Take Time

Yesterday we set off again for another Kiwi Adventure.

Our little gap year has been all about making space to catch our breath, taking time to smell the roses so to speak. Lately tho, we’ve had a few unseen pressures and we’ve both been a little tired and a tad stressed.

Perhaps having one car, borrowed at that and needing to travel in three different directions, morning and evening, adds to the sense of pressure, however, this is the kind of compromise one encounters when one has chosen to live small, so it’s ok.

We know how important it is to make time for each other and so, this weekend we set off for another meander through this beautiful country.

Up early, bags and bathers in hand and we were out the door long before the teenager had opened his eyes! Hubby had heard about a watering hole on the river near where he’d been working the past week or so. “How about we head out that way,” he offered, it was like a dangling carrot to get us through the week and I was keen as mustard.

We chose to drive past the turnoff that led to the river and instead, head for TIKOKINO Sadly, Tokikino turned out to be a sleepy little town, on its last legs, however, it did have some cute vintage houses with lots of potential and a Pub / Cafe, but that didn’t open till 11am and we were hungry so after a two minute loop of the town, we drove onward and came upon ONGAONGA.

What a lovely surprise it was, small and quiet, but lovely just the same. What was especially lovely was to discover the heartbeat of the little cafe convenience store. We sat out the front at the green iron-framed setting and waited for our much-needed breakfast.

It was great spot to watch the farmers drive up in their mega machines and casually parked across the street. Truckers stopped in for a bite to eat breaking up their journey, while young blokes, sporting red bands gumboots, drove their utes almost to the front door, up close to the petrol bowser near where we sat. The window wound down their window so they could yell out hello. 

This is Mathew Ascott from Scott Ag.

We watched as the owner ran out of the shop, leant into one passenger’s window for a quick hello, grab his EFTPOS card and return with a pie and drink. It seemed everyone here knew each other but we didn’t feel on the outskirt. They even stopped to chat with us.

If you get a chance to call into ONGA ONGA don’t forget to check out the historic townsite and drop a coin in the Restoration Box across the road from the Cafe and then walk down and check out the historic buildings on the edge of town.

Our enjoyable brunch was followed by a trek back toward Maraekakaho to find the river hole we’d been told about. After crossing a number of OneWay bridges at the last one we saw a gate on the side just before the bridge (see in the pic above) and made our way down to the river to cool off. Delightful.

Breathtakingly cool but well worth it. I only wish I had swimming booties as walking over the river stones is a bit tricky and somewhat painful in bare feet.

You’d think that was enough of an adventure, but no, we thought we’d have one last refreshment stop on our way home. “Filly and Chook” is a bar/cafe and too it’s credit does have a lovely outdoor seating area under pretty trees, so much potential. It caught our eye on the way out to Tokokino. I’d like to say it was a worthwhile stop, but neither of us was very impressed. It wasn’t the building or the surroundings so much, but rather the ‘atmosphere’. It just didn’t seem to fit the country surrounds and seriously lacked warmth – perhaps the grumpy owner didn’t help matters.

It felt like the buildings were just plonked on the edge of a property to make money and had no heartbeat. Needless to say, we won’t be going back in a hurry. To be fair, there is hope because the property is for sale. Perhaps someone will come in and breath in the life it needs.

If you didn’t get out this weekend, I hope you at least enjoyed reading about our little venture. #karafamadventure

This is my Story…

THIS IS MY STROY THIS IS MY SONG – full post can be viewed on my other blog

My earliest memory is of the boy down the road throwing a cricket wicket through our lounge room window. It was my birthday. I don’t know why to this day that he did that. Maybe he wanted to come to my party. Maybe it was just an accident. I don’t know – but I do remember seeing broken glass everywhere and being scared, really scared and feeling like it was it my fault.  I hadn’t done anything wrong but I was worried.  I sat there with my little friends at our party table by the window, trying to pretend I was ok, But it wasn’t ok and I quietly worried about how I could fix that window.

Looking back now, I realise it wasn’t just the window that needed fixing.  There were far bigger things to be worried about. Fortunately, I was young and carefree and somewhat oblivious to all that was going on in our little world.

I have mixed memories from those early days. Some happy memories but many clouded with fear. I was only six at the time and things were tumultuous to say the least. My dad was sick. Mental illness had plagued him since his early twenties and was it getting worse as each month passed by. He had been diagnosed with both Manic Depression and Schizophrenia and we were all trying to come to terms with the erratic lifestyle of living with someone with a mental illness.

THIS IS MY STORY THIS IS MY SONG is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time.  As a young girl, I loved singing Grandma’s favourite hymn ‘This is my Story’. When she died we were all so sad but a little seed was planted in my heart that one day her legacy could live on as I shared our story in song and tell how through all the years, “His Story” was woven completely and perfectly into our story.

