I had the absolute honour of speaking to a wonderful bunch of Young Adults this week on ‘Promise’. This my lovely readers, I encourage you all to read as there is something for everyone in this.

When I speak or write on something specific I like to find out the definition of the word. This helps me to really appreciate how heavy the meaning is and how powerful words actually are. So the definition of Promise, while it’s so simple and we all know it, it comes to life when we see it in writing.

There are so many different kinds of promises; pinky promises, promise rings, false promises (which we don’t like!), people’s promises, and my favourite of all; God’s promises. Stay with me on this!

When you hear the word promise, what does it mean to you? Are you someone who keeps their promises? Are you reliable? Or are you someone who uses this word lightly and breaks promises all the time? Do you expect others to keep their promises to you, yet hold your promises to them with lesser regard? The word ‘Promise’ in my opinion is another one of those words that is thrown around too easily these days, a little like ‘Love’, and it has more power behind it than we even realise.

People’s Promises

As people, we can forget promises that we have made, and sometimes even break them which I have to say is not good practise. What we need to realise is that in breaking a promise or forgetting to live out the promise we have made to someone, we are actually hurting that person. We need to remember that all promises are big to the person on the receiving end of them. If you continually break your promises, people will begin to gradually lose faith in you and hold no weight to your words.

Now you might think that this is a little OTT, but think about it from a personal perspective. Let me give you an example. Someone once used to promise me that they would change a certain behaviour that hurt me a lot and without going into detail, it wasn’t good behaviour. I would continually ask this person to stop or make a change and constantly a promise would be made for change to happen. Again and again the behaviour continued and again and again, the promise would be made and then broken. Every time the promise was broken it meant less and less when ‘promise’ was thrown into the mix, and after that I had to work through the damage caused by numerous broken promises to trust others when they say that they promise. What’s my point you ask? Simple…

God’s Promises

For those of you who don’t know God, or maybe feel like your relationship with God is not where you would like it to be, be encouraged by this next section that you are included in all of the promises to follow! This following video is very powerful and actually reminded me of how many promises God has on my life. Did you know that the bible has over 3000 verses declaring promises from God? We should want all of them for ourselves and for everyone that we know. If you are not a believer in any way shape or form, consider the promises that you make to people and how you will treat them going forward. Think of God’s promises as promises people have made to you and kept and how you felt by their faithfulness!

The best thing about God’s promises is that they are UNBREAKABLE! He is true to His word, and His word is final…

God is faithful! His promise still stands. Yet the flip side of faith is fear! Sometimes it can be difficult to hold onto the promises God has put on our lives. Sometimes it can even be hard to believe and have faith in those promises and that’s okay. But what we need to rest on and remind ourselves of constantly is…

Now this is where for some of you, you’re going to bail out on me and that’s fine. I totally respect your beliefs; however I would love it if you treated my beliefs with the same respect and hear me out! 🙂

The promise of all promises that was ever made, was a promise God gave Mary. He sent an Angel to visit Mary in the middle of the night and tell her that she would give birth to a son, yes even though she was a virgin and was not yet married, she would conceive a child and He would be great and His Kingdom would never end (Luke chapter 1 verses 26 to 45). What an incredible promise that is. How did Mary have such faith to believe this? She rejoiced that the many promises God had foretold before her had come to pass and that if He can hold fast to His word for those promises, then this one would also be held fast and come to pass for He is faithful! This was the ultimate promise God put on Mary’s life. Yes, at first she was scared. Yes, at first she was apprehensive. AND YES, she witnessed this promise come forth in her life and be fulfilled through faith and perseverance.

If you don’t know what the ultimate promise God has put on your life yet, that’s okay, but one thing is for sure, He has a plan and a purpose and in that purpose there is a PROMISE for what you will do in this life for His Kingdom!

