Friday, September 18, 2015

Update

It's been soooo long since I've given a "family" update. I actually had to go to my phone and look through my photos to see what's been happening these past few months.  

Here is a brief update:
(May-June) In the last term of the school year, I had been helping out at my children's school as the Grade 2 teacher had left. On the second last day of the school year, I received a phone call from my sister telling me that my precious grandmother had passed away. I was devastated. Each year when we visited Australia, I would always hope that it wouldn't be the last time that we'd have here together on earth. I will always hold such fond memories of our last trip to her house on October 17th 2014.






I was so thankful to have been able to fly back for my grandma's funeral. It was a quick trip but the time that I was able to spend with both my mum and dad as well as extended family was just so precious to me. 
All my cousins together.
(July) Our children very much enjoyed their "summer" break (winter months in Australia) as did I.  It was so nice to have the time to go exploring by foot around the city, have movie nights, go swimming and just catch up on some serious "play time".  Uno games were a daily occurrence as was playing with Lego.












Probably the highlight for all the children though was attending an Art class run by a friend each Wednesday of the holidays.  They loved the opportunity to learn new skills each week (and catch up with their friends).
  
(August) And then... literally as school was about to begin for the year, we suddenly found ourselves faced with a dilemma.  We had to make one of the hardest decisions as parents, which was to move our three kids from the small Australian school that we all loved so much.  We knew, going forward though that this was a move that we needed to make with their futures in mind especially for Tobi who heads into middle school (Grade 6-8) next year.  And so the past month or so has been very much about getting them settled into this new, bigger, totally different education system.  I am happy to report though that after a few bumps in the early days, they are all very happy and enjoying school. 
And me? Well I couldn't help myself. I had to join the PTG as well as a few other parent groups.  It's nice to know that I can still be involved in some way. Below is me introducing myself at the first PTG meeting!
And the most important and anticipated time of the day... after school!  There is an amazing array of food stalls right outside the school gate each day begging to be visited.  Most days it's sticky rice, pork skewers, dim sum, waffles or a fried chicken snack but for a special treat this day, we got a choc-banana roti. YUM! 
After school snacks!
We continue to enjoy the challenges of our new role in helping kids transition into adulthood and we are praying that we can find a Thai person who will work alongside us in this role.

Until then, we'll keep pushing ahead as best we can, using every Thai word we know and trying to communicate and articulate as best as possible with the young adults around us.

Looking at the time lag from my last family update, I can see why! It has actually been a very full 6 months.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My Magical Mop

I had been telling my sister for a while now how excited I was with my new “magic mop”. I know right! Probably not many other people get excited about their mops, but anyway.
So I had mentioned that I would try to make her a video showing her my new mop but I never did…
Until today, when I realised with glee that I had a whole day at home by myself to get some much needed housework done… whoop whoop!!
Okay maybe other people don’t get excited about that either!! But I do, ha ha.

So after I had swept through the house, I got my mop and bucket and set to work making her the video showing how the magic mop works (I later found out that a simple ‘Google’ search brings up so many more professional videos than the one I made… of course it does!! Oh well.)

It’s been funny, because just this past week, I had been commenting to Dave about how our kitchen floor has lost it shine. It’s weird, even after mopping and mopping it, once it dried; it was so “cloudy” looking. 
Clean but not shiny! L  Sad really!
With that in mind, I decided that my first task today would be to get that kitchen floor back to a dazzling shine!!!


After mopping it a few times using the normal floor wash, it still looked cloudy so then I knew it was time to try some other remedies. I tried dish soap, vinegar and bicarb first, when that didn’t work I used dish soap and vinegar…  and then I went to just vinegar and warm water.  It was clean and slightly less cloudy after all the mopping but still no-where near what it usually looks like. I was baffled.

Then all of a sudden I remembered the end of the conversation that Dave and I had, where he said … “maybe it needs a new mop head”.
Surely not. I mean I know this house was filthy when we moved in here but we haven’t had the mop that long.

