Monday, March 29, 2010


On Saturday Brooks and I spent the afternoon at Dee Why beach. There are so many beaches here and I wish to visit them all. Dee Why is one of the Northern Beaches which local people seem to favor. They are quiet and beautiful rather than commercial and bustling.

My friend Holly says it is a strange sort of vacationy life I lead. I agree with her wholeheartedly. I was so excited about spending the afternoon at the beach. We've been on the go with class, conferences, volunteering, work and general life upkeep. Any chance to get out and see more of the world is welcomed with open arms.

It was a perfect day. Sunshine, sand, crashing blue water waves against jutting rock cliffs, quaint surfer town and ocean breeze. I sat in my banana lounger in my long sleeved shirt basking in the sun. Napping in and out of reading my good book. We took a long walk hand in hand on the beach. I liked seeing all the footprints in the sand. Big ones, little ones, chubby ones, skinny ones, bird ones, dog ones, baby ones. When you walk near the water your footprints don't last long. I like watching the water wash over them, making them disappear.

I thought about how life is like that. Here one moment and gone the next. Makes its impression and then it vanishes. A vapor. A mist. A flower. And it made me want to seize the moment, not waste a single second. To build a sand castle in that sand, to run and jump and play and get a little crazy, just let out a hoot. To say the good things I want to say to people even though it might be awkward. To see things I've not yet seen and help people I've not yet helped. It made me want joy everlasting. In the morning, joy. In the day, joy. In the night, joy. Joy in the moment, in the mood, in the meadow, in the sun, in the wind, in the rain. Joy.

  • Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.
  • You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14

At this moment my family is preparing themselves for the shock of a funeral. It is hurting my heart not to be there for them. Sometimes it's just the being there that matters. They are preparing to celebrate a life well lived. A life well loved. To honor a gentle giant. A man who made such a great impression, taken suddenly.

Like we all, a footprint in the sand.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Burnt Sienna

Lately writing seems like I am constantly outing myself. Perhaps that's what writing is. It keeps me honest, always posing the question, "will you tell the truth?"

I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "a woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."

Standing in the kitchen yesterday I realized that I waste so much time and energy with thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that help no one. Least of all, me. Silly things like feeling guilty for not being around when I think people might need me or being annoyed at the man I love for chomping his fruit loops SO loud while I'm trying to concentrate. Things like beating myself up for not saying enough, or saying too much, being impatient, hurt, angry, wounded, dwelling on some hurtful thing someone has said or disapproving look they flashed my way, wondering if I'll do a good enough job, worrying about the money of it whatever it is, doubting. Questioning if I'm good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, talented enough, enough, enough, enough. It makes me want to scream, all the time I waste. It's all so... about me. Like the hole in my tooth that my tongue keeps going back to, I just keep doing it over and over again. And so I ask myself who is this helping? No one. There is so much good to be done and we have so little time. Why do I waste so much of it with myself, all up in my head?

I've been dipped in plenty of hot water in my life thus far and right now it's the international move test. My true colors are shining through. Some are brilliant colors and others are dull and yucky, like Burnt Sienna. The color no one wants to use in the box of Crayolas. Today, I find myself thankful God made a way for us to move and be where we stand, away from all things familiar. And I'm grateful for turning point days like today when...

peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

A day like this makes me want to be Jazzberry Jam, Indigo, Granny Smith Apple and Laser Lemon. Coloring the world I see with light, cheer, inspiration and goodness. To be found wanting for nothing with strength like a tea bag in hot water.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Last week was a whopper. On Monday I turned 30. It was a wonderful day of talking to family and friends, receiving boxes and cards which are still trickling in. On Tuesday our computer crashed. On Wednesday I tried to find help for my computer and at the end of the day as I was flossing my teeth a big chunk of tooth popped out. On Thursday I began another day of searching for computer wizardry and magic, hopeful for a recovery miracle. After 4 meetings with Mac genius's at 4 different locations in Sydney I came to terms with the fact that all was lost and the hard drive would have to be replaced. My last stop was the Mac store in the heart of downtown Sydney and I had to go it alone since Brooks was otherwise engaged.

My Dad always made us pay attention when we were in the car on a trip. I remember one vacation I got to sit in the passenger seat and be the "navigator." It was his way of teaching us to always know where we were and how to get to and from anywhere. I will forever be grateful for the time he took to teach and instill the navigational system. Being here at the bottom of the world has thrown my system off. I'm still learning which way is up and which way is down. It's so strange not knowing exactly where I am.

Nonetheless, this mission had to be accomplished so I set out bravely in Miss Bianca with my GPS Tom Tom. If you've ever used a GPS in the middle of skyscrapers you must know my dilemma. They have trouble locating their signal and when they can't find it, the little car on the screen goes spinning out in the grass. Just spinning there, confused. The little lady has no idea what to tell you, so she says "turn left, turn right, turn left." Not so helpful. I ended up in 5 o'clock traffic surrounded by buses, taxis and New York City style mobs of people with my GPS telling me to turn places it was uncertain about and the little car spinning out in the grass. It was overwhelming as I drove round and round. I felt like melting into a puddle but who was that going to help? I looked out the window around me and said "God I gotta get out of here and I need your help."

