on seasons and surfing

Having just finished reading My Seventh Monsoon, by Naomi Reed, I’ve been thinking lately about the seasons of life. The seasons changed quickly for me recently. As I left International Teams, one season ended, and then another began when I started at CMS a couple of days later.

One of the main conclusions Naomi draws in the book (yeah I know it’s weird for this Naomi to write about another Naomi’s book, but bear with me!) is that God provides for our needs differently, but always for His purposes in the different seasons of life. This rings true and is deeply comforting as I am in the beginnings of a new season.

At four weeks in to the new job at CMS, I think I’m just starting to get used to it. There was a moment in my third week there, when I found myself staring at the two blank computer screens, interview notes and emails all in front of me. All I needed to do was write the article. If only it was that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I feel hugely privileged to be in a role where I am getting paid to write about things of eternal value. Then and perhaps most days in this season I’m going to be up against the age-old enemy of writing and all creative pursuits: resistance.

But enough about work, this week we’ve been away with friends staying in a lovely house in Green Point, NSW with an amazing view of Wallis Lake. After the big, quick change, this week has offered much-needed soul refreshment. Up until this week, amidst the busyness of Christmas and learning all the new people and operations in the new role, I was functioning in survival mode. Now after waking up to the sounds of birds tweeting and insects screeching, and watching the sunset over the lake in the evening, I think my head and heart may have almost caught up to my body.

Reading My Seventh Monsoon has also challenged me anew about focusing on being not doing. I find this hard, because I really like to achieve. Hence feeling rather frustrated with the writer’s bloc and wondering what exactly I had produced that day!

This in-built desire to achieve is something I have struggled with in learning to surf. Surfing is hard and achieving is close to impossible. Today, out of the many waves I bumbled onto, full of hope, there were many rides which could be considered failures, and maybe only one or two where I felt like I was really riding the wave in any sense of the word.

Given that I emerged from the surf today with a twisted ankle and some cuts on my toe and the usual knee grazes…was the half second ride worthwhile? I have to say, it’s a resounding yes. The beauty of surfing is in the journey of just being there in the waves, under the bright blue sky, with the sunny glare reflecting hard into my eyes and the headlands rising up on either side of the coast.

in it for the fun!

Learning to surf has taught me a few lessons over the years…

  1. Enjoy the journey. Along the lines of the being not doing.
  2. Control is illusive. When you are surfing, you have almost none. Certainly no control over the waves, the currents, the clouds, the wind.
  3. Some risks are worth taking. I decided to start surfing because I was over sitting on the sand watching Adam and others have fun. Even if I never quite have the courage to venture “out the back” to where Adam rides, I still feel like taking the risk of trying to surf is worthwhile, compared to not trying at all – because of the sheer fun – and nothing to do with whether I’m actually any good at it.

I look forward to the surfing and the lessons learned from it in years to come. But for now, one closing excerpt from My Seventh Monsoon that resonated with me, Naomi and her husband Darren were discussing whether to go back to Nepal with their three kids…

N: “…what would it say to our kids if they knew we had taken a deliberate risk, and died?”
D: “It would say to my kids that more than anything else, I’m on this earth to follow Jesus. If following Jesus means taking the hard calls, then that’s what I want to do. I want my kids to know I took risks.”

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.

the real life

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.

C S Lewis (quoted in “Shopping for Time” by Carolyn Mahaney et al)

Oh to live with this biblical truth planted firmly within. Of course. It makes sense. There are no accidents in the life God lays out for us. Hard, unexpected challenges yes. But mistakes, no.

We are in a busy, unchartered season of our lives – I suppose most seasons are – but this one seems bigger – planning for an overseas trip and moving out of our place to share with some friends…and doing both in three weeks time, within days of each other. There are lists and plans and thoughts rushing through my mind constantly and both large and slight upheavals of expectations have led to fears and tears.

This brilliant expression of biblical truth reminds me that all of these unexpected changes and interruptions are indeed ‘real life’ and that the path towards these changes and adventures is just as significant (or more) in God striving to make me more like His son.

And so I must continue to learn to ‘roll with it’ as Adam likes to say – for this is the one life I have been given, and its interruptions, or “sovereign deliveries” (as the writers of Shopping for Time call them) are all part of His glorious plan.

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.” Jeremiah 29:11

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.