After snapping 366 photographs, stepping to have a little more grace each day and striving to reach out to others, 2016 has drawn to a close. There are so many things to be thankful for! In this short round up we’ll review 2016 with a happy heart!
2016 has been a year of Grace, Cherish, Go. Through grace, I’ve been learning to appreciate the small things in life, originally reduce exam stress (big tick for this one!) and discover ways to apply grace to everyday life: having an attitude of gratitude, which personally led to me going vegetarian; dedicating more time to ourselves; practising hospitality and having patience.
2016 has encouraged us to cherish daily memories – those of you who joined me in taking a photograph every day to mark a visual memory, have now collected a beautiful album to look back on! As I flick through my own, I’m constantly reminded of days’ events, personal challenges and the 366+ things I have to be thankful for!
Finally as part of our Go mission, we made an effort to love one another a little more actively. Not only have we been successful in promoting encouragement and taking time to reflect through this site, but as we’ve progressed through 2016, Distinctivemode’s presence and influence has also actively grown. I personally have been invited to share my testimony at various events such as The Insight Event, allowing others to hear of God’s love and see how God is working through this small community! Comissions have come in, the prayer forms have been used and questions have been challenged! Our initial aim of “Go” has accelerated into such an adventure – I have full assurance that this will continue into 2017!
Most of all, I’m thankful for the support and encouragement of all my readers – you keep this community alive! This year of Grace Cherish Go has taken a great deal of commitment and perseverance. There have been times when I’ve questioned whether this project was really reaping benefits, or whether anybody was really listening! But people continued to support Distinctivemode, giving me the spirit to keep on writing! God had a purpose for 2016 and he has fulfilled it in his strength! Thank you for reading and helping to make 2016 so successful!
2016 has been marvellous! Come back on 1st January to see where we are heading next year!
What are you thankful for? Go on, what is it? Perhaps (like I) you’re frozen, and find yourself repeating the same knowledgeable answers: food, water, a home… It’s as if we know that we ought to be thankful, even when we don’t feel like it…
Having an attitude of gratitude is so important – it’s a love language to God! As we learn to appreciate and give praise to God for the small things in life, we allow ourselves to truly appreciate and cherish blessings. Rapidly, our perspective changes for the better!
As humans, we suck at gratitude! It’s so easy to find ourselves complaining about things. We wake up, look outside, and it’s raining: How miserable! We walk downstairs and find that there’s no milk left in the fridge: why is today such a bad day? Then the car breaks down: I haven’t got the time, nor the effort to walk today! It all comes crashing down…
But what if, as Christians, we started to look with Christ’s eyes – to truly see how God sees. It’s written all over the book of Psalms: when David was experiencing his greatest times of trial, he still chose to praise God! “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” Psalm 43:5.
When you wake up and it’s raining: thank you God for blessing us with water! When the milk runs out: God thank you that I am able to grab food from the fridge, and find all that I need at a local store! When the car breaks down: God I praise you for giving me legs, for I know that there are others less fortunate…
Don’t you see? Having gratitude in all situations is incredibly powerful! It completely changes the way we live – wouldn’t it be great if everybody was able to encounter God’s rich blessings in the face of trial? It all starts with gratitude!
This week, God had been challenging me with gratitude. Each day I use to get to the “thank you” part of prayer, and loose focus after mumbling something about, “food, home, family…” I wasn’t actively thankful. However, I’ve been challenged to write down 3 different things to be thankful for each day, and to then pray over them at the end of the week. I’ve also been challenged to start thanking people in my life, for the small things they do – what a great way to encourage others, and praise God at the same time!
One particular change in me this week, relates to an attitude of gratitude surrounding food. I eat a lot (and I mean a lot) of food, and although I do eat healthily, planning meals, and good food have become a huge focus. So much so, that I’m constantly distracted by “what shall I eat later?” and when I do eventually sit down to eat, I eat so quickly that I forget to appreciate it. I’ve been subconsciously looking for satisfaction in food – without having gratitude.
For a while, I have been thinking about changing to a vegetarian diet for reasons including health, cooking interest, and preference. However, the fear of “missing out on the meat-meals I love the most” has been holding me back. Therefore, when I came to realise just how much I needed to refocus upon gratitude, I impulse scrawled on the shopping list: ELEANOR IS GOING VEGETARIAN!
