Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Beware the Flight of the Kookaburra!

For all of you Aussie Mums who are thinking about taking your kids on picnics these school holidays, beware!  These otherwise proud-looking birds that seems so jolly when they are laughing away at the break of day?  These are thieving, opportunitists that will steal your food from your very hands!

Last week when I was teaching in Prep we had an excursion with all the Lower Primary children, and it was a wonderful, wonderful day.  Except for lunch time!  Well...a few moments at lunch time, to be fair.  The children needed to have a good run and play, so before they ate lunch they had a good hard play on the playground at a local reservoir park.  While they played, I thought I would eat my lunch, as did the mums who had joined us for the day.  Little did I know a sneaky, conniving kookaburra (of which there were many in the trees over the picnic area) was watching me eat my sandwich.  There were a few really.  And I have seen them swoop in and steal a sausage off a barbeque and then wack the thing to death before eating it.  Because, you know, a cooked sausage is clearly alive and going to bite back (they think they are snakes)!  So I was wary.

But this one kookaburra that I had not seen?  He waited until my sandwich, held between both my hands, was poised close to my mouth and then he swooped.  I felt a soft brush of feathers on my face and a hard tap of its beak on my hand, and then half my sandwich was gone!  He landed on a branch in the tree above me and proceeded to eat my sandwich!!!

We had words, that kookaburra and I, about his thieving ways and how this was the last little bit of my sandwich he would be getting.

And then I warned the children.  Keep you food in your lunch box with the lid closed.  Hold the piece of sandwich you're eating tightly and hold it close to you.  Put your other hand over it so the kookaburras can't see your food.  See?  They're watching your food...they want to eat it!

Only one other child lost some of their lunch, to my knowledge.  But they had left their sandwich next to them on the group (on glad wrap).  So whatever.  You can't win them all.

But beware the kookaburras when next you take your children for a picnic!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

First Meal Post Fast

Tonight marked the end of our 40-day fast.  What a marathan!  To celebrate and begin the careful return to 'normal' (I think normal might be a little different in the future) we enjoyed roast chicken with vegies for dinner, and Shauna Niequist's Blueberry Crisp recipe over pie apples and frozen strawberries.  The only alteration I make:  shredded coconut, because no 'crisp' or 'crumble' recipe is quite right without it, in our house.  I love that maple syrup is the sweetner and almond meal is used instead of flour.  Not Miss Sunshine friendly, but she's not home for dinner tonight.

And strangely, as much as I enjoy meat, it's not as exciting as I always think it will be.  Not as exciting as the Salt and Pepper Squid we had the other night.  After a difficult week on the job-front Dh decided a slight flex in our fast was in order.  And he was right.  I could eat bucket-loads of that particular version which comes on a pile of the best salad I've ever tasted. 

As for our fast and the things we have been praying for?  Let's just say there is a great deal of frustration in the "slow-burn" that happens before things explode and everything changes (thank you Dawn Cherie Wilkinson for that perfect illustration and language!).  But, like Job in the Old Testament, I choose to trust and worship even though I can't see anything changing or improving.

This past week I have been teaching in the Prep classroom where I used to work while their teacher is in the US on a dream-fulfilling holiday.  We read through the Easter story throughout the week and I am, again, profoundly moved by the contrast in people's attitudes to Jesus between Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  I want to spend some time this week moving slowly through the story as it unfolds this week and allow God to work deeply in my spirit through this, most important, story of the gospels.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Colourful Reflections

I still haven't fully digested everything from the Colour Conference last week.  In actual fact, I'm not exactly sure how to go about sitting with it all and working out what to do next.  There was just so much that was amazing and pure gold from some incredible women.

