Be Brave – Be You

“Be Brave- Be You.”

Well if that isn’t a statement directed at me I don’t know what is. I have already said that my motto for this year was “Be Brave” and that the scripture that the Lord gave me was “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go “ Joshua 1:9 NLT .  The “Be you”   component of the statement was  a ‘secret of adulthood’ that I gleaned from reading “The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin” . “Be Gretchen” was one of her secrets that resonated, personally with me and whilst I was still reading the book I had began to implement, “Being  B.”  I have used this measure in regards making sure that the things that I am doing, the choices that I am making are me, that they are not measured against anyone else, and what anyone else would be doing or should be doing, but measured against myself and what I should be doing for me and my family. You and I are not made to fit into anyone else’s mould, we have our own mould, we are God’s masterpiece ( Ephesians2:11), uniquely created to be, individually ourselves.

And so here I am in the cusp of needing to make a very brave decision, a decision where my reasoning about what others do with their children as a normal part of life, is still not combating the fear that has crept into my heart. The indecisiveness I feel, as I weigh this decision is becoming quite a big dilemma for me. I don’t know what is the right or wrong answer here and I don’t want my kids to become pawns as I test the waters. Negative sounding I know, but that’s life, we all face them, whether we are positive or not, happy or sad, rich or poor, we all have dilemmas. They only way to fix them is to solve them,  and the best way for me to do that is to get it out of my head and onto paper where I can rationalise and analyse the pros, cons and God’s leading.

Since  our relocation 7 weeks ago, I have been on long service leave,  which was such an incredible blessing as it has given me time to settle the kids into our new life, but and there is always a but, its time for me to go back to work. I have never doubted that God took me from my previous job and re positioned me here, with a purpose in mind. I have always known that the job would present itself and so I have tried not to have any pre conceived ideas of what that is going to look like. I just continue to thank him in advance that He has prepares a place for me, and that His timing is perfect. So when I received a call offering me a job at a local entertainment complex doing waitressing, bar work and gaming, I had felt instantly relieved that I had something lined up to start, a job that I could do in the evenings and where I would be at home with the kids for school holidays and pick ups etc.

It all sounded great but I really wasn’t quite sold, on this being the job that the Lord has moved us all the way here for. But, I was trying not to rely on my own understanding;  because  I may be here for a customer of that workplace, or another staff member. I know that things are not always clear cut and so I had figured that I would just let it play out.

That being said, although I got the job, I have been unable to start because my husband has been working away back in our old region and has been staying away, sometimes for the whole week. The complex understood and gave me a period of four weeks to try and see if his employment settles. That four weeks grace period is up next week and I need to call them about commencing, yet I know that I am not in a position to accept the job yet. Dilemma number 1, which I suppose could easily be solved with a phone call explaining the situation, but at the same time I don’t know when he will stabilise and neither does his employer, and with a second income required to start coming in, I am really in a pickle and do not know what to do.

So I began looking online for jobs in the area, I wasn’t specific and I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, something to fit in with our life perhaps, but then there it was, a job in the same industry as where I have come from, a job that I know would be ‘Being B’. The pay is good, it has long annual leave through school holidays, its also part time so that I can still run our charity and I don’t need to rely on my husband being in this region to take it. It sounds like a win- win doesn’t it? Except for one thing, my kids.

I’m not good with letting go of the apron strings and look everybody parents differently, but for me personally, I have always taken been an overprotective parent, and that’s deeply rooted in my past. I have always worked around childcare with both my husband and myself doing a lot of shift work so that one of us could always be home with the kids, and we have always driven our kids to school.

But here I am, I have no family here to help, and my husband is working away for now, this job, if I got it, would mean a walk to the school bus on her own for Baize, and I know in the world that its not that big of a deal, (I had moved out by the time I was 15) but it’s a big deal for me who really doesn’t want her walking on her own in this new location. I have such a fear of predators, that has mainly stemmed from when I was 15, I was accosted by a drunk old man whilst waiting to be picked up outside of a doctors surgery, that memory compounded with all of my other abuse memories and as a result I have never been comfortable with my girls out on their own.

I also have Monty, this would mean that she would be in child care three days a week and her current kindergarten program for the other two. I know, plenty of kids are in full time care, but again it pulls upon my heartstrings, she is so little and she will be at school next year and this is the last little bit of time that I have with her, and I guess I feel guilty.  It’s a tough gig as a working mum trying to make these decisions from this messy and unclear side of the tapestry. I need to work there is no doubt about that, but what is the right job choice for my family in this season and how do I determine that  when fear has such an iron clasp on my heart?

As much as we think that we are stronger, it can just creep on in there, FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real….. taunting me with the worst case scenarios that something may happen to Baize, guilting me into thinking I am doing an injustice to Monty. But it’s not real. These fears have not happened. Yes, they can be real concerns, I know they can because my heart is in knots over them, but am I going to let fear hold me back from applying for a job that will help to pay to keep them in the school we have enrolled them in, put food on the table and petrol in the car and even pay for the essential swimming lessons required for Monty (now that we live at the beach)?