Below are the words to the song I wrote about life with my father who through God’s amazing love, despite his brokenness, was also carried safely home into the loving arms of Grace.


AS A LITTLE GIRL          (Recording Coming Soon)

As a little girl I’d sit upon my daddy’s knee 

Listen to the preacher

Knew that he was talking to me

Saying, “Jesus loves you and He wants you to follow Him

Just a little girl but I knew that I would follow Him

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Now people might say that our house was not a place for a child

See, daddy was a gambling man and he suffered from a troubled mind

But mama, she was praying and taught me of my Father above

I was just a little girl, sheltered in the Father’s love

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I remember the day when daddy he had to leave

I didn’t understand it then but now I know my mama did it for me

Shattered dreams for a child that was so young

Just a little girl and my life had only just begun

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If you’re looking for the answers to the questions in your mind

Gotta reach out to the Father, He’ll help you leave the past behind

Never said it would be easy, never said it wouldn’t hurt

But you know He’s never left me, He’s loved me through the hurt

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A New Day – Reset

Somedays you wake up and you know something has changed.

Today was one of those of those days and just like a light turning on in a dark room, I realised a door was about to close and another would soon open. Since leaving Australia some months ago, the journey has been an interesting one, in that every time I approached my blog page with the intention to write, no words would come and yet I had so much to write about. My heart was full, is full, with adventure and discovery, a new land and stories. Stories I want to share, but no. I just could not.

Today tho, it became clear. I saw a door opened for me – to close. Now, that may sound strange. I’m showing up here to say goodbye, farewell and on the other hand – ‘hello’!    I’ll still show up here, now and then, but i’m officially moving

closing a door – opening a door

out with the old – in with the new

I guess you could call it a RESET

You may have heard me speak about this thing I’ve had brewing behind the scenes. A story, A song, A picture I’ve had for so long – I’ve not known how to unpack it nor have I had the confidence to do so. Today something changed.

Let me explain.

Today, my fellow dreamer (hubby) and I drove off to see a little more of this land that lies under the long white cloud and I began to say out loud “I think it’s time to leave my blog and head over to my new one,”

“what new one?”

The one I’ve been working on and hiding for too long – it’s called…

this is my story, this is my song

It’s been sitting, bubbling, brewing, building, waiting patiently for the right time and at the same time I’ve been writing writing writing – trying to get all these words, our story onto paper, into a book. For some reason, I just knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the time was right to press the RESET button. I’ve still work to do and my perfectionistic nature wants to over ride ‘creative faith’ by whispering ‘NO not yet’, but I’ve heard

“when the noise of what you want to do becomes louder than what your doing then it’s time to move”

So baby steps will do – time to step out into the unknown. It scares me no end but I’m compelled to move and tho there be no end of excuses I could find to talk my self out of it

If I am to live me best life,

I need to move …. I MUST MOVE

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It was not surprise then, that today’s road led us to something new, something significant. The sun was shining brightly, unlike yesterday, when everything was grey and uncertain, including me.  But today, as we drove down ‘State Highway 2’ looking for a new cafe, I babbled on to fellow dreamer about the noise that was humming in my head.  Fellow dreamer, also filled with with similar stirrings, babbled back and together we were one happy ‘babble’ of hope and excitement until we eventually arrived.

We found our Cafe in the little town of Pukehou not to far from the little town of Otane. We stayed there, young honeymooners, many moons ago.

Cottage Cafe – Seemingly Insignificant – Truly Enlightening

Earthy, organic and emanating warmth, it seemed to make our babble keep bubbling. It was as if we’d found a treasure or at least a sign. Something about this place seemed to be speaking to us and in time I may share that story. It was not by chance that we were here. As we sat at moss covered tables, warmed within by homemade fare and warmed without by golden sunlight, I sensed this place would be part of the new and a place we’d be coming back to.

Light bulb moments, connections and confirmations were going off like fire crackers and making something come alive in both of us. I love this.

So soon, very soon you’ll find me somewhere new

It’s an exciting journey waiting to unfold with stories waiting to be told.

I do hope you’ll join me.

Farewell my cottagedreams, I’m laying you to rest – at least for a season, trading you for something ‘new’ and in some way, although I’m sad to go, I think I may be trading my sorrows for joy.

 

October and the little steps

If you had told me five years ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing today, I wouldn’t have believed you.

(photo credit Peta Stenhouse)

Some moons ago, when we left our safe home, I was thrust into a whole new world. I quickly found myself needing to be the bread winner as my man fought for his life. I slipped into the  9-5 but still dreamed of doing something a little more creative than selling drugs over the pharmacy counter. It just wasn’t cutting it but I had no choice but to soldier on.