Sure as the sun does rise, by the power at work within, with what I'd been taught so long ago and after a few honks from fellow road goers, I made it onto Harbour Bridge where Tom Tom could find me and breathed a sigh of relief. As I neared home I felt so proud, like I could conquer anything and in that moment I realized I had a choice to make. I could either be frustrated and put out at all I'd been through that day or I could be thankful and victorious over all God had seen me through. I chose to let the good stuff rise to the top that day, like cream.

There are FAR worse things happening in the world than a crashed computer, a broken tooth and being lost in the city, but I am finding it is in times like these, when you don't know where you are, what to do, where to turn or which way to go, there is a Navigator who never loses signal.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live...
Deut. 30:19

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us...
Ephesians 3:20

Saturday, March 6, 2010


To all those who are concerned about us wanting to come home:

Tomorrow I'll turn 30, though my mother says that technically I was born in America so I can celebrate both days, but really my birthday is when it's March 8th in America. I'll go with this plan since she gave birth to me and because it equals more celebrating.

The fact that we are living here in Australia, that we are not going home soon to our family and friends, that this is not an extended vacation, has been sinking in especially with the birthday here.

Brooks took me to the Blue Mountains this weekend, a gift to me. We found a little guest house to stay in, in a last minute find. Friday we packed up Miss Bianca and headed for the hills. They're not far away, about an hour at most. I'd been looking forward to getting away together, just the two of us. We were staying in Katoomba, a little mountain town that felt quite old. It attracts lots of tourists because it is home to "The Three Sisters" (which are 3 consecutive rock formations that have a mythical story) and "Katoomba Falls".

After locating the guest house we went downtown to find a bite to eat and do some shopping. An umbrella was our first purchase. It was rainy, soggy and dreary all day. Just the way I felt inside and why did I feel this way, I was supposed to be having fun.

At one of the antique shops there was a VERY strange man who was following me around, staring at me, real close. Thinking about him makes my stomach turn a little. It freaked me out so much I made a beeline for Brooks and latched on to his arm. As we exited we both agreed it was an odd experience.

We left shopping to check into our room. It was an old house. A big old house with lots of rooms. Eight to be exact and they were full for the night. As we walked up the stairs to our room Brooks looked back at me and said "don't get your hopes up." I said "what's that supposed to mean?" I was hoping he was teasing and that he really meant "get your hopes up because it's really nice." He wasn't teasing, though it was a bed with clean sheets and a shower of our own. I don't know if you're the kind of person who senses or gets a feeling about a place but I am and it happens quick. All I wanted to do was change my clothes for dinner and get out of there.

Before dinner we had time for a few more shops and some soothing hot cocoa that I wished was a bottomless cup.

Brooks had made reservations for dinner at a quaint little place that had a beautiful view of the mountains. Sadly, because it had been raining all day, a thick white fog had settled and that was our view. Dinner was at the Avalon above an old theater and it was the highlight of the day. Adorably decorated English style with soft hewed linens, tea cups, mismatched china and sweet eccentric waitresses with bright smiles. Our waitress had such an inviting face I wanted to give her a hug. I wished she would give me one because I could feel the homesick butterflies coming on. It happens the moment you realize you're not going home and that you are staying here. I realized my family and my friends wouldn't be at this table eating birthday dinner with me or singing the birthday song and a couple of tears fell into my chicken fillet.

You can try to reason with homesickness all you want but it will never work. It is what it is. I'm experienced in this area. I'm a pro. I was one of those kids who had to be picked up from the birthday party and summer camp. I've cried many a night longing for home. I feel so sorry for the pour souls who tried to console me. I've actually apologized.

We landed back at the guest house after our lovely dinner and delicious dessert. I was doing alright until we were laying in bed. This house felt like I was at my Grandma's or my Aunt Pat's without the Grandma or the Aunt Pat. When you're in one of those places you can feel the love. I wasn't feeling the love. So as it goes with homesickness, you ask to be held real tight as you cry yourself to sleep.

I had bought a sweatshirt because it was so cold that night and I wore it to bed. Since it hadn't been washed it was a bit itchy. I kept waking up wishing I had it off but kept telling myself to deal with it. Homesickness and being comfortable in this country feels like forcing myself to wear that sweat shirt and once I got up to take it off and put on the comfortable long sleeved cotton T, ahhhh, sweet relief.

In the night I was praying for sunshine. "Oh God please send some sun," I said. The next morning I woke to the wind and the sunlight, a bright mountain summer morning. Joy always comes in the morning. We dressed, found some breakfast and pointed Miss Bianca toward the mountain trails. We saw The Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls and panoramic views of the Blue Mountains. We stopped at Wentworth Falls on our way back and spent most of the afternoon and evening hiking her trails, taking pictures and hopping rocks. The cascade of the falls, the rush of the water, the cool breeze and the sheer of the cliffs was powerful and moving. I was glad to be there adventuring hand in hand with Brooks and didn't want the day to end. What a way to celebrate a birthday.

I woke up this morning thinking about that itchy sweat shirt and about how it's okay to long for home, like longing for your heavenly home. I don't have to beat myself up for missing home, for missing the ones I love, the ones I know and the ones who know me. You do the best you know how where you are until you get there. At the end of my Grandma Honey's life she kept saying she "just wanted to go home." I understood what she meant, she was homesick. Homesick for loved ones, homesick for her Creator. Her mind was set on it, like swapping the itchy sweat shirt for a cotton T. Oh, the sweet relief of it.