The Cottage Dream

It’s funny how when I started this blog I had thought it would be about all things cottage or at least about the building of my little cottage dream.  It’s almost been anything but that. In fact it’s turned out to be more a story of journey and not a journey I would have chosen. Life took a different turn and didn’t unfold quite how we had planned.  It’s not easy to live one’s life out loud when it’s far from perfect, a little broken but I think my journey is richer for sharing it with you.

IMG_7719Recently I was laying awake, again, when a thought came to me, “I’m ok with this ‘broken’.  I’m really just a broken girl who constantly finds grace and unconditional love in God (oh and not to forget a good man too). It doesn’t get better than that and I don’t want take it for granted. When I see so many suffering long with out God, I’m undone. I can’t even imagine doing life without Him.

I remember years ago when we were in a challenging situation we felt God say to us “Just stay in the boat, you don’t need to do anything, just stay put, keep doing what your doing until you get to the other side”.  I’m reminded of that today when I look at that sunset over the water.  I’m so desperate to arrive, to do something to get out of this season but sometimes we just need to stay put, let it take it’s course, stay in the boat – he’ll get us there in due time.

IMG_7730So what do I do with this blog?  It’s become, I hope, more of an “Inspirational” blog.  I’ve been wondering whether I should actually change the name or transport it to another site or perhaps just leave it how it is?  The jury is out on that one!

Meanwhile, for those of you who check in now and then, thanks for taking time to stop by and hopefully my words in the past have been an encouragement to you. So sorry there hasn’t been more cottage stories.

And just in case you’ve been wondering I’ll share a few random pics of my little cottage here in Guildford.

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The Back Deck and Upstairs Landing and some beautiful dead flowers on that little table!IMG_7065

The Roses are all pruned now but this is what it looks like in Summer!IMG_6874

The Vege Patch – the soil is so productive that I can’t keep up with it! The Baby Eggplant, Chillies and Capsicum  have been growing for almost a year!2017-05-03 14.24.25

IMG_8155Life has been pretty busy lately and I really miss not having time to write but I’ll do my best to actually take you through a more detailed journey over the next few months of what I get up to around this lovely space out here in the Swan Valley Region. Until then, Buongiorno!

Your Story Your Song

img_7618-e1497506545813.jpgWe all have a story and although we may not sing I think everyone’s life does ring out a particular sound or song.  I’m about to launch a new blog which will feature songs and excerpts from my book “This is my Story This is my Song” you can click the link here This is my Story if you’d like a sneak peak. But for now here’s some food for thought on “Your Song”.  To some it may sound a bit of a strange, but if you think about your life for a moment, you can probably see a particular theme or hear a certain sound rings out  louder than everything else.

What is it that you talk about all the time. What is it you think about a lot?  Who do you think about? Is it a person,  a hobby or a style?  Do you love nature, love music, love cars, horses, dogs, cats, flowers, perfume, in fact it could be anything or anyone?  I wonder if there is one particular thing that sounds out from you.

I’ve heard plenty of inspirational and motivational speakers over the years and as the years have passed I’ve come to realise that each one has a particular sound or song that resonates from them.  Their song is tied into their story and when they speak they can’t help sounding out their song in the story they tell.  Their theme or catch cry just keeps popping up in every message they bring.

Does your life have a sound – a life song?  It may be a passion or a purpose but it may not be as clear cut as that. What defines you?  Who defines you?

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I don’t want to be defined by loss, disappointment and sorrow and I’ve dug deep wells so this sound won’t overtake my song.   I remind myself of what I love, who I love and who I live for.  I remind myself again that I’ve been created for joy and gladness. That doesn’t mean life will always be rosy and while at times, I’ve quietly carried a song of despair, I hopefully haven’t let that song define me.  I hope that the sound that resonates from me is a love for God and people.  My heart carries a desire to sound out a song of joy, a song of victory in the face of defeat and tho at times I’ve walked with tears I want to ring out a sound that there is JOY in my today, in my tomorrow because my song is tied to one who is more noble than myself, one who knows how to give good gifts even if we don’t always deserve it.

