Seasons Change

Today I’m lying on my bed when I’d much rather be out in the beautiful Spring sunshine soaking up it’s warmth, admiring it’s beauty or maybe pottering in the spring garden but sadly my body is unwell and demanding rest.

The up side is I’ve time to ponder, so ponder I do. It’s finally apparent that the season has changed and there’s no doubting ‘spring is here’. I can hear the birds singing alongside the hum of neighbours chattering on their decks nearby.

Little buds and occasional flowers have suddenly appeared on stark branches displaying a beautiful contrast and the miracle of new life.

The thing is, just weeks ago one would have thought those branches were dead and nothing good would come of them but we knew to wait, not touch the old lifeless limbs and suddenly beauty has sprung forth all in its own sweet time.

So my pondering takes me to us, maybe to you, to the seasons we can go through.

In all honesty I think most of us are uncomfortable with the ugly, deathly, dormant stages of our lives and perhaps even with the lives of those close to us. We want movement. We want change and resist the waiting, thinking this place is too ugly, not good enough and worry that good things are passing us by.

Not willing to just let seasons come and go, we tend to get in the way of ‘process’. The very process thats fashioned, yes fashioned, to bring about something more beautiful than if we’d forced the change.

Let’s not, in our eagerness to speed things up, create unnecessary ‘around the mountain’ experiences.

Today, as you go about your life, I hope you can find some joy in the place you find your self in, even if it seems like you’ve been there been forever. Something is happening within your seemingly dead branch. Know that this lifeless place is written in the DNA of the original plan and the road you walk is leading you to a better and brighter you.

Heading South

Stolen moments and little getaways are so important. Family is important.

So couple of weeks ago we set on a weekend adventure to visit our bigger three.

First a flying trip down into what we call “exile” where offspring number four resides with her man and two little ones. Jumping in the car, hubby puts on his laid back vibes and we’re off  driving deep into the South.

 

Breathing in the cool forest air, playing with little ones amongst the trees and listening to the sound of birds singing makes us come alive. Creative souls inspired.

Our hearts fill with delight and we’re just a little sad we don’t get to do this often enough.

Cares of our city life can dampen our adventuring spirit – too quickly we find ourselves tired on a conveyer belt of life thats hard to stop.

When we do rewards are invaluable.

 

 

 

Creativity comes alive.

 

Time to breath.

 

Time to ponder.

 

Time to connect.

 

And precious memories are made.

Little hands Little feet.

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Experiencing the unexpected like Tulips in bloom.

 

 

 

We stay a night,  leaving early and set off  to visit offspring five and three not so far away.

 

 

 

 

 

Our first stop COFFEE

Sitting in Merchant n Maker watching our big boy do his thing.

He’s seamless in his ability to embrace the crowd and pump out copious amounts of coffee. We’re proud of his venture at Maker Espresso – roasting his own coffee.

 Order Great Coffee Here Sunday morning on the beach where papa bear, although sad not to be surfing with them anymore, was more than happy to photgraph them at his favourite old spots.SONY DSC

IMG_6628A final celebration that left us tummy and heart full knowing our next visit would be to see the soon expected arrival of grand bubba number three.IMG_6547  Time out to make memories with our little family in the South.

 

LIFE – Nothing like the brochure.

Life as we knew it changed in 2012.

Suddenly the road ahead became obscured, like looking through the windscreen when rain is pelting down. Everything blurred. Plans were undone, views became obscured and confusion came while I struggled with the ‘what now?’ and unwelcome feelings of abandonment. It wasn’t just my little cottage dream that was shattered.

Has God really let this happen to us?

I can’t answer that for you but I have to believe that God is good and he is kind and although, for us, things didn’t quite go as we’d planned and our “life, was nothing like the brochure”, I knew deep down He, God, could make good out of what seemed like a really bad situation.

So as we set off into the unknown, I had hope. I held tightly to words from the good book penned for our help. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

But to be honest, more than five years on, this season continues to be anything but ‘easy’ and after wading through painful goodbyes, leaving our ‘familiar’ some years agao, we look set to venture into the unknown yet again. All those feelings are rushing back like flood gates opening after long rains. I wish I could say it’s been smooth sailing, this season, and that I was ‘full of faith and triumph’ but I cannot.

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Days of faith have overshadowed by utter hardship and heaviness as I struggled to understand all that unfolded for us. This was like a bad knife add – you know the one I mean? The one where thay promise you a bonus deal with your purchase. Except this wasn’t the “extra blessing deal” – This was the “you’re getting the extra trial deal, another trip down the valley deal and why don’t we throw in a little walk through the fire deal too!”

