Advent Blog Day 5 – Our first BBQ

I have a slightly shameful confession to make. We’ve been somewhat un–Australian for the past five years – we’ve never had our own BBQ.
Until today, when (after much research of course), Adam bought us our first BBQ!
Adam with our new BBQ!

Adam with our new BBQ!

I’m excited about all the different foods I’ll get to ‘grill’, and about learning the art of the ole Aussie BBQ for myself. I also hope that having it helps us to be more hospitable, and so I’m looking forward to the meals we’ll share with family, friends and neighbours in the years ahead. Bring on summer BBQ’s on our balcony!

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.”

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

music and my heart for justice

the week

A Tropical Cyclone in Queensland and a heatwave here. My love of summer has been somewhat diminished by this crazy week.  Right now I’m loving the relief brought by the evening breeze.

This week is my sixth postaweek2011 post. Yay! I’m trying to stick to my goal with loose rules about what counts as a ‘week.’

live music show #1: sufjan

We had the blessing of seeing two great musicians in two nights last Friday/Saturday. The first was Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House. A great last minute decision to take some cheap tickets offered by a friend (spontaneous decisions to change my plans for the evening are not my forte, but I am learning to embrace them!). Sufjan is a very talented, rather eccentric performer – but I confess I spent about half the time watching the backing vocalists as they sang, danced, played percussion instruments and other bits n pieces. I also loved that a giant net of balloons, small and large was let down in the last song. They used to do this at the Family Concerts my parents took us to at the Opera House when we were kids and as they bounced about the audience and the stage, it brought back fond memories.

live music show #2 – brooke

Brooke Fraser - Live in Sydney

I bought the tickets months ago. I’ve listened to her albums over and over…and over again. This show was much anticipated and did not disappoint. Brooke Fraser‘s songs are rich with stories of life and love, loss and hope. And you can appreciate them through your iphone headphones, but the words and melodies have a whole new depth when she sings them live.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the title track of her latest album Flags. But this song brought me to tears on Saturday and it’s hard to put into words why. I think the song paints a picture of our broken world – of injustice to the vulnerable and innocent. This is the part that got me:

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I’m sure

Oh what a beautiful day it will be when the broken world is redeemed. I look forward to this day so much, but for now on this earth and in light of my faith, I can’t ignore injustice. It tugs at my heart like nothing else. I hate it. I hate it happening to people close to me in small things and I hate it happening to people I don’t know in big ways. I can’t let my life ‘blow about like a flag on the land,’ as Brooke says in this song. I want to stand up and make a difference with my life count.

During the song I sensed God answering a dilemma I’ve been struggling over for a couple of weeks. I’m still praying about it, so you’ll have to read one of my future posts to find out more.

But for now…

“Open your mouth and sing out your song, life is short as the day is long.”

(‘Here’s to you’ by Brooke Fraser)

Will you sing out your song too?

summer holiday blessings.

Summer is my favourite time of year, and I deeply treasure spending time with my friends and husband. So a summer holiday by the beach with Adam and a bunch of friends pretty much equals living the dream.

We just spent an exceptional week away with five other couples in a quiet little holiday town near Coffs Harbour. Our abode was a quirky house with a stunning view on a headland.

With all of us staying in the one place, people have asked me “Are you all still friends?” The answer…a resounding yes! (phew!)

Most of us girls are experienced at holidays but bringing the husbands along was a first. We loved watching them bond over…simpsons quotes, beer, soccer games, coffee and fishing expeditions!

Just thought i’d share my top ten holiday highlights…

  1. waking up to the sound and sight of the beach
  2. taking crazy photos (especially on the tree washed up on the beach from the floods!)
  3. playing beach frisbee (brought back memories of my Ultimate Frisbee days)
  4. watching the full moon over the ocean
  5. standing up on my surfboard a few times
  6. playing Cluedo
  7. sitting out on the headland watching the boys fish and chatting
  8. daily zooper doopers, wine and coffee
  9. a very long swim in the ocean with the whole crew as the sun was setting and cheering everyone on as they tried surfing
  10. falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore

holiday highlights

It truly was a blessing of a week. Thanks God! I feel so thankful for the opportunity to relax in the sunshine with such great people.

A few post holiday reflections…

I am now slowly shaking off the holiday brain (one day back at work then Australia Day today!) and reflecting and praying about the year ahead. Who to spend time with? How to use my time in a way that honours God? How to get to work on time more consistently?(!!) Where will my work take me this year? What steps will I take in the direction of my heart’s desires this year?

Trusting God’s plans for the future is something I struggle with most days, even though I know in my head that it’s the best way. I can’t control the future so why worry about it…easier written than believed in my heart. Do others struggle with this? I would love to include you in my prayers as I seek to rest more and more in God’s plans.

 

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.