the gift of community

“Who knows other people in their local area who can help out when the baby arrives?” said the midwife.

In a room of about 15 couples, all about to have their first babies, we were the only ones in our antenatal class to put our hands up.

I know in some cultures it’s common for the grandma to come and help out for a few weeks, months or even years. And so I know that a quick survey like this doesn’t paint a full picture of people’s lives and support networks. Nevertheless, the thought that some of the people in the room might have to go it alone as they adjusted to being parents made me feel sad.

Without our church community, our hands would have stayed down too. But it’s now two and a half weeks since our baby girl arrived and I haven’t had to cook dinner since before I went into labour. We’ve had delicious fresh homemade meals delivered by people from church several nights a week, as well as a small stockpile of frozen meals in our tiny freezer for other nights. As well as the meals, we’ve received thoughtful gifts and several of the local mums are contacting me regularly to check in on how I’m going.

Our friends and family from further afield have been a great support too. One friend brought over an amazing hamper of goodies, including some homemade cookies, muesli bites and camembert cheese. And many people here in Australia and in our wider community of friends reaching across the globe are praying for us It’s so great to know we’re not alone and that our little family is in God’s strong, loving hands – both now in these early weeks, and also into the future. We want to raise our little girl in community too.

As I sit here watching our little girl wriggle and gurgle, I wonder how all the other couples in our antenatal class are going, and I pray that there are people in their lives who are supporting them through this big, challenging and exciting time.

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Advent Blog Day 9 – goodbye house!

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Today I said goodbye to the home where I did a lot of growing up. My folks are moving house this week. Mum and Dad built this home in the late 90s when I was in high school, and we moved in when I was in Year 11.

We made lots of happy memories there – 18ths, 21sts, engagement parties, the home I left when I got married, Dad helping us learn to drive by reversing up and down the battleaxe driveway, ‘studying’ for uni exams by the pool and many family Christmases.

I can remember moving there – excited about the new place but really sentimental about leaving behind the only home I’d ever known. I even wrote a message inside my bedroom wardrobe.

Now, having moved my own home several times since getting married, saying goodbye today felt odd, but I didn’t feel the same attachment to the place. Over the years I’ve learned that home is about the people rather than the house itself. Home is where your family is. The new place (which i might add, is just around the corner from the old one) will still be the family home – just a different one.

sharing our home

A year ago we moved to a two bedroom apartment with our friends Joel and Rachel. We didn’t make the decision lightly. We prayed about the opportunity and sensed God’s leading, so we took a step of faith and moved out of the only place we’d called home together.

I’d never lived with anyone other than my family and Adam.  So, like most married couples do, we learned many times over that ‘normal’ isn’t quite so normal after all.

Going into sharing with friends, I prepared to learn this all over again. We felt taking this risk was right and we trusted God would sustain us, but in truth I had many expectations and concerns. I like things to be done a certain way. I agonised over questions like:

  • How would I deal with other people’s mess?
  • Would we fight in front of our friends?
  • Would I be a ‘bad’ housemate? (I was really anxious that I would spend too long in the bathroom!)
  • How would we share the kitchen space, the cooking, the couch?
  • How would our relationship change?
Sunset view from our living room.

change

We found out a week ago that our friends are moving to Melbourne for work, so our time of sharing is fast coming to an end. God has blessed us with the provision of a new place in a short space of time, but that’s another story.

As the sun sets on this chapter of our lives, I’ve been reflecting on the year that has been.

adaptation

Sharing has been a year-long lesson in adaptation. For someone who doesn’t like sudden changes of plans and really likes things to be ‘just so,’ this has been beneficial. For example, while I was overseas, Adam and Joel had placed our microwave in the cupboard to save bench space. I thought it bizarre at first, but it’s still there, and who knows, maybe the microwave will find a similar home in our new apartment too.

simple living

Joel and Rachel lost almost everything they owned in the Haiti earthquake except their lives. They have lived in countless cities since they got married and most of their current personal possessions represent the bounty of keen op-shoppers and council clean-up opportunists. In many great ways we have been challenged to be more thrifty and to live more simply.

family

Joel and Rachel feel like family in lots of ways – we haven’t just shared rooms. From a great café or small bar find, to lengthy discussions about pacifism, theology, politics or injustice over long dinners and glasses of wine; from brunches with friends to endless cups of Rachel’s mum’s Anzac Tea Parlour tea, we have shared our day-to-day lives with these guys for the last year. We even created a mythical character together…a monacle & top hat wearing gentleman called ‘Audley Chester.’