“Consider it all joy” often spoken as if to comfort.by dear ones trying to understand. We learned quickly that it was best to smile and offer thanks. Lover and I would walk away and looking into eachothers eyes and through tears say “I see you, I see you.” It sounds very dramatic now, but this line from the movie “The Avatar”  became our ‘catch cry’, calming our inner tumoil and telling us “ it’s going to be ok”.

And so today I want to say “I see you”

“I SEE YOU”

Wherever you’re at, what ever you’re going through – I want you to know ‘you are seen’.  I’m throwing you a life line. Believe that God is good and although it might not seem like it when you’re wading through mud, stumbling through fire, he IS there with you. He’ll bring you through.

Can my words help you while you walk through your valley? I hope so.

I want to be brutally honest. To bare my heart and tell you I’ve struggled, really struggled but I’m still falling into Him. I want to say “it’s ok, you’ll get through this, even if it is on your knees. This may be your Valley of Baca – your Valley of Weeping.

Tears “out” will keep your heart soft and water the parched ground trying to take over your soul.

I’ve cried a thousand tears and still I cry but I’ll still keep looking to God. He’s been there too often to know that he wont show up again. The author and the finisher of my fatih. The beginning and the end. The Alpha and Omega. He’s got this. He’s got us.

My prayer is that the blessing of God will continue to flow over us and as tears fill our pools so will springs come up in our desert, in your desert. Watstlands can become a watered field, flowers can appear and singing can come. (read about it in Psalm 84 and Songs of Solomen 2:11-12)

I’ll leave you with a few words of a song I penned just yesterday

When the excitement fades

Recently I had the great privilege of spending a few weeks in Italy investing into a dream I’ve had for some time. Some years back I’d stumbled upon an Aussie girl living in Italy.  Lisa kept popping up on my FB feed and I soon realised there was much more to this lady than the  pretty pics she posted of her home in Florence.

I keenly read and followed threads like a regular social media stalker. Turns out this lady was the writer of a book I’d pulled off the library shelf years earlier, in my pursuit of all things Italian.  I would read any historical non fictional story I could get my hands on just to feel a little bit closer to a land I’d fallen in love with.

Death in the Mountains is the true story of the murder a peasant farmer in the mountains of Casentino, Tuscany, in the winter of 1907.  It’s an easy and interesting read, one full of history and most enjoyable.

All that aside, I also found Lisa Clifford, ran a writers retreat in Italy. Instantly, I began to dream of one day being able to attend such a wonderful experience. Two things I loved all rolled into one.  Italy and Writing.

Dreams do come true and if you read my previous blog you’ll know that yours truly got to go to Italy again and to The Writers Retreat. Pinch myself – it’s true.

It’s been almost 8 weeks and so much has happened, including a trip to New Zealand with two of my beautiful five for a very important family gathering. Impeccable timing. Sadly writing has ground to a halt and my book put aside.

So how does one gain momentum after such a slump. I came home filled with purpose and anticipation ready to swing into action. Pursuit of a daily writing routine foremost in my mind faded and gave way to family. Busy days spent with children and their offspring, extended family, The Long Table and did I mention dog sitting.

This is just what everyday life looks like when ‘the excitement fades’. If I am ever to arrive at completion what must happen now is plain hard work.

After the wonderful experience The Art of Writing produced I wrote up a storm. Admittedly I was alone in Italy and it was easy to write without the distractions of the daily grind.

I thought I would automatically slip into a new rhythm. My excitement and enthusiasm was palpable. Alas, as much as I love this writing, it’s going to take a lot of organisation and determination to get this baby back in the air and land it safely on the shore of ‘Completion’.

So my friend, even against the odds, fan your dream, into flame. It’s a gift to you and others.

Italy and the Angel

I don’t really know where my love for Italy began, but as I walked these beautiful ancient streets, I was enthralled by beauty and history all rolled into one.

Church bells rang out Ave’ Maria and caused my heart to sing, making me want to spin with with excitement. Sheer overwhelming joy of being in such a place, history set within church walls, ancient stone streets but then I remembered, thought to myself  “get a grip – you’re a middle aged woman, those days of innocent twirling should be long gone?”

Walking into another Cathedral it was all I could do to stop myself singing.  Words bubble up from somewhere deep inside me and  ‘I can’t stop the music!”

Sometimes, just a song of deep reflection rose from within. I felt the sense of awe, holy reverence surrounding a place, but on other occasions, I felt a strong urge to shout out, “JESUS IS ALIVE, HE’S ALIVE — DON’T YOU KNOW HE’S ALIVE ?”

