Rest and Recreation in North America. Part 2: Learn to Trust ‘As You Go’

In a previous account, I wrote about the way God provided for us to travel to the USA and Canada for a holiday.  When we flew out of Australia, we thought we had enough money to cover the entire trip.
However, God had a different plan.  He wanted to teach us something, so before we left, He provided enough to make sure we took the trip – but not enough to see us through to the end.
This is the account of how He provided the shortfall.

We’re Off to the USA!
The flight from Melbourne, Australia, to Los Angeles, is a long one.  Travel can be very tiring, and anyone who’s flown will know that the flying time is just one part of the story.  You may have to rise at some ridiculous hour of the morning, thus starting the day somewhat sleep deprived; there are always last minute preparations before you leave your home; then there’s the time it takes to travel to the airport; time at the airport from check-in to boarding; the actual flight; arrival at your destination airport; baggage collection; possible quarantine queues;  immigration; and (at last!) finding your way to your final destination for the day.

And believe me, when you fly to the USA from Australia, the day is very long – for, after flying for about fifteen hours, you typically arrive in LA on the same day a few hours earlier than when your plane took to the air in Australia. :)  Continue reading

Rest and Recreation in North America. Part 1: ‘Take the Train’

It had been a hard year – a very hard year – and Chris and I were tired.
‘That secluded tropical island looks real good right now’, I said to him one day.
We both knew I wasn’t referring to a real topical island, but was saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get away from all this?’
By the end of June that year, the pain and worry of an extremely difficult pregnancy were all but forgotten as we welcomed our sixth child, and first daughter, into the world, and, by late November of the same year, as a direct result of one woman’s sedition, Chris lost – by 0.14% – the church members’ poll to keep him as Pastor for another three years.

Over the next few days, as we prayerfully considered our future, a consistent thought emerged.
“We mightn’t be able to get ourselves marooned on a tropical island,’ I said to Chris ‘but how about we get some R&R?’
’Sounds good to me’, he responded.  ‘Any thoughts about what we’d do?’
Weeeell …..’  I was hesitant to voice my thoughts – they were a little crazy as I knew we didn’t have much money.  Continue reading

Following the Crowd

School was out for the day, and I quickly made my way along the upstairs corridor, down several long flights of stairs, across the playground, down the path past the Administration building, along another path at the end of which stood the Canteen, and finally emerged at the top of another, short, flight of stairs leading down to the cricket field and football oval.
I stood at the top of the stairs and hesitated.  I could follow the path between the two playing fields to the school gates, or I could follow a long line of students who were creating for themselves a ‘short cut’ by crossing the field to my right and jumping the school fence.
My last class had been held in the furthest classroom on the top corridor of the furthest building from where I stood, and I already felt I’d been walking for a long time.  We had previously been told we were to exit the school using the footpath.  But it had been a while since anything had been said – and the short cut was always tempting, Continue reading

Triple Treat

‘I’d love to do something special for our 40th wedding anniversary’, I said to my husband.  ‘Like, maybe go to a nice bed and breakfast for three nights.’
Even as I said it, I knew that what little money we had couldn’t be used on such an extravagance, so began to put the whole idea down as absurd.
‘I guess we can’t really afford a b & b’, I said, a little wistfully.
‘There must be places we can go that don’t cost an arm and a leg.  Why don’t you see what Google has for us?’
Google was no help.  Sure, we could pay a lot less – but a 40th anniversary was pretty special and deserved something better than the four walls of a cheap motel room.
A few days later, a friend told me of a house that was owned by a church which was available for $25 a day.  ‘It’s pretty old, and you have to take your own linen and clean the house before you leave,’ she said, ‘but it’s not far from the beach; it’s near the shops – and it’s cheap’.
It was tempting.  ‘Cheap’ was good.  But, call me lazy if you like, but I just didn’t want to have to do all that cleaning up before we left – not for our 40th anniversary. Continue reading

Withholding Praise

In a previous blog post, I wrote about making the choice to praise and thank God.  I mentioned that I realised I had been withholding part of my heart from giving God full and free praise, and said I would write about that later.
Well, ‘later’ has arrived …

It took decades before my husband, Chris, and I made a habit of praying together every night.  It’s not that we’d never prayed together before; and it’s not that we didn’t pray regularly by ourselves.  But organising ourselves to pray together on a daily basis seemed to be a small challenge that we just never managed to rise to – until very early in December 2010.

