Tag Archives: Australia

At Home

Standard

Australia

Wattle trees in bloom. Thick air laced with tropical smells. Glorious bird songs. Heavy warm rain that falls from giant clouds. Everything bursting with life. Sunshine fuelling the land. And its people. A fuel for joy and creativity. Australia is a special place.

This time at home has been so good for me. For five weeks, I have shared life with my parents and my children, together, in the city of my childhood. My yesterdays and my todays walking hand in hand. My heart is soaring!

“It’s my impossible dream come true. My parents have met my son! My children and parents are together!  Right now, my sweet 4-year-old is sitting on my Mum’s lap and they are chatting away.  It is medicine for my heart.  These days are so precious. Each moment feels like a not-to-be-missed photo opportunity but all my energy is being used simply to keep my eyes open to see it all.” – Journal, March 4, 2013

_ _ _

Literally two days before I heard my dad had been ill, Yahweh had been healing some deep layers of my heart about the guilt I feel about leaving my family.  I had shared with my husband that I felt God had freed me from the desperate emotional need to go home I had been feeling for some years.  Then, two days later, Mum sent an email about Dad being sick.  After I no long “needed” to go home, I needed to go home. My church family and dear friends heard about his illness and gave sacrificially for the kids and I to go.

I landed in my homeland with a totally new state of mind and heart.  Our Father God had prepared me for this trip.  And the whole time we were there, He kept peeling away at the layers of my heart.

The Holy Spirit spoke the same thing to me over and over through family, friends, church sermons, and some strangers too: It’s a new season with fresh beginnings. Let go of yesterday and step into the new day.

He has uprooted old stumps and is planting new things.

It was not easy to leave my family again. Same airport. Same view of my sweet parents waving through the glass security wall.  But this time I came “home” to the US with anticipation for God’s plan unfolding in my life here.  No longer feeling so stuck in my past, I’m leaning into today and tomorrow with new hope and new joy.  Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, Yahweh is transforming me and bringing me into His freedom.  I am expectant and excited.

Yahweh is my home.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6 NASB)

Advertisements

Part Of Something

Standard

“We didn’t want you to worry, so we didn’t tell you…”

My parents don’t want me to worry.  The day I moved across the world, they stopped telling me things that I used to be privy to in everyday life.  For the most part it’s a good thing.  I tend to take on the burdens of others too deeply.  This is especially true when it comes to my family.  And it has been heightened by the our geographical distance.  Being so far away makes me feel powerless.  I cannot help them.

In the 14 years I’ve been here, I’ve received several emails that started with “Don’t worry…” and then a story of things that made me worry.  The source of my worry is that I’m losing life with my family.  My parents, unwitnessed by me, have been aging.  My sister is married and has kids I haven’t met.  And none of them have met our youngest.  When I hear of my family members being sick, I worry.  I worry because we are not getting to share life.  And I’m not ready for them to pass into eternity yet.

Last week, God had been talking to me about my family and my worries. He showed me that I had been living tethered to my past.  He brought me into a new freedom and understanding about my life so far away from my family.  I felt lighter.  A great weight had been moved.  I was seeing life so differently.  And then, on Friday night, an email came:  “We didn’t want to worry you, so we didn’t tell you…” 

My strong, adventurous, resilient dad, whose life history strongly resembles the “Man from Snowy River,” has been ill for over a month.  Actually he’s been ill for some years but he’s been increasingly ill the past month.  In the past weeks, he’s been to a myriad of doctors for all kinds of tests.  They are trying to piece the puzzle together.  In typical ex-farmer strength, my dad said, “I’m not on a respirator in the hospital.  I’m fine.” 

But on Friday my Mum felt the Holy Spirit tell her it was time to tell me about his illness.  When I read her email, I immediately knew I needed to go home.  It wasn’t the desperate reaction of the girl-who-had-abandoned-her-family like I’d had in the past.  It was like God had arranged the seasons and times to line up and He was ushering me home.

Yesterday dad received a very good batch of test results that showed improvement!  The doctors don’t know the source of the issues yet.  But I have this hopeful vision: For my dad to be well enough to play with my kids.  For my kids and my parents to walk on the beach together.  For them to chat and share secrets.  To build memories.  To be in relationship.  I want to go home while my parents are still able to interact and commune with us.  It’s time for me to go home.

One of my precious mentor mentors called me.  She had some news: a group of dear people are raising funds for me and my kids to go home.  I cannot believe it.  I am utterly humbled.  My pride is being peeled off.  My dreams are coming true.  When my precious mentor told me, I curled up on the kitchen floor and sobbed.  Tears of gratitude.  Cries of hope.

