Friday, August 29, 2014

Church isn't a building. Its a family.

It’s been quite some time since my last post and, in that time I've considered if I wanted to keep my blog live or to shut it down and not have to wonder if I've got anything worth writing about for the cyber world to read.
Well, I probably don’t have a lot to say that would keep readers interested and coming back for more but, I've always wanted to write. I want to one day call myself an author of at least one book! I don’t care if I still don’t know what my book will be about or that I might be aged 90 by the time I write it and aged 95 by the time it’s published but… I dare to dream. So I’m going to keep my blog live and I’m going to write when I feel the urge because this blog is part of the bigger picture God has planned for my life. Not sure what?
Anyway, here I am with an urge and I’m going to write about community, church community. Let’s call it a letter to my church.

Dear church,
You are my family. One of us said that there is a letter with your name on it. Then another later said that the first line of that letter reads “To my dear child, I love you”.
Now I’m going to tell you what the second line says. It says, “You are enough”.

Building family from church is sometimes hard. Let’s be honest, it’s exactly like blood family, you can’t always pick who they are! Just like your family, church family are the people God purposed for your life for, at the very least, this season. You may not be in the same stage of life as that person or the same age as this person or from the same place as another person but God put you in the same place with those people for such a time as this. He brought you together for this time so that you could show them a kind of love that only you can give and, for you to know a love that only they can give. God aligns people’s paths for a reason and sometimes it’s just to love one another.
Photo credit Matt Fong
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

We just came back from our church camp which ran from Friday afternoon till Sunday midday. It was a great weekend but it was also very challenging for my family. Having to keep our eyes peeled for the whereabouts of our little wandering munchkins who weren’t just wandering but also crying and whining. The nights were freezing and in fact the first night was reportedly Darwin’s coldest night of the year thus far. It was so cold that it felt like I only slept for a combined total of 30 minutes for the entire night. We had learnt from previous years camps that it gets very chilling at night so we were prepared this year [or so we thought].  But alas, not prepared enough, we were freezing our butts off, the boys were waking all throughout the night and my oh my the first rays of sunshine could not rise fast enough!
Now, there’s no other remedy quite like that of a good coffee and good company to set you straight for the day so, out of the depths of a freezing and sleepless night I emerged from our igloo and set my eyes upon that first morning coffee by the camp fire. But not before the changing of nappies, dressing of wriggling and crying children and, the serving of their breakfast. All sounds relatively simple but any parent reading will know what rigmarole that all is, let alone after a cold and sleepless night! 

Let’s continue.With the warmth of a morning campfire and the sipping of hot coffee the day brightens and I’m privileged to be spending the weekend with my wonderful church family.
A lovely couple in the church had prepared an amazing race for us all to participate in and the idea was that it would be a bonding exercise that would help us get to know each other a little better. It did exactly that and was a lot of fun… and also my exercise quota for the quarter!  
About half way through the race Matt fell to the evils of an unseen log! He tripped and bustered his foot which then, had him out of action for the rest of the camp. Sigh. My husband is an incredible help to me and especially when it comes to parenting our sons. We work as a team and we only run smoothly (like a bumpy kinda smooth) when we work together. I’m a stress head and he’s too far the opposite but together we’re some kind of balanced.

So, camp was hard work! But the beauty of it all was how amazing it was to see church family rally around supporting and helping each other and, so naturally.
People helped others pitch tents, they jiggled and bounced each other’s kids, they washed each other’s dishes and at the end of each night they communed by the camp fire with marshmallows on sticks.
It’s in this moment I realize that my church isn't a building. My church is a family. My church are the people.
Church, you are enough! Being yourself and the person God wants you to be is all that needs to be and, for you to love one another. Building community isn't just about being an awesome worship leader or serving up the yummiest church supper. It’s loving each other first. Its being present and its saying "use me God".
Sure, I believe people should get involved and serve in their church where they feel called to and, I do want to be part of church growth, not on the outside just ‘watching’ it all happen. But I was reminded by a dear friend last week (on a day I was busy fulfilling roles I had committed to) about something that was said on a Colour DVD we had previously watched. The speaker had said that “you are the gift, not what you do”. It was so timely for me to be reminded of that on a day where I’m wondering if the coffees I’m serving taste okay, if the birthday cake I’m about to make will be successful and if the church talk I’m preparing (or not preparing, rather winging) will be encouraging and not a ramble. I am enough. Just being me and loving and serving others is all God requires of me…  not the world’s best coffee, or a 3 tiered chocolate ganache cake or, a talk that’ll land me a book title.

