family, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

November, Again.

Every November comes around with the velocity of a high speed train. Daylight savings, spring, open pools, sunshine.

And birthdays.

Three of them.

All in five days.

Sydney’s on the 5th, mine on the 8th and Sam’s on the 9th. No merging with traffic. November arrives – and, BOOM! So do all the birthdays.

I feel overwhelmed with another piece of childhood left behind; and, in the frenzy of planning parties, buying gifts, baking cakes for classmates, I forget about my own birthday. (It’s also very weird to celebrate in Spring when for 35 yrs mine fell in fall. Void of the changing leaves and leftover Halloween candy, there are no triggers telling me it’s my turn.)

So, this year, I decided to reflect a little more intentionally, to pick up blogging again, and hopefully inspire someone else who resents the audacity of the calendar with all its overreach and disregard for the pace I reckon we would all like to keep. The passing of time is a universal truth common to human experience. But we don’t have to like it!

I spend a lot of time prepping for the future: saving money, planning holidays, exercising and eating right. And, in the midst of all that habit-stacking and goal-setting, I often lament what was. Nostalgia rings a familiar bell with the sound of laughter and hope. I want to live in the present but I struggle to do so. I long to be content with what is but I have a hard time reconciling the vision I once held for what would one day be with the harsh reality of what actually is.

Disappointment has been an all-too-familiar friend over the last decade. Sure, Instagram shows the highlight reel of everything that’s been good. And, there’s been a lot of good. But, unmet expectations, betrayal, money stresses, mistakes, loss, (did I mention cellulite and wrinkles) have also taken up real estate in my life. No one ever puts those things on a vision board, do they?

The reality is, perfection is never a promise made by the One who gives us our breath. Easy isn’t extended to even the most lucky and blessed. Whatever our family, finances or faith, we aren’t immune to heartache and hurt.

So, this birthday week, as I reflect on my 43 yrs, I feel a little bit of ‘blah’ mixed with a little bit of ‘bliss.’ I feel free even though the heaviness of sadness threatens to invade. I can admit my faults and disappointments with unfettered honesty but when I do, vulnerability seeks to bring shame. I’m liberated when I can acknowledge I don’t have simplistic answers for complex problems but I would rather stick my head in the sand.

Embracing the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other is actually living footloose and fancy free. The fact that I woke up this morning means I’ve been given permission to use the gift of another plain old day to make a difference in someone’s life, to love the ones I hold dear and to give thanks.

Today, on this 43rd birthday of mine, I am more resilient, tested and true to myself… less insecure and more focussed on the things that matter most. I care about giving of myself more than of what I can gain. I feel grateful for every healthy breath and for a solid marriage. I’m pleased that my shoulders are a strong platform upon which my children can stand. I see my Heavenly Father through a sometimes beat up lens but what always comes into focus is his faithfulness and love for me (and YOU).

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
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)