This is a deeply personal journey for me.  I hesitate to write about it.  But I feel like God is doing something that extends much further than just me and my silly homesick notions.

My mentor told me that she felt God speak to her in September about me needing to go home.  Another person says that in December they felt like God put on their heart that I needed to go home.  Two weeks ago, a friend felt moved to pray for me to be able to go home.  This weekend she pointed out, “We prayed and God is already making it happen.”

I do not believe that me going home is very important in the grand scheme of things.  But something grand is happening in the midst of this.  I feel like God is doing something personal and majestic in the lives of those who are praying and giving.

People are giving so sacrificially.  People who have already been giving to us… for we have had several years of big needs.  People who have already given us groceries, paid our rent, paid our bills.  People who have given toward my Lyme treatment.  People who have given us gift cards, free babysitting, gifts.  Truly we have been poured into over and over for many years.  (Confession: My pride would say, “Too many years.” To be honest, I would rather be on the giving side.  Pride, pride, pride.)

I feel like my little family is, for no reason deserved, receiving the abundance of the vision of the Acts church.  The Body of Christ is pouring out the blessing of God they’ve received.  Giving despite their own needs.  Giving with love and mercy.  Trusting that Yahweh will fill their needs too.  I feel like I am part of something huge and sacred.  My heart is quivering with expectation.

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph… sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  (Acts 4:32, 34-35 ESV)   “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10)

Remember: Something Against You

Standard

I tend to believe that I have offended most people. Part of it is because I know that, as a verbal processor and a “blunt” Australian, I can say things in a non-refined and culturally inappropriate way. And part of it is because, in the culture of this part of America, people seem to be nice to your face even if they are upset in their hearts. Many Americans tell me they’ve always wanted to go to Australia. I always encourage them to go but I wonder, how do Americans cope with the brutally honest Australian culture?! I mean, I barely survived the brutally honest Australian culture and I was born and raised in it! Ha.

There are a quite a few bold Americans who have confronted me directly about situations or conversations. Unfortunately, the American version of “direct” and “blunt” is still full of subtext and so I still miss a lot of what is really being said. I’m not sure if subtext is not a part of Australian communication or not a part of Australian childhood communication. But either way, subtext is not in my communication tool box. I am at a loss when people use words with many layers of meanings and subtext. Sometimes I get a sense there is emotional content but I have no ability to work it out! The phrase “lost in translation” comes to mind. But we’re all speaking English.

Anyway, that’s a big part of why I worry that I’ve offended people. I’m offensive + I can’t tell if you’re offended = Assume I’ve offended everyone.

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court ; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court ; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go ; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:21-24 (NASB)

This verse has always raised questions for me. What does this look like practically in our context? How can I know if someone has something against me? I feel like every person I talk to every day could have something against me. Where do I even begin to work on reconciliation?

We talked about this passage at a Bible Study group today and it really stirred my heart again to find a way to practically apply it in my life.

Here’s what jumped out at me today: the phrase, “remember that your brother has something against you,” uses the word “remember.” Not “guess,” not “sense,” not “wonder if.”

“Remember” (Greek: Mimnesko) means to remind, recall, return to one’s mind.

As I read the passage today I saw something new. There’s a tone to the wording that makes me think this is referring to unresolved conflict, an impasse of unforgiveness, or an ongoing issue of anger that both parties are aware of. It makes me see a joint-ownership in the problem. Like, the issue had been discussed (or yelled about) but it had not been resolved.

I have been so worried about all the people I *think* I could have offended every day, that I’ve not focused on the deeper issue here. All of us have old burnt bridges and unresolved issues that have been put aside at some point. Maybe it’s because it’s too painful to continue discussing. Maybe it’s because the conflict had been too raw and time was needed before reconciliation could happen. In Matthew 5, Jesus is inspiring us to allow the altar of God to be a place where His Spirit will remind us of things that now need to be resolved. I cannot pursue reconciliation with every person I *guess* could be offended. What a fruitless, fearful life that is. But I can be a tender, responsive listener to the Holy Spirit and ask Him daily for the names of people I need to connect or reconnect with.

This “remember” challenge feels way more fruitful than trying to deal with my fears of offending every human every day. When I bring my offering to the altar… my heart, my time, my prayer, my literal offering, my proverbial offering… will I allow myself to be reminded by God’s Spirit? And will I be courageous to go after the reconciliation?

Praying in a new way tonight. Praying to hear God’s reminders and pursue His timing.