So, when church campers loved and served each other over the weekend, and were just being themselves (BO and all) they also blessed each other. I am so thankful for each one of you and the love that you bring into our church family/community. I can know that whatever my struggles or achievements that I have people that I can love and share my journey with. I pray that anyone can walk into our church building and find the love of a family, not the draping of lavish curtains but instead an example of God’s love for his children. 


Thursday, April 10, 2014

May Date Nights

Well hello there! My oh my it has been too long since I last blogged! So let me bring you all up to date. 
March date nights weren't blogged and it was actually a rather hit 'n' miss month for dating. Just proof that even the most [wannabe] organized of people fall short. 
If I remember correctly the couple of date nights we had were a movie and Chinese evening and on the other occasion we brought to life an old chair with a new paint job. The chair painting date was great for encouraging good conversation however, our topic of conversation turned to one that was a touchy subject. It became more of a frustrating date night rather then romantic! But we can laugh at it! Lets face it, marriage isn't always all about romance and, sometimes those frustrating conversations have to happen. Its more about 'how' we have them. Husband and wife won't always see eye to eye but its important to remain respectful whilst honest. Just another #imperfect moment in dating history. 

Anyway, life has also gotten the better of us this month so, we're going to let slide the next few weeks and resume our date nights next month in May. 
Its remembering that it's okay to go with the flow sometimes. Whilst date nights are of high importance we also don't want them to become chores. And of course we're not saying that it's a chore to spend time with our spouse but lets be real, sometimes we're just not feeling it. Some nights/weeks it would seem more relaxing to just chill out in front of the tv or bury our head in a book we're dying to read and finish because we're  mums and reading time is too precious! Anyone feeling me?

So while we've been going 'with the flow' these past two months it has also sparked reevaluation. Its time to stop and acknowledge that our priorities have made a slight shift and that's okay but, now we must re sort them. 

Date nights for May:

Week 1 - Workout session

Week 2 - Bake/make a cheesecake for dessert. Neither of us have done this before.

Week 3 - Fabric painting/printing on some plain tea towels.

Week 4 - Write a short letter [to each other] on your first impressions of each other.

Remember I would love to here your date ideas!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Finding My Feet

I am learning a lot this year. Its only March and already I feel stretched and challenged and even content. All good things!
Last year I yearned so much to be able to move into a house with a yard and bath and well, just extra space! I prayed endlessly for this desire and I cried many many tears, asking God why he would not answer my prayers and hopes. There's more to our 'housing situation' but I don't wish to divulge on a public platform so, if you feel like you're not getting the whole picture then you probably aren't! But basically, I was feeling so consumed with me me me and I I I and want want want that I don't remember being content with what God has already blessed me with? Grateful yes but content no. Not unlike this year, 2013 was challenging and it stretched my faith beyond what I thought I was capable of. This year I am still being challenged and stretched and its my level of contentment where I'm feeling it most. 
Its been somewhat refreshing to not feel so burdensome with anger and disappointment toward God but rather safe in the knowledge that He knows...
  the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.
Not everyday I wake up automatically feeling content so I found a tool to help me express my emotions. I journal. I haven't been big on journal writing in the past but when I was given a 'daily' diary for Christmas I decided to use it to express my feelings when I was feeling discontent and, frustrated with the things that were out of my control. So when I'm having a moment I write it down and then close the diary, leaving my unhappiness between the pages. It has helped immensely! It saves ruining my day with discontentment and helps me to refocus.
I also write down the good things but the journaling is particularly therapeutic for my times of struggle. I'm thinking a separate journal might also be handy for writing down things to be thankful for daily?!
So with Gods strength, I'm learning that it is possible to be content when things aren't going to plan.
This year I'm also learning that although God may have given me a vision for something it doesn't necessarily mean it will happen with smooth sailing!
In the past I've struggled with where I fit in at church, in the way of ministry that is. We're all supposed to have these so called spiritual gifts and to be an arm or leg of the 'body'! Anyone ever sat through one of those sermons, and then been like "what on earth am I contributing to? Am I a hand or a hipbone? My husband is a talented muso and has always contributed to the church music team. Its always clear that that is where he fits in. And even when he's had times when he feels less than passionate about it he still knows that's where he can fill a need and contribute. I often feel like just the wife of a gifted person without anything to offer to the church body. I've always gotten involved in the churche goings on but just never felt called to a particular area or, I just didn't feel worthy or fitting enough .

