He is already there

There’s less than two months to go until our baby is due. According to the books, my Facebook feed and the weekly Baby Center updates, we should probably have the nursery fully set up and stocked with hundreds of nappies, singlets, wipes and baby toys by now. It’s not.

It’s tempting to get caught up in planning the physical aspects of bringing a baby into the world. Of course there are a few essentials to buy and borrow. I keep wondering what my life, our life, is going to be like with a baby? Life beyond May (when our little one is due) is a great unknown. It’s one thing to watch close friends with their new babies, but I’m pretty sure it’s rather a different thing to have your own. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very excited. I can’t wait to meet her. I’m just also rather nervous about bringing a new member into our family.

It was such an encouragement to be reminded on the first night of Colour Conference, (now a couple of weeks ago) that God goes before me – before us. He is already in our April, our May, our June and beyond. He knows what the birth will be like, he knows if she’s going to be a good sleeper or not. He knows her. We are all in his mighty hands.
***
As I was first writing this post, sitting on my own in a food court in Market City (opposite the Conference), one of the volunteers from Hillsong sat down opposite me with her dinner. We shared a little of our stories (Hayley was fresh out of high school in the US and loving her first semester of Bible college) and how we were enjoying the conference. When I shared that I was expecting a baby, she immediately offered to pray for me and our bub. She got out of her seat walked around next to me and put her arm around me and prayed. This lovely young woman I had only just met prayed passionately for our little girl to grow to know and love Jesus as her Lord and Saviour and to calm any anxieties that I had about this new chapter. I was deeply encouraged by her bold faith and her loving prayer. An experience I won’t forget.

Another human

My belly is larger than it has ever been and I felt an affinity with a mother kangaroo with a joey in her pouch the other day. I’m six months pregnant.IMG_6163

Despite this fact, most days I have to remind myself that in a few months time I’m going to have to give birth to a baby. And from that point on I’m going to be a mum for the rest of my life. Sure, there are lots of reminders. People asking me how I’m feeling or how far along I am (to which the usual reply is “You’re tiny!”), the regular loo trips, the sometimes fluttery, sometimes forceful movements from within day and night (including as I write this) and an often unexpected level of exhaustion.

I feel like I’ve been dreaming of and looking forward to this season of life for many years. I loved looking after my little cousins when they were babies and in recent years have cherished getting to know our goddaughter and her little sister, my friends’ new bubs and the many delightful little ones who are or have been part of our church. Always such a joy, but never quite the same as having your own.

Even so, it’s a bit hard to believe that it’s our turn soon. I have sometimes wondered if it would ever happen. On the one hand, I assumed and hoped for it at times over the years, but then once I found myself in this season, I realised I couldn’t assume anything – it was totally in God’s hands. Now there are only about 90 days until our little lady will be with us on the outside – a reality that’s hard to get my head around. I find myself taking note of ‘Best Before’ dates on food and thinking, before due date or after due date. My brain may be weird, but this is just one of my little ways of getting accustomed to the changes ahead.  IMG_6187

Ultimately I’m humbled that, God willing, we will have the joy of bringing another life into this earth to raise and care for. Not everyone gets to do that. I can’t wait to meet our little one. And if I could have spoken kangaroo, I would have wanted to say to her, “Me too.”

Neighbours – so close and yet so far

It’s more than seven months since we moved into our flat. We love so much about living here – from the balcony to the dishwasher, from the parking space to the pool. We love sharing our home with our families and friends and our new small group every Thursday.

But when we moved here, close to church, into a huge apartment complex, we really hoped and prayed that we’d be able to connect with our neighbours. On our floor alone there are 11 other apartments. But most of the time our hallway looks like this:

our empty hallway

our empty hallway

So the best (and only?) time to interact with our neighbours is in the thirty seconds it takes to use the lift from the parking lot or ground floor, to our level and vice versa. In theory. And preferably going up, so that the conversation continues down the hallway. We soon learned however, that other people don’t really want to talk to their neighbours. Perhaps living in close proximity to so many others makes people more private. Perhaps Australians aren’t as friendly as we make ourselves out to be. Perhaps people don’t want new friends.

