Australia, Fun, Pictures, Uncategorized

My Christmas Letter

This year, my usual Christmas schedule was “off” since we moved to Australia! Here are some highlights from our year that you might have received in a Christmas letter if I had sent one:

disney

Disney World trip: It was amazing to go to Disney for a week before we moved! I still miss Mickey and dream about another trip to Florida with all three kids.  We left Sammy in TX so he wouldn’t slow us down this time.  It’s only fair to him that we go again ASAP! #wheredreamscometrue

beach

Moving to Australia: We love where God has called us! #newcastle

furniture arrival

Furniture arriving: Our furniture left TX on April 10. We moved into our rental house on June 1.  Our furniture arrived around July 20.  Camping out in our house was old news by the time our shipment arrived.  We were so happy to have our own beds and more than 6 suitcases worth of clothing for the five of us. #stuff

hillsong conf

Hillsong Conference: There’s nothing like worshiping God in an arena with 25,000 people from all over the world. #spectacular

bcc

Getting Brett into Belmont Christian College: God provided a way for Brett to attend the great private school at the end of our street.  This has helped us all in our transition. #education

rob and ang

 

Meeting Robyn and Angie: My two neighbourhood friends who make me feel at home everyday.  From early morning runs, to “happy hour,” baking, and special celebrations for birthdays and holidays, these two girls are already like family to me. #friendship

lift first

 

First Lift Service: Having our first service in our rented church building was indescribable.  We never thought we would be as far along as we are in building a team in 2012. #blessed

spelde

 

Our First Aussie Members: We were surprised the day this beautiful couple came to us (after meeting at Hillsong Conference) to say they felt called to join Lift Church.  They lead worship too! #answertoprayer

blackmores

 

Running Blackmore Half Marathon: I trained throughout winter to run this race so I could experience the beauty of Sydney in a different way.  I ran across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and ended at the Opera House. #lovetorun

anniversary

 

Celebrating 13 year anniversary:  I love this man more than words can say.  I am so proud of the Godly leader he has become and cannot believe the journey we are on with our three amazing kids. #truelove

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:20 MSG)

Australia, Contentment, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Santa, Beach, and Blessings

santa

If you follow my blog, you know about many of my “Australian struggles” like driving on the left, shopping in the grocery store, and learning the slang.  Christmas brings about a whole new set of issues for me albeit minor in the big scheme of things.  The most wonderful time of the year yet so many of my memories and traditions are an ocean away.

America, as you know, is in the Northern Hemisphere.  So, it’s cold.  I’m not used to swimming and drinking iced coffee at the beach in December.  Buying our kids things like flippers, boardies, and sunglasses isn’t usually on my shopping list.  There are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  No jack frost nipping, or chance of a white Christmas.  As a matter of fact, Santa in a red wool suit with big hot black boots seems even more ridiculous when you live on the beach.  We have no peppermint, pumpkin spice, or gingerbread lattes.  Our house has no fireplace to hang the stockings.

Last week, I tried to make my chocolate goodies that I always make for friends during the holidays.  I threw out two batches of messed up fudge and one still sits squishy inside my fridge.  No nestle 12 oz bag of chocolate chip morsels was available for purchase here.  My good friends who usually take a cute family photo of us weren’t available for hire.  I didn’t even make my annual card with a letter.  As a matter of fact, I think I got crossed off everyone’s list for mailing me a Christmas card as well.

So far, I have received ONE.

I haven’t bought my kids any fancy Christmas outfits.  No frilly dresses and tights for Sydney.  We haven’t taken any evening drives to go looking at Christmas lights.  If we see a house with a lot of lights, we actually do a double take and sometimes even turn around to get a better look since those are few and far between.  Anyway, it’s daylight savings so it’s not dark until after 8pm.

There’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia and sentimentality for things that “once were” but we can’t stay there.  Life is moving too fast and we will miss out on what’s ahead if we linger too long.  I’m not prepared to lose something right in front of me all because I want my old kitchen and Christmas fudge back.

I LOVE going to the beach and pool everyday in December.  I have “flat white” coffees in little cafes while watching the ocean.  I get to try new foods and bake new things while having a good laugh.  Plus, I can only “go up” from here with my Christmas treats for neighbours!  We live a mere two hours from Greg’s family so will be able to drive there on Christmas day and spend a few days with them.  And, God has brought many wonderful neighbours around us; we are forming our own new traditions.

We can’t move forward in life if we are always looking behind us.  I look at the families with whom we are connecting already and I see the impact Lift Church will have in their lives and I can’t imagine not being here.  My kids are healthy and happy.  My marriage is good and God has provided everything we need.

In light of the terrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, my momentary struggles are shaken up into a stark reality where I can only thank God for this wonderful life I live.  Missing my Mercedes and shopping at The Domain is ridiculous compared to the unimaginable grief of someone tragically losing a child.

There is only ONE who can mend a broken heart. His name is Jesus. Psalm 34 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

My spirit is far from crushed this Christmas as I reflect on the goodness of God and all of my blessings.  For many, holidays are a reminder of a loved one lost, financial stress, and loneliness.  The best thing we can do is reach out to those in need and pour our lives into sharing the love of Christ with those whose hearts need mending during the holidays.  Let’s all focus on others and what’s good in our lives this Christmas season.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

Australia, Fun, Uncategorized

Christmas Changes Coming Our Way

Since this is our last Christmas living in the United States, I’ve been thinking about all of the differences we will experience celebrating in Australia.  Here are my top 10:

10. Santa will be even more unrealistic-a big man in a hot red suit and black boots when it’s summer?

9. Crazy amounts of lights will not be all over the houses in our neighborhood.  After all it’s daylight savings and it doesn’t get dark till 9pm.

8. We will say “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry Christmas!”

7. Christmas carols will not make sense to our kids.  Frosty the snowman? Jack frost nipping at your nose? Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh… I could go on!

6. We will have an artificial tree.  Haven’t seen any Christmas tree farms down unda!

5. A white Christmas can only be in our dreams.

4. I’ll be eating pavlova and lamingtons instead of pumpkin or pecan pies.

3. The biggest decision of the day will be which beach to go to!

2. After Christmas sales will be called “Boxing Day” sales.

1. We won’t have our Celebration Church family.

Looking forward to all of the exciting changes in store!