I have to work; it’s just a conundrum as to which job I should be pursuing. So whilst listening to worship music and praying that the Lord would slam closed any doors that were not of him, and believing that He would lead me, I placed my cup of coffee on the shelf next to my computer and there it was a candle with the words, “Be Brave, Be you.” The combat to fear is being Brave, its about  being brave enough to try, to step out, to step up, to step into all that you being called to do. Being brave doesn’t mean that you are without fear; it means that you don’t let fear stop you, it means doing something, even if you have to do it scared.

Be Brave, was the word God had given me for this year, even before all the radical changes in our lives, and Be you- well I just love finance, I truly love it!  Even when I was working the bar and the gaming floor,  I would get so excited every time that my supervisor  may require  a spreadsheet made, I would  always eagerly volunteer  my services, why?  Because its my thing. Finance is my niche and whilst I love the social aspect of the sports bar, where I can talk footy, and the gaming aspect has many people who need support and understanding, its finance that I love to do for work. Its part of being true to me.

I guess this post has been about trying to work it out in my own heart and mind, I need to be brave enough to pursue what is uniquely me, and trust that if this is not what God has planned for me then He will indeed slam shut the door like He has in the past.

And I need to gain a greater trust of Him with my children. This is not about being naïve and placing them in harms way, but I think that it’s about learning to let go a little, and stop being held back and in turn holding them back by the fear, that I have of the world in which we live. Even as I type this I know that this is going to be easier said than done, because my children are precious to me and I don’t know how, not to be, so fiercely protective.  But I think that God is calling me to be brave enough to trust Him with them.

This whole move has pushed me out of my comfort zone on so many levels, but this is the new life that He has given us. We have been in prayerful pursuit of a better life, a leaving behind of old traumas, old mindsets, and old footholds and the Lord is slowly breaking them off. I know that this is the year of Brave faith for me and so with that being said, I bravely hit send on the finance job application. Whether I get it, well that’s now in Gods hands, but pushing send was me saying “Here I am God, send me.” Hitting send was saying “I’m still scared about leaving the kids, I’m still scared about Baize walking on her own, but I want to be where you need me and if this is where you need me, doing a job that I will love, that provides well for my family then my fear is not going to stand in your way, let your will be done.”

Planted for His purpose

 

Before our move I had been at the same church for 17 years. I have seen the incredible highs of outreach, unity, salvation’s and growth and yet I have endured personally the heartbreak of church life lows. I have served under five Pastors and there have been seasons where I have begged God to release me to a different church.

Someone once explained to me an analogy of a tapestry, where from the rough side that we stand on, we can only see the mess, the loose threads going this way and that, often with no clear picture in sight. But the creator of the tapestry, knows exactly what they are weaving,and precisely where all of those loose threads are going. And when the times comes for us to stand on the other side of the masterpiece, only then can we see the beautiful full picture, that has been carefully woven with love and purpose.

God was weaving the threads of His purpose in my life and I am so thankful that I had learnt to develop an obedient heart, for even though I was hurt and justified in wanting to leave, Gods purpose for me was to stay, where my character would grow through the challenges. I had serious issues with rejection, and church became another platform where I felt the sting over and over. I have an incredibly powerful salvation testimony, one that completely changed my life and one that I knew could change the lives of others, who believe that their only freedom lies in suicide. I was completely on fire for God and for the lost and I had so much to say, but in these early seasons of my christian walk, I was never given an opportunity. The rejection I had felt and the sense of invisibility became the root of my problem,  it distorted my perception and became the stronghold through which  I filtered all of my church hurt. But still I stayed, I stayed because that it where the Lord wanted me, and I wanted to seek His will for my life above all else. I stayed and the Lord himself ministered to me , and walked me through, rejection to forgiveness and maturity.

Throughout those seasons I had still been seeking the Lord, I was still tithing, I was still interceding, I was still serving in children’s church and I knew that I was positioned for God to move in my life. The Lord grew so much in my character through those years, and this truly helped me to understand the meaning of being planted, despite the fact that my flesh was hurt.

Now I stand on the other side of that seasons tapestry and I can see so clearly all of the incredible blessings that I would have missed out on if I had given in to my flesh and offense. Blessings that the Lord had been preparing in my future, that were a direct result of being planted in my home church.

I have learnt that being planted simply means staying where God had placed you for His purpose. He knows what is needed in our lives and prepares the exact soil required for us to grow in character, resilience, trust and faith. If I had left when I went through disappointment, rejection and offense, then I would most likely have been church hopping for the last 17 years and never walked in the blessing of my perseverance; I would have missed out on my professional career and the growth of my ministry, both of which were initiated by opportunities that came directly from my relationship within my church home. Both of which have been part of Gods overall plan for my life. God indeed did have a ministry for me, and my passion never wavered in all those years, but I needed to learn a few things about leadership before I could walk in all that He had prepared for me.

Church is a gathering of imperfect people, yet we have an expectation or idealism that it should be perfect and when we find, as time surely will tell, that it is not, if we are not planted in the house, with our roots dug deep then we can easily be deceived by our own thoughts, of another perfect church, or a perfect Pastor, to which there is neither. We have only a perfect God, and the hope and trust in His perfect plan for our lives.