Until one day, when a door unexpectedly opened and I became a part owner of a business called The Long Table Perth

I can’t believe how quickly our business grew and at the same time, I did too. I was stretched and when I thought I’d been stretched enough, I was stretched even more. We became a great team, my partner and I. We both stand amazed at the favour we have been given.

I’m not saying it was an easy ride. Anyone working in the food industry will know that “easy it is not!” After the honey moon days I began to wonder why on earth I was doing this? This wan’t quite what I had in mind…but then again, nothing in this life had been, so why was I surprised? I questioned…why am I doing this, what’s the point? I’m tired, stressed and this was not on my radar?

photo credit Peta Stenhouse

I felt a still small voice say “You don’t need to know why, just go with it.”

Have you ever been in  a position like that?

It’s a little unerving. You feel unsure as you take faith steps, one by one.

It was like this for me. Then, almost suddenly, I could see a purpose in all this Long Table goodness.

I sensed a repositioning for purpose and at the same time knew the Master Builder was growing my capacity. Somedays I felt totally inadequate, out of my league but over time my confidence gained strength. I began to believe in me (thanks also to my business partner (pictured below), you have been an integral part of that)

photo credit Laura Hurley

So we come to October. Spring season for events and its been crazy. Crazy good, but crazy busy. I’ve been running back to back events, managing staff, handling admin and prepping food and while my business buddy is taking a well deserved rest I’ve run from pillar to post running this business of ours. It’s not ideal but what I have learned is that I’m strong, I’m capable and I’ve got what lit takes to do this.

October has been a blessing and I’m grateful for the opportunity to see what the Master Builder has been up to and as I prepare to leave my loved Long Table in capable hands, I know I have been well equipped for my next season in Aetoeroa.

Take courage, take those faith steps. You never know where they may lead you.

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.

 

When life’s nothing like the brochure.

Life as we knew it changed in 2012.

Suddenly the road ahead became obscured, like looking through the windscreen when the rain is pelting down. Everything blurred. Our plans undone, our view hidden. Then confusion came running, wanting to wrap is spindly arms around me as I struggled with ‘what now?’ My little cottage dream shattered, now floating out to sea and on the incoming tide came unwelcome feelings of abandonment when, for a moment, I forgot who I belonged to.

Has God really let this happen to us?

Perhaps you’re going through the valley, trudging over a mountain, going through the fire and you’re asking yourself those very words.

I can’t answer that but I have to believe that God is good and he is kind and although, for us, things didn’t go as we’d planned and yes, “life, was nothing like the brochure”.  Deep down I knew God would make good out of our misfortune.

We set off into unchartered waters, holding tightly to hope and 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.”

To be honest, more than five years on, this season continues to be anything but easy. After wading through painful goodbyes, leaving our ‘familiar’ some years ago, we look set to venture into the unknown yet again. All those feelings are rushing back like a flood gate opening after long rains. Oh how I long for smooth sailing.

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Days of faith are often overshadowed by hardship and heaviness. I struggle to make sense of it all. We share our story and it seems almost unbelievable,  like one of those bad knife adds – you know the one I mean, the one where they promise you a bonus deal with your purchase. Except this wasn’t the ‘extra blessing deal’ – this was the ‘you’re getting an extra trial deal – another trip down the valley deal’ and perhaps we’ll ‘throw in a little walk through the fire deal too!’ So ridiculous that we learned to laugh in the face of it.

We heard “Count it all joy” genuine words spoken to comfort by dear ones trying to understand. We learned quickly that it was best to smile and offer thanks.  Sometimes, lover and I would come away and look into each others eyes, through tears say, “I see you, I see you.” It sounds very dramatic now, but at the time this line from the movie “The Avatar”  became our ‘catch cry’, calming our inner turmoil and telling us “ it’s going to be ok”.

So today, if you’re finding it hard to understand why your life isn’t quite like the brochure – 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’ and you’re journey is not insignificant.  Take the life line. Believe that God is good and although it might not seem like it when you’re wading through mud, stumbling through fire, trust he will bring you through.

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

All I can do is bare my heart and tell you I’ve struggled too, really struggled but I’m still falling into Him. I want to say “it’s ok, you’ll get through this, but maybe only 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.

and tho I’ve cried a thousand tears and still I cry, I can’t help but look to God. He’s been there too often to know that he wont show up again. The author and the finisher of my faith. 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 you and as tears fill your pools, springs will come up in your desert, wastelands will become watered fields, flowers will appear and you’ll singing again. Songs of Solomon 2:11-12

A few words 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.