So we have become those people. We try to smile at our fellow building dwellers when we share the lift (although headphones and back turners can make this rather difficult) and strike up conversations ranging from the weather to work and little else in between. Beyond the lady next door and her cute little one year old, we don’t even know anyone’s names on our floor…

It can’t stay this way, that much is clear. But how can we love our neighbours if we don’t know them?

Should we start a building Facebook group like others in our community have done? Where to begin? What would its purpose be? Do we have the energy to establish and sustain something like this…and what if we move? Should we start small – a meal with the couple next door or invite our whole floor to casual drinks on our balcony? The ideas excite and scare me at the same time.

What if people aren’t interested or are too busy? A friend told me a few months ago about how their new neighbours in a very different part of Sydney declined to come over for a BBQ, full-stop. They were too busy. It would be sad, but it would be ok. At the very least we would know we had tried. And I really hope that in the next few months we will indeed try. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

 

 

New Year’s Eve Reflections

It’s almost time to venture out into our busy city to celebrate the end of 2012. But first, a moment to stop and write. As my friend over at Eternity wrote today, the end of one year and the start of a new one, is a good time for self-reflection.

This morning I read some wise words from John Piper. He says,

For me the end of a year is like the end of my life. And 11:59pm on December 31 is like the moment of my death. The 365 days of the year are like a miniature lifetime. And these final hours are like the last days in the hospital after the doctor has told me that the end is very near. And in these last hours, the lifetime of this year passes before my eyes, and I face the inevitable question: Did I live it well? Will Jesus Christ, the righteous judge, say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

~ John Piper, ‘Solid Joys’ App, 31 December 2012

I was confronted and humbled as I reflected on this notion that each year is a miniature lifetime. What if my life was to end tonight? Did I live 2012 well? Was I faithful?

Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—

they are like the new grass of the morning:

In the morning it springs up new,

but by evening it is dry and withered.

Psalm 90:5-6

I used to hate thinking or talking about death. It’s still not my favourite topic, but I have learned in recent years that it’s helpful to think about from time to time. Remembering I will die one day forces me to stop and think about whether the life I’m living today is of value in an eternal sense. It also challenges me (and I know this is cliché) to see each day as a gift – not something I have owing to me, but something precious bestowed upon me to use for God’s glory. As I look towards 2013, I’m not sure yet what my ‘resolutions’ will be, or if I will make any at all. But I will be seeking to see each day as a gift!

And so, in no particular order, here are ten things I’m thankful for as I come to the end of 2012.

  1.  The opportunity to experience living with friends and the ways this blessed, challenged and refined me.
  2. Our fantastic holiday in Spain.
  3. Completing my Advent Blog in December.
  4. The provision of our cozy new apartment in Alexandria – with a studio for Adam and a great balcony to share with friends and family.
  5. Going deeper into God’s word and seeing the fulfilment of his promises through studying my first theology subject.
  6. A challenging, busy, great first year working at CMS. I am thankful that I like going to work most days!
  7. Growing in my understanding of what the Bible says about being made in God’s image as a woman.
  8. A whole year of no migraines for my husband – the first year this has happened since he first started getting them as a teenager.
  9. Challenges, adventures, joys and trials in our marriage – all of which God has used to make us more dependent on him and closer to each other.
  10. Deepening relationships with our church family at one1seven, Redfern.

photo (26)

 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

Advent Blog Day 23 – Why remember Advent anyway?

Today in church, our student minister asked us to reflect on what we’re hoping for this Christmas. A certain present? Quality time with friends and family?