I think thats my song right there in a nutshell –  I keep ending up with that same sound in everything I write. Of course there are other little harmonies that are playing along with my melody – my love for nature, for river waters and ocean streams, for anything Italian for travelling abroad, but they are just harmonies in my life song.

What’s your life song?

 

Perseverance and the Promise

Do you have a God promise hidden in your heart? A picture in your mind that won’t stop reappearing?  A beautifully crafted dream quietly coming to life. Not yet fully seen, but felt.  A sound that keeps ringing out even when you sleep, gently beating in time with the rhythm of your heart, urging you to hold fast, to keep believing, to not give up because in due time all will be unveiled?  And the wheels that are slowly moving forward are tempted by impatience to drive this thing faster but the still small voice whispers wait, wait, the time will come when all that you’ve seen will be revealed?

Do you sometimes wonder if it will ever come to pass?

Do you wonder if it’s really as important as it feels to you?

Do you wonder if this is ‘God breathed’ or simply selfish ambition?

Do you wonder if you have what it takes to ‘become’ the dream you see?

I do.

Nearly ever day I grapple with at least one of these dream snatchers.  Sometimes I feel that it would be easier to just give up. To stop sowing into and believing for what I’ve held on to, for what I’ve hoped for, for what I’ve felt was His dream for me.  Wouldn’t it be easier than living with the angst of persevering?

These days of persevering are thwart with danger, hope deferred danger, doom and gloom danger, it’s a waste of time danger and I don’t care anymore danger, all wanting to rob me of trusting that the Creator who placed these things within, is able to bring to pass that which He promised.

I often think of a story a dear old preacher told me many moons ago.  He spoke of the Great Archer preparing his weapons for battle, hand crafting his arrows, shaping them according to speed and accuracy and sometimes even breaking them and reshaping them so they would be ready for use.

archery-847888_1280Carefully placing the arrows in the bow bag he had slung over his shoulder, the Archer walked out into the field to test what he had made.  One by one he gently took the arrows from his battle bag and primed them for use upon his bow, only to put them back again.  He tested them often to see if they would bend properly, had the wood cured, were they ready for use, would they hit their target?  One by one he placed each arrow on his bow, pulling it back, as if to shoot.  Sometimes he would shoot the little arrows to see whether it was their time to fly.  If they missed their target, he’d carefully pick them up and place them back in the bag only to work on them later. Others he would simply take out and look at, smiling to himself at what he’d made.  He would admire it’s beauty, the colour of it’s wood and the feathered decoration but he wanted to keep this one a little longer so back in the bag that arrow would go.  It wasn’t time yet, nor was it ready for where he knew it needed to go.   The day would come, but not yet.

Do you feel like one of those arrows.  Maybe your the one he keeps putting back in the bag.  Maybe you’ve felt those times where he’s taken you out of the bag and you’ve felt the movement on the bow as if now is the time to launch,  but just when you’ve thought it’s time, he’s placed you back in the bag.  Perhaps if you were to launch now you wouldn’t hit your target and you wouldn’t have the effect he wants you to have.  Maybe there’s more preparation to be done. Maybe the ones he wants you to touch aren’t ready yet.  Maybe he just wants you all to himself a little longer, to draw you close.

morning-652052_1280Who knows the reasons why?  Whatever they are, I want to encourage you to stay trusting, stay right in the palm of His hand.  Don’t wriggle out with self promotion.  Stay waiting between the promise and persevering.  His timing is perfect and he knows exactly where you are and what you need to get you to where he wants you to be.

Trust little Arrow.

A Christmas Gift

Three and a half years in waiting and the door opens.

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Not everyone would consider an operation a gift, but for us, it is a long awaited door and the beginning of a new day.  We almost can’t believe it, we’ve waited so long, everything hinging on this day and as Christmas approaches a sigh of great relief falls from our lips.

Waiting Resting Expecting

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It’s a slow mend and with it comes more emotion.