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know, but instead be courageous and ask Him what His promise is on your life. And this is the tricky part, sitting still and being quiet and telling your mind to hush up while you wait… Our minds can wander and create ‘promises’, ‘words’, etc but if you sit and tell your mind to be quiet and ask God to speak, you will be able to differentiate between your mind’s voice and His voice. I guarantee you, you will be amazed!

For those of us who have already experienced God’s promises coming forth in our lives, rejoice in them and share the stories to encourage others. One promise God gave me a number of years ago (in my dark years) was that I would know love like I have never known it before. There are different aspects to this promise, yes romantically and while it is wonderful to be loved by another the promise also held fast to me knowing how to love myself too! I also know love like I have never known before through the love that God has for me. And that, was a process! A long, tough but educating process that led me to where I am today. The battle was excruciating, but the Victory was and is Divine!

To bring this to an end (finally I can hear some of you exhale lol), my challenge to you all, Christian or not, believer in the same God or not, whether you identify to a religion or don’t believe in anything, is… What are you going to do with the Promises on your life? Although I have spoken about promises from God, whether you want to believe it or not, there is a promise on your life! Yes, you! You have a gift, a talent, a something that makes you feel incredible that you are so good at and whatever it may be, that is part of your Promise!

So what are you going to do with it? Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to work your butt off to achieve and witness your promise come full circle? Are you prepared for it? If not, are you preparing for it? One thing is certain, we are never fully prepared for the WOW FACTOR we experience when our promise is right there in front of us and we have no idea what to do next… Maybe you have a promise on your life that you already got a taste of, but neglected and feel like you can’t go back to it. I believe that promises can be resurrected! If you have faith and believe that you can do it, then you will. Believe in yourself and you are already halfway there as the wise old saying goes. AND DON’T FORGET!! Nothing is Impossible with God…

Illuminare x

The True Spirit of Christmas

Inspired by Team Hope’s Shoebox Appeal

It’s coming up to that magical time of year again and whether you are one of those people who love the build-up and the hype and the Falala’s over the radio in the car, or someone who thinks it is far too early to even mention the C word before and only on Christmas Eve, this post IS FOR YOU! TRUST ME!

Christmas is approaching and before we know it, we will be putting on our silly jumpers and decking the halls with holly and mistletoe. (I can sense the shiver of the humbugs and hear the squeal of the fanatics!). Our stockings will be hanging on the fireplace and Rudolph’s treats will be placed by the tree. For most of us, Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joy and happiness and loads of food. But for some of us, Christmas can be quite upsetting. Maybe we’ve lost a family member and wish they were here, perhaps you’re going through a tough breakup or divorce, or maybe we simply don’t have the money that the shops are expecting and almost pressuring us to spend! It can be quite a stressful time for some people and that’s why I have decided to write this post. To remind you of the Joy of Christmas and it’s true meaning.

As I am a Christian, Christmas has a deeper meaning for me and always has, even in what I consider my dark years (Yes, it is possible for this human ball of positivity to have gone through some dark times… hence the motivation to inspire ya’ll to BRIGHTEN UP YOUR LIVES!). Whether you believe in God or not, it is hard to ignore that beautiful presence that fills the land all throughout the festive season. For me, church first thing on Christmas day is one of the best events I have ever experienced. Everyone is so happy and full of joy, but the best part is how surreal it feels. You’re all there, from different backgrounds, different families, different nationalities, all for the same purpose; TO CELEBRATE!

Growing up I always enjoyed church on Christmas morning, but one of my favourite memories about Christmas was the year of the mystery shoeboxes! Shoeboxes were collected from every store, Dunnes Stores, Roches Stores and even the ‘Fagan Stores’. Out of nowhere, shoeboxes appeared in the kitchen, the living room, the hall, stairs and landing! Shoeboxes I thought were mine, were now amalgamated into this massive pile while my shoes were thrown back into the wardrobes or under the beds. My granny would have boxes, my cousins would have boxes, my next-door neighbours would have boxes, and everyone everywhere would be asking for shoe boxes! It was pandemonium! Slightly exaggerated, but let’s remember this is from a 7-year olds perspective… 😉

So, what were these boxes for? Why in all the earth was Mam collecting shoe boxes? Was she going mad? Had she fallen into a new, and rather strange obsession? Had she suddenly realised that Barbie needed a house and she was about to build the best cardboard beach house I had ever seen? I wish! No, these shoeboxes had a purpose. One greater than I could have ever imagined at the time. These shoeboxes were presents!

