Saturday, March 22, 2014

When "love" isn't enough.

My parents recent trip here was arguably one of the most precious family times and most-needed catch ups… ever!
The seven of us bawling our eyes out at the airport was proof  that, even after 4 years of living in different countries, "goodbyes" don't get any easier.
Tobi was trying to explain, after my parents left, "My bucket feels completely empty."
I said, "Maybe it's your heart that's sad because you said goodbye to some people that you love."
He sighed, "Love? I more than just love them." 

Apparently "love" was not a strong enough emotion!
One of the highlights of their visit was going to a new 3D Art Museum.  Below are just a few pictures of the hundreds that we took.  We had such a blast.  The kids just loved posing in front of each painting. 

The lowlight was that 6 out of the 7 of us got food poisoning.  It spanned a three day period of 2-3 people being unwell at any one time.  My dad (who is coeliac) did not eat the same food as us and was spared the pain.  He did a wonderful job, as did Mum, entertaining the children and helping us out whilst Dave and I were out of action.  

I loved the way my parents sat with the kids and played checkers, knitted together, arranged flowers, sang songs, laughed and worked in the backyard.  So precious.

There were many other fun moments spread throughout the 10 days, but the end of the trip was capped off with Dad leading 2 "cup stacking" workshops for the Grade 1-3s at our school.  Tobi, Eli and Spencer were so excited to have their grandparents at school and the other children simply loved learning about cup stacking.  
They have been keen to keep practicing their new skills!

  3D Museum Photos

Cup Stacking

Well Mum and Dad, we all more-than-love you.  And we will cherish each moment we spent together for a very long time.
Happy memories and feeling blessed :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The ‘Me’ God Wants Me to Be

Last year Narara Valley Baptist Church developed a 5 week devotional journal.  When asked to consider writing something this year when they started putting another one together, I was thrilled!  NVBC has supported ZOE generously and it was a privilege to be asked to write something for their journal. I really hope it encourages the community at NVBC as well as those of you reading it here.

I often feel like the ‘me’ I want to be doesn’t match up with the ‘me’ I actually am. The ‘me’ I want to be has a month of meals pre-planned, an empty ironing basket, biscuits baking in the oven, a husband who knows how much he's adored, updated family photos framed, waxed legs, children who never argue, friends who feel appreciated, kind words flowing from my mouth, a house that looks like something from a ‘Pinterest’ page, emails replied to … 
You get the picture!
The woman who glanced in the mirror last week, as she rushed out to work reflected: mascara forgotten, hair needing a wash, outfit not thoroughly thought through, hairy legs, tired eyes, grumpy words and a look of disappointment... disappointment at the 'me' I so desperately want to be but continually seem to fall short of.
I catch myself asking, is it even possible to be the loving wife, the mum, the teacher, the friend, the daughter, the sister and the missionary that I strive to be?
These questions lead me to remind myself that it's not about ‘me’. My mission is not about trying to ‘be’ something or someone that I can never really live up to. When it all boils down, when I reflect on what my Heavenly Father has done for me, all I want is to be the ‘me’ God wants me to be.
All through the Gospels I read passages where Jesus is quoted saying, “Follow me.” When I think about it though, to be a “follower” of Jesus means I actually have to follow, or copy, what Jesus did. It sounds so easy, right? Oh, but how hard it can often be! I love how simply John 13: 34-35 lays it out, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
One of my favourite quotes from Mother Teresa is “If you can't do great things, do little things with great love. If you can't do them with great love, do them with a little love. If you can't do them with a little love, do them anyway. Love grows when people serve.”
I personally think that Jesus was the best example of what a loving, servant heart is meant to look like. And that God is the perfect example of what our character should reflect because of the love, mercy, grace, and justice He first showed us.

The ‘me’ I want to be can no longer be measured on how well-groomed or well-organised I am, how ‘perfectly’ I try to present myself in terms of my domestic abilities or my feeble attempts to appear like I have-it-all-together.
When I draw near to God, and let Him fill my heart with His perfect love. When I love and serve as Christ did, is to be the ‘me’ God wants.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

God is Good… all the time.

You've heard it said before, 'Bad things happen to good people'.  
And often times 'bad' things happen to the innocent, the vulnerable, the weak, the frail and those who needed protecting the most.  I know that.  I've seen it.
That's why we came.
As parents, we are constantly planning, evaluating, limiting risk, protecting, sheltering, comforting, watching and doing everything in our power to ensure that our kids are safe - that nothing 'bad' happens to them.
But sometimes, no matter how much we do.  
How much we watch.  
How much we eliminate risk. 
Something still happens.
Something that couldn't be foreseen or predicted.
And it knocks you down like the force of a strong wave and leaves you swept up and winded on the beach wondering, what just happened?  
And then more waves come crashing and pounding you with the "surely nots" and "what nexts?".
But before you can stand up and answer those questions you have to deal with the waves of anger and injustice and forgiveness. 
How it must break God's heart when His little children suffer.  
To hear their cries and see their tears…
I can't imagine facing life's challenges without knowing God.  
When nothing makes sense - His truth remains.  
His Word picks us back up, it wraps us in a big warm towel, carries us to a safer place and it sets us back on our feet.  
John 10:10.  How many times have we recited that verse when we have shared about our work at ZOE? I've taught it to my class and our children know it well.
And so I continue to believe that God is good.
When the waves crash around me and I'm thrown down again, I sing Bless the Lord O My Soul, Worship Your Holy Name.  For all Your goodness I will keep on singing… Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
The truth remains, God is good.  Healing comes and the ultimately the victory is His.
Won't it be wonderful when there are no more tears? There are some seasons that remind me just how much sweeter Heaven will be.