Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beautiful Kari has gone Home...our hope is found in Jesus

When a loved one goes Home, it isn’t a trial for them. To go Home to the One you love more than anyone or anything else! To go Home to the One Who made you, sustained you, loved you, saved you, persevered alongside of you, perfected you in Christ! Oh, what JOY!

But it is very hard for those who remain on earth, to have to say farewell (for now) to someone precious and loved! To have to grapple with the fact that they are no long here…how could that possibly be? To know that for the rest of our time here on earth, we won’t get to laugh, cry or be with that person.

To accidentally forget…and then to remember...

Death isn’t normal!! That’s why it hurts so very much when someone we love dies. It isn’t part of the way things were meant to be.

How hard it is, to say goodbye. 
But it isn’t a forever goodbye! Why? Because my hope is in Jesus!!

“Hope? How can it be possible to have hope now, when your loved one is gone?” you might ask…
Kari visited us in Melbourne, just days before I got engaged. This was a fun night out in the city.

I have hope, because Jesus told me this:

Do no let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)
But one of the guys Jesus was telling this to was so confused. His name was Thomas. Thomas told Jesus he didn’t know where Jesus was going, so how could Thomas possibly get there…he didn’t know the way.

You know what Jesus said? He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life…If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (Vs 6-7)
So…why does that give me HOPE?

It gives me GREAT hope. I have HOPE because I know that Jesus has prepared a place for me to live with Him forever!

He said that Place, my new Home, has MANY rooms. Many rooms, for the many people that know Jesus.

I know that when Jesus prepared a place for me, He also prepared a place for Kari-Lee. I know that though she had to leave us here, she is in the very presence of Jesus, rejoicing in Him and worshipping Him, from now to eternity! I know she is happy!

How do I know? Because our new Home, God tells us, is incredible. Check this out: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Rev 22:3-4)

My HOPE is in Jesus. One day, He will call me home, too. I will be with Kari, with my Nanna and Papa, Nanna Dorothy and with Jesus forever.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE.” (John 3:16)

So, what can I say to you if you are feeling hopeless? Is all hope lost? No, look to Jesus, the only source of our salvation, the One Who has gone to prepare rooms for those that know Him. Look to Him, know Him and love Him.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Too Like-Minded??!!!!!

A friend of mine was recently celebrating the blessing of like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ. What a joy and delight it is to love and be loved, to be challenged and encouraged in our service of the King! My friend is right, the blessing is astounding!

But what happens when we are too like minded?

Obviously, I don't think we can be too like minded.
Truth is truth.
Right is right.
There is such a thing as ideal and less than ideal.
And it is wonderful to be with people who share the same preferences with you, too!

So, what do I mean by saying "too like-minded?"

It's when we are together with people who think the same way as us on certain things; good things, usually! Things like homeschooling, raising children, courtship, exercising, eating healthfully, etc, etc, etc. You start talking with someone and discover that you share the same ideas!!!

And you're off!

"And isn't it wonderful that..."

"It has been so amazing..."

"We've really reaped the benefits of ..."

And then it starts:

"Other people think..."

"I can't believe anyone could do ..."

"THEY say..."

"How could anyone believe/think/do that?!!!!"

You see, this is what I mean by being too like-minded. It is such a blessing to have someone sharing, teaching, encouraging you in your endeavours! We feed of each other's excitement and experiences! It is so helpful, encouraging, wonderful!!

Then all of a sudden, if we're not careful, we find ourselves getting caught up in putting other people down (perhaps without even realising we are doing so)! In our right encouragement of each other, and sometimes even lament at the state of certain things in this world, our words begin to tear people down rather than build up other brothers and sisters (who are perhaps less like-minded on this particular issue).

And that is not Kingdom building!

It is so easy to fall into; but I think it is easy to avoid, too. If you read my earlier blog about my struggles through a difficult year, the sentiment that helped me get through was "No one else knows your life."