Just about every night for nearly five and a half years now, my husband and I have prayed together.  By ‘together’, I mean that we first pray simultaneously, but in separate rooms, for fifteen minutes, and then we join and pray together for another ten minutes or so.
When we pray together, Chris usually does the bulk of the praying, and I agree with him.  He often begins by declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness, then thanking Him for it.

About five months ago, I noticed that when Chris was honouring God in this way, I wasn’t able to give God full and free praise, but only a measured amount of praise.  At first I didn’t know why this was happening, Continue reading

Let’s Visit Our Overseas Friends

‘You know what I’d like to do?’
I looked across at Chris and waited for a response.  We were in our eight seater Mazda van on the three hour journey north to visit my parents who lived in a little town called Wahgunyah.  Chris was at the wheel, and our five sons, aged 6 – 14,  were all seated comfortably behind us.
Chris gave me a quick enquiring glance, but didn’t say anything.
‘I’d like to visit our overseas friends.’
Our conversation to that point had been quite random.  However,  this desire had settled on me and stayed so determinedly, that I finally voiced it.
Chris had never shown any more than a casual interest in travel, so his response surprised me.
‘Let’s do it!’
The very notion was preposterous.  We had little income, no savings, and no prospect of any immediate change. Continue reading

‘Nevertheless’

Have you lost count of the number of times you’ve been faced with challenging circumstances?
Has God ever asked you to do something difficult?

About nine years ago we were faced with some challenging circumstances that weren’t going to go away in a hurry.  My preferred course of action would have been to go to sleep and wake up when it was all over.

About six years ago, we had the chance to escape the limitations that the challenge had brought us, but at the decisive moment, my husband and I both realised that God didn’t want us to ‘escape’, but to ‘go through’.  That was the most pivotal time of this whole nine year journey because the wrong decision would have relieved us of the challenge that weighed heavily on us, and the right decision initially took us to a place of great loss. Continue reading

Nuts to You Too!

I always keep a supply of edible nuts  They’re great for a snack, and for a quick energy boost.  They are also a nice addition to salads, and a treat in some hot dishes.

‘I’ll just grab a few nuts to take with me’, is commonly heard by some family member as I run into the kitchen and reach for the nut containers, before going out somewhere.

Almonds and walnuts are my staples, while others, like pecans, brazils, peanuts, and cashews, grace my pantry shelf from time to time.

After sixty years of ‘nut eating’, you may be able to imagine my surprise when I learned that ‘nuts just ain’t nuts’!  Continue reading

Our First Overseas Trip

It was an evening in December 1977 just days before Christmas, when the phone rang.  I was attending to our three young children, so Chris answered it.
At the other end of the phone, was the somewhat urgent voice of his father.
“I’ve just got out of the shower and HAD to ring you.  I believe God is saying you aren’t to sign any binding contracts.  He wants me to remind you about your commitment to go to Bible College.  It’s been so strong, I just had to ring you straight away.”
It was a very timely phone call.  Just two months earlier, some complete strangers had given us the opportunity to test a franchise business.  It was in the education arena, and we were able to test it with no obligation.  We were also given use of all equipment for nothing and there was no restriction on how much we could earn while in the testing phase.
The business was proving itself to be quite lucrative Continue reading

Fruit in an Unexpected Place

We live on a property belonging to a ministry whose focus is Christian education and training.  It’s a lovely property, set on the edge of the suburbs  The countryside literally begins at the back fences of the houses across the road.  The gum trees are always green, birds frequent the property, and you can be sure you’ll find flowers blooming no matter what the time of year.

