Monday, March 19, 2012

The Lifter Of My Head...

Today I was doing pretty good. Actually the day started really well.... Daniel went off to work early (he started a new job today, Yay). I had a quick Brekky, read my devotion, dropped my 3 girls off to school and took my boy back home because his asthma was really bad. On the way home, we stopped and listened to the roar of the Malanda Falls in flood! It was an awesome sight. Once home I snatched a few minutes to take a phone call from a  friend I had been meaning to call, such a breath of fresh air. Then, a beautiful new friend dropped in unexpectedly with a little House warming gift - a set of 12 glasses! Imagine! Glass cups after 2 years of plastic! Such a thoughtful gesture! I love our new Church Family :)
It was turning out to be a beautiful day..... Okay, so it was excessively wet and I swear my feet are growing webbing. I am noticing an increase of mould popping up here and there also. But mould aside, it was still a glorious day.
Then it happened....
I read something that made me feel so very sad. A simple comment about something I do when I write. It was unexpected. It probably wasn't meant to upset me but it did. I felt discouraged. I don't want to go over the top and get all dramatic about it....but It really did make me feel like what I write is not good enough. I wondered if this was a sign I was to stop writing for this particular organisation. I started to stress about the other things I had committed myself to write for this organisation....would they be acceptable? Would it be good enough? Should I close the chapter? I think I felt this way because I often do not hear feedback for the things that I do write or have written so I am left wondering how it has been received. And then to have the suggestion that I do not meet the criteria, it just felt like I didn't measure up. I'll be honest.....I cried. Then I prayed....
"Lord, am I doing the right thing? You know my heart know how I go about know I felt prompted to share those things after asking I to stop? Is it time to close the chapter?" And I felt very clearly, these beautiful encouraging words from my Lord and saviour....
"You don't write for ______ (enter name of that person) You write for me! It really doesn't matter what that person thinks. You write for me and my purposes." 
I am so grateful that He is the lifter of my head!
He is the King I serve.
He has given me many gifts and abilities and I choose to look to Him.
Thank you Father for helping me see this from the right perspective.....and thank you for being the lifter of my head!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Those were the days....

My eldest child just turned 13!

Wow....we have closed the door on her childhood and opened another on the wonderful world of the Teen years.... It was a day that dawned like any other,  but something had changed. My honey-eyed girl had blossomed into a young woman. It didn't really happen overnight....more a gradual metamorphosis over the last few years. When we left to travel around Australia she was just a girl, now 2 years later she is most definitely a young woman! Her Dad and I have had a front row seat, watching as she negotiates life. It is such a blessing to raise a family. There are so many side splittingly hilarious moments. More than a handful of "grrrr moments" and many powerful lessons to be learned for both the parent and the child. I think we have many more to yet to come as well. 

I remember the day I turned 13. I know it took me a while, bit of a stretch on the memory retrieval. My parents gave me a 'Pig Out' T shirt (I never said I was classy!), a 'Ghostbusters' Album on cassette, the book "The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4" and various other bits and and the like. I remember Dad playing the Inspector Gadget theme song over and over again in the car....(he still plays this :) Those were the days of spiked hair, mullets, fluro socks and rah rah skirts! When Madonna dominated the airwaves and my favourite movie was 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'. When we all thought we could Dance any time, anywhere, 'Footloose' and 'Dirty Dancing' just re-inforced that belief!!! When break dancing was cool and Michael Jackson taught an entire generation to moon walk. Aaaaah the 80's! Those were the days when I rode motorbikes for fun, spent most of my school holidays outdoors and spent my school terms at Boarding School in Charters Towers. Yep...those were the days that filled my 13th year of life. I am still living down the haircut! What was I thinking..?! Crazy crazy crazy!

As I reflect on my teen years and pause to take stock of my honey-eyed daughter's teen experience thus far...I can't help but notice how different our "teen" years are. She is so much classier than I ever was. I am delighted in the beautiful young woman she is. She is so bright, where I struggled at School. She is super talented at music, specifically violin, where my musical ability was limited to what I could enjoy on cassette. She is actively involved in Scouts, where I dropped out of Girl Guides. She is so very brave, pushes herself to the limit of her comfort zone all the time, where I was often held back by my fear of what might happen. She has a close relationship with our Lord and Saviour where I didn't come to know Him until much later. She has travelled extensively around Australia and I, as a teen, had only enjoyed my home (a sheep & cattle Property) and the surrounding area in remote Western Queensland. She has lived in a tent for the past 2 years, had to go without a lot of the things other kids probably take for granted, forgone friendships and security....and yet she has experienced first hand what it means to live by faith, to sit in the presence of God, to go where He leads, to share with His people, to give the gifts and talents He has blessed us with to further His Kingdom. Yes...our teen years are very different. I don't regret my teen years, it was what it was. I didn't know there was a different way to live, but I do now. I am trying not to worry about what could have been and choose to focus on what is and what will be. I am so very blessed to be Josie's Mum. To have the privilege of witnessing this delightful young lady blossom into a woman. I praise God for her, she is such a gift to this family. There is much ahead of her....highs and lows...learning much life to be lived. Josie, my bold, be strong....for you are not alone. The Lord your God is with you and will not forsake you. He has brought you this far and He will lead you on. Take hold of what He has promised and keep yourself grounded in His word. You will have so many choices to make over the next couple of His wisdom. 