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I sing it out inside my head, in argument to death and doom splattered over walls, sepulchres, hidden graves. Perhaps I’m seeing it wrong? Perhaps they never knew a resurrected Christ.

My inner twirling ceases and I am sad. Sad that this is all that’s left of what truly happened all those years ago.

But there was this one day, when I stumbled into a church somewhere in Rome, I felt peace and even a little inside twirl brewing. My eyes turned left and I saw the towering picture of a beautiful angel leaning down to touch a little child. My ears inclined to a still small voice I know well, and in a voice that sounded just like mine I heard these words.

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“Remember, I sent an Angel that day. Touched your shoulder, just like that, just like the picture painted long before you stepped foot here.  I foreknew you. Knew you’d need that touch to carry you to where you are now, knew this moment,”  and there was more.

a little girl named Stephanie fell over in the street – an angel picked her up that day and stood her on her feet….”

Right there in that ancient church I’m met, reminded of the poem written one night by my dear Mum.

My eyes filled with tears and I knew that God still inhabited those places, maybe not all of them, but some and He still met with people as they came and went. Always waiting, always watching. He saw bended reverent knees, tears in wooden pews and He came, He comes.

Child like faith, oh how we need that and a heart willing to twirl, you’re never too old.

A Journey’s End

I’ve decided I don’t much like Rome in the summertime. I guess it’s not really summer yet but it’s hot, hot hot. Tourists following those dreaded flags walk en’ mass, blocking little cobbled lanes and I’m glad I’m not one of them.

Eventually, I settled for an afternoon spritz, just to catch my breath.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you’ve got a few hours to waste in Rome and you don’t want to be a tourist. I walked my weary legs of yesterday after arriving around midday.

Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Della Republica, Santa Maria degli Angeli (Maria’s church of the Angel I guess), a look over the walls into the Roman Forum and, at dusk, a glimpse of the Colosseum to name a few. A coffee standing at the bar in La Casa Del Caffe and I was done. Done and dusted.

I slept in Hotel Giorgina, sounds pretty I know, but it was old, plain and definitely in need of some love. But the room was clean and I was thankful for a bed, clean and comfortable.

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So here I am this morning, biding time til my train leaves for Fiumicino, trying to block out sounds of cars, buses, horns and Italian gibberish. My ‘dolce’ looks more like tile than an apple cake and my coffee, small, long gone.

I’m pondering the past weeks, here in Bella Italia. Amazing weeks, Italian – God weeks that I’m still trying to digest. He really is everywhere and even in my rushing yesterday he quietly came to whisper in my ear again. I see you, I’m in this.

Grateful for time to write, this book, almost done, and I can feel his hand leading me to uncharted waters. This time safer ones and I’m ready to go, not only home, but to where he leads next.

Lessons from my Fig Tree

IMG_2042I’ve spent the past weeks running out early every morning trying to beat the birds to my fig tree and most times I have.  I’m blessed to have figs, figs in plenty after what looked like an ominous early sign of NO FIGS – WHAT NO FIGS!!

I was a wee bit worried. You see for me, I look for God everywhere, yes everywhere. Was God trying to say something and if He was, then what?

He speaks to me in the little everyday things I do. I’m always listening, leaning in to Him because I need Him more and more. My once strong self has finally come to know that with out him I’m pretty lost. All human strength aside. He makes me whole, He completes me like no other (sorry my love – you do too but it’s just a different kind of completeness.)IMG_0120_2

But it’s God, it’s He who completes me in a most satisfying way.

I hear his still small voice – I’m at peace.

I can walk through the valley and find my way in the storm. I’m at rest.

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So I carefully watched that fig tree to see what would happen. That first little fig just dissapeared, vanished without a trace along with all the other little buds. I was taken aback. You can read about it here.

When weeks later I noticed a new batch of buds forming I was more than happy.  I could already see them on our Long Table. IMG_8265I thought of our journey over the past few years.  The ups, the downs and remembered the moments of pure joy that came when I saw the light of a little fruitfulness coming our way only to be suddenly plunged back into despair and those familiar feelings of hopelessness.  It was then I heard a little whisper and felt Him say “I’m still working on your behalf even when you can’t see me – just as you tend the fig tree you can tend the opportunities that are coming your way.  You can enjoy an abundance of more than just these figs.”

Music to my listening ears. But what did it mean?

I’d been talking with my sister about our arduous journey and mentioned my daily lessons with the fig tree. A few days later while off off talking to “G” as she called him, He led her to a passage from the bible….

Proverbs 27:18 Whoever tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who is attentive to his master will be honored.