Advent calendar

I have always loved counting down to Christmas Day on advent calendars. Last year I enjoyed having one of the cheap chocolate advent calendars from Aldi. Keeping a blog has been far healthier…except perhaps when it comes to sleep. I remember fondly some of the advent calendars we had when we were kids, and in particular, a felt one that I made myself. For each day there was a Christmas stocking with a unique decoration on it, and each one had a lolly inside and a little slip of paper with a Bible verse on it. I do remember wondering though why there were only 24 days on my calendar. Why wasn’t the most important day included? Perhaps because the wait is over come Christmas Day.

I learned today that the traditional season of advent doesn’t necessarily start on 1 December. It actually starts on the fourth Sunday before 25 December (anywhere between 27 Nov and 3 Dec).

Even if we have simplified the start-dates, there remains significant purpose in advent. According to trusty Wikipedia, for Christians:

The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

Advent is all about Jesus. It’s about sharing in and remembering his coming to earth as a man, the first Christmas – God with us, as well as looking forward with true hope, to his return.

Bible Society #25days Advent Calendar

Bible Society #25days Advent Calendar

I’ve enjoyed receiving the #25words thoughts and videos as part of remembering Advent this year. Today’s email said:

Christmas is one of the world’s great stories. But it’s only the beginning. There’s the life Jesus lived, the teaching he brought, and the benefits of his death and resurrection. Still, there’s better yet to come. Especially to those who are broken, who suffer, as you’ll see:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

As we eat our final chocolate(s) or write our final Advent Blogs, we can remember that Christmas is worth hoping for, but the best is still to come. What are you hoping for this Christmas?

 

 

Our story

Today is five years to the day since Adam proposed. This is our story. 

At the time I was in my final year of my law degree, working as a Law Clerk for a generous, vivacious,  spontaneous, slightly scatter-brained and at times, demanding female partner of a law firm. She was an Environment & Planning Lawyer and worked closely with a bunch of councils around Sydney. Part of my job was being sent off all over the city and beyond in taxis on all sorts of escapades, to collect dry-cleaning, retrieve misplaced phones, bags, suitcases, and occasionally to deliver/file/serve documents to other law firms, local councils and courts. 

On the afternoon of Thursday 19th April 2007, my boss sent me in a taxi to deliver a parcel, supposedly a ‘tender’ to Warringah Council. Adam had taken the day off to attend his little sister’s uni graduation. My colleagues had encouraged me to take my bag and just get a taxi home. I called Adam on my way to the  council to tell him of my movements. He insisted on coming to the council to pick me up. Just thought he was being kind, until he just walked casually into the council chambers where I was waiting to deliver my parcel to the right person. I later learned that it was just some old irrelevant folder. 

We walked out to the car and I suggested we go get a milkshake or something by the beach…he then proceeded to drive us away from the direction of home and informed me that he had good and bad news and which would I like first? Bad, I said, which was ‘you’re not having dinner with Claire and Matt tonight.’ Claire was about to get married and move to the other side of the world. Sad Nai. Good? You’re having dinner with me! I think I reacted with a <mildly disappointed> ‘oh.’

As we kept driving north on Pittwater Road, I twigged to where we were probably headed and to what was about to unfold. I think I pinched myself. We had been talking about and praying about the right time to get married, having been together for four years. And yet that day I was so perfectly surprised.

Adam had sweetly bought me something else to wear so I didn’t have to stay in my work clothes…which (in the least glamorous part of the evening), I changed into in some service station toilet.

We arrived at an almost deserted Palm Beach, (where he had taken me on our very first date: genius!) and Adam, shooing me away from the car boot then laid out a picnic dinner as the sun was beginning to set over the water. Hard to remember all the details but I do recall wine, chicken and salad with fruit salad after. After a little walk on the beach he went back to the boot and my keyboard playing man reappeared with guitar.

After playing the intro through about five times, my love sang me a song – not the first music he’d given me, but the very first with words and the first time he’d ever sung in front of me or anyone. He was so nervous. 