So let's start with the things that surprised me and had to be overcome:
  • Moving 13,500 women in a small area.  I chose to stay in with a lunch I had made in my room beforehand rather than head out to find something.  Us introverts need a little bit of head space to stay sane.  It was better to wait 10 minutes or go 5 minutes early than endure the crush!
  • Hand-waving, head-banging worship. This is NOT my jam.  I am not a happy-clappy type but I'm quite comfortable about other people worshipping how they will...as long as they let me be.  And that was fine for the most part.  One of the young women who was worship leading did a little bit of head-banging.  I just stood there wondering "how is she doing that? and how is she staying upright?"  I am certain I would tip over on my head and hurt myself if I tried it.  And in truth all the women in our group felt the same.  But it was entertaining I guess.
  • Hillsong-specific sessions.  There was one or two sessions that were really all about the Hillsong church.  And that's just fine, but I wish I'd known.  I would have skipped the Friday afternoon session.
  • Taking up offerings.  As a conference delegate who is not a member or attender of the Hillsong church I found this a little odd.  I had paid to be there.  Also, we support our own church with our tithes and offerings, which include a local and international missions.  I chose not to contribute over the weekend, and I caught up our giving this morning, after a couple of weeks away.
That being said...there was so much more that was just pure gold and I have been pondering these things in my heart:
  • Sheila Walsh.  This woman is an incredible, faithful woman with a powerful story.  And a witty sense of humour that was absolutely my jam!  Her Scottish accent made her just that little bit funnier.  So she made me laugh and she made me cry.  She reminded me that Satan seeks to erode and destroy our trust in God by twisting his words and promises and skewing things with a little truth and a lot of lies.  My big take away from her was that we do not have to clean ourselves up to come to the Father and that living in this days takes vulnerability and connectedness.  We need to be truth-tellers with nothing hidden, and we need to be in community with others who help us to live according to the truth instead of how we feel.
  • DawnCherie Wilkerson.  I wasn't sure about DC in the first session.  She is young; too young to know much about life, I thought.  But the second session blew me away.  She talked about faith being like dynamite.  While the fuse is burning it looks like nothing much is happening and it can be frustrating.  But faithfulness happens in that time of 'slow burn'.  Once the slow burn is over though, things will explode and everything changes. 
    God's delays are not God's denials.  So profound for this season in our lives!
  • Fellowship.  I got to spend the weekend with some beautiful women from my church.  I got to know some women, and I got to know others better.  This morning was very special as I caught up with a few of them.  The shared journey and experience has bonded us in ways that are very precious.
Next year's conferences are already filling up, for Sydney.  They are pulling down the arena we were in so they will do four conferences in the Hillsong church venue (instead of two).  Melbournites do not understand this development.  In Melbourne we have tons of arenas, with rooves, without rooves, holding more than this one did.  We never pull them down.  We made them bigger and we build more.  This is how we get to be the sporting capital of the country.  We have decided Colour should move to Melbourne.  Of course, that probably won't happen, but we have the places!

I am aiming to go again next year.  I am willing to take four days off work (hopefully!!!) to go and be completely blessed again.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Re-entry is always a little bumpy

As I mentioned in my last post, I was away last weekend spending time in Sydney for the first Colour Conference of 2015.  The conference was simply brilliant.  The worship was amazing, the teaching was deep and profound, the time with women from my church was precious.  And I flew up and back.  You know how I feel about that!

At the end of it all, after the crush of 13,500 women trying to move through the concourse around the arena after each meeting, I was a good kind of tired and ready to be home again.  Yet I always dread those initial hours of being home.  It's hard to come from a place where your spirit and soul have been refreshed, renewed, inspired and transformed and return to the regular household stuff of kids being annoying and people demanding things of you.

The first hour and a half was lovely - Dh drove out to pick me up and we have a lovely drive home chatting and catching up.  But for the rest of the day and into the evening I was found to be muttering "I didn't miss this".  And the next morning when one child required me to use my problem-solving skills instead of their own I declared that I should just go away again so they would learn to think for themselves.  "What would you have done yesterday, when I wasn't here?" I questioned the child who seems to stop at "I don't know what to do" and doesn't move beyond that to consider possible solutions.  These people survived quite fine without me for four whole days.  Clearly I don't need to solve all the problems!