Presents? Sorry, hold up… PRESENTS?! 7-year old me could not understand why Mam was gifting shoeboxes to people. What would they want with a shoebox? Wouldn’t they much rather a box of playdough or giant tubs of Crayola crayons with sheets and sheets of colouring paper? I just couldn’t get on board, until Mam sat me down and explained everything! Now don’t quote me word for word, but this is how I imagine and slightly remember our conversation going…

‘’These shoeboxes are not for us sweetheart, they’re for children all over the world!’’, she began to explain. ‘’But what would any child want with a shoebox Mam? It’s just a piece of cardboard…,’’ I challenged her. ‘’Well, we’re not just sending empty shoeboxes, we’re going to cover them up like a present with Christmas wrapping paper and fill them with lovely things to send to other children.’’ ‘’But… what lovely things Mam, and why are the lovely things not all for me?’’ I reckon at this stage, she laughed and probably wondered how on earth is she going to get this through to me. She managed very well I must say. ‘’Ok, think of it this way, Santa is coming to you very soon and all your wishes will most likely come true. The children that we are sending these shoeboxes to don’t have anything. You have your lovely bed, brand new clothes and all your lovely barbies upstairs in your room. Some of these children don’t even have a house to live in with their Mam and Dad. Some of them don’t even know what Christmas is about!’’ ‘’Oh Mam, that’s very sad. How could they not know about Christmas?! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’’ ‘’Exactly love, but for what reason do you think it’s the most wonderful time of year?’’ ‘’Emmmmm… BECAUSE IT’S JESUS’ BIRTHDAY AND SANTA IS COMING!!!’’

I was a very spiritual child and I always carried God with me throughout my life. But having this conversation with my Mam made me think about all the presents I would get and how wonderful it would be for me. But what about all those children that wouldn’t get anything? Why did Santa not fly to them? So, I asked the questions and Mam so gracefully answered.

‘’Santa can fly all over the world Jessica, but he needs our help too. He needs our help to share the love at Christmas time and spread the Christmas cheer. God gave His only son to share His love for us and He asked us to do the same, love each other. So, in sending a shoebox, we’re blessing someone with not only the gift inside the box, but the gift that will be placed inside their hearts; Joy, Peace and Hope.’’

Mam thought me so much growing up about how to be humble and how to share and be kind. Being kind got so easy for me that after the Mystery Shoeboxes ordeal, every year I wanted to take part in this fantastic appeal! It became the highlight of my year; it became my favourite part of the Christmas season. Each year, I commit to taking part in the Christmas Shoebox Appeal not to look like a charitable person or to get recognition for being kind, but because the impact of sharing a small box of treats with one child across the world, is far greater than we can ever imagine.

Put yourself in the shoes of these children; some have no food or water, some are surrounded by crime and possibly war, some are simply crying out to be seen and cared about. Now imagine how they feel on Christmas morning. There is no Christmas tree by the fire, no fire in the house, and probably no house at all. Imagine a shoebox landing on the laps of one of these children. Imagine the excitement in their eyes but also the apprehension they feel as they may have never received something before. Imagine the excitement when they realise that this box, the treats inside, the festive wrapping paper, this is all for them! Incredible!