                                                          j29

And so this morning as I sat in my new church for the third time, I looked around and it suddenly hits me that we are really alone here. I don’t know many other people compared to knowing everyone at our previous church back home. But in that moment I also realized that this is ok. My heart felt completely at peace with the realization that I don’t need to know everyone just yet, these things take time and as the Lord continued to speak to my heart, I saw a seed being planted. A confirmation, that this church was indeed to be my new home, and with a moment of clarity that assured me that I had all the time needed.

I don’t need to be in a rush, I don’t need to try and get noticed, I don’t need to get a meeting with the leadership to tell them who I am, and all about my nation wide ministry or my years of service working for the church . I don’t need to tell them I’ve been on leadership, that I have a heart for intercession and that I would be happy to come and pray for people. No, today I am assured that all I need to do is worship the Lord, and wait on Him. I have been re positioned and planted for His purpose. He knows my gifts and my credentials for he has blessed me with them in the first place.

I am symbolically a seed that the Lord has planted into this house for such a time as this. I am reminded of the 25 year old version of myself, who entered a church, 17 years ago  where I didn’t know anyone, yet grew into a women who had her own office in the building, living a future that I had never foreseen not even for a moment when my young heart felt rejected by leadership. So too will the older wiser version of myself, walk in a future that as yet I cannot see, but God knows the very people sitting in this church that I will one day call my family and closest friends.

Regardless of what storms may come, this is where the Lord wants me and here I shall stay until He directs otherwise.

Orphaned in an instant – The devastating impact of domestic violence

The news reports came flooding in of a tragic murder /suicide in country Victoria. Reporters were deeming it another case of domestic violence, where an argument had broken out between a couple in their family home. It was believed that the children had been in the home during the argument but that the father had let them go to a neighbour’s house before shooting their mother and then himself.  As I read those words instantly my mind envisioned four little kids, running from the house in terror, the oldest at nine, in my mind was probably clutching the 2 year old, and running for their lives. My heart began to shatter as I felt the thoughts touch something deep in my heart and then suddenly there it was, the memories of three other children being pushed out the door, by their terrified mother, begging them run, to seek refuge at a neighbours, whilst she stayed behind the closed door to endure the continuing wrath of yet another enraged man, who too had access to a gun.

I remember my own heart beating in terror, pounding as though it was going to smash through my chest. It was hard to breathe through the fear, it was hard to run, but run we did. I remember being so scared for what would happen to my Mum. Why didn’t we call the police? Why didn’t the neighbours call the police? These are the questions that I am asking myself now, perhaps 27 years after the last incident and the answer, as best as I can try to fathom, separated by some many years, is because it was a normal part of our life.

It wasn’t the first time that we had been forced to run to our neighbours during an explosive outrage. My stepfather was a very frightening man, who would make many  many manipulative threats to keep us compliant. Slung on his hip, worn for his employment was the ultimate in terror,  an ever present reminder of my biggest nightmare. This was our normal, and after so many years, i had felt that there was no help on the horizon, that we just had to make it through until he calmed down and then it would be as though nothing had happened, until the next time. Although It may have been resolved for him when the anger subsided, but not for us kids, the memories and the intensity of fear will always remain.

When I was 12 years old, I remember receiving a phone call from my best friend telling me that her step father had killed her mother before turning the gun on himself, leaving behind six children.  To this day I cringe as I remember my idiotic, 12 year old shocked response that said “Oh no! Oh I’m so sorry, are you sure?” After exchanging a few more words, she was gone. I didn’t know where she was living, I didn’t know how to contact her and I didn’t know when I would be seeing her again. I remember being completely shell shocked for her and her siblings, who I also knew well. My greatest fear had just become her reality and never again would I doubt that step fathers can actually kill mothers.

Awareness and support for victims of domestic violence wasn’t as well publicized in my childhood as it is now and I personally have many issues pertaining to intervention for victims of domestic violence, and appropriate followups, but regardless of my views and all the awareness we now have in Australia, still we are tragically watching unfold  another horrifying murder in what is being described as a normal family.  Relatively normal, on the outside, is my take. The papers are saying that neighbours and friends described, the father in this tragedy, as a great guy, and that they were a normal family. I wonder if that’s how our neighbours perceived us, normal?  Or was it just how they perceived him, normal with a temper?

Most offenders have friends, they have work mates and bosses and I guess unless they are unusually depicted as a stand out, type of weird, then most of these offenders appear to be average normal people, with average families and that’s how others relate with them, simply by the face that is presented to them.

Our neighbours were his friends, they went fishing together. Truly, I wonder now just what did they think when we would go running seeking refuge?  Did they ever think that this is getting out of hand?  Or did they just see the face of their fishing mate and think that perhaps as kids we were exaggerating? I don’t know and I am absolutely baffled. I try to put myself in the neighbour’s position without the bias of living through it and how I would actually respond if faced with the same situation. I imagine three horrified kids come running through our gate, saying “Dad’s gone off again”. I imagine that I can hear the yelling, without understanding the words. I imagine a thought process on whether to call the police on your friend, including the struggle of dobbing in your mate. But no matter how I imagine it, I cannot remove myself from the bias of living through it, or of seeing my friends family devestated by the worst possible outcome, where a relatively normal person, hits that point in rage where there is no turning back. And I cannot imagine not ringing the police for assistance to help the victims in their time of terror, no matter how normal it may appear to them .