I left him on that table yet again and the tears of relief wouldn’t seem to stop. Then the nagging thoughts of ‘will this make any difference and what about the risks?” I can’t even think about that.  Hoping for the best but fear the surgeons words might be true ‘this won’t fix any thing, it will only make him safe’.  He shows us the irreparable damage and the stark truth screams at us,  but still we believe.

IMG_0029_2Why do we still believe against all odds?

Why do we continue to hope after all this?

BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN US

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HE DELIGHTS IN US!  I’m reading this and I’m feeling this. I’m reading David’s song in a book called Samuel and I’m feeling God’s overwhelming presence rushing in.  Today it’s almost tangible.

I can see Him coming to our aid like never before.  He’s angry with the one who has tried to destroy us.  I’m crying and I realise I need not fear.

My Rock – My Fortress  – My Deliverer – My Refuge – My Shield –  My Salvation – My – Stronghold – My Saviour – My Rescuer – My Supporter – My Holder – My Strengthener

IMG_0115_2HE HEARS ME AND WHEN HE DOES HE’S ANGRY, HE’S POWERFUL

The earth trembles, quakes and there’s fire coming from His mouth, smoke from His nostrils.  The heavens part and he’s coming on the Cherubim to help ME just like he did for David.

PICTURE IT – I DO AND IM HUMBLED BY HIS POWER.  HOW COULD I EVER DOUBT THAT HE’S HAD THIS COVERED ALL ALONG JUST LIKE HE PROMISED?

Rain and Thunder as his voice booms out.

He shoots arrows and the enemy scatters, gone, they run they scour as bolts of lightening chase them. The scene is pandemonium but we’re on the winning side. No fear here.

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AND THEN THROUGH THE CHAOS, GENTLY, HIS HAND REACHES DOWN FROM ON HIGH

IMG_0123_2He Holds

He Lifts

He Rescues

IMG_0109_2He carries us to a SPACIOUS place, a safe place far from trouble, far from pain.

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We are so frail, fickle and oft times faithless.

 

Why is his heart moved to help us?

 

BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN US, I’ll say it again

HE DELIGHTS IN US

I believe it.

Read it all in 2 Samual 22:1-50

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Turning Tides

IT’S BEEN A WHILE, A LONG WHILE
WAITING FOR TIDES TO TURN

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AND IN THE WAITING, I couldn’t write.

No words. They wouldn’t come.

If they did come, they didn’t warrant pen to paper.   I silently withdrew and silently decided that three years would be enough.  So I planned the celebration, and blew upon hope.

A declaration I suppose. Something to mark the end of this season. IMG_0085_2

So we readied ourselves for this family adventure.IMG_0073_2

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IMG_0081_2I booked tickets. A Light shining at the end of this long dim lit road knowing full well that only HE could bring the light.

You will light our candle

You the Lord our God will enlighten our darkness.IMG_9401IMG_0058_2

And He did. Many times along the road, before this celebration, throwing us a life line that said “hold on, it’s going to be OK…. trust me”.

And then, with only weeks to go, we realised that our celebration was only to be another life line.  Another “hold on”. But what a grand and blessed “hold on” it was. There’s a story in Exodus – on the road out of Egypt.  They’d had enough.  They’d been grumbling just as we have from time to time.  God, the all knowing one, already knew they’d need a break and just up ahead they were to discover 12 springs and 70 palm trees, a nice place to stop and recoup
for the next leg of the journey.  He called it “Elim”.

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Perfect Peace

WE sheltered under the palm tree of this adventure. How thankful I am for “Elims” on this journey.  Not the final destination but a good place to catch one’s breath.  A good chance to be filled, refreshed, a good place to exhale. Peace.

Elim Over

And now I wonder at this feeling.  This sense of tides turning and this season ending, maybe just as suddenly as it began and with it a new season starting for us – together, with my man, I’m not alone. IMG_0120_2

In just days we will get news of our future. “Lord let it not be another test of this faith”,  furnace fired faith.  And yet, as I say this, I know of many who have seen the fire again and again and if our fire isn’t over we will be ok.

I know He’s been with us in the fire – just like he was with those three boys all those years back.

