Finally, an update.

unnamed-9Amongst marriage, working, looking after a baby and trying to keep up a home I have finally gotten a spare moment to update. I can’t believe it has been almost 18months since our lives changed. Our Precious girl is walking, chattering, and discovering. I love to watch her watching the world and trying to figure things out. She copies things we say. she watches our actions and expressions. she watches our food and drink, copying the way we lift our utensils to our mouth. It really is delightful to see her active and happy and growing. We are blessed.

5 months already

Our sweet girl is 5 months today. Already. It has been a challenging, beautiful, extremely high, extremely low, tiring, and growing 5 months. We haven’t always had the answers. We haven’t always done things perfectly. We haven’t always done things the same way as our parents. but we have been broken, flawed, growing, crazy parents and that’s all we can be, covered in His Grace. 🙂

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daddy tickling her lips and neck. Squeals abound!

our twig

It has been a while. I needed  a break away from blogging to just enjoy the final months of pregnancy and preparations.

In October my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Aubriana Skye. She has changed our world. We no longer have leisurely meal times, showers or long sleep ins. We can’t leave the house without half a car load of baby, bags, toys, nappies, carriers, pram and other stuff. We no longer spend our entire weekend gardening or day dreaming about the perfect garden. We no longer stay up late watching movies, or blogging, or canoodling on the couch (:O). We no longer sleep all night.

We now get up early to feed, or work. We think of short cuts and parenting ‘hacks’. We plan what we need to do in advance and make sure there’s baby stuff ready to go, and the shortest route to do it in. We go for family walks, listen to kids music and enforce rules like ‘no tv before 5:30pm’ (funny how you have to have rules for parents too!). We make lists, talk about pooh, work out how to create more space where there isn’t any, and make ‘good days’ about how many naps we had or how many nappies we changed. We have learned to do things one handed, made appliances our friends, and scheduled short gardening sessions simply to ‘get stuff in the ground before it rains’ and finally figured out that waking up at 2am is no big deal.

The house is often a mess, the garden hasn’t been mowed for weeks, we are constantly doing laundry, we have no idea where our cat went, dinner is often closer to 8pm, we often fall asleep before dinner, and our dishwasher competes with the radio for noise. Yet, we wouldn’t have it any other precious way.

Especially when our girl smiles up at me during a feed, laughs at a funnny face, or toddles from her play mat a hundred times during breakfast.

One of our baby gifts included a card with the following words:

Your family tree

has a new twig,

she’s ever so precious

and not very big,

Your love, just like sunshine,

will help her to grow,

and all through her life

you will treasure her so.

Yes, we love this crazy, beautiful, funny little twig.

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Timey Wimey

Time moves on. We found out in January that we are expecting a baby. Now we have reached the final trimester, with about 3 months to go.  We are excited, nervous, and a little overwhelmed, like most first time parents. Initially, It was a shock. Then came the morning sickness, and it felt like an endless bout of gastro, all day every day. 😦 Eventually, it started to recede and I felt better. Then came the scans and the movement- and it started to feel real.

I have noticed a lot of hype surrounding pregnancy, and a bit of hysteria. Funny how people get excited about your weight gain, and yet if you aren’t pregnant its all about being skinny.

I had heard all about how magical those first movements were and have to admit I was expecting some magical, mystical experience. It instead felt like I was being pummelled from the inside. A rather strange feeling indeed.

There are so many do’s and don’ts and what ifs and eat this and don’t eat that…blah blah It just becomes overwhelming. Oh and the tests- we must check this, and that and this other thing, and that will tell us if we need to check for something else. Oh and you have to have appointments every so many weeks, and go here for this person….etc It’s starting to feel like a part time job just attending appointments and getting tests.

I have my own list of do’s and don’ts, things I refused in terms of testing, and others I accepted. I won’t post them on here, as they were really just for me.

But I have found it helpful to talk to others, list to their advice, weigh up their advice in terms of practicality and wisdom and go from there. This has helped to get through the overwhelming amount of information and ‘pedantics’ that seem to be heaped on Pregnant women.

 

Our funny Valentine

Valentine’s Day is actually quite a significant day when you look at the origins of Valentine’s day. While it is unclear exactly who St Valentine was- some say he was a priest, others say he was martyred for his Christian faith, whoever he was, St Valentine was obviously devoted to his faith and his church. This is not mind blowing or anything. Certainly not as significant as Christmas. However, There is something to be said of those who devote themselves to their church. Their home. Their family. They may be a stay at home mum. They may be a single dad. They may be a single person. Or a student. But we are all called to love. And to serve. These are the main two themes that spring from my research of St Valentine. He loved. He Served. 

So even if we don’t have a husband or boyfriend. We can still love and still serve. We can embrace love and service the way Jesus did. And we can let that spill over to the people we associate with. Of course it doesn’t need to just be on Valentine’s day, we should practice love and service everyday. But it is a good place to start. a good day to get the conversations about love happening. 

