good friends. good food. two of my favourite things.

Saturday: loving where i live.
It’s Monday now and it took me five minutes to reverse park the car into the one awkward space left in the street. I love it a little less.
I’m thankful I live in Summer Hill. I am surrounded by beautiful parks, diverse and exceptional food, old buildings and generally interesting people. And thats just Summer Hill – not to mention the other neighbouring suburbs with their shanghai dumplings, portugese chicken and authentic Italian pizza.
On Saturday we celebrated a friends’ birthday in Haberfield, just a short walk away (I wish I could say that I walked there but alas no!).
According to  Italian people, Haberfield is the true little Italy in Sydney (not Leichhardt).
I’ve spent time in Leichhardt too and I think it lives up to its claims. Having not been to Italy such conclusions are not overly well-founded. It’s on the to-go list.

We started with coffee and delicious pastries at Papa’s and then embarked on our own little self-guided tour of the shops – we bought fresh pasta (one of the supermarkets had pasta in every aisle), brie and pecorino cheese, olives and cold meats (proscuitto and coppa), tasty crusty bread, quince paste, sicilian olives and strawberries and turkish delight.

happy friends eager for our delicious food!

After such a wonderful picnic feast in the park with such dear friends, I couldn’t help but feel so happy and content  in belly and soul. And when the clouds rolled in bringing with them that crisp smell of impending rain I was ready to chill on my couch sipping earl grey tea. That is exactly what I did!

a book review of sorts – the alchemist, by paulo coelho

To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation. – The Alchemist

Two months ago while doing some filing I found a post it note I had written some time in the last few years which said…

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

I researched the book and ordered it online straightaway…and then waited…

I’ve now finished the story. After every reading I was left with such a “yummy” feeling inside – so much so that I may have ‘drawn out’ the final 20 pages or so cos I just didn’t want it to end. This book is good for the soul.

The story is about a boy who leaves his ordinary life behind, listens to the desires of his heart and sets out on a journey to find the treasure. Along the way he meets some interesting characters, all of whom teach him something vital to the pursuit of his dream. He faces obstacles too. His money is stolen, he is beaten and held hostage in the middle of the desert. He truly has to fight for the desires of his heart.

I was struck by the way Coelho weaves in stories and lessons from the bible about faith and where we place value in our lives – “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This story challenges both people from western and eastern cultures to be countercultural and live from the heart. It is also a reminder that there is learning to be had in the paths we walk towards the realisation of our dream and in the journeys life takes us on.

“In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to test of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty nor impatient . If he pushed forward impulsively he would fail to see the signs left by God along his path.”

So if you do read this book one day, enjoy the journey! Hope its yummy for you too.

the silent blogger

It’s been ages since my last post. Don’t get me wrong, I have thought about starting a post many a time over these last few weeks.

But I have learned that blogging is like exercise. The longer you don’t do it for, the harder it is to get back into it.

So now that I have posted this to end the silence, I can get on with posting something a little more interesting.

ride for refugees!

On Saturday I rode 25km in RIDE for Refugees! I don’t think I’ve ever ridden that far in my life! I wanted to blog about it on Saturday night but I could barely move from the couch!

RIDE for Refugees is a non-competitive fundraising ride to raise money for refugee ministry in Sydney and Melbourne, Malawi, Greece and Austria – that’s where International Teams is involved in refugee ministry.

After sending out a few emails about the RIDE, I was so encouraged that many of my friends and family sponsored me! A substantial donation to our Redfern Riders team from an old school friend helped us reach our target of $600 and by the morning of the I had also reached my personal fundraising goal of $250. The RIDE has raised over $25,000 so far for work with those who have been displaced from their homes.

God blessed us with an absolutely brilliant Spring day. Most of the ride was actually really quite pleasant – and a refreshing way to see a part of Sydney I have never seen before.  There were some serious hills though – might do a bit more training next year so that I don’t have to walk my bike at all!! 🙂 AJ decided at the end of 25km that he wasn’t quite done so did another 25km…impressive work husband!

One of my fave parts of the day was being handed a video camera to go around and interview some riders. I chatted with some guys from Sierra Leone – refugees themselves and a family who were riding in special memory of their grandparents who had arrived in Oz as refugees 60 years ago.

Great work Sydney Refugee Team on organising! Thanks to AJ and Will for being part of Redfern Riders and thanks to those who sponsored me to help make a difference in the lives of refugees. All in all what an awesome day!

food for thought

food for the belly and food for the soul

I really love spending time with other women. Lately I have been trying to challenge myself to have more real conversations with women at church. Earlier this year I put my hand up to do womens ministry at our church. Such a ministry has basically been non-existent in the 3 years we’ve been at Redfern. I have the privilege of working with Nikki Pryde on womens ministry. She is one super organised woman and I am already learning much from her!

Our hope was to run a series of evenings which we could bring our friends along to for food for the belly and for thought. The evenings have taken the form of a Masterchef style cooking class, learning to cook food from another culture and a brief talk on the theme “A message for all nations” which we listen to as we feast.

Food for thought #1: Chinese Chicken Stir Fry with a talk from our minister’s wife Naomi…

And at our second one we learnt some Austrian cuisine – “Liptauer” (a dip) and “Palatschinken” (pancakes).

