the “least shall be the greatest” – those less concerned with perfecting their own image and are more deeply enamoured with allowing their personal imperfections and vulnerabilities to reflect His grace and perfection. In his books, gifts are given according to one’s receptivity – not extensive qualifications. This explains why it can be hard to understand Salvation, and the fact that it is not a reward to earn for the people with the best behaviour, but a gift extended to even those with the worst. Because it is an unconditional gift. I promise you, as soon as you put up your hand to accept, you will find yourself in possession of the greatest treasure there is to discover; the greatest hope, the greatest satisfaction, the most abundant life.

This is the Good News.

So the question remains —

“Who wants it?”