Even now, I cringe at the though of joining some “save the animals” cult – in no way at all am I doing this for the sake of a chicken! But at day 3, I’m battling the struggle, and turning to thankfulness. When I open the fridge door, and spot the ingredients for my dad’s speciality chicken and chorizo paella (my favourite) I force out a, “Lord thank you for granting a Father who cooks so well.” I then remind myself of those in the 3rd world who perhaps, have never eaten a single piece of meat, and question: who am I to deserve such a rich diet more than they do?
I will most likely return to meat in the future, and occasionally indulge with a very thankful heart, but for the next few weeks (or months depending on how I find it), it’s time to cherish this new cooking experience! As we continue with our year of Grace Cherish Go, it’s time to put our faith into action – by stepping up to the challenge of cherishing the small, in our daily lives, for others to see.
Thank you God for vegetables!
What are you thankful for?
P.s. Today’s photograph was taken by Anthony Melendrez – check out his photography here!
With June almost over, and a missed month of May, there’s a heck of a lot to catch up on! Where has Grace Cherish Go seen us, and where else will it lead? Not only have I been crazily busy making memories myself, but I’ve been overwhelmed (in a good way) by new connections, the growth of “Go,” and the renewal of Grace…
Grace: At the half way mark, I am thankful to say that in my individual life, this Grace goal (daily stress relief) has been achieved, and is now a compulsory part of my day. Investing time in myself, in the quiet, and switching off has not only brought self-grace, but built my confidence, and softened my heart towards others. By sparing time for myself, I’ve been more productive, more pro-active, and discovered a greater understanding for all those around me. The grace aspect of this year’s project has been a silent one – something that often occurs in the background. However, it’s thriving, and its great to see so many follow in seeking rest, gaining encouragement, and simply pausing in the present! Let’s keep going!
Cherish: This year has been full of personal memories! Some highlights would be speaking at youth events, attending family parties, and lots of travel! I have put together this quick video for those of you who want to see what I’ve been up to!
Go – when I first set out to include more mission work in my life, I never realised how great this would look! Initially, we set out together as a community, with small little RAOK’s in mind, along with the odd conversation… How much more God had in store! In fact, so much so that last month I didn’t even get chance to sit down and write our regular GCG review! What I hoped would be an online project, has accelerated into a present, real world community! I’ve seen God work through this goal, granting me the opportunity to attend the Insight Event, and grow Distinctivemode as a community; I’ve been involved in setting up a college Christian Union, that’s now looking at organising a retreat for student families; found myself attending baptisms after baptisms; and altogether just building relationships with others! If there’s one thing I’d encourage us all to do this July, it would be to strike up new friendships, encourage old ones, and take all the opportunities that come our way!
So that’s us where we are now! I continue to run towards this year of Grace Cherish Go, and encourage all of you to start having Grace for yourself, Cherishing memories with gratitude, and Going out with encouragement!
This morning (Sunday 10.01.16) I was sat in church, and the lady preaching, Judith, was drawing her sermon to a close, when she began to talk about a word that recently God’s been giving to her. Through many different prayer groups, friends and family from all over the world, (England, Canada, and South Africa) she’s found God pointing her towards this word for 2016: Accelerate.
As she began to explain, how God’s been accelerating her heart, through people she had never even met before, as well as close friends, I sat and listened. It seems as if, all over the world, God is placing this word, and encouraging his children to go forth and accelerate…
After some reflection time, it suddenly dawned upon me that perhaps, God has also been changing my heart – I’m two weeks into 2016, and the year of Grace, Cherish, and Go. Go. Perhaps, as I began to realise my dreams for 2016, God was also realising his own – that as a community, Distinctivemode would join the movement, and accelerate, into small, humble missions!
God’s encouraging my church, other churches, and the whole greater body of Christ to accelerate! To position ourselves, ready to accelerate into a worldwide thinking – a new perception. Because we are world changers! Through small, everyday intentions of love, we really can change the lives of those in our community – and it’s contagious. It accelerates further afield! God’s calling us not just to go, but accelerate! To open our eyes, do the small good, and love the present, 2016 of being here and now.