We heard from a friend who works in Sydney with women of other cultures. I was refreshed to be reminded of the truth of the grace I know in Jesus. And challenged to look at my own life and reflect on the areas where I am still trying to earn God’s approval/earn my redemption by doing good stuff… despite it being DONE in Jesus. Who am I to think I can somehow earn my salvation by good works? God looks at the heart and that is all that counts. So how is my heart going?

one saturday in september

Back in the day I had the privilege of leading a girls bible study group at St Paul’s in Castle Hill. I got to be a part of these girls lives from their mid teens until they were a few years into uni. I caught up with some of them for lunch today and loved hearing where life is taking them these days and stories of the challenges of leading their own youth bible study groups!

The afternoon was spent at Toby and Kim’s wedding – what a joy to celebrate with those guys! And I spent my evening baking up a storm while watching the swans final on tv. A bit sad that they lost. Here are my baking efforts…for morning tea tomorrow at Redfern Anglican.

choc chip cookies. just reliably awesome!

Mum's lemon slice. Always a winner!

iced bikkies for the kiddies. Used to love these when I was little.

come alive!

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.
– Howard Thurman

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time. Mostly because it is so true and yet not how most people live their lives. I think I cried the first time I heard it.

In some ways it’s easy to go through life doing what the world says you should do. You work hard for good marks in your HSC, then you go to uni, get good secure well-paid job, get married, get mortgage and some day have kids. All these things are good things, but do they make you come alive?

Often to go after that which makes you come alive, you really have to fight for it.

Back in April the National Director of International Teams offered me a job as her assistant because I wanted to help people more. I thought the idea a little crazy at the time but then couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I struggled with doubts and fears and pride. How could I become a personal assistant? I had one! The world told me I should be working my way up the career ladder towards more money and more hours and more prestige.

But as I had conversations with friends, a trusted colleague and family, they all encouraged me to go for it! They knew, like I did, that planning law didn’t make me come alive. And I had a strong sense of God saying – this is the next chapter I have in store for you. I had been praying for a new job for at least 12 months – I thought it would be in law, but hey, God always bigger and better plans!

I still struggle with doubts and fears and my pride often gets in the way but I’m so glad I took the leap of faith. While it is just a job (and as someone in a pub said to me awhile back, even the most amazing jobs out there are about 20% awesome and 80% tough hard yards) it is also a huge opportunity to see God’s faithfulness at work, to be continually humbled and to make a difference for eternity. Even the small task of opening the mail has encouraged me some days as I see big cheques come in and witness people’s generosity.

These things make me come alive! So ask yourself…what makes you come alive? And go do that.

shine

On Saturday I had the privilege of going to SHINE music conference at my old church in Castle Hill. Having led singing at our church in Redfern for a few years now with basically no training or experience, I realised by the end of the day just how hungry I was for teaching about it! Here are my highlights…

Be brave!!

When we lead worship, we are announcing God’s presence to the congregation.

“Come near to God and He will come hear to you.” James 4:8

Let me be a light upon / a hill so you can shine upon / A world that needs you mighty one ~ “Light upon a Hill,” by St Paul’s

A great encouraging day of equipping and catching up with friends. And I was excited to get up the next morning and starting putting into practice back in Redfern.

What is clear to me is that worship is about living all of a life with a heart which loves God above all. And I fail miserably at this every day. But God remains ever faithful, ever merciful and ever overflowing with abundant love. It’s about Him, it’s not about me. Shining His bright light, and not my own feeble one.

seasons and changes

Yesterday’s warmer weather for the first day of spring was food for my soul. It’s rainy, cool and wet again now, but it was a yummy taste of Spring and Summer on their way. I decided in the last few days of Winter that there were only two things I would miss about winter when it really warms up; my flannelette pyjamas and “Herbie” my lavender smelling, gingerbread man shaped heat pack.

Bring on t-shirts, afternoons at the beach, picnics, flowers in bloom and especially sunshine! I love that my current hometown includes the word “Summer.”

I was thinking today how great it is that we get to experience the seasons each year. And living in Sydney we get 4 distinct seasons. I must say that conversely, the idea of living in a place that barely experiences the seasons and is just cold all year round…is a scary one. Norway and me would not be good buddies for example.

I love the momentum of the seasons…the constant cycles of growth, and new life endings. These changes are not always welcome (like the advent of winter for me!) but inevitable all the same. Changes like seasons move us forward, grow us into more of our selves.

Me and change have a love/hate relationship. I love that changes like seasons move us forward, grow us into more of our selves, open our eyes and hearts to bigger things. I hate the process of change though – the way it tends to expose some part of our selves which is dysfunctional, fearful or sinful and needs to be left behind. It hurts but it’s a good thing in the long run.

Try getting married, moving out of home for the first time to a part of your own city you barely knew existed, finishing uni, changing churches, starting full time work and part time law school in the space of 2 months. Now that is change.

And now just a few years on…I’m not actually lawyering the days away…but more on that another day. Too much incoherent thought and over-editing going on in this brain. Gotta call it a night, but here is a pic I took on a recent weekend away….I kinda love photos too.

Pilot Post

After a good four months of deliberation, I have started a blog.

Hardest part is knowing what to say for the pilot post…inexperienced blogger here. I’m thinking I’ll keep it short for now. I really enjoy writing but I am a brutal self-editor, so I’m hoping that may change as I ease into the flow of writing here.

I’m hoping this blog will be about my reflections and thoughts as I seek to live a brighter life for the one who gave me life.