Love you beautiful girl

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sweet Solitude, Muffin Mix and Love notes...

Today marks an anniversary of sorts. We drove into Malanda on a Monday three weeks ago, with all our worldly possessions packed tightly into our Troopie and Camper Trailer. Three days later we moved into the timber house on a green hill overlooking Dairy Cattle country. With the children all attending school in nearby Atherton, I am relishing a little solitude. The first few days they were at school I wasn't entirely sure where I could best utilise my time. Those first few days were more about giving me a little head space than anything else. That moment when the Troopie drives out the driveway, transporting my family to school and work, and silence settles upon the house is bittersweet. Yes, I am a sook....I miss my family. After 2 years living in a one room camper trailer, in each other's pockets 24/7, who wouldn't miss them??? Yet the chance to sit and soak uninterrupted in the presence of my Lord and Saviour is so very sweet. This morning was especially lovely. Let me back track a little....I have been feeling a bit down. Nothing major just a longing for female companionship. I am blessed to have some beautiful friends who know and love me for who I am. It's just that geographically I am very much alone and lonely! (It has been this way during our travels as well, unless of course we were in a MOPS town :) This morning sitting there with a coffee, reading, praying, singing and soaking in God's presence has taken the sting out of how bereft I feel. I am not alone, He is with me....He is right here! I was encouraged as I read this morning...
"Our heavenly Father is the Creator of all, and the Giver of all good gifts. His children should bear His likeness, which means they should be creative."
I spent quite a bit of time just sitting in silence, letting it settle in upon me, listening.... It is such a cool thought that we are to be creative to emulate the Master Craftsman. I have so much mundane stuff to do today...washing, cleaning, cooking, preparing..... I asked for His help to get creative, to find joy and meaning in the works of my hands, and mostly for motivation. I was feeling so tired..... I decided that if my work was to glorify the Lord today I had better get moving. So I put on some upbeat Praise & Worship music (I started with "Make Way For The King" available through Victory Life Church, Perth  then flowed on through a Hillsong album - "Saviour King Live", and a Wow To Worship compilation CD), plastered a smile on my face and I haven't looked back! Although I have paused many times just to join in with the various songs. It has been a balm for my soul. I attacked the washing pile. I mixed and baked some chocolate mini muffins for the children to take in their lunchboxes to school. I planned Dinner : Sundried Tomato Chicken Kebabs with salad. I have re-arranged some of the minimal furniture in the house. I have hung out the washing around the house, swept and cleaned up. It's been full on! But I feel so much better for it. A lot can be said for music therapy!

Mum & Dad ROCK (from) Rosa
Mum & Dad love me (from) Rosa
I was walking through my room, pondering creativity when I discovered these two little sticky love notes from Miss Rosa. How special. She had at some point decided to pop these little notes on the swinging doors in our Bedroom. What a cutie.... It got me thinking..... Maybe I should arm myself with sticky notes and go attack the house.... Leaving random little notes here and there for my family. They should know they are loved both by their Mum and their Saviour..... 

But first, time for a cuppa, a muffin, 15 minutes of a good book and a killer view!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Home - a timber house on a green hill…

Well it’s official, we are putting down roots! 

We are settling down, pertaining to Geographical location, as opposed to calming down our exuberant personalities!!! 