IMG_0017_2Thankful for our small fire. Thankful for their story. Thankful they didn’t give up their faith and serve another.

How easy it would be to give up, to serve self when the fire gets too hot and say ‘what about me, don’t you see, don’t you know how hard this is?’ but it’s never all about ME.  This has to have greater purpose. This almost laughable fire after fire has to be for a reason or it be futile.

JUST NOW I remember those words spoken over us.  We sat overlooking that pond.  The one in the KINGS Park so many days back….DSCN1635

“You’re going to come through this, I can see it, I can see the road and it has many bends many turns. It’s not going to be a straight road but you’re going to make it, you’re going to make it”

She could see it and I could hear God in her voice.

IMG_0061_2IMG_0068_2And so the winding road leads us home and like a flower unfolding I can feel something happening. IMG_0067_2I’m peeking out from my safe haven, the hiding place I’ve withdrawn to and I’m hoping I’ve got the strength not to retreat so I can say, or perhaps even sing  “This is my story , this is my Song”

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

We trust in our God  WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN

 

Dream a Little Dream

Dream a Little Dream

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Close your eyes and imagine

I’ve heard and read that without a dream or ‘a vision’ we’ll perish, some even say that without a ‘vision’ or a dream that’s growing and evolving, a ‘progressive vision’ we just wander aimlessly.’ We could end up anywhere and never achieve anything.

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When I was young I sang a song with a few little friends about wasted years……”wasted years oh how foolish as you wander in darkness and strife’……we sang with purpose and conviction hoping to reach someones heart and help them turn from an empty life but now, looking back I wonder if I may have been singing to myself! Did I ‘seize the day’? Did I waste the time given me? Have I accomplished enough? Will arrive at my final day feeling satisfied or will I look old and rickety?

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There’s so much I’d still like to do that would make the sum of me look a whole lot better but I guess it depends on how one measures success and what one considers as valuable…as treasure.

“they say that where your treasure is there will your heart be also….your heart is where you hide your deepest love”

The more I get to know my maker, the more I see that His ways are so different to our ways.  The way up is down and the way to life is to die. Go figure! This just doesn’t make sense in a world where we’re always encouraged to climb to the top….

But I’ve come to realise that he’s not interested in what we can do or how we look on paper….He’s more into shaping the heart of a man and nothing shapes it like trouble!

So do we just wander aimlessly waiting for the next open door hoping that things will just work out or do we plan, build and allow him to adjust our vision along the way?

The word “vision” in Hebrew (in this instance) means “a mental sight”, to mentally see a vision, revelation or a dream. I think we’re meant to look ahead with hope and purpose.


holiday12 043I remember the early days of planning for our new offices. The dreaming, the vision, searching for the right place, the excitement, the risks, the steps of faith, the set backs. Recovering from that awful accident while others readied for the move and then finally the realisation that this dream, this vision, wasn’t the one that God saw for us.  Was the road that he’d planned for us really THIS ?

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I ponder that for a minute…..

The shaping of the man and the shaping of the heart. It wasn’t the destination that was important but rather, all that he’d taught us on the journey and the big question was “were we ready to let everything go and let it all be turned upside down?”

I think about aspirations, hopes and dreams. What’s driving me? What about ambition?

How much should we let ourselves be fuelled by these things and where does trusting God fit into all this dreaming and planning? I can’t answer that for you but I do know that if he is at the helm then you’ll arrive at the right destination in due course.

I will guide you along the best pathway for your life, I will guide you and watch over you”  Psalm 32:8

So all my pipe dreams I lay again at his feet…..

singing my story, the little vintage cafe, ministry in a growing church or just the little white house with that Jacaranda tree!  Whatever they be and in all the days spent dreaming, I surrender them to His dream which is far bigger than mine.