I liked that.  I liked it even more when days later a few interesting opprotunities came our way.  I’m tending to them now, honouring Big G and trusting He’s in this and that he’ll give me the strength and wisdon I need in the process.  He’ll give me the capacity to increase my ability to ‘tend’.

I’m expectant and ready for the fruit that comes from these opportunities.

Thank you little fig tree for your lessons and thank you Big God who sees.

A Holding Bay

Sometimes one comes to a place in ones life where we can feel “held” not hemmed in so to speak, just held. Just when I begin to feel that maybe I can move past my disappointments, even regrets and just get on with life in this holding bay, something comes to shake my status quo and I’m left wondering. Left asking and still yet I have no answers.

Is this just what a ‘grown ups’ life feels like? If it is then maybe I don’t like being a grown up! Am I just dissatisfied or was our life filled with careless choices and now we bear the fruit or maybe lack of it? But to say that would discredit our journey thus far and undervalue all we gave our life for and all those lives we fought for in years gone by. I know we sowed in faith believing we we’re called to that life and so I fight off those feelings and voices that come to rob.

How I long to silence those voices.

Comparison

Regret

Stop that looking back.

We all have inner turmoil. Don’t we?

I want to live an honest life, not a life of screens and mirrors unless that mirror is to reflect the radiance of Christ, the beautiful one.

So I choose honesty over a perfect life , joy in the midst of sadness, smiles in the face of our storm.

I am not alone.

Carefully crafted storms are raging all over this planet. Maybe your in one of them right now.

You are not alone, although sometimes it may feel like that. Stay in the boat. Stay in your holding bay.

You’re gonna be ok.

I leave you with Jenn Johnson – let her sweet song lift you to higher ground as it lifts me.

You’re Gonna Be Ok – Jenn Johnson

Pic: Hand Drawn By Corina Jasmin – sunflower added by my hubby (he says that’s me in his storm)

Spring Will Come

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At the dawn of spring I walked down the wooden stairs from our deck past the pool in need of some love and breathed in the smell of the morning air.  I love spring.  The warm days and cold nights seem to make me come alive again and my heart brims with hope and expectancy so when I looked at my fig tree and saw a little plump bud in the form of a fig bursting out of those leafy branches, I was so excited.  Fig season will soon be upon us and our Long Table will be laden with fine fruit once again. Looking out into the paddock, my heart did a little jump.  I felt filled with hopeIMG_2042 Continue reading “Spring Will Come”

A Simple Life

I’ve just discovered this FB page called “No Sidebar”.  A friend tagged me on an article  (see here) entitled  “because I don’t want the things the world wants for me” after she finished reading my blog called torn betwixt my dreams and just being 

I realise that there’s a whole world of people out there who just want to get off this speed train of what our lives have become.  I’ve had an internal battle going on for some time about this very thing.

cropped-dscn1620.jpgI’ve always wanted “A Simple Life”.  All those years ago when I first started this blog and called it  “Cottage Dreams – A simple life, Cottage dreams and Frugal Fashion” it was something I was yearning for and trying to create in the midst of the busy space we found ourselves in.  I lived in the country and yet I always wanted to go deeper to find the peace I was yearning for and in some ways still yearning for.  We would do what we called ‘day runners’ just to get away and find some space to breath and fill the longing for that peace. Here’s one of our little getaways!

cropped-italy-cottage2.jpgAs I think about that now, I am realising more and more that the peace I seek will only be found when I finally am at peace with me.  I need to stay true to myself, true to the things I love, true to the things that make my heart sing and if i’m not quite sure, or, if  somehow I’ve lost touch with those things, then I need to find them again.

It means being ok with liking things that maybe a best friend doesn’t like and enjoying doing the things that maybe my man doesn’t enjoy so much.   It means not going with the trend just because it’s the only way you think you can be successful.  It means resisting the urge to do something because of those words “you should”.   It may mean being happy with the outcome that may not look quite like what you had dreamed it to be.

So I flicked over to read the article that my friend sent me and found these words…

“Every day, more stuff comes into our lives: stuff in our houses, stuff on our calendars, stuff on our minds. All that stuff gets in the way of where we really want to go and who we really want to be … it’s time to make a change.” ( Sidebar Homepage) 

Wow, I couldn’t have said better how I was feeling.  I feel like I’ve walked around a mountain and up ahead I can see the place from which I embarked and as I draw close it’s slowly dawning on me that this place is good… this place of simple pleasures, trees and birdsong,  planes, trains and automobiles and things of an older era – all here in Guildford reminding me of what I really love and reminding me that the person I am – and that who I am inherently is ok.  I don’t have to be a Chameleon for someone to like me and nor do you.chameleon-20clip-20art-canstock12451364

 

 

 

I just have to be me.