Well, off I went to search through my cleaning supplies and sure enough, there was the spare mop head.  I figured out how to take the old one off and that’s when I saw the difference… what? Crazy!! Ewww!!


With the new head installed, I set to work with new enthusiasm and optimism and, sure enough, the floors began to, once again, shine! Just like that!

Isn’t that amazing?

As I was gladly mopping away, music playing and happy thoughts now running through my mind, I had one of those “uh ha” moments about my mop and how our family’s life has kind-of been a bit like this too.
Have you ever had those times in your life when everything seems to be going okay? The kids seem settled, your marriage is strong, work is enjoyable, everything is sort of “going to plan” so to speak when suddenly or even not so suddenly… maybe subtly, you stop and wonder, what happened?  Why aren’t my kids thriving? Why are we arguing about these issues? Am I really where I am meant to be?

Sometimes we can get so used to doing things “the good old way”, “the safe way” or just the “same way” we always have.

When, just like me with the floor mop, you have a moment when it suddenly dawns on you that “umm… actually that’s just not working anymore”.

And then you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t it look nice and shiny anymore?”  You know you’re still cleaning it the same way you’ve always done.  You’re using the same cleaning products that have never let you down before… but it has recently lost its shine and you just don’t know why.

Often times we can go round and round questioning, what’s wrong with the floor, why isn’t it shiny? Why? Why? Why? All the while mopping it again and again in the same way hoping that things will improve until you suddenly look at the situation in a new way, seeing that what is required is actually something totally different. 

We’re in the process of replacing a few mop heads in “life” right now. There’s a bit of adjustment going on but thankfully already the floor is starting to look a little bit shinier!  Where situations were getting a little bit too cloudy, the brightness is returning.

Maybe it’s just me and my “magical mop” analogy but I am so glad that there is always someone in my life to guide me and whisper softly to me when my mops getting dirty, “It’s time to change”.

How’s your mop today? 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Outstretched Hands

As I was reflecting about this past season, the picture that came to my mind was one of outstretched hands.
So much of what is precious to me, I naturally tend to hold tight, gripping on with a firmly clasped hands, attempting to control and protect.
These last few months have been a reminder that nothing is mine to hold that tightly. It is only with open hands, trusting in God and seeking His best plan, that I can truly begin to experience freedom in my life.  
As I agree to open up my hands and let go, I begin to see how much more amazing God is at looking after these precious areas of my life. Yes! Who’d have known? He’s much better at it than me! 
I’ll be honest, there have been some rough spots these past months where I have felt totally unsure of what to do and what direction to take. 
It has been during these times that I have had to consciously stop myself from curling up the fingers that so desperately try to control and the hands that want to grip tight and cradle closely whatever it is in there at that time. 
And let me tell you, these past few months, there have been many things in there!
Throughout this season I feel like God has, once again, asked me to release my cares, my family, my friendships, my plans, my reputation, my insecurities and my hopes to Him.
When I am able to do this, I can truthfully say that He does not let me down.  He has never failed me.
When I have been able to release something to Him, being deliberate to flatten my palm and outstretch my arm to Him, He has always come through.  Maybe it hasn’t been how I’d thought He would. Maybe it hasn’t been in my timing.  Maybe it wasn’t even the way I would’ve liked but I know, and trust, that ultimately He knows best.
I was smiling to myself and praising God the other day while doing my ironing. An issue with a friendship that I had needed to surrender and hold loosely in order to let God come and in and work had now, suddenly, turned itself around. What I had been so unsure about, I had quietly opened up to God to work out.  It was several months later that I felt close to this person once again realising that indeed, God had gone before me and protected that friendship.  Had I taken the route of holding on too tight or speaking out of line in defence, I know that it could’ve been a very different story.
Sometimes these situations are so hard to just keep an outstretched hand in but, in my experience, it’s totally worth the wait.  Often we don’t know what is going on “behind the scenes”.  

Be encouraged that situations can and do change… even miraculously at times!
My hope for you, who are reading this, is that this week, whatever it is that you hold too tightly to, that you will also feel the freedom in letting go.