It's as simple as that! We don't know what anyone else is going through! We don't know what their commitments are, whether they have a long term illness, a neighbour in need, provide meals every second night for people in the church. We can't know their past! We can't know their experiences! We can't know what they are able and unable to do!

Do any of these things excuse sin? No, of course not! But in terms of issues that deal with ideals/desires/wants/preferences (even the good things listed above!!), it isn't our job to answer to God for other people's decisions. This is all we need to remember!

We can and should be available to talk, answer questions and most of all pray, encourage and help others about these things in which we may have experience and knowledge. But when we are getting excited with our like-minded brothers and sisters, let's just remember about others: "We don't know their life."

Go have a read of Romans 14, with some similar sentiments, but going much further with them. Here is one verse: "So then let us pursuer what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding/" (Romans 14:19)

I'm going to go and pray about this! Will you pray for me in this? Can I pray for you in anything?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wee A-Man

I got married in October 2011, and married life was wonderful! It was so special having someone to do the rest of my life with! Soon enough, we settled into our new life in our little, one bedroom flat under our friends’ house.

January 4th is my parents’ wedding anniversary. In 2012, they were travelling in Europe, while we were visiting my siblings in Melbourne. We all got together to Skype my parents to congratulate them on their anniversary.

“HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!” we all cried. Then passed the laptop as we took turns speaking.

It was my turn, “We have an anniversary present for you!” I was excited.

My sister was worried, “What?! No we don’t!!”

I continued: “Isaac and I are having a baby!!”

Everyone was excited, especially Isaac and me! The next day we travelled to Tasmania and told our Tassie family in person!

Baby was on the way!

My pregnancy went fairly well. I was very sick for the first half, but that soon subsided into only being every now and then for the rest. While there were the usual pains and discomforts of pregnancy, it was a fairly smooth time.

20 Weeks
Although I didn’t feel the baby until I was 21 weeks, the little one turned out to be very wriggly! I took belly photos every week from about 18 weeks or so. It is lovely to look back on my expanding belly as the baby grew.

The due date arrived…and flew past.

A whole week…

Then on Thursday morning, at about 1:00 am, pains began…I didn’t know if it was just pre-labour, so I didn't want to wake up Isaac, in case he had to go to work (if it was just pre-labour). So, I sat in the Baby’s room going through the contractions quietly, so as not to wake him. I have never been so happy to hear an alarm than when his went off at 5:15am.

We continued to labour at home for a few hours and I called the midwife at about 7:30am to let her know things were happening. We stayed home to continue the labour.


She came around at about 11pm to check on me. Then she left.

And we kept on labouring…

ALL NIGHT...nearly.

At around 3:00 am Friday morning, we called up again, and in to hospital and up to the Birth Centre we went. It is so eerie walking in when it was so quiet...we even needed to be "buzzed" in because the doors were locked!

Things kept going. It was a wonderful relief to finally get into the bath. Our Birth Centre has the most BEAUTIFUL, Big baths! I spent a very long time there. My legs were too tired to stand and my knees were too raw from kneeling to keep kneeling!

I remember having Sons of Korah playing on my phone at one point. My favourite Psalm 139 came on and I remember "singing" (more like strangling it out) the words: "For You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother's womb. Oh and I'll praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."

Hear it on their website here:

Anyway, long story short...we stayed in there for a long time, nothing was really happening. I was really struggling. I couldn't keep any food or water down (and hadn't been able to mostly since I'd started contractions about 30 hours before this) and I was exhausted. Labour wasn't progressing well, and we eventually decided to head downstairs to the hospital.

Sitting in the wheelchair in the middle of the ward whilst waiting for a room and bed is the strangest experience! I was making so much noise and couldn't stop myself, even though a little corner of my brain was saying "Get it together, Liberty!"