We have moved out of our camper trailer….that took all of hmmm, 2 hours! And we have found places for all our bits and bobs and managed to spread out! The children have unpacked their toy boxes and rediscovered all manner of treasures they had hidden away. I have tried to fill the new kitchen but the fact of the matter is our stuff is very minimal. There is just soooooo much space! It’s wonderful to have room to swing the proverbial cat after living in a 1 room tent all together for the past 2 years! We are so thrilled to be living in this little green patch of paradise. The children each have their own Bedrooms! Wooo Hoo! Daniel and I have privacy! Wooooo Hooooo! The Fantastic Four even have their own Bathroom! Bliss!
This beautiful property we now call home is nestled amongst the greenery (did I mention it’s green???) of a nature reserve. This means we are not permitted to have pets. Oh well…who needs pets when you have children, right? There is a rainforest and trickling creek down the back and we do share the property with a neighbour although we have not yet managed to cross paths. Her house is right along the creek and we are a whole house block up the hill. I do hope we get to meet soon. I am a big believer in getting to know your neighbours! The house water is pumped from the creek, so we are adjusting to all this means for a family of 6. There is no rubbish disposal, so we are adjusting to that as well, Saturday is currently “Dump Day”. The house is a 2 storey timber home, with lots of wide open space. There are high ceilings and no hallways!  And wait for it……there’s even a stage! I know……random! We fully expect our family will make use of the stage! At this stage it has been set up as a creative corner! All manner of creative resources are just begging to be used…. We have quite a collection from home-schooling during our travels. Paints, watercolour pencils, wax & oil crayons, textas, coloured pencils, glitter glue, coloured paper/cardboard/wrapping paper/crepe paper/drawing paper…. There does seem to be a lack of glitter though. And since we moved in I have had to buy glue or sticky tape, or both, every time I grocery shop!!! Clag is my friend! The beauty of having a creative corner is that it is always in use! They have been busy creating Art work to personalise their Bedroom Walls! Some really Beautiful work too! The down side I guess, is the mess. Honestly though I am loving seeing The Fantastic Four busily creating after so long of constantly travelling and the restrictions of that lifestyle. 


The road where we live…it’s so very green!

“Creative Corner” set up around the edges of the stage area!

This is Josie’s Bedroom. She wanted to be able to look out over trees…well she has trees one way and rolling green hills the other way.

The sleep-out upstairs! Mostly used for playing games!

This is my Bedroom Smile

The Kitchen…is enormous!

The Dining Table is in the middle of a very wide, open space

A broader view of our space…

We call this ‘the road to nowhere’ it’s directly above the Dining Table!

The ramp that’s being built into the top level of the house

My sister Kris, her kids: Benji, Zoe & Kita and The Fantastic Four standing on the bridge over our little creek in the rainforest down the back!

The weekend after we unpacked everything into the House, I looked around and wondered how on earth we were going to do this? Re-establishing ourselves after selling and giving away everything we owned to travel Australia 2 and a bit years ago!!! There are all sorts of hurdles to be jumped and obstacles to be navigated. Mostly though it feels like we are on holidays in someone else’s home. I am sure that will pass. Isn’t it funny, I have happily used our plastic plates, bowls and cups as we’ve travelled but now I long for the day we are financial enough to purchase a Dinner set. I have my eye on one already. I have been content with making do with an 80 Litre fridge freezer, and now I am eagerly anticipating storing such decadent things like ice-cream and ice-cubes in a much bigger receptacle! I have used a great variety of washing machines as we traversed the continent but I long for the day we can bring home a washing machine that is all ours! I have been enjoying a little reprieve from Home-schooling the Fantastic Four. It has been wonderful to start over at a new school, but also quite daunting. The uniforms, the school bags, lunch boxes, the shoes, the hats….the great influx of “stuff” that comes with that territory. It has been great to hear their daily reports, and a great relief that they’re enjoying their new school. I pray they will make good friends. It’s early days yet and I have to say it’s been a struggle for them in the “making friends” department.  I am sure that with time and a good deal of prayer that will happen Smile  As Daniel is working, he takes the car, drops the children off to school in Atherton and continues on his way. The kids are loving this time with Dad. However it has posed a problem for me in that I am “stuck” at home. I don’t mind really, it has been nice to potter around the house, I have even managed a little sketching (watch this space). We had to find a way for the children to get home from school, and thankfully there is a bus service that will pick them up from the front of their school and deliver them safely to Malanda. As a result I am getting my daily exercise walking the 1.5kms down our hilly road, across the dodgey 1 lane bridge perched nonchalantly across the swiftly flowing creek, to meet the Bus and then the 1.5kms back across the dodgey 1 lane bridge perched nonchalantly across the swiftly flowing creek and up our hilly road home again. Quite an adventure, especially in the rain!

The dodgey 1 lane bridge perched nonchalantly across the swiftly flowing creek

The walk is quite pleasant really!

Nearly Home after an afternoon stroll!

Settling down in North QLD means MANGOES! Yummo!

