Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Odd Socks… and a Merry Christmas!

So, the last time I wrote, we were embarking upon the overwhelming task of moving house but I am pleased to report that the move went smoothly and we all settled into our new surroundings quickly.

The first few weeks in our new house were busy. It felt like we'd just moved in but we were hardly home, rushing from one event to the next.  With the end-of-semester sports matches, Christmas events at school, celebrating Eli's birthday, ZOE events and seeing friends.
10-year-old birthday girl selfie!
Suddenly, the realisation that we'd moved from a house with all built in storage to one without soon became noticeable.  The absence of having drawers and enough storage for our clothes became more and more chaotic as the days passed, “I can’t find my PE uniform” “Where’s all the socks?” “I don’t know where anything is!!”
Eventually we were able to get the furniture that we needed and now most things have a home… what a difference that makes!!

The most puzzling thing for me though was that once everything was sorted and put away (from being in piles and thrown across our bed) was that I was left with … 21 odd socks!

C’mon, a few odd socks I would expect, but TWENTY-ONE!!!! That’s just ridiculous. How do twenty-one socks lose their partner?

“Life is too short to waste time matching socks”

As Christmas time drew nearer, we realised how different it would be this year for our family. We had celebrated at the The NEST a week before Christmas and at ZOE on Christmas Eve leaving Christmas Day all to ourselves.  It was the first time in a long while that we had the whole day with just us five six (including Latte) and we were all pretty excited!! 

We created a menu based around our restrictions (no dairy, wheat, refined sugar) and set about getting everything just right. I just love how our children are able to help and be a part of it now.  The day started with GF pancakes and eggnog.
During the week Spencer had created his own pin-board on Pinterest and selected dairy free, sugar free ice-cream recipes to compliment the avocado chocolate fudge brownies that I’d made earlier. Him and I made some Chunky Monkey ice-cream... 

And the older two kids made a delicious entrĂ©e of bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms all by themselves while Dave and I also worked on the roast vegetables, chicken and gravy. We even enjoyed GF fruitcake and custard for afternoon tea… it ended up being quite the feast!

“It felt great… like a new pair of socks”

There were so many highlights throughout the day and just like their father my three children were all heard commenting, “This was the BEST Christmas ever”. I guess you just can’t beat genetics!

During the day we read the Christmas story from our Bibles, wrote birthday cards to Jesus and prayed for the many people for whom Christmas Day is not filled with love, presents, family and togetherness.  We each took words that were opposites to how we felt and prayed for those people for whom the day is difficult, lonely and painful.
We also got to chat with our precious families in Australia via Skype. It was so lovely to hear their voices and see their faces.

“I miss you like the mismatching sock I can’t find”

Our day even included some drama! We were excited to light the final candle of Advent, but during lunch, when we were all chatting happily, one of the pinecones on our advent wreath (in the middle of the table) caught fire. Whoops! My red tablecloth and runner were ruined but thankfully everyone was safe and the fire was easily contained! 
We also watched the story of William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). It was very thought provoking and a good reminder about why we "fight". 

And of course there was also time during the day for opening presents… and, yes, there was even a few new pairs of socks under the tree!

I’m hoping your Christmas was also joy-filled and memorable.
From our family to yours, odd socks and all… Merry Christmas! 

“Happiness is discovering that all socks came back in pairs when folding the laundry”.

Friday, December 2, 2016

From Overwhelmed to Overwhelmed.

Oh wow… it’s been so long since I wrote. Where to start?

So I guess nearly two years ago when we put our hands up to help start the transitional home for the older teens at the children’s home, reaching 18 and wishing to work or go to university, we had no idea how what that looked like or how long we’d do it for.

Over the past two years, we’ve had ten young people live at the house (at different times) with our family. The length of their stays has differed according to their needs. Out of the ten young adults, seven of them are still actively involved in the transition program. By this I mean they still live here, stay over or come and use the house throughout the week and are a part of our mentoring program, weekly catch-ups and celebrations.

We have another 5-6 young people, who currently live at ZOE, and are in the preparation stage, getting ready to move here sometime over the next 4 months.

