Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A suitcase question: To share or not to share?

Our lastest conversation in preparation for our trip:

Dh:  I think we could get away with one suitcase for both of us.

The last time we shared a suitcase was approximately 17 million years ago.  Well...maybe just 17, without the million.  But a long time.  As I recall it, we were camping (in a tent) and it was torture.  My side of the case was nice and neat and tidy.  His side of the case looked like a bomb had gone off and it just spread across over my stuff.  Every single time he went to the case I had to go back and tidy it up - for my own sanity, you understand, not because I was being all loving and serving or anything so virtuous.  I vowed, then, that we would never share a case again. 

Oddly, this mess thing only happens while travelling.  At home his clothes are put away (not by me, in case that's what you're thinking.  I'm not that nice) and it doesn't hit my radar as something to deal with, because it just isn't there.

Personally, I'd be content with my small case (a bit bigger than carry-on size) and he can take the case the next size up, for his shoes and the coffee he wants to take with us.  I'm not so keen on making the smell of coffee my signature scent.

Do you share a suitcase with your spouse/partner when you travel?  Why or why not?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Is what you're living for....

I have been watching a whole bunch of stuff online this week.  Ted Talks, sermons, McLeod's Daughter's (it can't be helped...good Aussie drama is always my gig).  Somewhere through the week I saw a video that asked this question in the background of whatever it was I was watching:

Is what you're living for 
worth Christ's dying for?
 What a great question!  Salvation is the most beautiful gift, but it isn't something that should be received and then stuck up on a high shelf for later.  The Giver of this gift intended for us to use it every single day.  It comes with responsibility.  The give of salvation is so enormous and so life-changing that it should propel us to live lives characterised by gratitude.  We should be sharing this gift and letting its purfume scent every aspect of our lives. 

That means using our gifts and talents for the good and benefit of others.  It means forgiving generously because we have been forgiven of everything.  It means loving others with an unconditional, immense, immeasurable love because Christ loved us like that all the way to death.  It means being gracious under fire, because trials are part of this life, and Christ showed us how to do this too.  It means aligning ourselves with God's purposes and his work instead of setting out to do our own thing.

Challenging question, huh? 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

And then Miss Sunshine died of laughter....

Dh and I have been talking, quite a bit, about what we want to do while we're in Malaysia, because seeing the cup manufacturer won't take too much time.  We know quite a few people who were once students here in Melbourne and attended our church whilst they were here so there will be a bit of catching up over yummy meals, I'm sure.  But they all seem to suggest shopping.  Dh assures me I will be dumbfounded at the cheap prices.

But shopping?

Last night we had Miss Sunshine in the car with us and Dh was saying he didn't plan to pack much because he would just buy stuff there.  To which I responded:  "I am not going to spend our three free days shopping because you can't be bothered packing.  Just stab me in the eye right now because it would be less torturous".

And Miss Sunshine just rolled around the back seat laughing til her sides hurt.  For a long time.  "Stab me in the eye..... ha ha ha".  I didn't think it was that funny, but it certainly tickled her.

I don't get it.  We've been married nearly 25 years and were together 5 before that.  You'd think after 30 years your husband would know that shopping is not your thing.  My kids have it figured out.  Miss Sunshine can time it to the minute - I have a two-hour limit and then I keel over with brain fog and exhaustion.  Last Saturday when we had to go and buy Mr Busy's birthday present we were gone for so long Miss Sunshine sent us a text:  "You've been gone a long time, is Mum still alive?"

I reckon we can get any and all shopping required or desired out of the way on the evening of the day we arrive.  We land around 4pm.  It could all be overwith before we go to bed that night.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Panic Stations Everyone!!!

Tasks for the weekend:
  • Teach all day on Friday.
  • Calm the panicked daughter who needs to write a 1500 word report by Monday.  After doing an ecosystem study.  And it's pouring with rain (Yay, Melbourne!)
  • Take Miss Mischief shopping to relieve panicked daughter of the time crunch she's experiencing (please just poke my eyes out now.  Shopping...sob, sob).
  • Go out for lunch with a friend on Saturday.
  • Help the panicked daughter work out how to use Excel.
  • Shop for food (why do we have to do this every single week???).
  • Calm the panicked daughter when she has a meltdown about what to write next.
  • VACUUM (I need a cleaner!)
You see how this is going to play out, right?  There will be stressing and cranky-pants behaviour going on for the next four days until that assignment is all researched, written and submitted.  And then it will all be over, she'll blitz the thing and get some distinction or high distinction grade, like it was no big deal.