It’s our first valentine’s day as a married couple. The first one where we are in the same state together. We don’t really care all that much about the commercialism of Valentine’s day, and we have kept it fairly low key. Last night, Andy gave me a single red rose. He has never given me flowers before. So it is very special. He greeted me this morning with my toast and card in bed. 🙂 I made valentines for my students last night, and got the joy of watching their excitement and their faces light up. and watch their thoughtfulness as I watched them read the verse I had attached to them. Tonight we are having takeaway food and watching movies together, it might be lame but we are excited. 

While you might be feeling down because you are alone, or it’s a painful reminder of what you have lost, You can still enjoy Valentine’s day. Get into the Word. Look up every verse about love. Ask the father to really make his love known to you today. And you will have joy. 

I pray it is so, and that you feel His love today. 

 

A new horizon dawns…

At the dawn of a new year, I find myself getting reflective. For good reason, I suppose. A new year gives new opportunities, new challenges, new lessons to be learned.

This new year was particularly poignant. My first one as a wife, our first Christmas and holiday season as a wedded couple. I was greatly anticipating Christmas this year, although a little nervous as well. I think for a short moment I was caught up in the ‘perfect’ Christmas. But I quickly came down to earth, when I ran out of time to finish making all the ideas I had, when finances dictated small and simple giving after we got some bad news from the tax office, headaches from the heat (it’s summer in the southern hemisphere) meant I had to take it a bit easier on a camping holiday we took, and our native Australian Christmas tree drooped so badly, from being neglected, the decorations fell off and then flooded from being over watered, and we had to excavate out all our gifts. Despite it (and and the many laughs that ensued) I quickly learned that the only perfection in Christmas was the baby born in a manager who came to die for humanity to have a right relationship with God. Our Christmas wasn’t perfect, neither were our gifts, or our food, or the family gatherings, Skype sessions with far-away family, our new traditions we started or the ones we carried on. But we loved it all, because it was ours. 🙂 It was one we’ll look back on through the years and talk about ‘remember when..’ with our children and grandchildren. And we were both thankful for all the small, large, interesting, unexpected things that came our way in the lead up to Christmas, and the dawning of a new year.

What are you thankful for and how will you stay thankful throughout the year, in all the unpredictable and unexpected things?

May you be blessed in the new year!

Pictures: Our Native Australian Woolly bush christmas tree, the wreath I made for our front door, us together at my nieces and nephew’s dance concert.

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Hinge

???????????????????????????????????????This was a post I started a little while ago, but didn’t get to finish. Thought I’d get it done, and share it with you now. 
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…I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.~ Corrie Ten boom. 

I love that wisdom from Corrie. She has  such a deep love for people.

It was also something I needed to hear today. On this day. My brother’s birthday.

I’ve posted about him before here and here.

You may be wondering how the above quote relates to my deceased brother. It struck me that after everything She had been through, Corrie Ten Boom was used powerfully for the Gospel, even amongst those she didn’t think she could love.

Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in our sorrow and grief, that it feels like we cannot move on. That every breath, every song, every place, every colour, every scent, is a reminder of the one we lost. We can’t put to rest those memories that swirl and teeter and jumble in our minds.

Sometimes we think, If I could just let go, if he would just say sorry, if only I could forgive…and then I’ll be able to move on. It’s easy to let Walls to our healing build. I think it’s human nature to want other people to feel our hurt. I spent a long time dwelling on my brother’s death. Even though it occurred when I was young, I would deceive myself into thinking ‘If it hadn’t happened, It would be so much easier’ ‘If only that person would understand how sad I’m feeling, I could get over this’ ‘If only I could forgive..’ But it wasn’t my ability to forgive, or acceptance of his death, or the good people that surrounded me that made me heal. It took me a long time to realise, it wasn’t about me at all.

That’s the problem with grief, it can turn us inward, make us focus on ourselves, until we fester, brood, become bitter. I remember, going to a women’s talk one time at my church when I was a teen- I went as a helper pouring tea, slicing cake, plopping jam and cream on scones.  I don’t remember who it was or who went, but I remember the speaker’s words. “There are worse things than death. We always make it the end, but God makes it the beginning.” Really???? There are worse things than someone dying?  I could not believe what I was hearing.

But she had a point. Healing did not come about from anything I said, did, got, or felt. I did not control ANYTHING in my life. The Sovereign Lord of the Universe, sustained everything and everyone by his hand.  He could give, he could take away. He could heal. He could renew. It was HIS plan. Not mine.  Everything revolved around HIM. Not me. His love, His grace, His healing, His justice. It all comes about because He wills it. Suddenly, I could put my healing in perspective. It comes because He wills it. And he gives the grace and faith and trust in Him, to move forward.

WOW. Mini explosions in my brain! And then I realised. If He willed it, nothing I could do could stop it. My healing is His plan.  Your healing is His plan. We just need to stop and notice the hinges holding our lives together. It doesn’t mean you’ll never feel that twinge of sadness, or regret. We are not machines devoid of emotions. It does mean, we should always turn to the one who sustains our very lives, and know it is not, about us. But about Him.