Another funny memory was when I was laying on the bed (for the first time) and was very uncomfortable. I was becoming quite distressed. The Dr came in and told me "Listen. You have to stop that right now or else you'll be in trouble!" It worked! I remember looking through his glasses into his eyes and saying "Ok! *breathe* ok *breathe* but why does it hurt so much???" Everyone in the room responded: "Because you're having a baby!!" Haha!

Yet another: during pushing, the Dr (same one) came back to see how I was going. "Great job! This is all you, you're doing this now! So, I'm going to go and get a coffee and I want a baby when I get back!" Believe it or not but that was actually motivating for me (though I didn't beat him back).

The midwife told me later that I pushed like I had done it before, so that was a nice bit of encouragement for me!

Isaac and my midwife were both awesome! The encouragement they provided was exactly what I needed! 

About 15 hours old
Dressed to go home. Oh how those 0000 looked so big on him back then!
Eventually she gave me the wonderful words: "Whenever you're ready you can do one more push!" Out came the baby. It was a boy!
Five days old. So happy with the new member in our family!

Little A-man was born at 2:56 pm on Friday the 14th of September. It was so amazing holding the baby that had been growing inside of me for so long! He was an alert little thing and it was so wonderful to have him!

Following some complications for me, we had to stay in hospital till Monday, but once we settled in at home with our new family member, life was wonderful!

A-man is a huge blessing and we love him dearly! He brings us delight every single day! He is smiley and interactive and very, very wriggly! Not much of a cuddler, he always wants to be looking at something new. He isn't very good at minding his own business, either!

We praise and thank God for this precious boy!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

100 Things I like: #6 Chocolate Chip Biscuits

Chocolate Chip Biscuits! 

They are delicious, and there is nothing more disappointing that picking up a chocolate chip bikkie to discover it’s actually got sultanas in it.

Am I right?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Growth and Change in my Personal Life

If you’ve read my previous few entries, you will realise that 2011 was a BIG year for me. You’d have read about the challenges that were presented to me at work and in my church life. Through these and other aspects, I experienced some of the biggest changes I’ve ever experienced in my personal life. Here is the rundown of the Growth and Change in my Personal Life.

I had a friend. We didn’t know each other particularly well, but had some mutual friends and common interests. We had met at a Christian conference in 2009. With our friends, we would have “Theology Nights” where we would get together to get our heads around some of the Biblical truths we were struggling to understand.

Then something happened that completely took me by surprise!

Late in 2010, this friend, Isaac, wrote to my parents for permission to get to know me a little better and to meet my family. He visited my family and had some good chats with my dad. My parents took the time to get to know him, to call some people who know him well and observed how we interacted together.

On January 23, 2011, my dad gave Isaac permission to court me.

Courtship? What in the world is that? Well, I will tell you a little more another time about what our courtship looked like, and the things we think are important, but for now here’s a very brief summary:
Our purpose in the courtship was to find out if we were suitable to be married to each other. In involved “chatting” through some important issues and ideas to see where we stood on such matters. It also involved socialising with other Christian men and women, talking to wiser, older Christians and, of course, talking very regularly with our parents. We also tried to be vigilant to protect our own heart, mind and body: not giving any part of any of those things away before there was a promise to look after it. We were very careful to submit to my parents in all aspects of the courtship. We set time limits in place in order to sit down and discuss how things were going.

So, in brief, what did this look like? We spent a few hours together on Saturdays, and Isaac attended my church in the evenings (his church only had an evening service once a month). We talked and asked questions about the important issues, carefully weighing each other’s answers against God’s Word, our understanding and personal preferences. We kept going to our Theology Nights, Youth activities and the like. We made appointments to speak with our ministers and their wives and other people who have influence in our lives. We were careful to guard our hearts by not letting ourselves get carried away in our thoughts about any possible relationship; and we refrained from any physical contact to help with this. We kept in contact with our parents, seeking their wisdom and submitting to my dad’s decisions. We also set Easter as the time to sit down and discuss whether we wanted to continue or stop walking this path. It was wonderful!