Then he took my hand, pulled me off the blanket and we ran ever so fast down to the shoreline. He got down on knee and asked ‘will you be my wife?’ producing the gorgeous ring he had designed all on his own. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Mini chocolate cake, more wine, photos and text messages and phone calls. And then for my new fiancee, a long drive home to Stanmore via dropping in on our family in Castle Hill. 

My man still writes songs that make me cry, but is much less nervous about singing in front of people (bit hard to avoid when you release an EP). He still takes risks, buys great presents, knows what I love. Marriage is way harder than I expected, and also way better! There’s no-one else I’d rather face the joys and challenges of life with.

I’m so glad he asked. And I’m so glad I said yes. Love you husband.

Photo of us just after Adam asked me to be his wife.

Just engaged!

 

making the most of…today, tomorrow and…

I like my job, but on days like Friday, when all the first drafts of articles appeared in my inbox for the next edition of the magazine, I really like my job. An inbox full of honest, creative stories about what God is doing. Pretty cool.

I attended a funeral on Friday morning of a church member who sadly passed away very suddenly from an aneurysm. He was 48. As we said farewell to a shy, kind, but troubled man, who we hope knew Jesus as Lord, I was reminded that our days on earth are numbered. Paul tells the Ephesians that this truth must impact the way we live, every moment, every day.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5: 15-16

I’m sure Paul isn’t just talking about what we do for work (i’m keen to come back to the other aspects of life in a future post). Every day at work I read, write, and pray about the things God is doing all over the world through his people. From Cambodia to Spain to Chile and all sorts of places in between. It’s such a privilege.

This week marked three months since I started my new job as the writer at CMS Australia. They still want to keep me it seems.

On Thursday night I caught up for drinks with some colleagues and bosses from my first full-time job at a law firm. They told me they would have me back any time, and while it’s flattering & lovely to see them catch ups like that and days like Friday confirm that where I am is where I’m meant to be. Over drinks I heard the latest on a couple of the cases I was working on two years ago(!!). Let’s just say that no amount of sweet talking could make me give up writing about God’s work, to account for every six minutes of my day working with neighbours, developers and crazy rubbish-collecting ladies. Someone has to, but it’s not for me.

I want to make the most of my days on earth. I hope that by helping missionaries tell the stories about what God is doing in the tiny villages and the massive megacities that God is glorified and lives and communities are changed as more people come to know him. I’m thankful for the peace I have that my job is right where God wants me.

Like any job it can be uninteresting and slow at times, and while I have lots of ideas about improvements I’m trying to be wise about when to speak and when to stay quiet. But so far at least 20% of the time or more it makes me come alive and for that I’m incredibly thankful!

In the words of switchfoot:

Why would I wait til I die to come alive? I’m ready now, I’m not waiting for the afterlife. (“Afterlife” from Vice Verses, 2011)

20120318-120709.jpg

new year, new hope.

When I flipped over our photo calendar on January 1, I saw what I’d written last year on the front cover – “Adventures and challenges, hopes and dreams, joys and trials await.” I didn’t know what they would be, I just knew they would come.

From beholding the Swiss Alps and being drenched in water on a boat at the base of Niagara Falls with Adam, to finishing up my work with International Teams – a job that was more than a job – it was a deeply life-changing chapter. From the joys of witnessing up close our precious God-daughter’s growth and development and the new adventure of moving in with another couple, to a very dark week when people we loved passed away and a close friend’s marriage fell to pieces.

God knew it all before the year began, indeed before time began. And He was right there with me, with us, with my friend through it all, and always will be.

And so, as I write my first post for 2012, I wonder what it holds too. When it struck midnight on New Years Eve the people at the party were all exchanging resolutions – one said no caffeine, and another was resolved not to speak negatively about herself. I hadn’t really thought about it. Last year I resolved to write a blog post once a week all year…and that went well for the first few months and then petered off.

Was it even helpful to have one? New Year, new start…an external motivator to seek some internal change and growth. Can’t hurt! (provided I don’t get guilty about not doing it!)

