1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

I am one of the most blessed girls out there but sometimes I forget this. I forget how good God has been to me, and how awesome He is, because I get so bogged down by the little things in life. I focus so much on how I don’t like my temporary job, or how the doctor prescribed me antibiotics that don’t work, or how I’m just not happy with how life is going right now. But I forget how He healed up my heart and bound up my wounds, I forget how He loves me more than is humanly possible, I forget how beautiful His creation is, I forget who He is, I forget that He has better plans for me than anything I could ever come up with.

I keep a prayer diary and in it I write all my fears and worries because I know Jesus is the only one who can really change them, who can really take them away. His perfect love drives out all fear so I don’t need to be afraid of anything.

Sometimes Jesus likes to remind me of all the beautiful things in the world that my eyes have witnessed to show me how good He is. It’s like He says, “Look, if I can do this, if I can make this with my hands, I can heal your heart too. You have no need to be afraid.” It makes me smile when He tells me that.

So I made this silly little video montage full of really bad quality clips of beautiful, inspiring places that I’ve been to, backed by a song that is on the soundtrack to the perfect road trip movie. It may only be a few minutes long but it’s full of times and places that made my heart smile, places where I knew I could see Jesus so clearly and where I knew He was good; I like to watch them to remind myself of that truth every so often.

PS All the clips are from the grand old US of A, extra points for those of you who can guess where they’re from!

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Being free.

My name is Annie/Marianne (just pick one and go with it) and I am a free spirit.

A couple of days ago I talked to a friend about how I love travelling and how I love who I am when I travel. When I travel I don’t stress out, I’m chilled, and most importantly I adore life and living. My friend asked me why I can’t be like that here, and told me that it’s important that I’m not always waiting around for the next big thing, and that it’s important to be content where I am.

The past few days I was off work sick and I loved it. Not the being ill part, but the part where I got to just hang out at home and think about where I am in life, who I am, and who I want to be. Last night, while spending some time thinking about my travels in 2011, I came to the conclusion that, if I can stop stressing out about the small things, I can be as care free here as I was when I was travelling across the United States on planes, trains, and auto-mobiles. That attitude does not, by any means, have to be kept for travelling.

I’m ready to embrace it all. I’m ready to get stuck in at work, to put more effort into engaging with people, to hang out with Jesus more, to use my free time wisely, to eat more healthily, to exercise more, to read more books. Before you graduate you spend your whole life living through massive chapters, high school is horrendously long, and university for me was four years, but now there’s so many mini chapters to look forward to. Come September I’ll be starting a whole new chapter, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come in the past ten months. Nothing has been what I expected but it has been entirely what it was supposed to be.

Below you’ll find some photos of the more care free, wonderful time of my life. Enjoy!

Pacific Beach, CA and Not Taking Photos.

In summer 2011 I spent eight weeks working at a summer camp in West Virginia before doing some travelling. The last stop on my list was California and when the day for me to fly out of Pittsburgh International Airport came around I couldn’t have been any more excited. I was going to stay with some lovely friends and knew it would be a brilliant week, to say the least. My flight was mad; first of all, we got told we were going to be delayed but then they gave us another flight’s plane so we got away on time, but it had the wrong crew on it so we had to hang out for a while; I’ve never seen a bunch of more chilled out people on a plane. There was a Dad wearing a Hawaiian shirt  sat next to me, a girl brought her dog with her, and across the aisle there was an orthodox Jewish family with 4 small children and a baby (this baby was adorable but did cause me to end up wearing ear plugs, as every time I had just dropped off to sleep it would start screaming).

It was dark by the time we flew in over Los Angeles but this gave me the most gorgeous view of the LA skyline, the few skyscrapers that the city has claimed as its own standing out in the darkness.

I could bore you with all the details of the entire trip but I’ll skip to the last day. We headed to Pacific Beach and parked on what I now know is called Oliver Street. Half way to the beach we passed a house where a girl was sitting outside and asked for some directions. I, being the seasoned traveller, made a quick judgement, decided the girl was trustworthy, and asked to use her bathroom as I was absolutely bursting for a wee. So I hopped over her wall, followed by one of my pals, and used her bathroom (don’t worry, my pal didn’t follow me in there…) before we were on our merry way again.

I can’t lie, Pacific Beach isn’t the most stand up place in Southern California, I’d even go as far as saying it did seem pretty trashy. But it was my last day in California, the sun was out, I was with my pals, and we were having a blast.

Sometimes, when I get bored, I look up places I’ve visited on Google Street View, and today I looked up Pacific Beach and found the exact route we took back to the car. I found the house we stopped at, and the original route we had take to get down to the beach.

I didn’t take any photos the day we went to Pacific Beach. I think we get so bogged down in technology that we forget what things feel like, we don’t want to put in the effort to remember, and we spend all our time just looking mindlessly at photos. We don’t take ourselves back to the smells and sounds of a place. We focus so much on thinking, “I can’t wait to upload this to Facebook!” Why? Why on earth do we do that? Is it so we can make people think we’re living an amazing life because we know they don’t see the days when we spend every waking hour just sitting on our bums watching bad television and eating junk food? Facebook could be used for really great things, like sharing music or important news articles, or things we create, but instead, like spoilt children, we use it to say, “Look at what I did, it’s far better than anything you’ll ever do!”

It’s so horribly sad.

Even if that’s not what we intend it’s just so subconscious. “Look at my life!” we shout, “It’s going so well!”

I adored the time I spent in California. Yes, I did upload photos, but my favourite thing is the memories I made there, the things that happened that changed me, that became a part of me, that I can’t document in an image. I’m still the carefree, fun girl who used a random strangers bathroom in Pacific Beach, but there’s no way for me to post a personality trait on Facebook. The best things we do with our lives will be the things that make us who we are, the things we put time and effort into, the things that make us grow, the things that we don’t feel the need to tell everyone about because they shine through us.

I Will Not Be Ashamed.

Sometimes I worry that my faith is too much for people.

That I should tone it down or pretend like I care about it less than I do so as people don’t think I’m so crazy or irrational.

But that attitude only makes life harder, it only means I spend all my time denying the fact that my heart leaps for joy any time I see God’s love in every day life, any time I feel His love surrounding me.

Before Jesus was crucified Peter, one of his disciples, denied him three times. But now, with the true knowledge of what happened at Calvary, I cannot deny my Jesus. My rock, my Saviour, my strong tower. I can’t pretend that I’d be happy to date a man who doesn’t love Him, that I’m okay with my behaviour when I gossip, that I don’t notice when I gradually spend less and less time praying and reading my Bible, that I don’t think it’s important to engage with people (because people matter).

The truth is that any time my heart aches, any time I’ve had a bad day, any time I want to curl up in a ball and hibernate for a few weeks, I take it to Jesus. I lay it all down at the foot of the cross because that is “where grace and suffering meet”. That is where I’m reminded how much I’m loved, how much He understands my pain, how much I am forgiven.

That is where I’m reminded that I am safe, and that I have hope, because of Jesus. Because of what He did on that cross.

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