Just recently, we had started exploring the idea of our family moving out of the transitional home and finding a house close by where we can still be involved (Dave will still oversee the program) but we will have some more space and at the same time create space for the young people who will be moving here soon.

In the past, moving hasn’t fazed me but honestly we all love living here and deep down none of us want to move but on the other hand, we all know it’s one of those hard-but-right decisions for everyone. Thankfully we were able to find a house very quickly and as I write this, we have begun the process of packing and clearing out and trying not to take too much with us to this next, much smaller, house.

Over the past two years Dave and I have loved seeing our own children grow and change. We have had the pleasure of watching them interact and grow to love their ‘big ZOE brothers and sisters’ and it will be sad to end this season living at the house. I am very excited for the next season of the transitional program though. After our family moves from the upstairs section of the house, there are another five or six girls and 1 guy coming to live at the house plus one missionary. The two wonderful Thai staff, who work at the house, will also stay over 1-2 times per week.

Please pray for the transition of our family moving out and the other missionary moving in, also for the young people finishing school this year and preparing to move into the house in the next few months.


School life: This is the second year that I have been involved in our school’s Parent/Teacher Group Leadership Team as well as the weekly prayer meetings and helping out where I can with athletics/swimming etc.
Top left: PTG, Top and bottom right: Friends from Australia,
Bottom left: Sweet friends  

This year has been a huge change as our Tobi started Grade 6 (Middle School).

This has meant lots more homework, staying up later, receiving a laptop from school and trying to cope with two parents who feel slightly extremely unprepared!
Life has a way of simply carrying on though whether we’re ready or not!

So far this year we have enjoyed supporting Eliana in her swimming endeavors. She brought home two medals at the International Schools Swim Meet. A bronze medal for a freestyle relay and a silver one for the 25m breast stroke. We were so proud of her efforts training both after school and on the weekends.

We also got to see both Eliana and Tobi try basketball for the first time this year. They both caught on quickly and even though the season is finished now, they still enjoy going to their school on a Saturday night and watching Dave play a pickup game in the men’s comp and shooting around in the breaks. Watch out for Spencer though, this boy can shoot and, at the rate he’s growing, we think next year when he can play U10s he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with! The current season has just started with both soccer (or football as everyone else calls it) and Track and Field. I am excited to see how each of the kids has improved since last year and I am resting my voice in preparation for some serious cheering at their games and meets!

In September this year, Tobi had his 11th birthday, a Marvel party, at a local rollerblading rink. Spencer’s party was postponed due to our family being sick for a few weeks with flu. When we eventually celebrated his 8th birthday, it was at home, ninja style, with a few close friends. Eliana is still deciding what to for her birthday in a little over a week’s time. She is determined to do something adventurous to mark being double figures… we’re just not sure what that will be yet!

In September this year we welcomed a new member into the Cross family- a little Shiranian (Pomeranian-Shih Tzu) puppy named Latte! He is super cute and super cheeky and loved by everyone at the house… I think he’ll be the most missed by the big kids when we move out but we’ll bring him around for lots of visits!
Latte's first visit to the vet.

In amongst the sickness, the moving, the busyness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, ZOE and school events it has been easy to look at my planner packed with events and an arm’s length to-do list and give in to some big… overwhelming… feelings!! During my quiet worship times though I have tried to mediate on the words of one of my favourite songs right now. It continues to give me the perspective that I need not be overwhelmed by my circumstances but instead with Him my creator and my God. The pressures, deadlines, meetings, events, appointments and strains in a busy season seem to fade in comparison to how amazing and wonderful He is.

If you don’t know the song, I’ll post the words below and if you don’t know this wonderful Creator and God who I speak about … then I challenge you to try Him out, talk to Him and see what happens. He is never far away. He made you and He already knows you!


I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it's a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You'll be my God

All that You've done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by You

You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful
Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful
You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful

You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful
Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful
You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful

You are Glorious, You are Glorious
Oh God, there is no one more Glorious
You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious

I delight myself in you
In the Glory of your Presence
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by you

And God, I run into your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by you
I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by you

There is no one more beautiful
God, you are the most beautiful

(Big Daddy Weave)