Since I tend to default to worry in most situations – always scanning the future for possible issues and discomfort, and instead I would really like to be more fully trusting God with my future, from little to big things, I’m trying to think of at least one thing at the end of each day that I can thank God for. It seems easy and simple, (the hardest part will be to remember to do it…maybe I should be writing each thing down?), but I sense that it will help me see the day-to day things of life more positively and that thankfulness, no matter what life brings day-to-day, year to year, is an important part of growing in Godliness.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

more than proud.

“Proud” goes some way to conveying how I felt last night as I stood amongst loyal friends – old and new – and family watching my dear husband launch his EP – “Foreground Vice, Background Sky.” I felt the kind of joy and love that sits right down in my gut and makes me well up if I think about it for too long.

The words, melodies and beats forged together with his passionate heart and intensely focused mind, as he overcame barriers, both technical and personal, over long days and late nights, are completed and released. Set free rather like wild birds released from a cage.

It would be a lie to say it has been easy to walk alongside him on this road. But when a friend asked me last night whether it had all been worth it, the answer has always been and still is, a resounding YES!

It has been a privilege to be there each step of the way – from hearing the newly written songs in the raw to making decisions about mixing, from clapping out percussion tracks in the studio with friends to celebrating the completion of the final mix. I loved being involved.

To those who partied with us at the Launch last night – in spirit (from Mexico to the UK and in between), and in person (from the Shire to Blacktown), thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for encouraging Adam in the pursuit of this dream.

Adam – you continue to amaze me. It is such an honour to be your wife.

Above all, may God receive the glory! Last night saw many prayers answered. We are deeply thankful for His grace, gifts and guidance and are filled with hopeful expectation at what may lie ahead.

Curious to hear his songs? You can buy them here!

Watch Adam’s pre-launch video here.

Not my plans but yours, oh Lord.

This time in two weeks I will have just finished my first day at my new role as Editor/Writer at CMS Australia. Not quite what I had planned to do two weeks before Christmas, but it seems God had other plans. Typical.

I have been quite content in my role as Executive Assistant at International Teams. It has been an incredible time of growth in faith, of being humbled daily  and has opened so many doors for me to go deeper in my passion for mission and to really help make a difference – just exactly what I had hoped. I have been contentedly plugging away at International Teams and wasn’t looking to leave anytime soon.

One of the things I have really loved at International Teams has been writing stories of God at work, developing the website and publishing. I get a certain pleasure out of seeing things that really matter (especially in an eternal sense), communicated well. And I rarely just read. I proofread.

When I saw a tweet about the position at CMS Australia back in October, I was curious. The job description sounded a bit like my dream role… writing and editing for a mission organisation full time? Really? With the bonus of one quick train ride to the city. So I applied, still unsure if I even wanted to leave, but trusting that God’s purposes and plans would prevail.

Just a couple of days before I submitted my application, I saw a profile I’d written of myself in a Year 12 ‘memories’ book, which had been brought along to the reunion. One of the questions asked what would I be doing in 10 years time? I said something like…

Married; working as a journalist and involved in making a difference in the world.

Wow. I had forgotten how long I’d had this dream.

As I went through the Application process, God just kept opening the doors and one week ago, I accepted the offer of the position and resigned from my current role. God has taken me on an incredible journey over the last ten years to get to this (from media/law studies, short term missions, planning lawyer, Executive Assistant and soon Editor). And the exciting thing is, the journey continues.

I’m looking forward to sharing new stories of God at work through His people all over the world and how Aussies can be involved in what He is doing and learning from the team I will be working with. I am especially looking forward to all God has in store for this new season as I continue to grow in trusting Him and His plans for my life. They are always much better than mine!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I have peace knowing also that God will provide for International Teams in my absence also. Already there is someone to work a couple of days doing my job and I will keep championing for RenovArte Café, Mexico too. It’s all His work after all.