Rachel & Joel at an Audley Chester Brunchorama!

Of course it hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when I have craved my own space, or my own way and times when indeed we have disagreed in front of our friends.

But in these moments I have received little lessons in patience and perspective, as I have been reminded to be thankful for our home and that living here for this season was part of God’s plan for our lives, so all I have to do is trust him.

As I look back I’m thankful for the adventures, laughter, and stories we have shared, for a friendship that has survived and evolved along the way, and for the many lessons God has taught me over the last year, both through our friends and the experience. Sharing our home was a risk worth taking.

With Rachel on a day trip to the south coast
Joel and Adam

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.

Charcoal chicken, reverse parking and sitting in the sunshine…feels like home

Well where to begin? It’s been almost a whole month since my last post. And two weeks since we returned from our trip overseas to a new home.

Departing for the trip overseas from our home in Summer Hill, and returning to our new place in Petersham where we’re living with friends was always going to be a challenge for me. (Adam moved us while I was en route to Switzerland).

Having lived in our little flat in Summer Hill since we got married almost four years ago, it was the only place we’d known as home together. But as Adam kept reminding me as we packed our lives there into boxes, home is where our family is – it’s not about the walls, kitchen bench or furniture we were leaving behind.

The first few days of dealing with jet lag, searching through big bags for my clothes and asking endless “Where is my _____?” and “Why is this here?” were challenging to be sure, especially for my patient husband.

But with a bit of sleep, a lot of prayer and a trip to Ikea, it’s amazing how quickly this place is starting to feel like home. The air smells like charcoal chicken from 10am in the morning and Adam’s studio is in our bedroom, and I’m getting experienced at reverse parking in the narrow streets around our place, but it has its’ charms! This afternoon I took great delight in sitting on our couch bathed in the sunshine as I finished a book (particularly since the only place to sit in the afternoon sunshine at our old place was on the loo!) and on Thursday night I walked to bible study at a friends’ place!

Courtesy of our new combined iTunes library with our housemates, this song called Feels like Home, which I’d never heard before, played as I was writing this post

…coincidence? I think not.

Looking forward to all God has in store for us in this adventure of living with friends in this season of our lives.

holding on to hope

As I read news broadcasts and see photos and videos about the flooding in Queensland, I’m reminded both that life is precious and this world is a broken place. It is hard to comprehend that much water, that much devastation to lives and families, happening in my own country.

And today I have also been thinking of Haiti. It’s one year today since the earthquake. Though there are stories of hope and survival which have come out of this very poor country at its darkest hour, I have read news reports today that life remains dangerous, many people are still suffering and homeless and rebuilding is slow.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be there. But a few months ago we met Joel and Rachel when they were looking for a church and thought ours in Redfern might be local to where they hoped to live. This amazing couple have helped us get some kind of idea.  Joel and Rachel were working as missionaries in Haiti and were two of only a few people in their building to survive the quake. They lost almost everything except their lives. They left Haiti soon after the quake for medical treatment etc and sensed God moving them on from there – ultimately to Sydney. Today Joel posted a song on their blog which paints a picture of what it was like.

As we have shared meals and life together over the past few months, I have gotten this deep sense that God has purposed this friendship. Joel and Adam share a unique passion for creative expression and Rachel and I share a heart for justice for the poor and oppressed.

I’m so thankful that God was watching over them and that we have the honour of being their friends. In their courage, passion, wisdom and strength, they inspire me. I’m praying for them today – how hard to reflect on something so harrowing and life-changing one year on.

In times like these – as floods and earthquakes devastate the physical world and human life – that I am struck again by what really matters in life. For me that’s people – family, friends, the lost, the poor and oppressed.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

I want to hold on to hope because I know Jesus will be ultimately victorious and that a day will come when the turmoil of this earth will end.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

hanging out with rachel and joel in Balmain