Something else caught my attention this morning. Judith shared a blog post that her friend had written regarding this message of “acceleration.” “Perhaps God is encouraging us to not stop praying” – to keep seeking his word, building one another up, and laying new foundations in Christ. To build the foundations for those who don’t have them – by actively doing little loving actions! And maybe through these, God will put his spirit in us, and speed up the long awaited answers to somebody else’s prayers.
So don’t hesitate, accelerate your heart, be a game changer and look to those long awaited answers to prayer!
What are you going to do?
It’s a new year, and time for action – New Year is such a great opportunity to reassess life, look towards adventures and reflect upon some great memories. This week, I’ve been preparing for New Year, discovering the things in my life that I want to change, and dreaming about where I want to direct my strengths…
In some ways, I want to hold onto 2015 – it’s been such a great year. I’ve found it near enough, 100% positive, and accomplished so many things: I’ve attended Spring Harvest (travelling alone for the first time), had the blog featured on YFC’s website, completed my GCSE’s, had the longest summer ever (with so many great travel opportunities), transitioned into a-level studies, shared some brilliant moments with friends, been asked to be Bridesmaid…. There are so many things to talk about – not to mention the fact that God has placed a missions gap year on my heart for 2017! Its fair to say, that when I sat here, writing this last year, saying that “2015 was going to be my year,” I most definitely was right!
However, although my heart yearns for a little bit longer, it’s time to move on and await the many adventures that God will lead me on – even if I don’t really know what they are yet! Last year, I set out to “Give, Save, and Love,” which involved a monthly project, to use my creativity and strengths to give to my community, and to others. As well as this, I aimed to start saving money, and spread love in a world of hate and judgement. I feel that the Give and Love aspect was one of the greatest things this year, and I began to see some of you viewers getting involved also! How great is this? That as a community we can share love, especially amongst the sad times of 2015, including the Paris attacks.
What about 2016? This year my three aims focus upon Grace, Cherish and Go.
Grace. As I began to reflect upon 2015, I realised that over the past 3 months, I’ve been struggling with stress – that’s the thing, you never really notice until you take a break. I guess this next year will be one of the hardest yet – everyone I know has admitted to me that A-levels are extremely difficult, but you just have to keep positive, dedicate yourself to the studies, and give everything you have to the future. One day, these efforts will benefit not just your life, but the lives of others. However, it’s still so important to rest in grace – I experienced my first burn out this month, and it’s time for a reality check. God calls us to take one day at a time, rest in His grace and not worry about the “what if’s.” And so this 2016, I’m determined to do something everyday as stress relief – to find a 5 minute pocket (or longer) to just break, whether it’s seeking God in prayer, journalling, napping, or buying a colouring book and creating art without the pressure of design work! It will be hard, on days when I just want to secure myself with an extra workload, or perhaps just want to climb into bed instead… But I know that it will be worth it. I’m not afraid to accept that I’m living in a stressful period. After all, we’re only human.
Cherish. This aspect of 2016 is something that I’ve dreamt of doing for the past 3 months. As a photography lover, I find myself taking hundreds of photographs, and because of this, they always seem to disappear from my mind! I never get the chance to look back on the memories behind them! Also, finding time to carry out a shoot is proving to be more difficult and so I’m running out of good, precious captured moments. This year, I’m going to take one photo everyday, to mark a memory or moment – I’m going to build up a great photo album, that I can look back on. So that I can cherish memories away from screens and social media, and be more creative! If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll be posting the highlights, but many, I plan to hold onto myself – to not become overly consumed by publishing.
Go. Recently, God has been placing missions on my heart – the kind of home town missions, that involved going into the lives of those around me; by inviting people to church, practically sharing love in order to start conversations, and being a living encouragement. These things could be caring for those who serve – taking missionaries/church leaders for coffee. Or perhaps praying for people in their situations; asking God to send me out. I have no idea where this will lead at all but I plan to share the journey with you – I want to encourage you readers, whether Christians or not, to do something regularly, throughout the year, to show love. To go, and act. Just do something!
And so I look towards 2016, and all the memories it will bring – may you have a blessed new year and continue to come along with me, as we strive towards “Grace, Cherish and Go.”
Have grace on yourself, cherish memories, and go out sharing love.