Thoughts and pictures

The wedding is over- lots of happy memories of a fun day. The honeymoon is finished- it was short, but a special time together sharing dreams and plans and laughs. I’ve been back at work a week now, and it’s kind of surreal that it was only a few weeks ago that my Andy and I were pledging our lives to each other. I’m thankful every day, I get to come home to him.

And here are some more pictures for your viewing pleasure..

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Today I marry my beloved.

From my Journal, October 5th, 2013.

“This morning I woke up, with the knowledge that within a few hours I will be someone’s wife. This is a morning I thought may not come. But we often think morning is distant, when we are anticipating something, or going through a trial. There is a smile on my lips, despite feeling very, very tired. A long day of setting up yesterday, seemed to really take it’s toll, as I don’t think I slept as well as normal. I took a long soak in the tub, praying and relaxing. It was a lovely way to spend the last evening of my singleness. I don’t really feel nervous, though I guess that will kick in later, thoughts of my beloved are on my mind, I can’t wait to see him! When I first got up, I checked the window. Sure enough, rain. But I wasn’t phased. Cloudy days make excellent photos, so there is always an upside to rain on your wedding day. I prayed a lot this morning, not to dispel nerves, but more for protection, over me, over Andy, over our marriage. I know there will be tough times, but I’m praying that God always covers us, with his grace and his protection. I look forward to a lifetime of learning His grace, and enjoying the journey with my Beloved….”

Some pictures of our Victorian Steampunk wedding…

Sharing a joke..

Sharing a joke..

Styling the old Victorian era photos

Styling the old Victorian era photos

 

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“Marriage is cemented by mutual love. Where there is not this mutual affection, it deserves not the name of marriage. The dark shadow of a blessing they cannot realize must be a heavy load for either heart to bear; but where there is true and genuine love, it is the sweetest and happiest mode of living. It is one of the blessings of paradise, which has been preserved to us after the fall. Without love, wedded life must be a very purgatory above ground. In the solemn contract, which has brought our souls this night to God, the marriage is sustained, cemented, strengthened, and made delightful by mutual love.”

CH Spurgeon

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0762.htm

Flawless

The church where I am getting married.

The church where I am getting married.

There were 3 bridesmaids, gowns of soft pink, with perfect bouquets, matching shoes and flawless makeup. The bride’s diamond-encrusted headpiece glittered in the chandeliers, and her dress of tulle, and silk, layer after layer, moved with her as she made her way around the circle- a captivating spectacle. The Groomsmen remained gentlemanly, the expensive suits, silk ties and vests were barely crumpled after a long day, and still they smiled politely. The groom  was quite becoming, in his dark suit, still smiling, hugging and greeting family and friends as he farewelled them all. Candles and flowers and elaborate centrepieces were picturesque behind the circle of family and friends, who had enjoyed every moment of the delectable feast and the heartfelt merriment. Nothing had gone wrong, the entire day was flawless, nothing had been out of place. Except me.

I was the only single girl, other than several children. I had spent an awkward evening making polite conversation at a table of young married couples. I had spent minutes, sitting by myself during the dancing, no partner available. I had fielded questions from friends “when are you getting married?” or comments like “You’ll be next..” and I had farewelled my beloved friends, watched them leave in their white limousine and then said more polite goodbyes. I cried the entire drive home. I loved weddings, but sometimes they felt like devastating reminders of an event I would never experience. I would be so happy and excited for the couple as they said their vows and exchanged rings, yet every beat of my heart cried with deep sadness that it wasn’t me.

After so many weddings, so many years of waiting, so many friends having children, so many tough moments of trusting God, despite my own longings, I get my chance to be the bride.

But my wedding won’t be flawless. Like all the others. There won’t be the diamond encrusted headpiece or symmetrical bridal party. There won’t be the elaborate tables, with calligraphed place settings or the glittering candelabra. There won’t be the perfect bouquets and matching shoes. There won’t be gowns of soft pink and layers of tulle and silk. There won’t be embossed stationary, or a reception at a winery or estate, there won’t be the riding off into the sunset, or horse and carriage farewells- And I’m ok with that. It will be no less heartfelt, no less meaningful, no less wonderful.

I knew that if i was given the chance, my wedding wouldn’t be the same as the others, because I didn’t just want a wedding, I wanted a marriage. A marriage that would last, that would thrive, that would change the world, through children and grandchildren. And If I wanted a marriage,  I needed to work on me. On my relationship with God, and I needed to put aside the world’s view of a dream wedding, and focus on God’s view of marriage. It took me a long time to figure this out.

It also meant I had a responsibility. To marry in the love and grace of God. To point others to Him, through the union of a husband and wife. To take the vows I’ll say seriously and live them out. In this way the marriage becomes bigger than the wedding. It becomes the reflection of God’s love of his church, his bride.

And over the final 6 weeks, as I move towards a new beginning and a wedding with my home made bouquet and vintage dress, I’m meditating on His love. A love so great, even a wedding is but a fleeting glimmer of the love He has for us. And while things here on Earth maybe stressful, messy, devastating, heart-wrenching, mundane, His love is the definition of flawless. It can never fail.