And what will I get?  Her undying love and gratitude, and her admission that mothers know everything and should be listened to exactly all of the times.  All of them. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Faith Files: The Wait Space

I wonder how you cope with and manage things when there is a lengthy period of time between a promise from God, and actually receiving what was promised?  Do you just rest, knowing that God's got it under control, or do you get all angsty and mopey and whiney.  Or frustrated and annoyed?

These past months have been long.  Dark.  Confusing.   I confess to all the angsty, mopey, whiney, frustrated and annoyed emotions!

Over recent months there has been a long space of time, for me, where I knew God had a plan, but I couldn't see that he was working on it.  I couldn't see if anything was coming together.  Well into this dark space we had a sermon, at church, about why God doesn't seem to answer our prayers.  I was super interested in how that question would be handled, because my father and I had just spoken a few days before and he told me that old "God sometimes says yes, sometimes no and sometimes wait".  My response to him was "Well, Dad, I don't like that answer much.  Because the wait doesn't ever sound like "wait", it sounds more like silence and the silence is dark and cold and scarey".  That silence just feels like there isn't an answer at all and you start to question what you think you know about God.  Does he really keep ALL his promises?  Does he really hear all my prayers, and are that really that special to him?  Is God who he says he is, all the time?  That sermon?  Said all the same things: yes, no, wait.  Not much help there!!

My season of waiting has been met with silence.  During our fast there were five specific things I was praying over, two of which related to our work and finances.  During those weeks of fasting most of the things I was praying for became worse!  The darkness closed in and I prayed harder.  More specifically.  More deliberately.  I started asking God why.  "Why, if you are a God who keeps promises, can I not see you doing that?".  I have been waiting for the provision of a job since I resigned in December last year.  In truth, I have been applying for teaching positions since August last year, because that is the season for advertising positions for the following school year.  I resigned because I absolutely knew that God was leading me out of the role and the place I had been and asking me to trust him to step fully into what he had planned for me.  Five months a long time to wait.  In silence.  When you're waiting for a job and the bills keep rolling in and it doesn't look exactly like God is quite meeting all the financial needs you have.

About a month ago I finally decided I was tired of being blown about by the winds of my emotions.  If God is a promise-keeping, reliable, unchanging God who loves me with an all-consuming love, do I really believe that, even when I can't see it and things seem hard?  Has God changed, just because I don't understand what he is doing?  So I had words with God one day and I drew a line in the sand.  Like Job, I decided to choose trust and worship while I waited.  I decided to choose to believe what I know to be true rather than what I felt like I was experiencing.  I decided that the space of waiting, between stepping out in faith and experiencing fulillment of God's promises to provide, needed to be a time characterised by worshipping God for who he is, not what I felt.  I needed to choose belief instead of unbelief and doubt.

When I became intentional about the waiting space in my life God showed up to show me who he is.  He showed me that he does not ever change and that my understanding of my circumstances is limited at best; that his ways and thoughts are so far above mine.  I learnt that trials are an expected part of life.  After all, if Christ endured trials, what on earth makes me think I should be exempt?  God reminded me that he is a solid foundation, a place of rest, the protector, redeemer, restorer.  He is trustworthy and fulfils his promises in the way he sees fit, not how I think I want things to eventuate.  When I let go of my questions and chose trust and worship I was able to rest in the knowledge that my future is secure, even though I can't see the path ahead.  I let the questions and the worry and the anxiety go and chose to just wait peacefully.

Three weeks ago I attended a job interview, after months of absolutely nothing to show for application after application.  I was told that I was one of only two interviews being conducted for the position, despite numerous applications from which to choose.  It was the most beautiful, amazing interview, and while I waited for the school leaders to deliberate, phone referees and make their decision I decided the best way to position myself would be to desire God's will.  If the position was to be mine, to give me a heart for this community and these students.  If the position was to be another's, to be content that God would bring the right job.  Because as much as I desperately want to teach, I want to be in the exact place that God wants me to be.  It seems to be that God likes it when I get to that place with him.  When I lay down all my cares and worries and desires, and choose a posture of personal surrender and preference for God's will in the situation.