What I love about the Christmas Shoebox Appeal is that not only are you sending a present across the world to a less fortunate family, you are sending the sense of ‘’Someone out there cares for me. Someone out there knows I am here. Someone out there loves me.’’ In sending a shoebox you’re sending love, sending joy, sending hope! The true spirit of Christmas is giving. It’s not about the diamond earrings hanging on the tree, the crackers on the dinner table, or even the stuffing bowl spoon at the end of the night! The true spirit of Christmas is allowing yourself to be selfless and instead of thinking of what you’re going to get, you give what you would like to receive – LOVE!

This Christmas, why not give Love? Why not, instead of spending fortunes on things that will lose value in time, give love to those around you? Check in on your elderly neighbours and maybe make them a cup of tea. Invite your distant family around for dessert so that they feel closer. Give to those less fortunate, whether it’s simply wishing a homeless person ‘Merry Christmas’, or be it you decide to take part in the shoebox appeal. The sheer act of acknowledging another person’s existence and humanity is more precious than any diamond ring at Christmas.

Team Hope run a fantastic operation for the Shoebox Appeal. If you can’t donate anything in the form of a shoebox designed for a little girl or boy, even if you can’t donate a couple of euro, why not donate your time? It’s a huge operation to collect all the boxes from across the country, gather them all in the one place and load them onto the trucks that carry these precious gifts abroad. Team Hope are a fantastic bunch of people and are always looking for volunteers around Christmas time to lend a hand. Give back this Christmas! In one way or another, you can help support this beautiful act of kindness to not only happen in 2019 but grow to an even larger movement in the years to come.

So, perk yourself up, put a smile on your kisser, be humble and kind, and share the love because that, my lovely readers, is the true Spirit of Christmas!

Illuminare x


Hello my lovely readers and happy almost Wednesday! (It is 23:29 on Tuesday 24th September 2019 as I am writing this!). I should be asleep and on my fourth or fifth dream at this stage, but instead I am up pondering life and all it throws at us. Oh the joys of a wandering mind…

As I sit and think, I’m reminded of a short creative piece I wrote earlier this year which was inspired by none other than my fabulous sister, who’s name I will change for privacy reasons, to Xina. Xina is a woman of many talents, such beauty and a heart of pure gold! We spent a weekend in Rome for a wedding a couple of years ago, and I managed to capture some astonishing photos that surprisingly enough, caught exactly who she is. One of these photos, as attached to this post, inspired me to write this piece. Quite like Xina The Warrior Princess, she is a woman on fire! A woman full of determination and aspirations. A woman who knows her dreams and seeks after them with all that she has inside of her. I have always admired Xina’s drive for success and how she always pushes past her limits no matter how hard it can be.

So without further ado, I dedicate this post to the one and only Xina. May you reach every goal you set for yourself, may you keep creating and inspiring those around you, may you have faith in yourself to accomplish your wildest dreams and may you never give up on who you are inside. You are magnificent! With all of my love, this is for you. x

She, is a woman in her own world, chasing her dreams and looking for light in every shadow. She had the green light to go and didn’t hesitate. She took off into the world to conquer it and made life her own. As she walked through the busy streets of Rome, she beamed with beauty. Her hair was like a stream of fire flowing from the top of her head, a rainbow of dreams trickled out from her radiant crown. A boss lady searching for purpose, searching for the next goal to achieve and pushing through with everything she’s got. She is a Queen, a Warrior, Fierce and Bold. 

As the sun shone down upon her ivory skin and her ebony hair she took hold of the positive and strut her way through the Italian streets. Elegant, Confident, Present. Everyone who passed her by turned to take another glance at the magnificence she was radiating. She was a spectacle of light, was she really there or was this beautiful creature a mirage, teasing us with hope for a new day where confidence and beauty collided in the most humble manner.

Like never before, she was alive. Surrounding her was a facet of colours. Monochrome lives envied the luxurious pigments that encompassed this woman of strength and vision.  For a moment, she gave us Hope. For a moment she let go of everything and was simply her. For a moment, she was She.   

