Monday, October 31, 2011

Where is home?

How do you define home?

I don't think I know anymore.

I was born in the country, but raised predominantly in Melbourne. All of my schooling and growing up was done there. In number at least.

Shortly after my 21st birthday, I moved rather thoughtlessly to Brisbane. To join the police. Why not? The real growing up was done there. The kind that comes when you open your eyes and see the world. Properly. See the hurt in so many lives. The place where my identity was wrapped up largely in being a police officer.

It was in Brisbane where I met Jesus. Laid eyes on the man I will love until my final breath. Bore four gifts in the form of boys. And developed friendships through faith, love, prayer, experiences. Not to mention the dirty nappies, piles of laundry and revolving door of baby showers and kids' birthday parties. 

Another move. This time to Adelaide. For my man's work. This time it was my boys doing the growing up. Friendships for me in this city were formed whilst freezing cold on the side of a footy ground, and in the school yard. Amongst autumn leaves, and in heat waves. Relaxing in back yards with a glass of wine, good conversation and a ratio of children to adults that never felt entirely comfortable.

Next stop - Jakarta. Still for Tony's work. But this time a sure sign of God's plan, vague as it was to me. I had prayed that we would be sent, and that our family would grow spiritually as a result of our experiences. I feared the effects of uprooting my boys, and my 'control freak' nature wanted desperately to know which city we would return to. The Lord, through the bible, confirmed my hopes and reassured my fears.

So we went. And here we sit. Ten months have passed since our arrival. A sense of home is creeping in, ever so slowly. Our six had only each other upon arrival, in a place with a vastly different culture, language and lifestyle. Friendships are growing at Embassy functions this time, through bible study groups, and  in extraordinary heat on soccer sidelines.

People ask where we are from. Australia is the easy answer. Otherwise I really don't know. We don't know how long we will be here, nor do we have any idea where we will 'return' to. It may be another city. A new start. Again.

The other common question - where do we want to live? Harder again. You see one city is a place I adore for the people in it, and the comfort I feel there. Another is home for my boys and happened to produce some gorgeous friends. The final option would afford opportunity to be near my parents as they age, and to be close to my sister for the first time in our adult life.

But being within my comfort zone, making things easier, being around people I love...none of these should dictate our destination. I'm not called to be comfortable, but to serve. Not to what is easy, but rather the road that is right. Not an identity in what I do, but rather in Who I follow. And it's already before me. My purposes, the places, chosen. Though it appears awfully hazy now to me, it's not to the One who has clear view of my path.

So in the moments when anxiety creeps up on me. Almost takes hold of me. As I look to uncertain times ahead. I remember that I'm looking in the wrong direction.

I need to look up.

Giving thanks:
  • Knowing loneliness.
  • Independance.
  • Our six bonding together.
  • Friends in so many cities. Now many countries.
  • Strong memories.
  • Homesickness. Because that indicates all there is to be thankful for.
  • Finding people here I want to get to know. Phew.
  • Paths I've been on. And the ones I can't quite see.
  • Dispelling anxiety, because He knows and loves me.
  • Adventures - the anticipation each time of what lies ahead.
  • Coffee beans growing. Oh, how I am glad they are replenishing what I drink.
  • Gorgeous girls in rice paddies.
  • A Masquerade Ball. Part of this experience. And lots of fun.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anticipation & Intimacy

With a contented sigh I sit.

I have just been given a belated 40th gift. The most wonderful gift. In the form of a dear friend. She travelled from Australia to Jakarta, leaving behind her husband and three tribe members. For ten days. Ten days!

And it was perfect.

It began in an airport. With me staring at the glass doors. Willing them to produce her. Each time they opened, the anticipation. My stomach flip flopping around. Hardly able to contain myself. Wondering how to suppress excited squealing when I saw her.

I started to think about weddings. About the suspense before the bride entered. I have only been on the other side of those doors. What did my man feel in those minutes before that dress of white appeared and was carried with joy down the aisle?

Which lead me to consider our meeting with Jesus. We are the collective 'bride'. Does He feel great expectation moments before we finally meet face to face? Is there a sense of mingled excitement, joy, relief?

These ponderings helped me to pass the time at the airport.

Ten Days of Bliss followed.

Relaxing. Exhausting. Active. Quiet. Luxurious. Witnessing poverty. Laughter. Lots of it. Serious conversations. Precious hours of just us. Time with the boys. Creating more shared memories.

Someone knowing you so well means little needs to be said, but much can be. Nothing is held back. Vulnerability isn't present, because there is nothing to be protected from. Just acceptance. Honesty. Love.

Again, Jesus. Our relationship with Him now should exceed any intimacy we have on this earth. Imagine what it will be when we are able to see him. Be physically present with him. It far exceeds my limited imagination.

But I do expect it to be awesome.

If these ten days were so incredible, can I conceive of a perfect eternity? Can you? Do you share the hope, anticipation, confidence?

I'll leave you to ponder as you await those doors opening.

Giving thanks:
  • Faithful & generous friendship.
  • A weekend away together. Bliss.
  • Walking through rice fields and 'kampungs'.
  • Laughter. So much laughter.
  • Being known. And loved.
  • Giving her respite from the hard work of being a Mum.
  • Meeting our sponsor child for the first time, together.
  • Reading bibles alongside one another.
  • Hearts broken by poverty. The accountability that comes with that.
  • The farewell dance party the boys organised.
  • Supportive husbands who gave us so much time.
  • The love and interest shown in my boys.
  • Hours in the car. Nothing to do but talk and nap.
  • Endless coffees, lunches, drinks, shopping...because we could.