Normal,  everyone seems so damn normal, our life was normal, this families life was normal, and often even in all its terror, these types of scenarios also appear normal because that is how we are conditioned by our surroundings and circumstances, its what we know. But people, killing mothers is not normal, killing children is not normal, terrorising women and children is not normal. Nor is the other horrific act that is out of control, where adults think that they have a right to rape other people’s children, it is not normal, yet horrifically it is those appearing normal to their extended family, friends and co-workers that are committing these heinous acts behind the closed doors of what the neighbourhood deems “just a normal family.”

As the number of  deaths of women, killed in cases of domestic violence grow with each passing year, my hope is that society will begin to get an attitude of  making the necessary calls in order to potentially save a life.  If you know of someone, who is suffering in a domestic violence relationship, even if they appear relatively normal in the times when things are ok, if you are concerned please make the call, you don’t know the reasons behind why they cant, or why they haven’t been able to themselves.  #makethecall

Many of us will always have the tragedies of what has gone on behind our closed doors, forever etched in our memories. I’m hoping my blog will be a place where we can explore some of these topics in later posts. One thing I do know though is that, however painful our past, it does not have to determine our future.

Before I close, I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to the children who lost both their parents following this horrific tragedy last month, my thoughts and prayers are also for the extended family and friends of both parties.

New Normal’s

It’s the 19th of April, the date that signified that our surreal holiday experience was over and that we, in fact actually did live here in this beautiful region of Australia. And so, began our first day of school, kindergarten, and having guests over for dinner. Today was the first day of what would become our new normal’s.

Baize’s experience was well, not so normal for her. Firstly she is going to a school of over 2000 students whereas she has previously been at a school of 420, her whole schooling life. She is also still on crutches and there is a whole school assembly at a completely different campus, first up on her first day. Thankfully arrangements were made with the teaching staff, and one of them has offered to drive her back to her rightful campus;  the one person that she knows has also agreed to meet her out the front, so that she didn’t have to hobble in alone. I’m not quite sure what would have happened to her had I not called yesterday and was hen informed that the assembly was on. Praise God, I did call and we were able to make the appropriate arrangements, for I can only image her anxiety, amidst the confusion and her injury if she had just shown up normally.

Arriving at the meeting point, we both greeted her friend and I helped her out of the car, phone in hand, eager to take a first day of school photo together. However one look at the awkward horror on both their faces, as they nervously looked around to see who may be watching and I quickly put it away and got back in the car. They are both too cool for public first day of school photos, and look I get it!  I realise now that the other kids would have been looking anyway because she had crutches, then to have a Mum standing on the curb wanting to take photos when you are 15 that would be very embarrassing. Gosh, I remember at 14, making my own Mum drop me a block from school just so that the other kids wouldn’t see me get out of our old car.

Watching her bravely hobble off on her crutches, with her heart most likely thumping in anticipation, all decked out in her grand new blazer and proper college school bag, I had noticed that surprisingly, I wasn’t feeling anxious for her, and that my heart was filled with a peace that comes with knowing that she will be ok. “Well, she will be if she hurried on up, she was kind of dawdling” I had thought, as I watched her friends have to slow their pace to match hers.  I know, I know, cut her some slack, the poor kid’s on crutches! But I had a moment of anxiousness creep in as I didn’t think that her friends would want to be late on the first day.

Monty, however has driven me completely nuts this morning whilst I  have tried to prepare for my first big entertaining evening. Nuts, because it’s her first day of kindergarten and she is terribly put out that she has to start in the afternoon and couldn’t start when Baize did. The poor sausage has had her bag packed since yesterday afternoon and was determined to wear it whilst we took Baize to school , even though she didn’t start for another 4 hours.

When we were finally on our way I had said to her “Today you are going to meet your new best friend, are you excited?” She eagerly shook her head up and down like a little puppy. You bet she was excited. Inwardly I was still praying that this would be the case and that she would settle, and that it was going to be just as exciting as she was anticipating.

When we arrived we met her new teacher who took us in early and showed us around the room.  Monty had happily investigated all of the new things to play with, whilst I had spoken with her teacher. Then the doors had opened and all of the children came streaming in. The assistant had begun a music routine on the mat that all the children obviously knew and so after putting away their bags, they joined the assistant on the mat. Monty, however hung back, with her fingers in her mouth, in a typical show of nervousness.

“This isn’t looking good” I had thought with the first pangs of my own anxiousness. Then her teacher Kylie, walked up hand in hand with an adorable little doll called Sara. “Hello Monty, I’m Sara and you’re going to be my best friend.” Well Monty’s face had just lit up like a Christmas tree, with the mention of the magic word ‘best friend’. That was all it had taken for her to feel accepted and immediately the two of them sat down together and started talking.

Within 5 minutes it was time to go outside, after locating their hats Monty and Sara had ran off hand in hand. As I wandered outside with the teacher, my heart swelled, as I saw Sara pushing Monty on the swing. What an answer to prayer this precious child had been, there were no tears , no holding back, no more chewing on her fingers, just two little girls holding hands as Monty and her new best friend began to get to know each other.