She. ©Illuminarexo2019


Taking a leap of faith.

I have always had a passion for encouraging others, for building up empires within a person’s life and watching them grow in their talents, desires and in general, their daily lives.  During my childhood, I was always filled with such excitement and zest for life which I am delighted to have carried into the later years of life. Don’t get me wrong, my life was not always easy peasy lemon sqeezy. I have had many trials and fought many battles, but am grateful to say I overcame each dagger thrown against me in the form of violence and anger, each sword wielded to destroy me in the form of words and depression, and every arrow shot right at me in the form of hatred and deceit.

Illuminare, for me, is a way to give back to the world the positivity that I find within creation. My vision for Illuminare is to instil within each individual who crosses by it, the confidence in themselves to be motivated and inspired by the world surrounding them. To express their lives in such a way that brings life and light into dark and dead places, that not only encourages self, but produces an ability to lift others out of the shadows that they have found themselves in. If we only opened our eyes, we would see the divine beauty that constantly surrounds us that we, as humans, take for granted every day. Once your eyes have been opened to it, life becomes far more than mundane Monday mornings at your office desk, it becomes technicolour, vibrant and appreciative of every spectacle of light that your eyes bear witness to.

The smile on a strangers face as they sit sipping coffee on the boardwalk, the flight of a bird overhead as the sun beams down in all of its glory, the sound of a voice that soothes you out of panic to calmness, the gentle breeze that whisks your hair out of your eyes so you can witness the laughter of a child. It is all relevant to the growth and healthiness of our minds, how we see something and recognise the significance of something simple, how we acknowledge the details of the world we live in, it all affects our mental health, our individual happiness and our spirituality. Whether you consider yourself spiritual or not, I hope that through Illuminare you realise that you are much more than just a body. You are much more than just bones and flesh put together, you are special and individual and every person who lived, is living and will live is unique. We are all more than what the world tries to label us as; we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Illuminare is a place for me to share my own writing, pieces that I hope encourage others to dive head first into their passion. My writing is spontaneous; it is inspired by my day to day. Sometimes it might be nature; sometimes it might be an old photograph and maybe even another piece of writing. My hope is that through my writing, I can inspire you to create a world of colour, that I can motivate you to not only reach goals, but set new ones and keep achieving them! My desire is to show others the beauty that rests within them, their soul, their talent, their calling… whatever it may be; I want to shine a light on life and salt the earth with the truth of how wonderful this life actually is.

Nature is marvellous, creation is majestic, humanity is magnificent, and our existence, well that is simply Miraculous!  For full disclosure, I would like to say that I identify as Christian and some things might be influenced by my beliefs. But whatever you believe in, I hope that I can encourage you in your life to be a light for those who are lost somewhere in their own darkness. I hope that I can motivate you to be a better you, to see the goodness that surrounds you and appreciate the small things in life. My hope for Illuminare is that it shines a light into everyone’s lives, no matter your beliefs, your spirituality, your sexuality, your relationship status, or even your means of living! Illuminare I hope encourages all who encounter it.

Illuminare, for anyone who does not know, is a Latin word which translates to Illumination. Its definition so simple, yet so powerful: ‘Light Up’. This adventure, I hope, brings light into this wonderful life and amplifies the beauty of not only our surroundings, our beliefs, our dreams and aspirations, but amplifies the beauty that is within us.

I would like to thank God for creating me to be who I am and gifting me with the ability to write. I would like to thank those who inspire me daily to be a better me, to let the light that lives within me shine through, to be a true representation of which I was created to be. I would especially like to thank the person who encouraged me the most to start this new adventure, to create Illuminare. Your support, your words of confidence and faith in my creativity have inspired me beyond my wildest imagination to embark on this voyage and spread the love that you have so kindly showed me. For always, you will be of huge significance in my life. The first light that shun upon me, led me to you, and I am in awe of your radiance. Thank you x

Illuminare x

Living Life in the Light

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