When Easter rolled around, we had more chats with my parents. Sometimes it was me talking with both of them, sometimes Isaac, sometimes one on one. We had lots to discuss. Isaac and Dad also went out for a long chat. It was a little intense…no one told me what they had discussed. I assumed Mum and Dad would talk to me when Isaac went back home to Canberra.

A few of the Footy Friends that evening.
On Saturday night, my siblings, friends and I took Isaac to watch the footy.  He invited me to go to Melbourne City on Monday to have a chat.
Monday arrived. April 25th

The Pies played the Bombers for the Anzac Day match. In to town we went. We walked through Alexandria Gardens and settled on a park bench. We had a few things to talk about. I had a “few” questions I wanted to ask…in fact, I had written them in my diary. We slowly went through them, and he answered particularly well!

I felt I was hogging the questioning and asked if he had any questions for me. He did, and we talked a little more. “Do you have any more questions for me?” I asked, allowing him another opportunity before my next round of interrogation.

“Will you marry me?” he calmly asked.

I replied with dignity and eloquence, “Yeah!”
The bench where we sat and he asked the question!

We discussed how he had asked my parents a few days before for their permission and  some of the details. Then, we prayed together sitting the bench! We were engaged!

We went and bought a ring straight away!

My Dad (along with my Mum) was a huge part of our courtship
We were married October 8th that year and it was a wonderful day!

With my parents
Being married to Isaac is terrific! He is the most loving person I have ever met! I've never seen anyone love their wife as much as he does! I really know he would do anything for me! I have loved being a wife, too, though it is challenging at times. What a time of growth and change! May we glorify God together!

So, 2011 really did bring about some big changes for me! God had so much in store for me. I became a different teacher, I changed in my Church life and I gained a different last name and life role! Through it all, God was guiding and leading me, loving me and blessing me.

What happened for you in 2011? What was the biggest year of growth and change in your life?

My wedding photos were taken by the marvelous David Coleman! The footy photo was taken by my sister! Rings: by me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Growth and Change in my Church Life

If you read my last post you would have seen that my work life got just a little bit crazy for me last year.

Thing is, I love being a teacher, and in God's graciousness, He enabled me to remember that it was service to Him! However, I was still faced with the struggle of how such a busy worklife would affect my "rest of my" life.

I have always been a fairly active member at my church. I love going! God is so great to have set us a day in which we can specifically gather to worship Him! It is a blessing to hear from His Word (a challenge too!) and fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I love everything about it. I also loved having opportunities to serve. In the past years I have served in Sunday School, Youth Group, Young Adults, Bible Studies, wider Youth ministry opportunities, training and mentoring and have even had the wonderful opportunity to give some conferences on teaching the Bible to children and young people. I attended Bible Studies and Prayer meetings and AGMs and all sorts! I loved it all! Our church has a really good system of cleaning, greeting and morning tea rosters, so we get to serve there too.

However, there is only so much time in a week...and I was beginning to struggle to find the time to continue in all these things and be able to serve at school to the best of my ability.

I had to begin the hard task of slowly dropping out of things. I say it was hard, and it really was. First hurdle I had to jump was my disappointment. I really loved being able to serve and use my gifts in these ways! It was devastating to have to admit that I simply couldn't do it all anymore.
That was  a big hurdle, but you know what? I got there. We have enough time to do the things that God wants us to do. Remember, my service at school WAS service...just because it was also my job, doesn't make it any less so. Every day was about teaching, training and correcting through the Word of God, seeking to understand His world and His place for each of us within it. I got to the point where I was able to say that in terms of service: Kindergarten and Year 1 came first.

So, I slowly had to say "No" to one thing after another. Then I had to face the second hurdle: other people's opinions of my dropping out. Our lovely minister's wife in previous years had given me some good advice: "No one else knows what you are going through, no one else knows your load or your commitments. It isn't up to them to have an opinion." I agreed, as much as I could...and yet...there were still opinions.