It has taken quite a lot of getting used to living in a nature reserve. It’s not all that different to living in a tent really. “Nature! It’s all over me!!!!” The thing about wildlife….they just don’t respect Human boundaries. We have been amused by the buzz we have created in their Habitat. There is an abundance of brown Beetles here, I have no idea what they are….but come nightfall they fly in through the windows (forgot to mention, we have no screens!) and proceed to re-group and play the latest Beetle Game. Last night’s game was how many walls can we fly in to!!! A very rambunctious game! I have to admit quite a few Beetles were harmed in the proceedings Smile. There are an abundance of Butterflies, and yes we regularly see the beautiful Blue Monarch Butterfly flutter by. The other really cool thing we see are Fireflies! They like to provide a twinkling fairy light effect around the Gardens after dark. We’ve seen a few inside the house after all the lights have gone out as well (thanks to the screen-less windows again). Every night this week I have done the washing up with my mate “Kermit” the green tree frog perched on the windowsill. Daniel informs me that Kermit is an unoriginal name for a frog, but it works for me. Last night must have been ‘Bring a friend night’ because there were two green tree frogs perched there. Now I have to come up with another name, something original… any ideas??? Talking about names….there is apparently a timid tree Kangaroo living somewhere around the creek down the back, and his name is Bruce! We have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Bruce. Perhaps the cacophony my four children create has kept him away. We have marvelled at the little antics of the Firetail Finches. The critically endangered Star Finches are so cute! I have also spotted some Red-browed Finches as well. Suffice to say, there is an abundance of birdlife to be observed. We have been woken every day by the morning Gossip amongst the bird community! I believe the collective noun for a group of birds should be a “Gossip of Birds” as opposed to a “Flock”. Hmm, just a thought. There has been the odd arachnid, yuck! And we discovered a snake skin on the bricks on the driveway (as in very close to the front doors) the day after we moved in! Eeeeek!
As I sit and write this we are coming into our 3rd weekend in a timber house on a green hill in Malanda. The last few weeks have been quite tricky at times, and yet we feel so very Blessed. God is amazing! I am so thrilled He has called us to settle here. It hasn’t been easy, in fact it has been a whole other adventure! We still feel a little clueless as to why here…? But that’s okay. We hold a few small pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and we’re seeking the other pieces. Just as it takes time and a few failed attempts to put together a jigsaw puzzle, it will take us a bit of time to re-establish our family and find what it is God would have us do here. In the meantime we are looking at the big picture (the one that the Designer displays on the jigsaw puzzle box lid). We may not know “what’s coming next” but our Lord and  Saviour does and I’m okay with that! We’re just praying for that next piece in the puzzle…

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Settling in, and simple pleasures!

Taking a few minutes to share shome thoughts.....

After being on the road for 2 in a house again has been an experience! It's so weird to hear the rain on the roof and not on the canvas just inches from your head! It is so nice to be safe and warm inside as the thunder and lightning roll around the hills. It is absolutely amazing to have our own flushing toilet, to not have to re-pack all our shower gear every time we have a shower... When we unpacked our 80L fridge/freezer into the Fridge/Freezer (on loan form my sister) it was just comical how much room there was. We all celebrated by making up cordial and placing in the fridge so that we could drink it chilled! Imagine that....chilled drinks after drinking cordial at room temperature for 2 years! This is so appreciated! The other thrill has been to utilise the oven. It has had quite a work out! From Roasts to Cakes and Bickies. Everyone is enjoying having an oven again. Can't wait to make a Quiche in it :) I had to rediscover all our old favourite recipes. I have carried only 2 Cookbooks around Australia with us. The "MBC MOPS Family Secrets Recipe Book" and Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen's "Classic Country Collection." Amazingly, that has been all we have needed on the road. I have used both regularly. Practical recipes. Flo's book has the best damper recipe! But that is another story. My family have enjoyed coming home from school to home-cooked goodies. I thought I'd share one of the recently enjoyed favourites....

My favourite recipe for an easy Chocloate Cake...
1 Cup Self/Raising Flour (I use White Wings Gluten Free)
1 Cup Castor Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 Tablespoons Butter (I use Nuttelex as we are Dairy Free)
1/2 Cup Milk (I use Zymil Lactose Free)
2 Eggs

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl for 4 minutes. Pour mixture into a well-greased 20cm cake tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes. I use good quality baking paper as I can't be bothered to grease and flour cake tins, and much prefer less washing up anyway... I am wondering if this mixture will make good mini muffins for lunchboxes. Hmm will have to experiment. As for icing, my Mum (Bless her) taught me a simple icing recipe when I was a young girl making a mess in the family kitchen. It is a keeper, I encourage you to try it out. Simple, but functional.....

Mum's Quick Fail-Proof ICING
2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon Butter (again, I use Nuttelex)
2 Tablespoons of either Juice, Diluted Cordial or Water. (Any flavour of juice or cordial will suffice, although Raspberry cordial is awesome with Chocolate Icing....Just saying!)
[For Chocolate Icing : add 1 Tablespoon of Cocoa and a drop or two of Vanilla Essence]

Combine all ingredients and mix to a smooth consistency. You will need more liquid, so add more 1 Tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Yummo!