Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hugging an orangutan.

It was my youngest son's 5th birthday. He spent his 4th birthday in hospital with a partially collapsed lung. This year was going to be an improvement...


51: Holding an orangutan.
52: CJ seeing (and holding) an orangutan, after believing by the time he was old enough, they would be extinct.
53. Bony bottoms on my knee.
54. The softness of a jaguar's fur.
55. The weight of an adult jaguar on your lap.
56. Sweet memories.
57. Holding a (very grumpy) lion cup.
58. Seeing the look of delight on my boys' faces.
59. Hearing the excited shouts of the boys as they decided which animals they would like to hold.
60. Brothers hugging.
61. Feeding zebras, noses through the car window.
62: Patting zebras.
63. Leopard spots.
64. Mist
65. Inside out clothes on LM.
66. Seeing the three older boys choose two soft toys to give to their brother for his birthday, one of them spending all of his money.
67. Riding elephants together.
68. Having an elephant race.
69. Throwing bananas into elephant's mouths.
70. Giraffes. Because they are beautiful. And have unique markings. And long eyelashes.
71: The vibrant colours of macaws.
72: The monkey who caught the carrot.
73: Cool air for the first time in months.
74: Wearing jumpers.
75. Boys not wanting to take jumpers off, because they had forgotten how cosy it felt.
76. Chasey.
77. Waterslides.
78: Wet hear, plastered to tired heads.
79. Zebra manes, short and spikey.
80. Boys legs running.
81. Freedom in Christ.
82: Being able to dress in standard clothes, with hair out.
83: Mosquito repellant.
84: CJ's excited shouts. Lots of them.
85: Warmth of the sun.
86: Four heads looking over a railing.
87: A. driving safely.
88: Meals in the fridge, ready to eat.
89: Giraffes' necks.
90: Baby monkey, clutching the Mum's belly.
91: Enormous claws.
92. Listing our 'favourite things' at the end of the day. Choosing was hard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Not a sign of) Easter in Jakarta

Every year we sigh as the Easter eggs arrive in stores earlier and earlier. I'm pretty sure the stocking or shelves could precede Christmas if it continues. Well okay, maybe not, but I think it is already the start of January! It used to be just the eggs, but now it is Easter cards, and the suggestion of other gifts. Because we can never have enough. The eggs themselves have become a way to promote the latest movies and other characters or toys. Gone is the symbolism of new life in a simple egg.

As an aside, I read that Cadbury were producing a free trade egg this year. Which means of course the vast majority aren't. So we're exploiting child labour too...

I digress. Back to the stores.

Our first Easter in Jakarta. No sign of it here. So much so, that I keep forgetting it is Easter! Which is a tad embarrassing, since it is the central celebration of my faith. I was always partial to a 'few' eggs prior to Easter. Especially those little speckled eggs... Not this year.

So it was perhaps an opportunity to boo hoo the entire thing. To start some family traditions that are meaningful, with Jesus at the centre. Not that he isn't normally, but naturally it's Jesus PLUS bunny colouring competitions at Woolies. And I confess I find it hard to eradicate our family of the easter bunny. I know, I know. A number of friends refuse to be drawn in. But I have such wonderful memories of the fun surrounding it all when I was little, that I can't help myself. The Easter Bunny will find the boys in jakarta. But only because of the visit this week of my generous uncle.

We did have an Easter egg hunt last weekend, organized by the residence where we live. It was hilarious. One hundred kids. Searching for boiled eggs. Plain boiled eggs. One of my boys said, "Mum, I dont want to do this! There's no chocolate!" His mother's son. But hunt they did. One even won a prize - a ridiculous looking enormous Teddy money box - which he promptly gave away to the nearest willing child (finding that willing child was harder than the egg hunt). Not sure where the Teddy fit in to the whole story, but there you are.

So I pause. Two days after my uncle visited from Australia. The day after Tony's birthday. The day before Good Friday. And of course four days before Bombers v Pies on Anzac day... To notice that Easter is here. Now. And I've nearly missed it.