About a kilometre away is a popular walking track which my husband likes to frequent.  I’m a little less ambitious so the walk up the road, then down the steep hill to the start of the track satisfies me well enough, and doesn’t take too much time away from other things.  At other times though, I just like to amble around the property.

Recently, as I followed the line of the bank fence of this property, my attention was drawn to a large bush.  Growing boldly over it were the long branches of a blackberry bush, and scattered along some of these tentacle-like branches were berries in varying stages of ripeness.

My mouth watered.   I hadn’t picked blackberries for several decades.  Continue reading

Saved By An Angel

I was a young Mum expecting my second child and was nearing the end of my first trimester.  My tummy had developed enough of a bump that anyone with an eye for it would have suspected I was pregnant.

It was early afternoon on a bright Spring day in October 1975, and I was unpacking the shopping.  I had bought two dozen eggs and as I went to place them in the door of my fridge, I noticed that some of them were cracked.  Further investigation revealed that of the 24 eggs, 12 were cracked.  Unable to think of any reason why I could be responsible for the damage, I decided to pack the 12 cracked eggs into one carton and take them back to the supermarket in the hope that they would be replaced.

Our home was situated on a fairly steep slope, Continue reading

The Lost Diamond

My father’s car slowed as we entered the large car park, and rolled to a stop some forty or so metres from the church.  The church building was perched near the top of the hill and, as we walked up the slope, the crunch of the stone topping under our feet broke the silence of the morning air.

As I approached the church entrance, I turned to look at the countryside spread before me.  It was bathed in autumn sunlight, casting a slightly golden hue over everything, and as I stood I took a deep breath as if to drink in the silence and the peace.

‘Good morning.’   My thoughts were interrupted by a stranger who extended his hand in welcome.  ‘You’re George’s daughter aren’t you?’

’Oh.  Good morning.  Thank you.  Ah, yes, George is my Dad’, I said, while taking his outstretched hand and giving it a hearty shake.

My Dad was a ‘lay preacher’, which meant that he wasn’t an ordained minister, but was allowed to preach and lead services in his denomination.  He was often invited to take the service at this little country church, and while I was savouring the country ambience, he had entered the building to make preparations for the service.

I lingered outside a while longer, chatting to a few people and enjoying the warmth of the sun, but finally made my way toward the door to find a seat.  As I moved between the pews, my left hand ran along the top of the pew in front of me.  For a quick moment, I glanced at my hand.  My engagement ring was sitting snugly against my wedding band as usual – but there was something about it that was distinctly not ‘usual’.

I drew a quick breath and held it, as I raised my hand to look more closely.  Continue reading

I Will Praise

Has anyone counted how many times the Bible tells us to praise the Lord?

A quick internet search didn’t give me the answer.  Perhaps no-one knows the exact number.  Nevertheless, I think we would agree that the Bible tells us multiple times to praise and thank the Lord.   Add to that the mere references to praising God, and the inescapable fact is that praise is a significant Biblical theme.

It’s not just something to do when things are going well, or when we feel like it.  King David often told himself to praise God – and many of those times were when things were going badly.  Psalms 42 and 43 were written at a time when David was in exile because of his son Absolom’s rebellion.  Continue reading

Does the Bible Forbid ‘Swearing’?

Little girl me

I was a very literal child.  This gave one of my elder brothers no end of amusement as he trained me to be a pedantic debater, and some of my greatest Moments of Triumph as a child were when I successfully defeated this brother with his own logic.

I was also a remarkably deep thinker.  I remember a church camp one year where there was a trampoline, accompanied by the usual RULES sign: Shoes off; One at a time; No dangerous tricks, etc.  Good and literal child that I was, I was extremely distressed that some of these rules were being disregarded, specifically ‘One at a time.’

I don’t pretend that my distress didn’t stem from my selfish disappointment in the fact that whilst there was a single other child on the trampoline I couldn’t jump on it.  Nonetheless, my key memory is the shock of telling these children they were breaking this rule, only to hear in response, “Well, we’re not breaking any other rules!” Continue reading