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because His design is Perfect

If He says that he’ll guide us, then we’ve got to believe that he’s doing just that and nothing that happens isn’t without purpose or design….. think about it. If He is the fuel that fires us then all the other stuff will fall into place and we’ll live the life we’re meant to live.

remember “seek first His kingdom”

WHEN AMBITION becomes the fuel things get messy. Let ambition take its rightful place down the ladder. If we have to PUSH ourselves forward, walk on other people to get where we want then I think we’re missing the point.  The point is…that HE can and will guide us along the BEST pathway for our lives and it may may not be exactly what we see. This is where the testing comes into view…the letting go, the laying down….yet often so we can pick it up again.

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This is a dream placed in God’s hands…

It doesn’t mean we can’t have a vision, a dream or have aspirations. Nor does it mean that they won’t happen, it just means that all our dreams, all our aspirations go first to the chief designer.

Just look at Joseph (The Dreamer). He had some grand dreams, some wild aspirations and a colourful coat that eventually got him into a whole lot of trouble. But eventually, that trouble was saving grace for his family. God meant it for good! Joseph was about the destination but didn’t know what was on the road ahead. Many of us want the dream but  don’t want a road  that’s thwart with uncertainty, even heart ache.

But if Joseph had risen to the place he saw in his dream without the journey that led him there, he wouldn’t have even been half the man he turned out to be.  No doubt God put that dream deep inside his heart the character formed in him was worth more than Gold. I bet he was blown away to see God’s plan unfold and stood in awe of God’s handiwork.

Let’s not be driven by our dreams

Let the designer drive them for us

Dare to follow your dreams, but dare more to let the dream giver drive you there!

When the road stretches almost as far as heaven

When I was young, I always dreamt of owning a Combie and for a short time I did! It wasn’t the one you see below……

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Mine was the good old split screen.. in Canary Yellow.

 Those of you that know ‘Combies’ will know just how cool that is! I paid a whole $600 for it. A steal at that price! It was so old and needed so much work but it was mine and I loved it….well I loved it long enough to realise it was a dream that wasn’t so important and I could let go of it, so I did.

Dreams

WE ALL HAVE THEM

Big ones, little ones.  Some realised, some awaiting fruition and some we’ve had to leave behind for one reason or another.

Happy to leave my ‘Combie Dream’ by the wayside, I QUICKLY moved on to a more reliable means of transport as this was going to take a labour of love to keep alive.  I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

The Combie in the photo below was much newer than mine and belonged to my daughter’s friend. Here they are setting off to follow their dreams. An adventure that took them across the other side of the country.  

Young ones full of hopes and dreams, fun and laughter seeking a future of their own.

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I love that about Youth

When we’re young the world is our oyster and anything seems possible. So much to do, so much to see. It’s all just one brilliant adventure!

In no time at all, daughter number one had made a new life in the east, met the man of her dreams, returned later to the West to marry ‘said’ man under  Mulberry tree found deep in the South. Then together, travelled back east to buy their first little home of their own,  2000 miles away from where their lives began.

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A lovely little real life fairy tale!

I look at them and wonder at their story, almost a mirror image of my young adventures. When I was young I did the very same thing. Leaving what I knew and venturing alone into the world, searching for my own dream.

Living in the east I was about to follow one of my dreams to ‘sing for Jesus’.  Ready to set off with a group called the Continentals, when suddenly I was interrupted by ‘the man of my dreams’.  Another dream shelved in order to take up the ‘get married, settle down build a house dream’. Very exciting for a young 22 year old.

Here we are almost 30 years later and still in love

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I married ‘the man’ and before I knew it, son number one arrived.

Although I left behind the ‘singing dream’ I’ve been blessed to sing my way through life. Nothing fills my heart more than this but these days most of the time it’s just me sitting by piano bearing my heart in song to a loving Father God, ….worship keeps me close. I never want to be too far from him.

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Italy cottage

But the cottage dream never came and the next 25 years is history. A life in ministry.  Cottage dream took it’s rightful place down the ladder of importance as following ‘the call’ rose to first place.

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Along came Son one, daughter one, two, three and finally son two, five in all. Little happy faces to fill my cottage dream.  Life rolling on, ministry highs and lows, family adventures, weddings, funerals, holidays and then ‘the dreaded accident’. An unexpected curve in the road.

Continue reading “When the road stretches almost as far as heaven”