It’s now 2:50 pm and time to go and get both the girls and hear all about their first days. My prayer is that they will both have been wonderful.  It’s been such a big move and there has been so much change in our lives, but God has shown me every step of the way that this is a re-positioning for His purpose. The very fact that gorgeous Sara had chosen the word ‘best friend’, and that I myself had used that same word to describe the person that she would meet after having to leave Layla, was I believe, completely of the Lord.

And so I am choosing to keep

trusting in Him and believing that they have both had fantastic days, as fantastic as what my I am declaring in faith, that my first dinner party will be tonight.

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“The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

“The Happiness Project”  by Gretchen Rubin.

Last night I finally finished a book that I had started back in November called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It was an interesting read with some really thoughtful probes to get you contemplating not only the things in life that you truly enjoy for you, but how your own happiness can contribute to the happiness of those around you.

Now for the big question, am I happier for reading this book? Well I haven’t yet started my own happiness project, but I have spent time meditating on some of her thought provoking ideas, quotes and concepts. In response, I began by making some subtle changes in my life wherever I could, that I believe have, in turn made me feel a lot happier.

There was definitely one area that was a complete standout on the things that make me happy and that was reading.  I absolutely love reading and writing, but I don’t actually get to read very much at all, unless you count Facebook. For the past fifteen years or so I have been lucky to read a book a year, when prior to that I would be able to read one a week.

Every year I go to our regions annual book fair and every year I buy a bag full of books that I have every intention of reading …..One Day! With each passing year, I have learnt that “one day” is probably not going to be a day in my very near future and so, for the past few years, I have prayed as I have walked out with my collection, “Lord, please don’t let me die before I have a chance to read all these books, because I really and truly want to be able to read these books.” I do have great intentions of making a start on them, but realistically I know full well that my collection of books is probably building towards my retirement.

I think that because both books and writing is deeply personal, I find that I need my own space to do both. I love to immerse myself in writing and the same is for reading, but with a young little one and a busy schedule, I just don’t have that kind of space throughout the day. My nights seem to be no better, for even if I try to read something after work, I find that I don’t end up getting very far before my eyes start drooping.

So, the question is how do I build, being able to read and write into my daily life?  How can I practically focus on making myself happier by indulging in the things that I truly love to do for me? I began by making a firm resolution, and that was that, I am not going to die of old age before I have read those books, and I am not waiting until retirement to read them either! I am going to start reading them today, even if it’s for only ten minutes a day. Page by page, if that’s what it takes I will get to finish these books, I will begin reading again, because reading makes me happy. I resolved that I was also going to continue writing my growing collection of blog pieces, if only for my own benefit for now. I decided that I am no longer going to deprive myself of these two simple pleasures.

Although making time for the things that I love to do for me, was a big win on my personal happiness scale, there was also a much  deeper impact had in my heart, with regards to a statement that Gretchen wrote in her “Secrets of Adulthood“ quotes;  “The days are long but the years are quick”.

I have been blessed, with basically two generations of children, and I have seen how quickly the years pass by.  The days of a busy mum with little ones are long and can often be utterly exhausting  as you try to juggle all the hats, tick all the boxes and meet all the responsibilities for each new day. The days are so very long…….. but Gretchen’s statement is so very true, that the years go by very quick. My heart has been reminded to make a conscious effort that whilst I am making more room in my life for reading and writing , to also ensure that I make more room in those long days just to be able to truly enjoy the blessing of having a beautiful vibrant four and ½ year old in our lives.

Another blessed quote that Gretchen made that has been making my life a whole lot easier was “If it takes under a minute, do it now.”  Those little annoying tasks, the bobby pins left on the bathroom sink rather than in the drawer, the throw pillow that someone has let slide onto the floor, that odd sock that is still sitting on the floor, all under a minute jobs to put away,  and I have found a sense of peace and completion, by just doing it now.

This book is definitely worth the read and you may just surprise yourself and your loved ones by allowing yourself to do some things that you enjoy for you. You may also find that her quotes, secrets and resolutions resound personally with you, as you bring them into the context of your own lives. They are thought provoking, that it for sure.

Life really is short in the scope of Eternity,  and yet the days are long and the years are quick. I am hoping that today, we can all get a fresh perspective on the things that make us happy and our loved ones who will all benefit from our cheery hearts.

Have a great day

B

Ed Sheeran’s Pre Sale Panic

Today, I joined the thousands of other fans who were all desperate to secure tickets to Ed Sheeran’s, 2018 Australian concert, when the pre sale launched at 2pm.

Throughout the week I had logged back into my Ticketmaster account just to make sure that all my details were up to date, hoping to avoid any setbacks on the big day. At 12:30 pm I set my computer up at the bench opting for the most direct line to the modem, again trying to safeguard any internet drop outs. I had the pre sale code and my credit card within hands reach as I logged into my Ticketmaster account, I proceeded to find Ed’s concert details and entered my pre sale code allowing me access before the general tickets go on sale next week. The countdown had begun and the literal clock was moving closer to the big moment with each passing second.

