The Starfish Story

Too many people have never heard the starfish story, so here it is. 

‘A boy walks along a beach after a storm, and littered along the beach are hundreds of starfish, washed up. He knows they will die out of water, so he starts picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. A man walks along and asks him why he’s bothering. He says “you can’t save all of them, how do you think you’re making a difference?” the boy picks up another starfish and throws it into the ocean. “Made a difference to that one,” he says.’

For everyone who is a vegetarian and not a vegan, everyone who has dropped small change into a charity jar, everyone going on short term mission instead of dedicating their lives, remember- it made a difference to that one.

Journaling

It’s something a lot of people want to try but have no idea how to get around to. We’ve all got a spare notebook lying around somewhere- sometimes it’s a beautiful one we don’t want to somehow screw up. Well, as someone who has been journaling for about 7 years now, I figured it’s something I know a little bit about.

Here are some things I wish I had known before I started journaling.

1. No one is going to read what you write. If you have to show some things to people, then you can make them as rigid and boring as you want. However, for the majority of what you write, no one is ever going to have the privilege of seeing it. So if you only ever pick up a journal when you’re angry and it’s pages of scrawled expletives, let it be. If you write crap poetry, that doesn’t matter. When you write, be real and honest, feel free to express every little part of yourself and record every fear, because you’re doing this for you. A journal is a mirror, not a window.
2. Be honest and real. Following on from the first point, there is nothing worse than reading something you wrote a few years ago and knowing that you were lying. When I was younger, I would find myself writing a boring point by point account of my day, afraid to actually look into myself and express what I felt. As I’ve gotten older, that has definitely changed. I used to buy day to a page diaries so I’d feel accountable, but I’ve come to realise that some days are just boring. Now I’ve got a blank one which I can pick up on any given day and really let rip to. A journal is like a best friend who won’t judge you for gossiping. Write your true emotions so that if and when you look back on it, you can get the most out of it.
3. You never have to read it again. Journals are super helpful if you’re a reflective type. How have I changed, what was I feeling, how did I grow through that experience? But sometimes you can admit you will never read what you have written again. I have two journals that are just pages and pages of over thinking. Angry scrawls written in the heat of the moment and anxious scribbles analysing every detail of an issue, just so I could squeeze my thoughts out of my head. I’ll never go back and read those things- it would be pointless to- but at that time, I needed an outlet, and writing was really helpful.
4. You can’t screw up. I think the scariest thing about a beautiful journal is that we’ll write something and it will be “stupid”. A cliché teacher thing to say is that there are “no silly questions” because you dared to ask. A similar cliché is that you can’t write anything stupid because at least you actually wrote something. The first diary I was ever given [I’ve still got all of these, a good excuse for why my room is so messy] was a glittery, spiral bound notebook with daisies on it. In it, I wrote [in blue pen, an absolute travesty and my first mistake as a writer] the details of my day. My first ever diary entry was about a day trip to my Uncle’s place. The thing is, I don’t regret this. I was eleven! It’s what I was thinking in my eleven year old mind, and it’s what was important to me. I can see how I’ve evolved in my writing since then, because I just kept going, and growing. Your writing may seem silly now, but it’ll be precious to you when you read it again in twenty years.
5. Lastly, just keep going. If you don’t journal for two months, that doesn’t disqualify you from starting again. If you make a spelling mistake, DO NOT USE WHITE OUT [a weird little ism I picked up from an English teacher of mine- let everything in your journal be raw and imperfect, like it is in your mind. Also, he just didn’t like white out because it takes time and interrupts the flow]. If your hand writing is atrocious, you’re not being marked. As long as you can read it, or even if you can’t, the worth is in the writing itself.

Year 13

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So many people have asked me about what I’m doing with this year, I’ve decided to write a cover all blog post about it.

This year, I’m doing a Christian gap year course called year 13 [so named because you do it after year 12, and it takes only one year]. Every Wednesday and Thursday [for some people it’s Thursdays and Fridays, and yet others do it in blocks of three weeks], I head up to Loftus in the Sutherland shire and we cover everything, essentially, that makes a good Christian leader. We’ve done Biblical Theology of Mission [how does the Bible fit together in a way that actually impacts our lives?], Ethics [answers to all of life’s sticky questions], are going to be tackling Apologetics [how to explain Christianity in a loving, non Bible bashing way], Practical Ministry things [like how to run a kids program]. You also get to do some super helpful extras like getting your Scripture Certification, First Aid Certificate and Safe Ministry Accreditation. Even for people who this isn’t necessary for [anyone not teaching Scripture or being a leader within the Anglican Diocese] [I, for instance, am neither], it’s been super helpful in everything else I do.

Having those two days a week means I have time to work [building up funds for uni], some recreational time [rest and relaxation], and as part of the course you have to do two ministries, so it’s given me the opportunity to get stuck into the things I love, like Sunday School. You also get a plan to read the Bible in a year [questions are answered by lecturers during the week], hear some kicking sermons and meet some new mates to catch up with.

In short, it has so far been the best year of my life. Being constantly surrounded by people my own age who are passionate about the most important things in my life- Christ, ministry, and being young and free- is an incredible freedom and privilege I never imagined I would be able to partake in. In a few days [!] I’ll have the opportunity to head over to Fiji on a mission trip with these guys, and it’s something I didn’t think I would feel prepared for. Yet, after just a few months, I actually think I might be able to tackle it, especially surrounded by these amazing people of faith. I can’t express how grateful I am for the people who led me to do this this year, and I definitely don’t regret taking a year out before uni. As was pointed out on the open day, it’s a good time to clear your head and focus on what you love. I’ve had time to seriously consider what I career I want to pursue instead of jumping into a course I didn’t have the energy or motivation for yet. I have built relationships that will carry me through the rest of my life and provide strength and support for years to come. I have so many wicked memories under my belt from nights spent hearing testimonies, receiving and giving encouragement and sharing life with people who were, a few months ago, strangers. Plus, a lot of us are going to uni next year, and now we’ll know a few strong Christians already.

 

If you are thinking about your faith, and how you can grow it, get closer to God, do Year 13.
If Year 12 is overwhelming you and you can’t imagine jumping straight into a career, do Year 13.
If you’re worried about your social life, and not knowing enough amazing people, do Year 13.
If you are a Christian teenager, and this is your HSC year, next year, DO YEAR 13.