Monday, October 10, 2011

15 things for 15 years

I wanted him to ask. Knowing this was the man I wanted to walk the road with. Until the end.

It wasn't easy for him. His experience told him you couldn't always trust. He wasn't convinced that I wouldn't leave. Didn't know how to be sure I wouldn't let him down- to believe we would always walk together.

But he leapt. Asked anyway. Despite the fear. And mine was a resounding Yes.

Eight months later, it was I Do. We started taking tentative steps along that road, now wide enough for our 'two become one'. Following behind the one who saves.

And at first it wasn't what we thought. The absence of bliss was the most notable thing. Where was the honeymoon, we asked one another. The warm home, the garden of roses.

Yet we continued to walk. Wobbly steps. Unsure feet. Shoes that were all wrong - heels that you wanted to take off, thongs that weren't made to endure. Rocks, sticks, even logs on that path - making it difficult to walk. Unpleasant even.

The commitment we made though, meant faltering was not an option. So we pressed forward despite the fatigue. We became veritable loggers and excavators. Some days it was a rock of selfishness, others a log of pride, still another a branch of anger. But each day we were gathering, placing things to the side. Building something good from the debris.

There were times when we couldn't see the progress, but occasionally gained some clarity, and could see clearly the path set before us. Slowly, the kindling was enough for a fire, the rocks a garden, and the logs a home. Pride was replaced by humility, selfishness became service, and hardness, love. 

Fifteen years have passed. We walk confidently now, sure of our footing. Just an occasional pebble or twig. But carefully watching, knowing strong winds, storms or floods can cause devastation in a moment. Protecting all we have built with determination. 

I'm excited and intrigued about the road over the coming fifteen years. No idea what the map looks like, where it will lead. But excited to be forging ahead. And so very thankful for the man beside me.

Giving thanks:
  • Him asking The Question, trusting me.
  • Faith in a God who transforms.
  • Determinedly sneaking moments, amongst our life with six, to build our life as one.
  • Songs with memories of their own.
  • Adjustments from us both, so we continue to move closer together rather than apart.
  • Shared, dear friends, who have walked with us.
  • The example of the ultimate servant.
  • The gift of four boys, increasing our joy.
  • Building memories together, through renovating, travel, friends, laughter, life.
  • Moves so we depend most on our Lord and each other, rather than our community.
  • The ability to laugh when our home is complete madness.
  • Deciding very early that this was forever, no matter what.
  • A sense of humour - essential - especially for Tony when I am hungry and tired.
  • Learning how to say sorry (fast) and forgive (even when you don't feel like it).
  • Being unsure of what the next season will bring - but knowing the one who leads.

Monday, October 3, 2011

40 gifts at 40

I'm loving being 40 so far. I'm three days in.

It's always good to pause, reflect, give thanks. On these milestone moments, it is an obligation. So here is my gratitude list. I will try and stop at 40...

1.  Saving faith in Jesus.
2.  17 years with this man, 15 of them as 'one'.

3.  Caleb James. Bold & impetuous. Joyous.
4.  Ethan Davis. Strong & steadfast. Faithful.
5.  Luke Miles. Light & merciful. Soft-hearted.
6.  Ashton Charlie. The happy one. Delightful.

7.  Love in a painting. A gift from my family.

8. Cards that make me cry.

9.  Words of life. A gift from my Mum & Dad. 

10. My sister. Always the more sensible one. Loved.

11. Old friends. Bound by walking together. Shared time, memories, laughter, tears.
12. Abundant love, displayed by my dear friend who is traveling from another country to celebrate my 40th.
13. Flowers that made their way from Australia. Wrapped in faithfulness and love.
14. Captivating lights on my birthday night. Each one a little shaving of God's glory.

15. New friends. Still much to learn, many steps to take. But each one a gift.
16. The ability, and desire, to run.
17. Education. And the opportunity for more.
18. Learning a little more each day of what it is to live for Him.

19. Living in a country so different to the one I am from. 
20. Learning a new language.
21. My past life as a police officer. The way it impacted my very being.
22. Potential for new direction. Building on before.
23. A surprise cake made by Caleb without me knowing. 

24. Feeling like I'm in my twenties, but not behaving like it.
25. Excitement about the next decade with my man and my boys.
26. The privilege of travel while we are here. AC asked, "Mum, are we going to a different country for your birthday?" Apparently that is normal for him.
27. Knowledge that no matter what the circumstances, God is good.
28. Cheeky coffees from my man. His is on the left.

29. Greater understanding of our relative wealth. 
30. Promptings to simplify.
31. A Grand Final coinciding with my birthday, and the result. If you are Australian, you will understand.
32. Boys snuggled in close, leaping up occasionally with excited shouts.
33. Cubbies whilst watching.

34. Grace. Need it every day. Offered every moment.
35. Bubbles and brie. 

36. Baclava. No more words needed.

37. Serving. Leading women in the Word.
38. Memories of my babes, now boys.
39.These eyes. These smiles. These gifts.

40. However many days are left. May they be for His glory.