My sister and I were intending to each take one of our daughters, for their birthdays next year and since my sister was at work today, I was given the task of securing the tickets. I had a pleasant surprise from my niece who had driven down the previous night to visit friends, but had stopped in on her way home to offer some moral support, as we anxiously anticipated what was truly going to be the luck of the click. We both knew people who had tried to get Harry Styles tickets last week and had missed out when they had sold out in 4 minutes. This information only increased the unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach, the closer that we drew to 2pm.

My insides were both full of butterflies and knots, and my heart was beating like crazy, the way that it does in the dying seconds of an Ebay bid, where you are currently the highest bidder, or like it was in Saturday’s football game where Collingwood was 3 points up with 40 seconds to go until the siren, but GWS had possession of the ball. Seriously I often wonder why I put myself in these possibly life threatening situations, for my heart literally feels like it is going to thump clean out of my chest.

All of a sudden it was 2pm and the lines were open, it was all systems go as I clicked through the prompts only to get the loading swirl, and the loading swirl, and the loading swirl …..

“Cant this thing go any faster?” “Do we refresh?” “ Nope, it says don’t refresh” “I know, but look, its not actually doing anything” “Do you think that it really is doing something”  “Its loading“ “ I can see that its loading” “ Do you think that they have already sold out?”

If you were one of the thousands of fans who tried to get tickets today, or on any other big name pre sale day , I am sure that you will understand these types of conversation that you have with yourself or any one else that’s around.

Finally we get through to the next stage where you can search for tickets, over and over, in any given combination were the words in red “there are no tickets available at this time in your search criteria, blah, blah, blah” So, you hit search again, in the hope that this time there will be, only to find that you now have to identify that you a not a robot, by selecting over and over the squares containing cars, the square containing buses, the square containing shop fronts and the square containing mountains and street signs. “Oh my goodness, I am not a robot !!!! “ Surely I had proved that the first time. But oh no, for the next forty five minutes, desperate to secure tickets, and following the advice given by Frontier Touring, to keep trying until the sold out announcement is made, we kept trying and kept having to prove that I was not a robot every two minutes.

Eventually I had to leave to get Baize from school, we still didn’t have tickets and our hopes were pretty much deflated, that we were going to get lucky by someone else’s purchase timing out. My niece needed to get moving on her 2.5 hr trek home and we were just about to call it a day, when she saw an announcement on Twitter, saying that they would be opening another presale at 3:30pm for the following night. Well this had left me out of the race, as I would be driving, but not about to give up, my niece volunteered to man the computer, and give it one last try before heading home. I thought it would also help to have all the particulars set up in my phone so that if I made it to school by 3:30pm, then I could start trying too and then Baize could continue try as I drove home.

I couldn’t believe my luck,  I was stopped at almost every set of red traffic lights from here to school and as I looked at my clock tick over to 3:30pm, my heart sank a little with disappointment as I wouldn’t make it in time to try. I pulled into the school car park at 3:35pm, just as my phone began ringing.  Answering it , I was so happy to find that It was my niece, who was elatedly telling me that in less than five minutes she had secured us four tickets. After an hour and a half of previously trying to no avail, we could finally say that the girls had gotten their birthday wish, we were going to see the incredible Ed Sheeran.

We are four happy little vegemites here tonight, but boy what a nerve racking endeavor it had been to secure them.

I am wondering if anyone else gets as anxious as I when it comes to these time limited scenarios?

Entertaining Eyesores

An entertaining eyesore, I guess about sums up how I feel about my ability to entertain people in my home. Truthfully cooking and presenting food is definitely not my forte and most of the time I laugh it off and tell people “Well, we can’t be good everything, can we?” I think that often I’m trying harder to justify it more to myself by meditating on my obvious strengths, and somewhat appeasing my worth, in the knowledge that others who can cook, may not be able to do the things that I do well.

Knowing that I can whip someone’s accounting books into shape at the blink of an eye and that I am an organisation guru, who can also build a set of shelves, strip a piece of furniture and haul a wheelbarrow full of rocks usually appeases my lack of ability or desire to have dinner guests.  In times when I have had to entertain, my suggestion has always been a BBQ at my sisters, whose plate presentation, matching crockery, cutlery, glasses and serving platters matched her graciousness to allow me to let her entertain my guests.

My sister, can definitely cook and she also functions under the weight of perfectionism, which is both a blessing and a curse for her, but it’s a win for me in this case, as I could never present a plate the way that she does and so, I am always in awe of remarkable presentation.

For the most part of life I have been comfortable with the fact that cooking just isn’t one of my strengths, but my recent move, has indicated to me that perhaps I am not as comfortable as I once thought. Pretty rotten timing for me to feel all domesticated since I no longer have my fall back gal,  who I know, will now laugh and say to me “This is all your own fault and that’s what you get for moving away from me”.

But the reason for my change of heart, is because we have wonderful friends here, who not only happen to be exceptional cooks but who have already had us over for dinner multiple times and I have yet to return the favour. I truly do want to be able to bless them with a meal, but I also want it to not only be edible, but also look good on their plates. I remember Joyce Meyer, preaching a message about having people over for lunch after church, where a simple BBQ of say sausages in bread, turned into marinated steaks, and ended with her thinking she had to paint the deck and clean down all the outdoor setting. Oh how I relate to this message!