Well this year I had a vision [for] and calling to womens ministry and I experienced this overwhelming sense that I know that I know that I know this is where God has placed me in church. But I've been involved in womens ministry for a few years now! And a few years its taken me to realize that this is exactly what God had planned for me in church ministry. Those years of me feeling like such a minor part of the body has lead me to this point of knowing that it may be minor and although its not my - handsome worship leader of a husband at the front of stage - it is still however very important! I've experienced so much frustration in ministry and often felt like giving up on my roll but now that God has revealed his plans to me I have such peace and patience and contentment. When my plans and aspirations for the ladies in our church don't go to plan, its still all okay and this is still part of the journey. I have found my feet and now I must walk the path God has laid before me. I have such a heart for the women in our church and I'm excited for the future.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. Proverbs 31:25



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Truth about New Years Resolutions!

Last year was a good year. Highlights were Samson's arrival and we purchased an investment property, our first property.
But coming out of 2013 I was feeling greatly discouraged by how the year had gone. The goals and desires we had been working towards just didn't come about and there was nothing we could have done to make them happen either. 

So when 2014 dawned I was not in high spirits, I was still frustrated from the previous year and, in fact, I was not done with 2013! "Come back here you year 13, I've got unfinished business with you!" Life does go on though and yes I was now in 2014 but I was sure to not make any new years resolutions or goals. I didn't want to make goals only to be let down by them. Oh but wait I did have one goal (that I was only willing to share with hubby) and that was to give less of myself to others. I'd felt somewhat hurt by relationships in 2013 that I'd decided to just look after me and care only for myself.

Then February came along and I found myself with my first 'productive' goal for the year. I decided to invest in building stronger relationships with a few people. Hang on, hang on.... what?! All of January I had decided to throw the towel in on investing in others and now, now I was wanting to do the complete opposite! "God, you softened my heart"!
My goal was to pull back from Facebook a little and to get personal. I have many Facebook friends but know few closely. I feel that there is a lot to see about others on social media but few people are interested in getting to know you well. 'Friends' want to know what you're up to but not interested in building a friendship/relationship with you. Its 'nosy' at its best. 
I picked 2 friends who I knew of well (but not closely) and had met and, I wrote to them asking if they'd be interested in corresponding via snail mail or even email. They both live in other parts of the country so having a coffee date isn't an option (at this stage) but that writing to these beautiful women might overtime develop a strong friendship and we'd become encouragers. 

So okay, God softened my heart enough to make one positive goal in 2013 but that was all he was getting out of me.
Apparently not so. A few weeks ago my husband and I were feeling a bit blah about being able (or rather not being able) to connect in our church. We decided to do something about it but we're not moving churches, we're staying at our post! We're "Embracing Our Place" which by the way, is a fantastic talk. I only came across this video last week. Anyway, we're holding our post and we've decided make a conscious effort to try and connect better with the people in our church family.
Sundays are mostly about child wrangling and creche for us so, its often difficult to hold a conversation that doesn't involve running after a wee little man trying to a) eat all the donuts, b) getting drenched at the water bubbler or c) rearranging the music equipment. So we've committed to having people over weekly for a meal. We've moved our date nights to Tuesday evenings and have created 'hospitality Mondays'. Our small abode and my mediocre cooking have always put me off having people over so I'm overcoming that in 2014.  We've been doing 'hospitality Mondays' for 3 weeks now and we've certainly adopted a more positive vibe for being able to connect with others.
God really did change my heart!

I have one more new years goal and that is to find the best coffee in Darwin! Once a week (finances permitting) I want to buy and try a coffee from a different cafe in Darwin. I will be making small reviews on the cafes/restaurants using 'Yelp'. And if you ever want to share in my search than I'd love to take you on my date!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Fashion Challenge

Okay, so my recent blog post 'My storyboard. My dreams' was really meant to be this post! I started writing and found myself off track and didn't have a clue how to bring it back to what I was originally going to write about! So if it sounded like a whole lot of fluff, it possibly was a little!
What I WAS going to blog about was on how I was scrolling through pinterest and came across a  pin that was Kendi's 30 for 30 fashion challenge. You can read about it HERE.

