Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I've been hearing about this event that the church we're going to has on Thursday mornings. It's called Sisterhood. They have been plugging it and all the girls around me keep asking "are you coming to sisterhood?" They seem very excited. I debated all week. Should I stay home and work or should I go? I finally prayed "God if you want me to go maybe there will be a lull in my work load." There was enough of a lull.
Yesterday I met one of Brooks' professors. Her name is Judy and she teaches Old Testament. She asked me if I was coming to Sisterhood. I told her I hadn't decided and she encouraged me to come. It has been intimidating for me to walk into the room of hundreds or thousands not knowing anyone or what to do or where to go or how this works. Walking into a room like that makes me feel lost and lonely, longing for anything familiar. While I know I have to be patient and do the work of knowing and being known, it's daunting at times.
I woke up this morning still undecided but knowing I should go. I procrastinated getting ready and with 10 minutes to spare I scrambled while Brooks waited patiently. We were there early so Brooks could serve, which meant I had lots of time to wait for this thing to start, alone. As we walked in the front doors, someone was calling my name. It was Judy. She warmly welcomed me and wanted me to know she had saved me a seat just in case I decided to come. She took me under her motherly wing and we went to the pre prayer meeting. I followed her like a lost little puppy. She would glance and reach back with her arm, making sure I was coming and hadn't gotten lost in the crowd. And if I did or if she side tracked to talk to one of many people who love her, she would call my name and gather me back again. So generous.
Before the Sisterhood service starts there is pampering and mingling. Boys walk around with trays of fruit and raisin toast. Judy said I should get my nails done while I waited. So I did and they are lovely. Gail did them, she's from South Africa. I chatted with a couple of girls from the college and met a seasoned Australian nurse who gave me her number in case I ever needed anything at all. She was beautiful in all her bright colors and it was refreshing to meet someone with wrinkles.
I made my way to the seat Judy had saved for me, three rows from the front. I was thankful to have a spot beside her. We began praising and she sounded so good and strong. An alto, like me. I liked the sound of it.
It has been a welcome change to look forward to going to church even though walking in can be daunting. We've been through a rough patch with the church the past couple of years. The details of that are neither here nor there. I'm just saying that in the midst of it my heart was bruised and I became jaded. Questioning God and Christianity, the church, all of it.
As we welcomed our speaker and were about to sit down the girl behind me handed me a folded piece of paper and told me to read it. I do not know her and she does not know me.
"Hosea 2:14 'and now, here's what i am going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn heartbreak valley into acres of hope. She'll respond like she did as a young girl.' Keep reading to verse 23. God just gave me this verse for you in worship."
God is real and He is good. He knows me better than I know myself and met me right where I was. Judy, a well known and loved professor did not have to care for me from the moment I walked in to the moment I walked out. But she is a woman of generous spirit. Sarah, behind me, could have chosen not to pass me that note. But she did and I melted into tears. I left Sisterhood today thankful, humbled, encouraged and inspired, with promise, hope and plenty of love. And I was grateful to receive.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
This weekend was Valentine's Day. Some dear friends gave us a generous gift certificate to a lovely restaurant here in Sydney. She researched and found where an excellent place would be. A lot of thought went into the gift. I was thinking we might use it for my birthday but Brooks surprised me with reservations on Saturday. I was thrilled. I looked forward to it all week. Time for just the two of us to get out and be together and what a night to remember.
We drove into the city, down to Sydney Harbor, parked in a fancy parking garage and walked along the shoreline until we found our Wolfie's on The Rocks. Being Valentines weekend there were weddings happening all around. Bride after bridal party getting their pictures taken. Pretty dresses, fancy hair and makeup, handsome tuxes and lots of great shoes.
We arrived early so we walked about, did a little souvenir shopping and took some pictures of our own. We had a great table at dinner with the best view. I stared at the Opera House and Brooks faced Harbour Bridge. We watched ships come in and couples pass holding hands on their way somewhere important. The meal was delicious, extravagant and cost exactly the amount that our friends had given us. On the way back to our car we were holding hands and not just holding hands but liking how our hands felt in each others. It was all very magical and I didn't want it to end.
Thinking about the giver helps me receive. When I give a gift, it is out of love and my hope is that the person will adore and be excited about it. I don't want them to say "oh you really shouldn't have done this" and hand it back to me. I would be so sad. I'm pretty sure that our magical experience will bring our gift givers more joy in their giving.
We've been given a lot in life. Recently we've received so many gifts, cards, letters, money, boxes filled with thoughtful goodies and love. Its overwhelming in the best of ways. We receive not because we're deserving but because of the giver's great love.
Over time I'm learning not to put myself down. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and take the time to thank God for everything I see. For hair on my head, eyes that see, a nose that smells, ears that hear, limbs that move, a mind to think and create and so on. I want to live with a spirit of generosity and thankfulness. Giving and receiving with joy in honor of our Giver's great love.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's Thursday night. I dropped Brooks off at the largest church in Australia for a meeting and then a recording session. I drove away in Miss Bianca, our 1988 Holden Apollo, alone.
My life is very different these days.
I work during the day from home. Busy with all things design and thankful for it. I put in a load of clothes here and have a snack there. I'll get the mail in the afternoon and cook up a little dinner to be waiting by the time Brooks gets home. By the end of the day I'm usually ready to get out of the house and go for a walk or a drive or something, anything. Going to the store has become a real treat.
"The shops" are open late (9pm) on Thursdays. Normally they close at 5. This is not only the Land Down Under it's the Land Laid Back.
Tonight I had the car and was on my way to Rouse Hill for a bit of shopping. Valentine's Day is near and I needed a few birthday cards. On my way I was plagued with a deep sadness. No one to shop with. No one to go with me. No one to brave this big city. No one to call. Not a friend in sight or even within calling distance. Thinking of all the friends I'd like to have in my passenger seat, sadder by the minute, I heard a little voice say "what about me, I'm your friend." Not a real out loud voice but the still small voice. God's voice. I felt better knowing He was with me, my Faithful Friend. And all of a sudden I wasn't so alone anymore.
So there we were, me, Miss Bianca and Jesus, off to hunt some Valentines.
But there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
I will exalt You,
You are my God.
Because You're with me,
I will not fear.
My hiding place,
my safe refuge,
my treasure Lord You are.
My friend and King,
-Brooke Fraser "I will Exalt You"