Advent Blog Day 4 – Friendship

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Tonight we met with our church small group – probably for the final time this year. We reflected on what the book of Proverbs has to say about friendship. According to Proverbs, great friendship is characterised by loyal, constant, unconditional love that mutually encourages both people.

It was a joy to share and reflect on these things with friends – with people we have grown closer to as we have shared life and learned together over the past year.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

In dying for us we see that Jesus is the ultimate friend. He loved us before we even knew him.

God has blessed me with many wonderful friends. I’m thankful for each one and feeling challenged to be more intentional in my friendships. I pray that I might love my friends at all times, in a way that is deeply, truly encouraging.

Here’s a little photo snapshot of some dear friends…

NaiSuse

AJNAiKtKathNai Vioricaone1seven

(and if you’re not here I still love you…it’s almost midnight – my advent blog deadline!)

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A leap day – this is the day

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It’s 29 February (still, but only just!) and a lot of people have been talking about making the most of ‘the extra day’. I have been reflecting on this verse today – it just came to mind, as verses put to Sunday School songs tend to do.

Rejoice.  According to a couple of online dictionaries I consulted, to rejoice means:

to be glad; take delight (often followed by in ): to rejoice in another’s happiness.

On one level the Psalmist is inviting us to actively praise God in and for every day, and to be glad, so to actively have an attitude of gladness in our hearts.

As a little girl this was all I understood this verse (or song) meant. To be happy every day.

But, truth is, every day we’re alive is another day God sustains us. Amidst the big and small, happy and sad, He desires our praise, our delight, in him. Why? Because He never changes – He is always faithful, holy and worthy of all praise.

When I looked at more of Psalm 118 (no I didn’t already know the reference unfortunately, just been singing the tune…I googled it) I also noticed that it looks forward to a bigger day – the day of Jesus’ victory over death.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:21-23

Since that day has already come – Jesus has died and risen and will return, and I know God’s amazing grace, how much more must I praise God in every day and act, speak, think with a heart of gladness? So much more. On leap days. Ordinary days. Exhausting days. Boring days. Exciting days. For eternity.

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.

can this summer girl be friends with winter?

I started this blog around late Winter last year, as the flowers were starting to come out, and the days were getting warmer, sunnier and longer. Now it’s almost Winter again, and crisp wind, short days and brisk mornings are feeling pretty commonplace.

I am not a Winter girl by any stretch of the imagination. I like wearing hoodies, uggboots and snuggling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket, but I don’t think that winter and I have ever or will ever be good friends. Give me thongs, sundress and swimmers any day!

Now I realise that Sydney is not really all that cold by world, Australian  or NSWstandards, but that aside it has been pretty cold for May.  The first cold snap here in Sydney and I’ve been fighting the first cold of the season, and I’m wearing multiple layers at home just to ward off the chills. Maybe I’m cold blooded. I definitely seem to have lower resilience to the cold temperatures than some of my friends (you know who you are!) but a pretty similarly low tolerance to that of my lovely mum — so perhaps it’s genetic?

The external effects are one thing but for me the struggle with being cold and feeling sick, goes deeper. The thought of another few months of feeling sick and cold most of the day leaves me feeling pretty miserable, and entertaining constant ‘I wish…(our flat had less windows/it was already summer) thoughts or dwelling on the pain and discomfort of the cold in general.

Now I know deep down though that I don’t have to (or want to) let the external circumstances of this life affect my hope or my joy. Cold surely doesn’t have to equal miserable, right?!

So I’m wondering whether I can make it through the winter months without complaining about the cold? Can Winter and I become friends? Perhaps I’ll start with one week and keep a tally of how many times I talk and think about feeling cold. Hmmm…as soon as I wrote that I thought about how cold my toes were … This could be seriously challenging. Stay tuned!

Here’s a photo from a weekend away a few years ago…and proof that (1) it’s possible to be quite happy in Winter and (2) not all of my friends feel the cold like I do – even in the Blue Mountains!

Blackheath with the girls in 2007

Nothing compares to this love.

On a different note (and because I might be a little behind on my post-a-week commitment) this song has been in my head since I heard it for the first time just over a week ago. It’s beautiful so I wanted to share it with you lovely people who read my blog (in case you haven’t heard it yet).

 

 

I find myself here on my knees again. Caught up in grace like an avalanche. Nothing compares to this love.

So profoundly true. Thank you Jesus for your endless love and grace.

a brave step

My husband is pursuing his dreams.

He has taken time off work and uplifted almost his entire home studio setup and driven up to a little house in Katoomba to record for a few days. In the last few months he has written and recorded demos of 10 songs, with the plan to record an EP of 6 songs. The recording starts now…

And I could not be prouder!

The fact that he is simply there; ready to record is a success in itself. He may spend a large chunk of his time trying to help people use water more efficiently as an Environmental Engineer but I think most of his brain space is devoted to his music. And to that he is deeply devoted – from gear to software to singing techniques – he reads about it, thinks about it, talks about it, loses sleep over it, and would love to be making it as much as he could. It is truly his passion.

Adam loves his gear

 

If only there was some way it could actually make money for us to survive on. His is our main source of income now since I took my job with the mission organisation.  We hope and pray that someday, somehow he can be spending most of his time on his passion. That’s in God’s hands and even though it seems impossible now we are trying to keep trusting that he’ll work things out for good!

One of his big dreams is for us to live in a house with a studio by the beach – recording all day, afternoon surfs. So a borrowed house in the Blue Mountains with road cases as tables is not quite the same but all things considered, I think it’s a brave step in the direction of his heart’s desire. And as his wife that is a source of great joy to me.

By the way (and i’m not biased at all) his songs are powerful and honest. The man is talented… http://www.birdsinbranches.com …is where you can find out more and read his blog!

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!