This is an example of my thoughts “if we do have people over, I will obviously need to buy new tea towels, oh and matching glasses, because look at them they are all mismatched and those plastic containers, How old are they? They are all gross and stained from left over spaghetti bolognese, I can’t have that, what if our guests just happen to see them? And ugh, don’t even get me started on the baking pans”.

Even though I can shake my head and wonder how it is that we allow ourselves to get so complicated, I know that I am not the only one who still continues to feel this way. In truth, I know that it should not be about how fancy the table is, or whether my dessert consists of ice cream with ice magic or whether I serve up a croquembouche; the meaning of getting together should be about fellowshipping, hanging out and doing life together. I’m sure that my friends would be happy just to be invited, and the longer that I leave this the ruder, I am appearing…..but, and here comes the but, it still hasn’t changed the fact that I still feel rattled about wanting to be able to feed them something nice, at my matching dinner table.

A few years ago, a young girl gave me three new cookbooks as a random gift. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas and so initially I was baffled because everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have any desire or time to bake. Yet this gift of cookbooks titled “Four”  that only featured recipes consisting of four ingredients, had made me wonder if perhaps God was nudging me, to take the plunge and invite people into our home. However, given my lack of desire and experience, I pushed that thought aside very quickly and placed them up in the cupboard along side my trusty old year 10 textbook “Cookery the Australian way”. Yes, further proof that I don’t have a vast range of cooking experience, since I have never felt the need to update.

This week has seen me seek out those three books, still in immaculate condition, in the desperate attempt to find something easy enough, yet good enough to take the plunge and have my friends over. But that only led me to another myriad of questions set to baffle my inexperienced entertaining mind.

“How do you know what people like and don’t like? Oh gosh, here we go again with the complications! What if I find a recipe and then do a practice run, only to finally invite my friends over and they hate the ingredients? How does everyone else manage when they have people around? They have a BBQ! It’s not the right weather for a BBQ. Oh the pressure! It’s no wonder that I have procrastinated for so long, UGH, how simple if they needed their BAS done, and then I could bless them over a mudcake”.

The whole conversation with myself had left me completely deflated, why bother talking to myself?  I clearly, didn’t have the answers or the experience. Yet, still the dilemma remained, I truly wanted to do this for my friends, and so I discarded the cookbooks and gave myself a pep talk. I began to build myself up with the few and far between, more elaborate meals that I had prepared for my family over the years. And one of them stuck out as a possibility, a slight glimmer of hope that I could perhaps practice on my elder children when they came to visit on the weekend.

It wasn’t going to be as grand an affair as I had envisioned, but still it was a challenge to myself, a starting point and that’s better than where I had been all week. It was going to push me out of my comfort zone and get me thinking about table settings, serving timings and it was an opportunity to practice.

This meal, for me is about being brave enough to try, so that we can enjoy the company and laughter of our friends. I will just have to accept that at this stage it’s never going to be croquembouche, but I know that it’s not going to be ice cream with ice magic either and of course there will be matching glasses and new tea towels.

Watch this space for the trial updates .

The trucks had been loaded, the pot plants were gone and the house had been left shining like the top of the Chrysler building. I had been the last one left to leave and I had wanted to take just a moment to reflect on our whirlwind relocation and the past six years spent here. This house had been our “begin again” house, built following the recession of 2007-2009, almost a year after selling our previous home and finalising our business. It had been the biggest house on the cheapest block, and all that we could afford. It may have had no frills, except for the kitchen cupboards, but it had been an incredible blessing and a fulfilment of the promise, that God would provide for us.

It was funny, the things that had sprang to mind, as I had sat there remembering all of the hours of hard work that it had taken to build the gardens, the deck and the driveway. I had remembered my Mum living in a friend’s caravan on the front lawn, whilst her own house was being built. And I had smiled, shaking my head as I had remembered how blessed we were that it didn’t burn the house down, the day that it caught on fire. I had remembered bringing Monty home from hospital, to the first real nursery that I had ever prepared, in the home where she had taken all of her monumental firsts. I had looked over to the boardwalk and I could still see her learning to fly her kite and ride her bike as she had raced up the length of it. I remembered both the elder kids getting their L’s and their P’s here and driving out the driveway on their own for the very first time. I had looked over at the garage door and remembered the annual first day of school photos, with all the kids lined up in front of it. We had seen beginnings of kindergarten and high school, and graduations from senior school and university. There had been many milestone memories in this house, and I was left with a sense of thankfulness and gratitude for the season in our lives when our family was growing to independence, the season when our family unit was together.

Standing pride of place in the middle of the front yard was my ornamental pear tree. A gardener, I am not, but I had planted and nurtured this particular tree, which had now grown strong and beautiful over the past few years, a gift that had thoroughly blessed my heart every September, when I would see the first buds of blossom, signifying the changing season. As I had looked at the tree now at the end of summer, so lush, leafy and full of promise, I had realised metaphorically, that this is exactly how I felt about the new season ahead of us.