What have I learned from this? Two things:
1. We have to make decisions based on what God has given us. No one else has to answer to God for those decisions. I have to answer to my Lord God one day for how I used the time He gave me. So, when I make decisions about how I use my time, I have to keep THAT in mind! I was not able to serve God adequately at school when I had all these other things using up my I dropped a lot of them (BTW: I didn't just drop them. I spoke to the people in charge, helped train up replacements for my areas of service, etc...and I didn't drop everything, either. I had to prioritise and decide.) Then I had to be at peace with my decision. If God had other things in mind for me, I am sure I couldn't have been at peace with it. Don't be guilt manipulated by other people. We answer to the Lord and to those He has placed in authority over us.

2. I learned to be careful of how I invited other people to things. We all have good intentions when we invite people to the new Bible Study/Youth Event/etc and that is great! However, let's make sure that we don't pressure people into things. A simple invite and offer of a lift if needed speaks volumes more than constant pressure and niggles when one simply doesn't have the time. If you really think someone ought to be coming along to something...I suggest praying about it, rather than niggling at them. God is more powerful than anyone, and He will work to change that person's heart...or to change yours. Let's try to be aware of people's needs, too! I didn't need people to cook me dinners, but there are some people who would really benefit from that!! I didn't need someone to take me out for a quick coffee...but some people need a half hour break with fellowship!! Maybe I needed school help (which not many people can help with)...but there is something amazing in the question: "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Of course, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25). Sunday worship services are not something I would give up...this blog is more about the other Church activities we have going.

So, dear friends, God has called His children to works of service. I don't know what He has called you to: it might be serving your husband and children as a homemaker. That is your service: your full time ministry. To honour God with that, you need to give it your best time. Your service might be teaching, like mine was! Work out what time you need to give to it, and do so! Most importantly, please remember: Ask the Lord God for help! Help in serving Him, help in using your time, helping in knowing when to decline an invitation, help in knowing when to accept! Help in finding the energy, help to be assertive. He is all powerful and is the One we need to turn to in these (and all) situations!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Growth and Change at Work

Let me tell you about how I came to be a K/1 teacher.

In September, 2008, I began teaching in Year 5/6 (and I LOVED it!). Taking over from another teacher had its benefits and disadvantages, but we had a wonderful term together. I was very much looking forward to many new things when the new year started!

However, God had different things in mind. Due to various reasons, I was the most suitable of the employed staff to teach the Junior Primary class in 2009. I was incredibly nervous! I still distinctly remember first desiring to become a teacher: at the age of ten! I remember saying to my parents and teacher, "I want to be a teacher when I grow up. But I definitely do not want to teach Kindergarten (aka: Prep/Reception) because Kindergarten is just SO important!" I don't know how I understood that at ten, but I still think that it is such a foundational year of school, not one that we want to be getting wrong!!
So, here I was at 21, going against 11 years of thinking to be teaching the little ones!!

So, 2009 was an interesting year. It was my first time starting my own class, I was teaching an age group that I had always wanted to avoid and I was changing from teaching end of the year 12 year olds to brand new four and five year olds! It was crazy! But you know what?! It worked! I had a lot to learn, and the first three weeks were incredibly exhausting...BUT it was great! Very soon into the year, I had a class full of readers, loving Maths, loving everything!! It was a great year, but it was a BUSY year! See, K/1s just can't do a lot of the things Year 6s can do - so it was a big, busy change.

2010 was an AMAZING year! I knew what I was doing and I had an excellent class. I had some very capable students and we were soaring! It was still very busy as (being a composite class) I still had to prepare from scratch some of the programming work. I looked forward to 2011: the first year I would be able to reuse (with adjustment, of course) the programming and worksheets, etc that I had created in 2009. The family with which I lived across these years were incredibly supportive and encouraging. However, they were worried about how hard I was working. (I was also fairly involved in the Church (which, as you know, I love!!).) The Mum spoke to me on several occasions saying, "I really think you should go to part time" or "This level at which you are working is not long term sustainable." I agreed that I was working hard, but kept looking forward to 2011 and said "Next year will be my easy year."