We have been reading about the lead up to Jesus' death with the boys each night. It seems that every year I am newly astounded by the fact that Palm Sunday was only five days prior. That he was heralded as a 'king'. And then a number of days later brutally killed.

This morning I was reading about Jesus praying prior to his arrest. The words washed over me afresh. "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44) 

It's overwhelming. Isn't it?

It doesn't matter where you are in the world. 

Jesus suffered. This sinless servant. Rejected. Spat on. Beaten. Mocked. Pierced. He died. An excruciating death. 

And then he rose. 

And all of this was for me. Oh, and for you. 

So that we could meet with God. Know him. Worship him. In freedom. Forgiven. As saints. Forever. Because once you know Jesus, eternal life begins. Immediately. By Grace. Because of love. 

I am not worthy of such suffering. But because of it, I bow down. 

May you bow down this Easter too. It's okay to have a piece of chocolate. But remember that sweat of blood. And all that followed. And bow down.


31. The fact that history does not deny that Jesus lived.
32. That when on earth, Jesus knew temptation and suffering.
33. That Jesus did not sin, and so could be sacrificed for mine.
34. That Jesus was a servant, and calls me to be one.
35. That he willingly went to the cross.
36. For his blood that was shed.
37. Love.
38. Grace.
39. Eternal life.
40. For the Easter story, that should cause us all to bow down every day of our lives.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My second most important decision

Today I pause to give thanks for my husband. It is his birthday today. 

He's wonderful. He loves Jesus. He loves me. He loves our boys.

When he was just 19 I stepped into a police car with this spunk of a man. He told me he didn't bother much with nightclubs. That was so odd to me! He explained that he was a Christian, that he socialised with Christian friends rather than drinking at pubs. This was a guy who was funny, popular (did I mention he was good looking?), and seemed so utterly normal. He didn't fit the box I had placed all Christians into (I have since tossed out that box!!).

This led me to ask to go to his church, where I came to know Jesus. Which was the most important decision I, or anyone, can make - who or what do you worship? I'm so thankful that God used Tony to bring me to Him.

And then we became a couple.

It seems like such a long time ago now. But I remember those drives in his old cars. The one with the holes in the floor was the most memorable. During one of Brisbane's crazy storms it was completely flooded, my knees were up to my neck, and oh how we laughed!! 

I remember times painting our house in readiness for our new life together, music on, shouting between rooms, "What's your favourite...?" Still getting to know each other.

And then we were joined. For life. The second most important decision a person makes.

And I'm so thankful.

Here we are on his 37th birthday, nearly 15 years married. And each year our marriage is better, stronger, and somehow it seems you can love a person more as time passes.

So much has happened. Four boys the most significant. And watching him as a Dad is a delight. The rest is just life. But wonderful memories of times shared - renovating, travelling (the Greek Islands the highlight!), fabulous times with special friends, moving interstate, moving overseas.

We are determined not to take it all for granted. My Dad always told me that marriage is hard work, "You have to work at it every day". Wise words. We started out wobbly. And that was good, because it made us talk about the commitment we had made, and that we wouldn't compromise on it. That we wouldn't rely on 'feelings' or 'happiness' to define the state of our marriage. That our love for Jesus meant that we would choose to love and serve one another. And give thanks. Be content. On our own we may have made a mess of it.

This past week has been awful, as we watched two marriages here dissolve. Fast. An affair. Partners crumbling. Kids' lives forever changed. It has been so SAD!

In the sadness, you can't help but examine your own relationship. You're reminded to take care of it. To be intentional about the way we love. Serve better. Love better.

To do that we are always looking to Jesus, the perfect example of servanthood & love. Just days from Easter we are remembering that he chose to suffer and die, because he loved. Loved Tony. Loved me. Loved our boys. Loved you. Loved.

And so we can follow. Together.

Happy birthday TJ.