In short, Kendi started a fashion blog and found herself a little broke after spending many $$$ on putting together her outfits. So, she came up with the '30 for 30' challenge where she selected 30 items from her wardrobe and then created 30 different outfits with those items. And the catch was that she wasn't to purchase any new clothing during the challenge. The 30 (or what ever number you choose) items include shoes but not accessories or coats. 

I thought this was a great idea to help me get more creative with my wardrobe, and to not feel so bored with what I already have. I've decided to start with a '15 for 15' - 15 items of clothing (including shoes) and 15 different outfits. 
Anyone else up for a fashion challenge? If you'd like to follow my challenge and check out my outfits along the way then be sure to follow me on Instagram.

ta ta!


My Storyboard. My Dreams.

I am a huge fan of Pinterest! It takes me back to the days when I was studying for my diploma in fashion and, I among other students, sat around flicking through magazines [of any kind] in search of inspiration for our next clothing design. We cut, we pasted, and voila… a storyboard that represented a theme. The theme represented our own taste, thoughts, emotions and likes. They may have been someone else’s pictures but we ‘chose’ them.
One of the very first storyboards I created was one that had to represent who I was as a person. I was 15 when I created it and it has hung above our bed for a long time, it reminds me of the person that I am supposed to be. I think back to when I was 15 and I remember how young I was, having completed my schooling and now an emerging fashion student at TAFE. I was so raw and so pure in my thoughts and style. I drew from the current trends but I was never ruled by them. I wore what I liked! I also giggle a little because there were hairstyles and outfits where I now think “what on earth was I thinking?!” but I was my own.

Sometimes I feel so far from who I am. I get caught up in wondering what I ‘should’ be, and the person people want to see. My clothing style is still all mine, I feel no pressure there but my personality, my job status and my dreams all feel stretched and tormented. Will people like me for the person I am?
I look at my storyboard and I see that 15 year old Jessica was a girl with classic and feminine taste, she dreamed of being a wife and the story says she wanted to be a mother also. 15 year old Jessica wanted to represent womanhood and she stood for the sisterhood. She wanted the pretty things of the world to be appreciated. She wanted to have love all around her but, most of all she wanted to generate and radiate that love. 15 year old Jessica tells me that good friendships were incredibly hard to find and build. But as I glance at her board she says that she’ll still be the person she is and the person God created her to be, no matter what. No compromises.

Whilst I may have changed a little over the past 10 years I am no less the girl represented in that storyboard.
I can learn many things by looking back at that board but I know I could teach her a few things too. I would tell 15 year old Jessica that a pearl ring is an impractical engagement ring. I would tell her that age would not make friendships easier to build, and that flower crowns and flowing white dresses would not make a sisterhood. I would tell her that marriage wasn’t all about French kissing and skipping through fields. I would tell her that childbirth isn’t that scary after all but that childrearing is incredibly challenging. I would tell her flowers wither and that almonds are really expensive to buy, and books aren’t something you ‘just’ write. Bet you’re all wondering what this board looks like aye?!

Girls, women, ladies – be sisters! I encourage you to reach out to each other. Mothers, have a girl to girl coffee date without your children. Wives, embrace the unattached women, you were once there. And the single ladies, experience fun with mothers, wiping bottoms isn't the only way they find fun! In 2014 let’s create unity among women from all walks of life. Let’s be the change and radiate love. Accept one another for who they are and let’s appreciate our differences, be it age, taste in fashion or career.

This year I am taking back the dreams that 15 year old Jessica dreamed in that board. 25 year old Jessica wonders if she’s a friend worthy likable character but 15 year old Jessica knows that she is exactly who God wanted her to be. 

Let’s be the sisterhood.


Monday, February 3, 2014

February Date Nights

Its been both a busy and somewhat laid back couple of months. The holiday festivities kept us busy over Christmas and New Years, including a 3 week trip back home to NSW.  We've had random dates over the past few months but have otherwise not 'dated' weekly as we were. This month we resume our weekly date nights and continue to build on our marriage. 

Ideas have not been flowing easily but we've got a few things lined up. If you have any great date night ideas I'd love to hear them.

Week 1 - Watch a marriage DVD by Paul David Tripp "What did you Expect", redeeming the realities of marriage. 

Week 2 - Compose a song. Thinking praise or worship.

Week 3 - Play chess. I will beat my husband one of these days!

Week 4 - Write/draw a rough family tree of our families, going as far back as we can remember and adding all family members that we can recall. Matt and I haven't grown up knowing the others family so it will be a good exercise and challenge.