Two days after I got to that place I was offered the position (can you say "happy dance"!!!)

The 'wait space' is difficult in so many ways.  But this has ended up being a beautiful learning time in which I have again learnt that God does indeed fulfil his promises.  It's hard to remember, in the wait space, that his plans are always good and always the best for us, even when they don't quite look how we wanted them to.   I didn't think I wanted to travel more than 15 minutes and I didn't feel excited about teaching the top end of Primary school.  During my interview and the trip there and back I've realised God knows best.  The half-hour trip will be the perfect buffer between work and home.  A half hour of my own thoughts in the silence of my own car, driving myself instead of the learner driver thing.  And I know I will fall in love with the students I get to share my days with.  I can't wait to get started!  Mid-July seems so far away!!!!

What I know is that the wait space can be a beautiful place of trust, worship, belief and surrender.  It requires us to lead our souls beyond our emotions and to choose what we know to be true.  And God shows up.  He is absolutely and completely a good Father who knows the plans he has for our success and future and blessing.

The wait space can be a blessing too.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Mother's Day is NOT my favourite day

Mother's Day is perhaps one of my least favourite days of the year. Years of expectations unfulfilled, the day feeling like any other day.  Of hoping for a special breakfast or flowers or afternoon tea baked by more-than-capable children and being disappointed.

This year I think we turned the corner.  It's only taken 19 years.

Flowers.  Dinner I didn't have to cook.

In fact, I had taken some chicken fillets out of the freezer and just put them in the microwave to defrost when Dh came out to suggest take-away from the brand new Chinese restaurant in Our Town.  And rather than be all grouchy and matyrish I told Dh that I was happy for him to win this one.  I whipped those fillets back into the freezer, put on some rice and waited to see what dinner would be.  It was delicious and featured our favourite dishes. 

Maybe next year the children will convince Dh to book a restaurant for lunch weeks ahead of time?  Or maybe they'll go to the effort of baking scones or a cake for afternoon tea.

Mother's Day is still not my favourite day.  But this one was a vast improvement.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

This! #GoodYoungMen

Mr Busy, holding his younger cousin's hand 
through the Denver Zoo "so she wouldn't get lost" 

This morning I read the most beautiful blog post from Ann Voskamp about bringing up boys to be good young men.  Ann talked about her boys.  About the one who sent her to the edge of herself.  I know that place.  We are doing the 14yo boy thing here and it's hard.  The grunting.  The aggressive emotional reactions.  The lack of personal responsibility.  The butt-kicking required in order for homework to be completed.  It's hard work.  I am wondering if we will make it through to the end of Year 12 in one piece, he and I.

But Ann reminded me of something today.  My son is a #GoodYoungMan.  Under all the hormonal,14yo, angsty and emotional stuff he is a beautiful boy who will grow up to be the greatest man.  I know this because I see little glimpses of it.  Little moments of light and beauty where I see the truth of who he is peeking out.  A boy who loves to help and serve and care.  Who is funny and engaging.  Who works harder than many men and does not stop til the job is done.  Who is gentle and compassionate and generous.

 So gentle that wallabies happily lie at his feet while
he strokes them gently and feeds them

Yesterday my son was publically lifted up for the way he served tirelessly, selflessly, enthusiastically to make a dinner for new people in our church the success that it was.  He helped set up and cook the barbeque.  He sat at the table with a bunch of people he'd never met and conversed intelligently.  He helped entertain some gorgeous little people so parents could enjoy conversation.  And then he helped pack everything away again.  He didn't grumble or complain once.  It was noticed and shared amongst leaders in our church during our staff meeting.  The woman who shared said "I want my son to grow up to be like that".  And I got to share that encouragement with my Good Young Man.

Because he might be 14 and drive me to pulling out my hair in utter despair.  He might drive me to my knees, wondering if we'll make it through these years of sitting still to study and write.  But this boy, this beautiful, gentle-hearted boy is a part of a generation of boys who will grow up to be the most amazing young men.
"There are good young men who need someone
 to show them they are trustworthy by 
entrusting them with worthy work, who take 
the time to inspect their work so they know 
what to expect, who give them confidence to
 do hard things by giving them hard things to do."
~ Ann Voskamp ~

Let's remember to look beyond our current challenges and entrust our boys with opportunities to do worthy, hard things that help them see who they really are.  To be Good Young Men.