21. A spunky policeman.
22. Discovering Christians don't fit in a box. That choosing Jesus is what defines them.
23. Shared faith.
24. Tony asking me to marry him.
25. The way he loves & serves me.
26. The Dad he is to our boys.
27. The way he works hard. At everything. Marriage. Kids. Work. Study. Home. Renovations. Fitness...
28. For shared interests.
29. For his passions.
30. For his commitment to our marriage.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Waves roll in, on the other side of the fence.

We visited one of Indonesia's beaches. I have tried to maintain continual low expectations here. It means I'm never disappointed! This was no exception.

I loved it. We loved it. The house was amazing. Big bathrooms with a wall of glass looking out to garden. Eight little legs racing in and trying to find the favoured bedroom. A deck with chairs that made me want to sit down, gaze out at the ocean, and not move for three days. Except perhaps to glance over at the pool to ensure everyone's head was above water.

Yet different it was. Let's not talk about the many hours it takes to travel the few kilometres from Jakarta, due to the atrocious roads with potholes every 10 centimetres or so. Once there, the property is surrounded by a rather large fence, causing a clear delineation between us and the sand. Locals were at the fence, calling out, offering massages, inviting the boys to invest in some shells, selling food. No amount of "say no thank you and walk away" worked with our social boys. They do love a chat.

It wasn't the sophistication of the Sunshine Coast, nor the simplicity of SA coastal spots. But it doesn't have to be. 

The water was such an amazing temperature, causing me to get in and stay in - unheard of in the freezing South Australian waters!!! Though never have I felt more underdressed! I was fascinated by the Muslim women swimming fully clothed. But their laughter is the same regardless.

Kite flying, mud walking, shell hunting, boys going all 'Bear Grylls' on me... 


And friends. We had friends! Though new friends, it is always special to sit with people who make you laugh. With the sun setting. By the beach. Eating a freshly caught seafood banquet. Bliss.

The vastness of the waters is so engaging. I could not help but feel a little connected with Australia, thinking about the drops of water on the sand which surely must have visited Coolum, Adelaide, Caloundra, Port Elliot, Noosa, Rye...and perhaps even rained down on Brisbane. It wasn't the cuppa with my girlfriends I desire so much, but it was something.

And though cliched, you cannot escape pondering the power of God in the waves, his control over them, and as a friend recently prayed, the contrast of the still small voice of the Lord in the lapping water.

The smallness of me is the next most obvious thing. Tiny. Insignificant. Yet created, chosen, guided, loved.

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48: 17-19


11. Access to this fabulous place.
12. Four boys who love to talk to people.
13. Muddy legs.
14. Freedom to swim in bathers.
15. Freedom.
16. Seeing lit up eyes lifted towards a kite.
17. Oceans, which make me feel a little less lonely.
18. That I am small. That He is big.
19. Prawns.
20. A shower big enough for six.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Moving to another land.

I have decided that moving overseas with four children is a lot like having a baby.

The anticipation is wonderful, but there is underlying fear. Then comes the work and the exhaustion.

But in it all, you realise that people have gone before you and survived. And it has been wonderful.

So you are spurred on. You arrive. And despite some low times, there is so much to be grateful for. 

It is a privilege.

As you wonder what the babe in your belly will look like, who that little person will become, what hopes they will have... so you wonder what this experience will bring. What will my four boys remember? How will it change them? What will they hold for a lifetime as a result of this short period in their lives?

And then I remember to trust. To read the verses that brought us here. To know that the Lord has a good plan. 

That just like He knows every day of a babe's life, so He has gone before our six figs in faithfulness and love.


1. A warm little body snuggled next to me, reading books.
2. Plunging into clear blue water, with many laps ahead to think and pray.
3. LM's little mouth trying to envelop an enormous burger.
4. The smell of hot bread.
5. The opportunity to learn another language.
6. First coffee with a new friend.
7. Hair, messy in the wind.
8. Wrapping gifts for AC's 5th birthday.
9. Coffee with TJ in the middle of his work day.
10. Our first weekend away from this busy city.