We were all born here in this region, yet now we were leaving behind all that we had ever known, including our jobs, our friendships, and our church community. We were saying goodbye to our siblings, parents and our precious elder children, both of whom were content to stay here in this region, living their own lives. The magnitude of leaving could have felt overwhelming all things considered, but as I said goodbye to our family home it didn’t, I was full of thanksgiving to the Lord for all the family blessings and wonderful memories that we have encountered here, but I was just as thankful that I was leaving the battleground, still in one piece.

Later on that evening at my Mum’s our family had prepared a small farewell for us, and my eldest daughter presented me with a gift, it was a beautiful and professional illustration that she had done of our home. “I know that you are leaving it” She had said “But I wanted to give you something to remember our family home, well the longest house that we had ever lived in”.  This beautiful gift had resonated profoundly within me, not because I had developed a deep attachment to the house, but because of all that the God had shown me only an hour earlier, as I had sat out the front, thanking Him for the beautiful memories that my family had made there.

There were many tears that night, but somewhat strangely for everyone else, they were not from me. I would genuinely miss my family that is a given, but as the memories of the past few years flashed in my thoughts, and the truth of the pressure, the grief and the pain, boldly stares me in the face, I know assuredly, that I have cried all the tears that I can cry. I know that this move, is the suddenly moment, that has picked me up out the pit and set my feet once again upon the rock. This move is about God picking up the broken arrow of my life, that once never missed its target, and carefully putting it back together.

I know that it’s probably hard for my family to understand the reason why I am not sad, because in order to understand the relief, they would have had to understand the grief, and letting people in is not something that I am good at. Of course they had been able to visibly see the constant flow of tears, that had over time probably de-sensitised them to the fact that something was terribly wrong, but what they didn’t know is how much more heartbreaking their tears would have been now, had the battle not been won.

This new season is truly a gift of life, it is a time of restoration, in so many areas and I believe that as a family, including my eldest children that we will all flourish and grow in this season. I don’t know what the future looks like, and I don’t know what God has planned for me to do, but I know without a doubt that He is preparing a place for me. Right now I have long service leave and until such time as that leave is up, my plan is to worship Him, wait on Him, set up our new house, settle all of our kids into our new lives and prepare for our new future, in peace and in trust knowing that God has everything in control; and that the season of sorrows is finally over.

Leaving Layla

“Layla is my very best, best friend, isn’t she mummy?” My littlest one, Monty chirped as I helped her out of the car for kindergarten. “I am going to play with her and Harry today, because they are my very best friends”. My heart sank a little as I looked down at her cheery little face, filled with so much genuine excitement to be spending the morning with her best friends in the whole world. Pushing open the gate, I suddenly realised that she only has one more Monday left before we relocate. Anxiety gripped the clutches of my heart, creating an onset of racing thoughts as to whether we really are doing the right thing by moving away from everything that we know and love.

The faith filled, anchored in our decision, part of my thoughts stood firm and almost dismissive in tone “I believe that just like everything else has fallen into place, so will this, there will be a Layla in our new region for Monty”. But from a place deep in the recesses of my mother heart, the question remained, edged in fear “Will there?”

Just choosing a kindergarten in the first place had been such a big dilemma for me last year, as I had stressed so much about her ability to settle, knowing that crèche had been a nightmare. I had also worried about whether she would make a best friend like she now had at crèche, a friend that had finally made leaving Monty a lot easier for both of us.  I prayed a lot about this as I began to tour different kindergartens with the sole purpose in mind of finding not just the right one but maybe one where she would be in the same group as someone that she would eventually go to school with the following year.

I had been so delighted to find a wonderful kindergarten hidden away, not more than five minutes from my house, a kinder where the teacher was the same one that had taught my daughter Baize, many years before, and a kinder that also had Harry. We had known Harry’s family from church and finding out that each other’s children were going to enrol at this particular kindergarten, and then to the same school the following year was an answer to prayer for both myself and Harry’s mum. Then as if to add icing to the already glorious kindergarten cake, I was to find out that Layla, my friend’s little girl, would also be attending the same kindergarten.

You know right from the onset, Monty never skipped a beat at this kindergarten and these past few weeks have been the best introduction to kindergarten that I could possibly hope for, and so very different from that year at crèche. We have had no tears about going and no tears of overflowing emotions when I pick her up. These past few weeks have been perfection, perfection that I am sad to leave, perfection that I am really scared Monty won’t ever have again.

We have toured her new kindergarten and she has had a play there, but a Layla has yet to reveal herself. I know that I can’t expect too much, as she was only there for a half an hour;  I know that we have to give it time, that we have to give her time but as a mum, my heart hurts for her and I grapple with this because  I know that I am taking her away from something very special.

Guilt and fear have a way of wrestling into your spirit and quite easily grasping a tight rein on your emotions. I know that I need to get a hold of my thoughts here before Guilt and Fear had me believing that this was the wrong move. So I will console myself  in prayer and remind  myself that this is a good move, that it is infact a God move;  a  specific re- positioning for His purpose.  The Lord has opened doors for her to be in a  fantastic new school/ kindergarten environment, the kind that we could not have orchestrated on our own.  The Lord has opened doors for all of us in this move, He is in control and because He is, I have to trust that Monty will be ok, that Leila and Harry will be ok, and that I will be ok.

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