... Famous

Did I have a surprise coming to me. First of all, my K/1 Class was very large. I started the year with 25 students. "What? That's about normal isn't it?" Yes, a lot of classes have 25 or even more! In fact, when I taught 5/6 I had 30! However, teaching little ones is a lot more intense and a lot more work than teaching the older ones. (Hold on all you Upper Primary Teachers! No need to get uptight! We all know and acknowledge that you work incredibly hard too, and that teaching older kids has problems of its own!! BUT, I have done both (now on two occasions) and the little ones are harder in a day in day out, use up all your time and energy kind of way! (They are, also, INCREDIBLY cute and VERY keen to learn!!!!)) So, that was difficulty number 1!

Secondly, of those 25 brand new kidlets, I had 8 students requiring IEPs! Eight!! Several of those were a very high level of special needs, while others ranged in need. On top of that were the class usuals that make our jobs that little bit more difficult.

There are only three words I can say. "It was hard." There were lots of challenges, and I became really discouraged after many, many negative comments from one parent. Every day wiped my energy. Knowing how much I love being a teacher, I couldn't believe that I began to dread getting out of bed every day to go to school. Without my energy and without my enthusiasm, being a teacher was a hard, hard task.

So, let me tell you three areas of growth and change over 2011.

1. This is the most amazing thing!! In amongst all these difficulties and discouragements, however did I keep going? I can't explain it other than the absolute grace of my living and powerful God, but He placed this incredible LOVE for my students within my heart. I mean, I've always loved my students so much, but this was different. I am sure God knew that I was going to need His intervention, and before we even knew the difficulties, He placed this incredible love there for these precious ones.

2. I had to learn to ask for help. I know, I know...everyone is thinking "Yeah, we all have to go through that stage...humbling ourselves and all that..." It wasn't about humbling myself and admitting I couldn't do it. What is was about was a real wrestling with the issue of "Doing it in God's Strength." For years, my dad has told me that I do a lot of things in my strength, which must eventually fail; instead of doing them in God's strength. I am sure you have heard a similar comment. But has anyone ever been able to tell you what it MEANS to do something in God's strength? Six months into the year, when I was absolutely struggling with the job, I had to really think about this issue...I still don't know if I have it all sorted out. But I do know that I needed to continue to hand my issues to my Lord, that I needed to be satisfied with my best if I was putting in my best - even if my best last year gave "better" results than my best this year, and I needed to ask others for help and allow them to be God's servants in helping me. There was a LOT I had to learn.

3. Finally, I had to grow in my assertiveness. I couldn't just allow one parent's negativity to steamroll me into depression. I had to fix the things I was doing wrong, or could do better and then move on. I had to learn that each parent is responsible for their one child in the class, while I am responsible for all 25 of them; so I need to assertively work for the best of each child. I began to be specific in my requests for help and instructions to my Teacher's Aids. I had to be assertive in ensuring that my correct allocation of release time was given to me. It was dad has been telling me for a long time that I need to be more assertive. When I told him I am not an assertive person, he told me to pray to become more assertive. Why, oh why does God answer our prayers through such hard circumstances. :-)

Well, it was a very big year at school. There would be things I would change, but, since I can't, I continue to put that energy into praising God. I praise Him for the students He has given into my care and their families who love them enough to raise them in His ways. I praise Him for the special Barnabases He gave me throughout the year, some at school, some from other life areas. I praise Him for the lessons He taught me (and continue to pray that I won't forget...because I don't want to have to learn them all over again!!!). Finally, and I pray we will all remember (and rejoice) in the fact that God has promised to be with us through His Holy Spirit, that He has already prepared good works for us to do to His glory! Isn't that wonderful!! May I say with the Sons fo Korah, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1