When you change the way you look at things – the things you look at change.

I won’t lie, if you had asked me how I felt about a month or two ago I would have told you I was more than ready for 2016 to be over.

2016 has brought many highs, I passed my degree, started a graduate job, jumped out of a plane. I was literally on top of the world – all but for a moment it seemed.

Not long after my car was stolen, my job, certain friendship groups and even my personal relationship with God didn’t quite seem to be working out. I found myself in not the happiest of places. Despite this I was always reminded to be thankful in all that I had and that which I seemed to be losing.

It is very easy and I think most of you can relate here, that when things are going well. When you are making movements in areas of your life it is oh so easy to be thankful. But how many of us can say the same when things go bad? When things don’t quite go our way.

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). ‘Easier said than done’ could not ring more true with this. My goodness it is difficult – having gratitude in the face of adversity – but there is such beauty in it.

Whether you believe in God or not, I think we can all agree that we would rather be surrounded by positive people with grateful hearts; than one who is quick to complain.

If you actively try to approach life with a positive outlook you will quickly find that the things you look at change. Usually for the better too.

The next time you wake up – before you grab your phone, take a moment to say out loud the five things you are grateful for. Your life for instance – many die every day but the fact that you are alive means God still has a purpose for you.

You’ll find that small acts like this quickly cultivate a life filled with gratitude. You might even find yourself feeling more at peace.

L E S S E N S | 2 0 1 6

Failure is merely an opportunity to grow

Your attitude to a situation determines what you get from it

Hard work pays off but it means nothing if you don’t work hard to keep it

Not everyone is your friend

Be comfortable being in your own company

Less is always more

Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it really is you – not them

Comparison is never productive

You are enough

Most importantly: Knowing and finding your identity in Christ is key to growth in any area of your life

Approaching the end of a year is always a great time for self- reflection. Looking back on your success and failure allows you to assess where change is needed and to identify and appreciate the good things you are doing. It is a great habit to get in to but one we often neglect the whole year till we see a new one approaching.

Here’s to starting as you mean to go on.

What things have you learnt from 2016? Comment below on what you’ll be leaving behind and the lessons you are taking into 2017.

P R I O R I T I E S | 2 0 1 7

A lot of the time we enter into a new year having decided to make certain changes and we base our prayer life around the lists we make. We start with our wants, our needs and at the end thank God for listening and for being faithful – not in regards to His character but for faithfully ticking the items on our list.

I was past that this year, I’ve come to a confident realisation that God is an all knowing God. You cannot give instructions to the Creator. Now while that may seem obvious to some, we as humans can be very stubborn. It can take a series of events and observations for this truth to sink into ones minds. Even then, you can acknowledge a certain truth but it has no effect until you accept it for what it is.

In my case, that particular truth was that God knows what He made, why He did so and for what purpose. So I focused my prayer on thanking Him for who He is; what He has done, does and will continue to do. A mouthful I know but He already knows what I need so my focus wasn’t on telling him; but simply thanking Him.

Doing this makes such a difference.

Honestly when your approach is not a ready prepared list with a marker pen in hand to tick them off – He’ll surprise you in ways unimaginable. Think of it like this, we all have had that one friend who only gets in touch when they need something – it’s whack and if you’re wise you cut that person off very quickly. But we do this with God all too often. And He’s not the kinda ‘guy’ you would want to be cut off from.

My encouragement when it comes to priorities – be intentional. Be intentional with God the same way you are intentional with eating food everyday and turning up to work on time.  We all enjoy feeling full and seeing those numbers on pay day. So why not do the same for the one who gave up His Sons own life so you could keep and experience yours the way He originally intended.

Make His word yours. Instead of browsing – actually read. Not to mention marking out days to fast on your own. Fasting is simply away to allow your spirit to focus more on God without the distractions that food and technology for example can bring. I know – the food babies are nice but you can’t be pregnant all year round; and you phone has to charge at some point right?

Being more focused in prayer. Ever have a friend who repeats the same stories to you, never actually thinking of the words that are coming out of their mouth? Repetitive monologues? Let’s not be that person. Actively consider and put meaning behind your words. It’s like talking to your mum or dad – only it’s to your Father in Heaven. (It may sound very primary and basic but it really is all that simple).

Yes corporate worship and prayer and fasting are a lot easier when you have the support in numbers. But when you are able to do this alone, in your own space it really is an empowering experience. It strengthens your walk knowing that you don’t need anyone to push you in order for you to look for God or spend time in His presence.

These are just a few ways I began to build a stronger relationship, by putting certain things first and others to the side. The things that came after were simply extra blessings. So this year, take some time out! Forget about your lists, and just thank God for what He’s already done. If you are not sure how to and this is something new to you, start of with three things you can think of. You’ll be surprised how many more things will come to mind.

Just some scriptures I found to be great encouragement:

Colossians 3: 15

Jeremiah 29: 11

Matthew 11: 28