So re-entry was bumpy.  Again.  Even though Miss Sunshine zipped home between morning work and afternoon work to do some cleaning up, because she knows how I feel about walking into a pigsty after being away.  Even though Dh had scrubbed our ensuite from top to bottom so I would come home to a clean bathroom.  Even though I was hugged to bits when I walked in the door.  It was still bumpy.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

I'm a-leaving on a jet plane

This is the song I've been singing in my head for the past two days.  Because there is nothing more exciting than getting on a plane.  It almost doesn't matter where you are headed because the fact is, you're getting on a plane and going somewhere.  That alone makes it exciting.  Adventure in the wind, if you will.
My adventure for the weekend is the Hillsong Colour Conference, with a whole bunch of women from my church.  I only know a handful of them and don't know most of those terribly well.  But I'm being brave and going to a foreign city with people I don't know to spend time in a room....well...arena, with thousands of women I don't know.  I think 'overwhelmed' is going to be in my emotional future!  But I am excited.  One of the speakers is Sheila Walsh, whose music I listened to as a teen.

In the meantime I am reduced to repetitive begging praying about a job application in the school where I did my rounds late last year.  The perfect job:  Prep (my absolute favourite) classroom teacher in a Christian school.  Truly, this is the position for which my heart beats.  I spoke to the HR girl this morning, whom I know from my previous church and she assured me the wheels are just turning slowly.  And I am only competing with 14 other people.  If you are the praying type I would appreciate all the prayers you have to spare.  For God's favour and for this job, which would be the most precious and beautiful gift and a perfect way to begin my teaching career.

Well....here I go.  The trip to the airport will take longer than the flight!  But I have a new handbag to keep me company....

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Disaster Protection

Miss Sunshine's answer to preventing her Dad from backing into her car....


Life marches away too quickly.  Miss Sunshine is now the legal owner of  a little Nissan Pulsar, which was nice and cheap, and in excellent condition.  Thank you God!  And she takes herself off to Uni, which started yesterday for her.  I am still looking out the window as she drives out of the driveway, wondering how this happened.  Wondering how it is that she can just drive away all by herself like that.  I am completely mystified.

And Uni.  This child who needed me to hand her over to a new teacher so she could be loved and held as I left her is just so confident and content with being on a campus (albeit not a huge one) and finding her way around.  She's had two little trips with me, and with a friend to orient herself to the trip and where to find her classes.  Now she's off on her own doing what Uni students do.

I'm off on a new experience tomorrow too.  I'm flying to Sydney without any family members, for a women's conference.  I can't wait.  Flying.  Women's Conference.  Getting to know other women from my church better... I expect to be completely overwhelmed, but I'm looking forward to it because flying.  And the conference.  And flying.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Prayer: What it is. What it is not.

Prayer is a funny ol' thing.  It is something we often forget to do until we get to the end of ourselves, or when we are desperate.  Prayer often feels like we're not doing very much.  I'd like to challenge that notion today.

What prayer is not.

Prayer is not something to settle for when we feel like we can't do anything productive to change or help a situation.  It is not the last resort or the thing we do because we are helpless.  It is not benign or useless.

What prayer is.
 Prayer is the intentional action of people who believe that God can and will work in circumstances.  Prayer is tapping into the full might and power of the Heavenlies and unleashing its incredible potency on Earth.  Prayer is the deliberate act of doing battle over things in which we want to see breakthrough and transformation. 

When we began our fast we were told to be very clear about the things we were fasting for and the things we were fasting from.  This has been helpful for me.  Along the way I've added another situation to my little list, but I have remained steadfast on the things I am fasting for.  Most mornings I wake around 4am and I do battle.  I put on the armour of God and I fight for the circumstances that need to change.  And I do not feel useless.  I claim the victory that Jesus has already given us and I get to stand in the gap for people I care about.  I get to sit in the very throne room of God and bring to him the things that burden my heart.  He hears my prayers and I know he is working on these circumstances, even when I can't necessarily see it.

The thing with prayer and fasting is that we won't necessarily see breakthrough immediately.  But it will come in the right time.

Prayer is the certainty that God does indeed work.